Serena Barbieri

Serena is a MD who  practiced aritmology and interventional electrophysiology in Italy for almost two decades. When she relocated to Texas, in 2015, she pursued a career change pivoting around her passion for history and archival research. She now holds a BA and a MÁ in History from Sam Houston State University, and she is a second year Ph.D. student in the History department, at Rice University. Her fields of studies are 19th century American History, the American South, capitalism, labor, race, and immigration. Driven toward the use of quantitative methods in historical inquiries, she is working on a database of more than 5,000 Civil War soldiers who chose to desert their Connecticut regiments. Those data, placed in socio-political context of Civil War Connecticut and soldiers’ literary production, allow to argue the deserters’ motivations.

Serena has also experience in public history focused on the Texas past. She recently developed a project for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition on convict leasing in Texas, creating a database on the convicts working on Sugar Land plantations: she collected data on the physical characteristics, pathologies, and wounds reported in the prison records and the details of the convicts’ duties and history of punishment. Placing the events in the context of a racial and immigration discourse allows to drive analogies with the mass-incarceration of our times. For her dissertation, Serena will explore the network of early Houston capitalism through the lens of the convicts who built Texas railroads.