Amelia Bonea: Personal Background

I am an historian of media, science and technology, with degrees from the Universities of Tokyo (Japan) and Heidelberg (Germany). I am originally from Romania, but call Japan my second home and have recently returned after an absence of almost five years to take up a position as Junior Research Fellow at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

My research work has focused on colonial South Asia. I am particularly interested in understanding how technologies of communication have mediated the exchange of news and ideas since the nineteenth century, fostering global connections and interactions. My interest in technology is not limited to the study of media, however. I have recently embarked on a new project which explores the connections between technology and disease by using the examples of the telegraph, the telephone and mobile telephony to understand how the use and proliferation of new technologies of communication have shaped perceptions of ill health in India during the last century and a half. It was while drafting this new research project that I came across the collection of periodicals hosted on Although my work has a regional focus on South Asia, I always strive to situate the developments I discuss within a broader international and historical context. In this respect, the materials available on have proved particularly helpful.

Newspapers and periodicals are a rich resource for historical inquiry and I am always happy to discover new online platforms which aim to bring the press of yesterdays within the easy reach of academics and the interested public. I was already using the UNZ database before I found out about the Historical Research Competition and decided to submit an entry. I was looking for material on technology and women’s health, in particular cancer, when I came across the articles on the Women’s Health Protective Associations in the United States. The topic was new to me, but as I was reading though the material, I began to think about the ways in which American women were empowered by their participation in public health campaigns, but also the extent to which their public role was conceptualized as an extension of their domestic role as mothers and wives. I began to think about possible comparisons with the case of South Asia and Japan, with which I am more familiar. I collected some of these findings and ideas into a short essay which I submitted as an entry to the competition.

The competition allowed me to test my ideas on a new platform and I am happy to see that I have found an audience of appreciative readers. I would like to thank Ron Unz, as well as the competition judges for selecting my entry for one of the two runner-up awards. I hope opportunities like this will encourage more and more people to think critically about the ways in which technologies of communication are shaping our lives. For historians, arguably one of the most exciting developments is to see that the social life of a century-old periodical press continues, this time in electronic form. I like to think that these periodicals have found new audiences, hopefully not restricted to a handful of interested academics, but including many other readers who wish to turn to the past for instruction, inspiration and, why not, entertainment.

Amelia Bonea
Tokyo, 1 October 2012

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