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 My Research

My publications and other writings reflect the general thrust of my past, present, and future research interests.

As they show, in recent years, I have moved towards environmental history.  This shift began i.n the late-1990s when I became involved with the Corner Brook museum and interested in the history of the forestry industry of Newfoundland.  I had also had a long-term interest in the impact of immigration on British North America in the early nineteenth century and, in continuing this research, found myself engrossed with the transatlantic passenger trade and the history of shipwrecks.  More recently, I have studied the role of international relations in the fisheries and how they affected western Newfoundland.  During the past five years, my research under the Humber River Basin project has been focused on the interrelationship of natural and human environments of this region.  This has led, in turn, to studies on how micro and macro-history are linked, and how individual community studies can help to address broader issues of political, social, cultural, and economic history, as well as how historical-driven studies can contribute to research on climate change.  I have also been developing an interactive website to illustrate these findings and applying GIS and GPS technologies in so doing.

Earlier in my career, my research focus was Canada in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and the interrelationship of state policy, criminal justice, medical developments, and social welfare is my main focus. My aim was and remains to examine attitudes, laws, institutions, expert knowledge, and 'marginal' beings in history, and then to place them into the broader context of economic and social change and "power/knowledge." This research encompasses a broad range of subjects and necessarily overlaps into institutional, legal, intellectual, immigration, medical-psychiatric, labour, women's, and aboriginal history.  I have published several studies and given various conference papers looking at how the stereotyping of Inuit during the late-nineteenth century was strongly shaped by an ongoing medical, anthropological, and ethnological discourses prior to the paradigm of cultural relativism.

I teach Canadian history, comparative social history (including gender history) and the ethnohistory of Canadian native peoples. My areas of specialization include the historical origins and interrelationship of the modern state with criminal justice, medical, social welfare, and related developments that have shaped present-day society.  This interest is illustrated in my doctoral thesis which consisted of a study of the origins and development of nineteenth and early twentieth century Canadian psychiatry and in subsequent research, publications as well as regional, national and international conference papers relating to various themes in social and cultural history including Foucaultian "power/knowledge."  This is reflected in my published studies on nineteenth-century Canadian institutions, that deal with such forms as the penitentiary, the lunatic asylum, the house of industry, the general hospital, and the Indian reserve.

Conference Papers (from 1992)           


last updated: February 14, 2012

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