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Tara Alberts
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History



BA, MPhil, PhD (Cantab)

Tara Alberts is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History. Before joining the Department of History in 2012 she held a Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge, and was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Italy. 

Her research explores on encounters and exchanges between Europe and Asia between c.1500 and c.1700. Her current project focuses on the circulation of medicines and the exchange of ideas about health and healing on the trade routes of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Southeast Asia.



Tara's research explores cultural, religious and intellectual exchanges between Europeans and Southeast Asians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her first book, Conflict and Conversion. Catholicism in Southeast Asia, c.1500-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2013), explores the varied strategies employed by European Catholic missionaries to persuade target populations to convert to Christianity. It uncovers how and why communities in what are now Vietnam, Thailand and Melaka (Malaysia) either rejected or accepted this new faith, and how they adapted its rituals and practices to suit their needs.


Tara's main project Spiritual Healing and Medical Exchange in Southeast Asia, 1500-1770 continues to examine intercultural exchange in Southeast Asia. It explores the flow of medical knowledge and resources along trade routes and considers the interaction, and occasionally the conflict, between proponents of different concepts of health and wellbeing and between purveyors of varied spiritual and temporal cures.‌

Tara is the co-organiser of a interdisciplinary collaborative project "Translating Medicine in the Pre-Modern World 1350-1800", which explores how medical theories, practices, technologies, and materials crossed linguistic, cultural and other boundaries in the early modern period. More information about this project is available here.  


Research group(s)

Tara is the Southeast Asian and Oceania Region Leader for the York Asia Research Network. Please click here for more information or to join the Network. 


Tara welcomes enquiries from students interested in postgraduate research into histories of religion and conversion; early modern travel, trade, encounter, and exchange; medicine, health, and well being; and theories and practices of translation. 



An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00125I Historical Thinking
  • HIS00131I Empire and Cultural Exchange in Asia, 1500-1700
  • HIS00154H The Crossroads of the World: Southeast Asia c.1500-1750


An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00065M Medicine & Spiritual Healing in the Early Modern World

Contact details

Dr Tara Alberts
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Student hours

Student hours

Semester 2 2023/4