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Trevor Engel


Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Thielallee 71
14195 Berlin

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Trevor Engel is currently affiliated with the Charite - Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin und Ethik in der Medizin through a Fulbright scholarship for the 22/23 academic year.  During this year he will be conducting archival research for his dissertation project currently titled, “Trafficking ‘Strange’ and ‘Remarkable’ Bodies: Transatlantic Exchanges about Disability and Indigeneity in the Long Nineteenth Century”.

Current research project

Trevor’s dissertation examines the transatlantic trafficking of bodies and body parts between collections during the long 19th century. He seeks to uncover how scientists and medical professionals used these bodily objects to conceptualize both indigeneity and disability. his project investigates the ways in which bodily materials labeled as “pathologies,” “curiosities,” “monstrosities,” and “abnormalities” were trafficked, collected, and studied in various types of museums as well as personal and professional holdings. This research also traces the often-similar treatment of the remains of Native and Indigenous peoples, especially those who practiced culturally important bodily “deformations,” alongside these collections’ broader meanings for families. He argues that these collections, although often divided into anatomical/medical museums and natural history/anthropological museums, had much in common. Such divisions have made it difficult to recognize that the boundaries demarcating racial groups, especially those classified as Indigenous, and the boundaries separating what scientists/physicians deemed “normal” versus “abnormal” haunted all these collections. His project aims to simultaneously attend to how specific communities defined questions of power and concepts of disability and to how physicians and other scientists used their collections of bodies and bodily objects to create and popularize a much broader sense of “normal” and “abnormal.”

Areas of study

  • History of Medicine
  • Native American and Indigenous studies
  • Disability History
  • History and Sociology of Science

Publications & Work in Progress

Engel, T. (2018) “Disability History in Arlington,” Historic Tales of Arlington, Texas, edited by Evelyn Barker (Stroud, United Kingdom: History Press), pp. 51-66 (invited submission)

Engel, T. (2016) Co-Curator with Sarah F. Rose, Building a Barrier-Free Campus: A History of Accessibility at UT Arlington exhibit ( and toured 14 Texas venues, including the State Capital and UT Austin, 2016-2020)

Engel, T.  (2016) “From ‘Bicephalic Monsters’ to ‘Brains of the Insane’: How Anatomists Built Evolutionary Hierarchies,” to Fugitive Leaves: a blog from The Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (invited submission)