New British Academy Funded Project: Tabulating Epidemics

17 January 2023

Tabulating Epidemics: Tables as Tools of Reasoning in the History of Epidemiology 1896-1940, a project led by Dr Lukas Engelmann (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Christos Lynteris (St Andrews) has been awarded a Small Grant by the British Academy.

The project will investigate the impact of tabulation practices and visualisations in the emergence of modern epidemiology (1896-1940). The hypothesis of the project is that tabulation practices, including ways of visualising data through different table forms, have specifically shaped the research, communication, and epistemology of modern epidemiological reasoning. As a form of collecting, organising and presenting epidemiological data, tabulation has enforced processes of standardisation and classification. As visual devices, tables have enabled epidemiologists to communicate the comparison of populations and tables established multi-factorial association as a hallmark of modern epidemiology. Tables and their associated practices were thus a pivotal ingredient in the epoch-defining transformation of epidemiology from a narrative and historical practice into a field based on formal mathematics, models, data, and quantification.