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Christopher Parsons

Headshot of Chris Parsons

Associate Professor of History

Chris Parsons is an interdisciplinary historian of science, medicine, and the environment in early modern Atlantic World. His current research traces the devastating spread of smallpox and other European illnesses in the northeast (New France, New England, and New Netherland) in the 1630s in order to understand how epidemic disease shaped colonial encounters and imperial rivalries. He also is the author of A Not-So-New World: Empire in Environment in French Colonial North America, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2018. In this and related projects, he has a longstanding interest in highlighting the contribution of indigenous peoples to the evolution of European and Euro-American environmental sciences. He has published articles in The William & Mary Quarterly, Environmental History, Early American Studies, and several edited collections.

Prior to his arrival at Northeastern, Chris Parsons was a Barra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies (

For A Not-So-New World (2018):


Prix Lionel-Groulx, from the Institut d’Histoire de l’Amérique Française


Honorable mention for the Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize, from the French Colonial Historical Society

  • “The Natural History of Colonial Science: Joseph-François Lafitau’s Discovery of Ginseng and its Afterlives,” William & Mary Quarterly 73, no.1 (2016): 37 – 72.
  • “Wildness without Wilderness: The Biogeography of Empire in seventeenth-century French North America,” Environmental History 22, no.4 (2017): 643-67.
  • “Ecosystems under Sail: Specimen Transport in the Eighteenth-Century French and British Atlantics,” Early American Studies, vol.10, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 503 – 529; with Kathleen S. Murphy
  • Not-So-New World (2018)

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