Renee Lafferty-Salhany

Associate Professor

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I am a social historian of nineteenth and early twentieth century North America, particularly interested in North American religious history, the history of drink and drinking, and the War of 1812.  My current research project combines these interests by exploring the things which went into, and came out of, men’s bodies during the 1812 conflict.  The central question informing this “fluid history” asks what these substances (including blood, semen, food and drink, sweat and tears) tell us about the experience and legacy of the war, both for the men who fought it, and the civilians who endured it.  I hope the project will introduce new perspectives on the shared history of Canada and the United States, and highlight this war’s crucially liminal spot in that history, caught between the cultural and political architectures of both the 18th and 19th centuries.  The project also engages me with the considerable interplay between histories of medicine, consumption, and gender.

My previous work on the history of childhood examined the provision of charitable and social services for endangered children in the city of Halifax in the 19th and 20th centuries.  This work culminated in my first book, The Guardianship of Best Interests, published by McGill Queen’s University Press in 2013, and awarded the Canadian Historical Association’s CLIO prize for Atlantic Canada.

I am always interested in supervising graduate students in our Master’s program, particularly those interested in the War of 1812 and the history of drinking.