Sean Fraga studies the cultural history of place in the United States. He is interested in the ways people use technology to understand and shape their surroundings, especially in the U.S. West and after the Civil War. His dissertation, “Ocean Fever: Water, Trade, and the Terraqueous Northwest,” argues that Americans went west in order to participate in Pacific Ocean commerce.
Fraga’s academic interests include the history of technology, settler colonialism, borders and borderlands, urban history, and American cultural landscapes. Along with Julia Grummitt and Kimia Shahi, Fraga co-organized "Water and the Making of Place in North America," the 2016 Princeton American Studies graduate student conference.
In addition to traditional archival research, Fraga uses digital history tools to illuminate non-narrative sources. During Spring 2019, he will be a postgraduate research associate with Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities, where he will use U.S. Customs data to map historic maritime trade networks in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Ocean.
Also in Spring 2019, Fraga will be the instructor of record for “Writing About Cities,” an upper-level undergraduate seminar in Princeton’s History department. The course explores how the American city is both a cultural text to be read and an arena for political action and social change.
Fraga received his M.A. in History from Princeton in 2015, and his B.A. in American Studies from Yale University in 2010. In his award-winning undergraduate thesis, "'Two Days By Plane': America's First Transcontinental Passenger Airline and the Selling of the Skies," he reconstructed the brief life and early death of Transcontinental Air Transport.
Before matriculating at Princeton, Fraga lived and worked in New York City, where he held positions at Architectural Digest and D.E. Shaw & Co. His hometown is Bainbridge Island, Wash. More information is available on his website.