Picture of Polina Ilieva
Polina Ilieva
Polina is Associate University Librarian for Collections and UCSF Archivist.

Welcome Sean Purcell, Digital Health Humanities Program Coordinator

Sean Purcell

I am pleased to announce that Sean Purcell has been appointed as the new digital health humanities program coordinator. Sean is a digital humanist who works between the history of medicine, media studies, and postcolonial theory. Sean’s work grapples with the ethics around the creation and maintenance of medical collections. He is a PhD candidate a Indiana University’s Media School and the the 2023 Helfand Fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine. His research examines how doctors in America at the turn of the twentieth century imaged and imagined tuberculosis in the bodies of their patients.

As the digital health humanities coordinator, Sean supports faculty and researchers in their engagement with computational methods and digital resources to critically analyze archival health sciences materials in the pursuit of humanistic research. This includes leading the Advancing Digital Health Humanities Institute (ADDHI) which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and aims to facilitate new insights into historical health data.

More about Sean

Sean’s work critiques biomedical archival practices with respect to the long-deceased. His research focuses on the divestment of stolen material from medical museums, archives, and libraries. As a practice based researcher, Sean is currently developing a minimal computing digital publishing platform for scholars interested in applying postcolonial and anti-custodial approaches to knowledge in their research. This platform, the Opaque Online Publishing Platform, provides protocols and custom code for scholars to reconsider the collection histories associated with primary sources in the history of medicine, and how to use and display unethically sourced materials in their published work.

Prior to joining the UCSF Archives and Special Collections team, Sean worked as a senior digital methods specialist and graduate fellow for the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities (IDAH). In this role, he revised the curricula for IDAH’s Humanities, Arts, Sciences and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) scholarship program. Additionally, he supported researchers in the Department of History, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS), and the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design.

Furthermore, Sean is a practicing installation artist and photo essayist. In a previous life, he was a filmmaker, having completed a masters in fine arts in film and television production at Loyola Marymount University, and screening his award-winning essay films internationally. Sean’s research has been published in Game Studies and Epoiesen. Please join us in welcoming Sean to UCSF!

Feature image: Sean Purcell. Tuberscopia. Digital composite of two historical images from a historical dataset on tuberculosis used in a larger install.