Megan J Davies

Department of Social Science

Associate Professor

Office: Ross Building, S704A
Phone: (416)736-2100 Ext: 33812
Emaildaviesmj@yorku.ca

I came to Health & Society at York in 2003 after nine years in Scotland, where I had the good fortune to hold two research fellowships at the Centre for the History Medicine, University of Glasgow.

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In terms of subject matter, I am most interested in health practices that lie just "a little south of normal." I have conducted research on counterculture home birthing mothers and lay midwives in BC's Kootenay regions in the 1970s and 1980s. And when I got involved in a national study of the historical shift from institutional to community mental health in the same era, it was MPA (Mental Patients Association), a wonderfully radical Vancouver community group, that grabbed my attention. In an early twentieth-century study of everyday health in Peace River region of British Columbia, I am looking at health in a remote region through the lens of lay healing and midwifery, accidents and food security. Much of my recent work is connected with a large activist public history project. The History of Madness/Historie de la folie is a collectively-run public, bilingual Canadian website to enhance critical thinking, heritage preservation and historical research in the fields of psychiatric medicine and mental health. The website is all about fostering social justice and bridging the divide between academic research and the community. For the last five years a team of Canadian scholars and community partners has focused on the shift from institutional to community mental health, one of the most significant social changes of late 20th century Canada. We have been digging into the history of deinstitutionalization, reading government policy documents, interviewing early practitioners and patient activists, gleaning relevant articles from the pages of professional journals, and looking for old photographs, newspapers and ephemera in basements and bedroom closets. In addition to standard academic publications and conference presentations, the products of this project include a collaborative historical documentary, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA, the After the Asylum/ Après l’asile a multi-exhibit research pages, the History in Practice: Community-Informed Mental Health Curriculum/ Histoire en tête: sagesse communautaire et apprentissages educational site, and two secondary school websites: Caring Minds and More for the Mind. I am very lucky to teach at York in a program that allows me the opportunity to teach in an interdisciplinary health program.

Area of Specialization

Social Science

Degrees

Ph.D., History, McGill University, 1984
M.A., History, University of Waterloo, 1989
B.A., History , University of Victoria, 1984

Professional Leadership

Conference Organization

Programme Chair, Canadian Society for the History of Medicine Conference, York University, May 2006.
“Scottish Health History: International Contexts, Contemporary Perspectives,”An International Colloquium hosted by the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Glasgow, June 20th, 2003.
Student Representative, Canadian Committee on Women's History, 1990-1991.

Offices in Professional Organizations

Chair, Association of Graduate History Students, McGill University, 1990-1991.
Member/Organiser, Luna Circle (a study group in the history of mental health), Toronto, Ontario, 1987-1989.

Research Interests

Health history, BC history, rural health, women and health, poor law and welfare state, old age, madness

All Publications

Monographs

Into the House of Old: A history of residential care in British Columbia (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003), 247 pp.

Book Chapters

“Stocking the Root Cellar,” Edible Histories, Cultural Politics, Marlene Epp, Franca Iacovetta and Valerie Korinek, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.)

“La renaissance des sages-femmes dans la région de Kootenay en Colombie-Britannique, 1970-1990,” L’incontournable caste des femmes. Histoire des services de soins de santé au Québec et au Canada, M.-C. Thifault (dir.) (Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa, Coll. "Santé et société", 2012.)

“Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940,” in Social medicine and rural health in the North in the 19th and 20th centuries, J.T.H. Conner and Stephan Curtis, eds. (London: Pickering and Chatto, Society for the Social History of Medicine Series, 2011.)

“Welfare Amazons or Handmaidens of the State?: Welfare Field Workers in Rural BC, 1935-1942,” in A History of Child and Family Welfare in BC, Diane Purvey and Chris Walmsley, eds. (Calgary: Detselig Press, 2006) , 45 pp.

“Charles Doherty.” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIV, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 303-304.

“Kathleen Wood-Legh: A Canadian in Cambridge” in English Canadian Women and the Work of History, Beverly Boutilier and Alison Prentice, eds. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997) , pp. 254-270. [Co-authored with Colin M. Coates]

“Lavinia Clarke” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography vol. XIII (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), pp. 201-2.

“‘Services Rendered, Rearing Children for the State’: Mother’s Pensions in British Columbia,” in B. Latham and R. Pazdro, eds., Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British Columbia (Victoria: Camosun College Press, 1984), pp. 249-63.

“Dr. Mary MacNeil” in Ibid., pp. 670-1.

Journal Articles

“Night Soil, Cesspools and Smelly Hogs on the Streets: Sanitation, Race and Governance in Early British Columbia,” Histoire sociale/Social History, November 2005, 39 pp.

“Competent Professionals and Modern Methods: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 76, no 1 (Spring, 2002): 56-83.

“Renovating the Canadian Old Age Home: the evolution of residential care facilities in B.C., 1930-1960,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, New Series, Vol. 12 (2001): 155-175.

“Mapping ‘Region’ in Canadian Medical History: The Case of British Columbia.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, vol. 17, nos. 1-2 (2000): 73-92.

“Old Age in B.C.: the case of the ‘Lonesome Prospector.’” BC Studies no 118 (summer, 1998): 41-66.

Conference Proceedings

“The Women beyond the Gates: Female Mental Health Patients in British Columbia,” in V. Dhruvarajan, ed., Women and Well-being / Les femmes et le mieux-être (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990), pp. 53-64.

Conference Papers

May 2009, BC Studies Conference, Victoria, BC, “Nature, Spirit, Home: Back-to-the-Land Childbirth in BC's Kootenay Region.”

March 2008, University of Glasgow, Centre for the History of Medicine, “Homebirth in the Hills: Counter-Culture Health in British Columbia, 1970-1990.”

November 2008, Ontario History and Social Studies Teacher’s Association (OHASSTA) Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Reaching Inclusivity in History and the Social Sciences: The Challenge!, “Mad History: Mental Health and Historical Empathy in the Classroom,” (co-presenter: Samantha Cutrara).

September 2008, Active History: History for the Future Conference, York University, “History of Madness.ca,” power point presentation.

May 2008, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Personal Choice and Personal Power: Locating Identity in the History of BC’s Homebirth Movement, 1970-1990.”

February 2008, European Social Science History Conference, Lisbon, refereed, “Countercultural Childbirth : Homebirth and Midwifery in the Kootenay Region of BC, 1970-1990.”

February 2007, University of British Columbia School of Nursing, “Shacks & Trees in a Wood: The old age 'home' in BC history.”

May 2007, Conference on History of Sickness and Health in Northern Remote and Rural Regions, Memorial University, Newfoundland, “Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940.”

October 2007, Putting Region in its Place: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Health, Healing and Place, Edmonton, Alberta, refereed, “Region and the Transformative Process of Analysis: Health and Place in History.”

April, 2007, Women’s History Scotland Conference, refereed, Women in Shetland - Past, Present & Future Conference, Lerwick, Scotland, “Health & the Women of Shetland: Historical themes from the 19th and 20th centuries.”

March 2005, Health, Heredity and the Modern Home Conference, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, “‘Shacks and Trees in a Wood’: the old age ‘home’ in settler British Columbia.”

May 2005, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Health, Home and Community in the Peace River Region, 1930s.”

May 2003, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Night Soil, Cesspools and Smelly Hogs on the Streets: Sanitation, Race and Governance in Early British Columbia.”

June 2002, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Rural Medicine in the Scottish Highlands and Islands before 1939.”

June 2001, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Frontier Sanitation: Public Health in British Columbia at the Turn of the Century.”

June 2001, Annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, refereed, “Institutionalizing Old Age: the evolution of residential care facilities in Canada, 1890-1950.”

May 2001, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Handmaidens of the State: Welfare Field Workers in Rural B.C. in the Interwar Years.”

June 2000, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Community Care or Institutional Care?: Early Welfare State Strategies.”

November 1999, B.C. Studies Conference, refereed, “Community Public Health or Professional Public Health?: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s.”

November 1999, AMS / Hannah Conference: Canadian Medical History at the Millennium: Past Accomplishments, Future Directions, refereed, “Canadian Medical History?: B.C. as a Case for a Regional Perspective.”

May 1998, Annual meeting of the American Association of Medical History, refereed, “Competent Professionals and Modern Methods: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s.”

October 1997, Wellcome Trust Regional Forum, University of Glasgow, “The Lady Medical Officer in Scotland: Careers in Public Health, 1900-1930.”

February 1996, Twelfth Annual Canadian Studies Symposium, Birkbeck College, University of London, “Old Age: A Theme in British Columbian History.”

October 1994, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Poorhouse to nursing home: the evolution of old age facilities in twentieth-century British Columbia.”

June 1994, “BC and Beyond: Gender Histories” Conference, “‘She is destined to be your right hand man’: Women, Men and B.C.’s Provincial Welfare State.”

June 1994, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Health care professionals and changing ideals of institutional care for the elderly: The case of British Columbia.”

November 1992, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Provincial Health Policy for Elderly British Columbians.”

November 1987, Annual meeting of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), refereed, “Women at the New Westminster Insane Asylum.”

Book Reviews

Review of H.C. Northcott and P.J. Milliken, Aging in British Columbia: Burden or Benefit? In BC Studies no. 122 (Summer 1999): 99-100.

“Whose Body? Recent Historiography relating to Women, Health and the Medical Profession.” Gender and History, vol. 9, no. 2 (August 1997): 380-384.

Forthcoming

“Democracy is a Very Radical Idea,” (co-author Lanny Beckman) Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies, Brenda Francois, Robert Menzies and Geoffrey Reaume, eds. (Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, forthcoming, 2013.)

“Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940,” in Social medicine and rural health in the North in the 19th and 20th centuries, J.T.H. Conner and Stephan Curtis, eds. (London: Pickering and Chatto, Society for the Social History of Medicine Series, forthcoming 2010)

“Stocking the Root Cellar,” Edible Histories, Cultural Politics, Marlene Epp, Franca Iacovetta and Valerie Korinek, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming.)

Upcoming Courses

TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall 2017 AP/SOSC3116 6.0  The Patient SEMR  
Fall/Winter 2017-2018 AP/SOSC4147 6.0  Health and Place SEMR  


I came to Health & Society at York in 2003 after nine years in Scotland, where I had the good fortune to hold two research fellowships at the Centre for the History Medicine, University of Glasgow.


In terms of subject matter, I am most interested in health practices that lie just "a little south of normal." I have conducted research on counterculture home birthing mothers and lay midwives in BC's Kootenay regions in the 1970s and 1980s. And when I got involved in a national study of the historical shift from institutional to community mental health in the same era, it was MPA (Mental Patients Association), a wonderfully radical Vancouver community group, that grabbed my attention. In an early twentieth-century study of everyday health in Peace River region of British Columbia, I am looking at health in a remote region through the lens of lay healing and midwifery, accidents and food security. Much of my recent work is connected with a large activist public history project. The History of Madness/Historie de la folie is a collectively-run public, bilingual Canadian website to enhance critical thinking, heritage preservation and historical research in the fields of psychiatric medicine and mental health. The website is all about fostering social justice and bridging the divide between academic research and the community. For the last five years a team of Canadian scholars and community partners has focused on the shift from institutional to community mental health, one of the most significant social changes of late 20th century Canada. We have been digging into the history of deinstitutionalization, reading government policy documents, interviewing early practitioners and patient activists, gleaning relevant articles from the pages of professional journals, and looking for old photographs, newspapers and ephemera in basements and bedroom closets. In addition to standard academic publications and conference presentations, the products of this project include a collaborative historical documentary, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA, the After the Asylum/ Après l’asile a multi-exhibit research pages, the History in Practice: Community-Informed Mental Health Curriculum/ Histoire en tête: sagesse communautaire et apprentissages educational site, and two secondary school websites: Caring Minds and More for the Mind. I am very lucky to teach at York in a program that allows me the opportunity to teach in an interdisciplinary health program.

Area of Specialization

Social Science

Degrees

Ph.D., History, McGill University, 1984
M.A., History, University of Waterloo, 1989
B.A., History , University of Victoria, 1984

Professional Leadership

Conference Organization

Programme Chair, Canadian Society for the History of Medicine Conference, York University, May 2006.
“Scottish Health History: International Contexts, Contemporary Perspectives,”An International Colloquium hosted by the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Glasgow, June 20th, 2003.
Student Representative, Canadian Committee on Women's History, 1990-1991.

Offices in Professional Organizations

Chair, Association of Graduate History Students, McGill University, 1990-1991.
Member/Organiser, Luna Circle (a study group in the history of mental health), Toronto, Ontario, 1987-1989.

Research Interests:

Health history, BC history, rural health, women and health, poor law and welfare state, old age, madness

All Publications

Monographs

Into the House of Old: A history of residential care in British Columbia (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003), 247 pp.

Book Chapters

“Stocking the Root Cellar,” Edible Histories, Cultural Politics, Marlene Epp, Franca Iacovetta and Valerie Korinek, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.)

“La renaissance des sages-femmes dans la région de Kootenay en Colombie-Britannique, 1970-1990,” L’incontournable caste des femmes. Histoire des services de soins de santé au Québec et au Canada, M.-C. Thifault (dir.) (Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa, Coll. "Santé et société", 2012.)

“Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940,” in Social medicine and rural health in the North in the 19th and 20th centuries, J.T.H. Conner and Stephan Curtis, eds. (London: Pickering and Chatto, Society for the Social History of Medicine Series, 2011.)

“Welfare Amazons or Handmaidens of the State?: Welfare Field Workers in Rural BC, 1935-1942,” in A History of Child and Family Welfare in BC, Diane Purvey and Chris Walmsley, eds. (Calgary: Detselig Press, 2006) , 45 pp.

“Charles Doherty.” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIV, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 303-304.

“Kathleen Wood-Legh: A Canadian in Cambridge” in English Canadian Women and the Work of History, Beverly Boutilier and Alison Prentice, eds. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997) , pp. 254-270. [Co-authored with Colin M. Coates]

“Lavinia Clarke” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography vol. XIII (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), pp. 201-2.

“‘Services Rendered, Rearing Children for the State’: Mother’s Pensions in British Columbia,” in B. Latham and R. Pazdro, eds., Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British Columbia (Victoria: Camosun College Press, 1984), pp. 249-63.

“Dr. Mary MacNeil” in Ibid., pp. 670-1.

Journal Articles

“Night Soil, Cesspools and Smelly Hogs on the Streets: Sanitation, Race and Governance in Early British Columbia,” Histoire sociale/Social History, November 2005, 39 pp.

“Competent Professionals and Modern Methods: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 76, no 1 (Spring, 2002): 56-83.

“Renovating the Canadian Old Age Home: the evolution of residential care facilities in B.C., 1930-1960,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, New Series, Vol. 12 (2001): 155-175.

“Mapping ‘Region’ in Canadian Medical History: The Case of British Columbia.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, vol. 17, nos. 1-2 (2000): 73-92.

“Old Age in B.C.: the case of the ‘Lonesome Prospector.’” BC Studies no 118 (summer, 1998): 41-66.

Conference Proceedings

“The Women beyond the Gates: Female Mental Health Patients in British Columbia,” in V. Dhruvarajan, ed., Women and Well-being / Les femmes et le mieux-être (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990), pp. 53-64.

Conference Papers

May 2009, BC Studies Conference, Victoria, BC, “Nature, Spirit, Home: Back-to-the-Land Childbirth in BC's Kootenay Region.”

March 2008, University of Glasgow, Centre for the History of Medicine, “Homebirth in the Hills: Counter-Culture Health in British Columbia, 1970-1990.”

November 2008, Ontario History and Social Studies Teacher’s Association (OHASSTA) Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Reaching Inclusivity in History and the Social Sciences: The Challenge!, “Mad History: Mental Health and Historical Empathy in the Classroom,” (co-presenter: Samantha Cutrara).

September 2008, Active History: History for the Future Conference, York University, “History of Madness.ca,” power point presentation.

May 2008, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Personal Choice and Personal Power: Locating Identity in the History of BC’s Homebirth Movement, 1970-1990.”

February 2008, European Social Science History Conference, Lisbon, refereed, “Countercultural Childbirth : Homebirth and Midwifery in the Kootenay Region of BC, 1970-1990.”

February 2007, University of British Columbia School of Nursing, “Shacks & Trees in a Wood: The old age 'home' in BC history.”

May 2007, Conference on History of Sickness and Health in Northern Remote and Rural Regions, Memorial University, Newfoundland, “Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940.”

October 2007, Putting Region in its Place: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Health, Healing and Place, Edmonton, Alberta, refereed, “Region and the Transformative Process of Analysis: Health and Place in History.”

April, 2007, Women’s History Scotland Conference, refereed, Women in Shetland - Past, Present & Future Conference, Lerwick, Scotland, “Health & the Women of Shetland: Historical themes from the 19th and 20th centuries.”

March 2005, Health, Heredity and the Modern Home Conference, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, “‘Shacks and Trees in a Wood’: the old age ‘home’ in settler British Columbia.”

May 2005, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Health, Home and Community in the Peace River Region, 1930s.”

May 2003, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Night Soil, Cesspools and Smelly Hogs on the Streets: Sanitation, Race and Governance in Early British Columbia.”

June 2002, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Rural Medicine in the Scottish Highlands and Islands before 1939.”

June 2001, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Frontier Sanitation: Public Health in British Columbia at the Turn of the Century.”

June 2001, Annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, refereed, “Institutionalizing Old Age: the evolution of residential care facilities in Canada, 1890-1950.”

May 2001, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Handmaidens of the State: Welfare Field Workers in Rural B.C. in the Interwar Years.”

June 2000, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Community Care or Institutional Care?: Early Welfare State Strategies.”

November 1999, B.C. Studies Conference, refereed, “Community Public Health or Professional Public Health?: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s.”

November 1999, AMS / Hannah Conference: Canadian Medical History at the Millennium: Past Accomplishments, Future Directions, refereed, “Canadian Medical History?: B.C. as a Case for a Regional Perspective.”

May 1998, Annual meeting of the American Association of Medical History, refereed, “Competent Professionals and Modern Methods: State Medicine in British Columbia during the 1930s.”

October 1997, Wellcome Trust Regional Forum, University of Glasgow, “The Lady Medical Officer in Scotland: Careers in Public Health, 1900-1930.”

February 1996, Twelfth Annual Canadian Studies Symposium, Birkbeck College, University of London, “Old Age: A Theme in British Columbian History.”

October 1994, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Poorhouse to nursing home: the evolution of old age facilities in twentieth-century British Columbia.”

June 1994, “BC and Beyond: Gender Histories” Conference, “‘She is destined to be your right hand man’: Women, Men and B.C.’s Provincial Welfare State.”

June 1994, Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, refereed, “Health care professionals and changing ideals of institutional care for the elderly: The case of British Columbia.”

November 1992, BC Studies Conference, refereed, “Provincial Health Policy for Elderly British Columbians.”

November 1987, Annual meeting of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), refereed, “Women at the New Westminster Insane Asylum.”

Book Reviews

Review of H.C. Northcott and P.J. Milliken, Aging in British Columbia: Burden or Benefit? In BC Studies no. 122 (Summer 1999): 99-100.

“Whose Body? Recent Historiography relating to Women, Health and the Medical Profession.” Gender and History, vol. 9, no. 2 (August 1997): 380-384.

Forthcoming

“Democracy is a Very Radical Idea,” (co-author Lanny Beckman) Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies, Brenda Francois, Robert Menzies and Geoffrey Reaume, eds. (Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, forthcoming, 2013.)

“Mother’s Medicine: Women, home and health in BC’s Peace River region, 1920-1940,” in Social medicine and rural health in the North in the 19th and 20th centuries, J.T.H. Conner and Stephan Curtis, eds. (London: Pickering and Chatto, Society for the Social History of Medicine Series, forthcoming 2010)

“Stocking the Root Cellar,” Edible Histories, Cultural Politics, Marlene Epp, Franca Iacovetta and Valerie Korinek, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming.)


Teaching:

Upcoming Courses

TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall 2017 AP/SOSC3116 6.0  The Patient SEMR  
Fall/Winter 2017-2018 AP/SOSC4147 6.0  Health and Place SEMR