Deborah Neill

Department of History

Associate Professor
Undergraduate Program Director

Office: York Lanes 313 & 2140 Vari Hall
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext: 20365 & 66968
Emaildneill@yorku.ca

I am a Modern European Historian, specializing in European colonialism and the history of colonial medicine and humanitarianism. Past research has included explorations of the role of transnational ties between tropical medicine specialists in Africa and Europe (early 20th century) and the history of food and nutrition in France and its colonies. My current project explores the expansion of trade in West Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with special attention paid to the Holt family of Liverpool and their connections to the transnational world of "legitimate trade" (including their contacts among African, French and German traders). In addition I am interested in John Holt's relationship to humanitarian campaigns launched by transnational European activists against the trade in alcohol and weapons in this period.

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Area of Specialization

History

Degrees

PhD, Univeristy of Toronto
MA, University of Toronto
BA, University of Waterloo


Research Interests

History , Culture and Cultural Studies , Modern European Colonialism/Modern Atlantic World, History of Trade in West Africa, History of Medicine

Selected Publications

Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890-1930 (Stanford University Press, 2012) http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=11368

Neill, D. “Paul Ehrlich’s Colonial Connections: Scientific Networks and the Response to the Sleeping Sickness Epidemic, 1900-1914,” Social History of Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1 (2009), 61-77.

Neill, D. “Finding the “Ideal Diet”: Nutrition, Culture and Dietary Practices in France and French Equatorial Africa, c. 1890s to 1920s,” Food and Foodways, vol. 17, no. 1 (2009), 1-28.

Current Research Projects


Project Type: Funded
Funders: 
Minor Research Grant (York University)

Networks in Tropical Medicine

Summary: 
This book was published by Stanford University Press in 2012.

Description: 
The book explores transnational connections between tropical medicine experts as they emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with special emphasis on cooperation and competition in human trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) research.

Project Type: Funded
Role: Author

History of the Anti-Alcohol Campaigns

Description: 
In this project, my goal is to demonstrate how the transnational campaigns against the colonial liquor trade in Africa between the 1880s and 1930s represented an important contributing moment to shaping the character of modern western activist movements in the global south. Many European countries participated in the manufacturing, sale and distribution of liquor to the colonies. Western missionaries, philanthropists and humanitarians were horrified by the extension of this trade. Building on the tactics developed by the anti-slavery campaigners in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a new generation of activists organized a campaign against colonial government policies, the lucrative European liquor industry, and consumers of high-alcohol content spirits in West and Central Africa. Their focus may have been on alcohol, but their work ultimately highlighted some of the larger systemic problems of colonialism. Yet the solutions they proposed unfairly targeted the consumers of alcohol rather than taking on problems in the industry itself.

Project Type: Funded
Funders: 
SSHRC Small Grants Program
Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES)
York Internal Grant - Minor Research Grant
York Conference Travel Fund

John Holt's Empire of Business: Liquor, Guns, Humanitarians and Colonialism 1860-1915

Summary: 
Explores the family and business of John Holt, the company's trade across British, German, French and Spanish colonies, the founder's activism in the Congo Reform Movement, and, more broadly, the development of western colonialism in West Africa as situated between business and "humanitarian" development.


Project Type: Funded
Role: Principal Investigator


Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2014
End Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2018

Funders: 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Selected Publications

Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890-1930 (Stanford University Press, 2012) http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=11368

Neill, D. “Paul Ehrlich’s Colonial Connections: Scientific Networks and the Response to the Sleeping Sickness Epidemic, 1900-1914,” Social History of Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1 (2009), 61-77.

Neill, D. “Finding the “Ideal Diet”: Nutrition, Culture and Dietary Practices in France and French Equatorial Africa, c. 1890s to 1920s,” Food and Foodways, vol. 17, no. 1 (2009), 1-28.

All Publications

Books

Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890-1930 (Stanford University Press, 2012) http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=11368

Journal Articles

Neill, D. “Finding the “Ideal Diet”: Nutrition, Culture and Dietary Practices in France and French Equatorial Africa, c. 1890s to 1920s,” Food and Foodways, vol. 17, no. 1 (2009), 1-28.

Neill, D. “Paul Ehrlich’s Colonial Connections: Scientific Networks and the Response to the Sleeping Sickness Epidemic, 1900-1914,” Social History of Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1 (2009), 61-77.

Neill, D. “Commerce, Cookbooks and Colonialism: Cross-Cultural Cuisine in the Age of Empire,” World History Bulletin, 1 (Spring 2008): 10-13.

Neill, D. “Local History as Total History: a Conference at the University of Toronto,” in German History, 20 no. 3 (2002): 373-378 (co-written with Lisa Todd).

Conference Papers

“The Colonial Anti-liquor Campaigns and the Origins of Western Humanitarianism, 1880-1930" Max Kade Center for European and German Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN, November 29, 2012.

“The History of Humanitarianism: Complicating the Grand Narrative,” roundtable at the Western Society for French History, Banff, October 13, 2012.

“From Global Knowledge to Local Standards: Foreign Influences on Emerging Nutritional Science in France, 1890s to 1914,” Conference entitled “Setting Standards: the History and Politics of Nutritional Theories and Practices, 1890-1930,” Brock University, August 2010.

“Crossing Borders: Competition, Cooperation and Medical Expertise in the African Sleeping Sickness Campaigns Before World War One,” Columbia University Centre for International History, New York, December 3, 2010.

“Health Reform or Moral Crusade? French Doctors and the Colonial Anti-Alcohol Movement, 1890-1914,” Society for French Historical studies (SFHS), New Jersey, April 2008.

“The Intellectual Origins of German Colonial Studies: Interdisciplinary Origins of an Evolving Research Agenda,” roundtable at the American Historical Association (AHA), Washington D.C. January 2008.

“The International Anti-Alcohol Movement and the Atlantic World, 1885-1930,” presented at the York University Workshop “Alcohol and the Making of the Atlantic World: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” Toronto, October 2007.

“Germans and the International Anti-Alcohol Movement, 1880-1914,” presented at the German Studies Association, San Diego, October 2007.

“Colonial Cuisine: Hygiene, Health and “Frenchness,” 1890-1940,” presented at the French Historical Studies Association, Houston Texas, March 16, 2007.

“Trading Spaces: Duala Elites in Europe Before and After World War One,” presented at a roundtable at the American Historical Association (AHA) Annual Meeting, Atlanta Georgia, January 2007.

"Transnationalism, Internationalism, and Scientific Networks Before World War One," Second Annual German Modernities Workshop, University of Michigan, May 2006.

"Sleeping Sickness in Africa: Colonialism, Medical Ethics and the Search for a Cure, 1900-1914," African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., November 2005.

"'Accidents May Happen': Experimentation and the Treatment of Sleeping Sickness in the African Colonies, 1900-1914," McMaster Colloquium in the History of Medicine, Hamilton, October 2005.

Book Reviews

Evans, Andrew. Anthropology at War: World War One and the Science of Race in Germany. Chicago, 2010. For German History, 30, no. 1 (2012): 145-146.

Stephen A. Toth, Beyond Papillon: The French Overseas Penal Colonies, 1854-1952. Lincoln, NE: 2006. For Itinerario, 31 (1) (2007).

Brantlinger, Patrick, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800-1930. Cornell: 2004. For The Canadian Journal of History, 40, no. 1 (2005).

Maurer, Konrad and Maurer, Ulrike, Alzheimer: The Life of a Physician and the Career of a Disease. New York: 2003. For H-German, (August 2004).

Penny, Glenn. Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany. Chapel Hill and London: 2002. German History, 22, no. 2 (2004): 277-8.

Walther, Daniel Joseph. Creating Germans Abroad. Athens, Ohio: 2002. German History, 22, no. 2 (2004): 278-279.

Current Courses

TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall/Winter 2017-2018 AP/HIST1010 6.0  War, Revolution and Society in the 20th Century LECT  


I am a Modern European Historian, specializing in European colonialism and the history of colonial medicine and humanitarianism. Past research has included explorations of the role of transnational ties between tropical medicine specialists in Africa and Europe (early 20th century) and the history of food and nutrition in France and its colonies. My current project explores the expansion of trade in West Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with special attention paid to the Holt family of Liverpool and their connections to the transnational world of "legitimate trade" (including their contacts among African, French and German traders). In addition I am interested in John Holt's relationship to humanitarian campaigns launched by transnational European activists against the trade in alcohol and weapons in this period.

Area of Specialization

History

Degrees

PhD, Univeristy of Toronto
MA, University of Toronto
BA, University of Waterloo

Research Interests:

History , Culture and Cultural Studies , Modern European Colonialism/Modern Atlantic World, History of Trade in West Africa, History of Medicine

Current Research Projects


Project Type: Funded
Funders: 
Minor Research Grant (York University)

Networks in Tropical Medicine

Summary: 
This book was published by Stanford University Press in 2012.

Description: 
The book explores transnational connections between tropical medicine experts as they emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with special emphasis on cooperation and competition in human trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) research.

Project Type: Funded
Role: Author

History of the Anti-Alcohol Campaigns

Description: 
In this project, my goal is to demonstrate how the transnational campaigns against the colonial liquor trade in Africa between the 1880s and 1930s represented an important contributing moment to shaping the character of modern western activist movements in the global south. Many European countries participated in the manufacturing, sale and distribution of liquor to the colonies. Western missionaries, philanthropists and humanitarians were horrified by the extension of this trade. Building on the tactics developed by the anti-slavery campaigners in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a new generation of activists organized a campaign against colonial government policies, the lucrative European liquor industry, and consumers of high-alcohol content spirits in West and Central Africa. Their focus may have been on alcohol, but their work ultimately highlighted some of the larger systemic problems of colonialism. Yet the solutions they proposed unfairly targeted the consumers of alcohol rather than taking on problems in the industry itself.

Project Type: Funded
Funders: 
SSHRC Small Grants Program
Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES)
York Internal Grant - Minor Research Grant
York Conference Travel Fund

John Holt's Empire of Business: Liquor, Guns, Humanitarians and Colonialism 1860-1915

Summary: 
Explores the family and business of John Holt, the company's trade across British, German, French and Spanish colonies, the founder's activism in the Congo Reform Movement, and, more broadly, the development of western colonialism in West Africa as situated between business and "humanitarian" development.


Project Type: Funded
Role: Principal Investigator


Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2014
End Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2018

Funders: 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

All Publications

Books

Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890-1930 (Stanford University Press, 2012) http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=11368

Journal Articles

Neill, D. “Finding the “Ideal Diet”: Nutrition, Culture and Dietary Practices in France and French Equatorial Africa, c. 1890s to 1920s,” Food and Foodways, vol. 17, no. 1 (2009), 1-28.

Neill, D. “Paul Ehrlich’s Colonial Connections: Scientific Networks and the Response to the Sleeping Sickness Epidemic, 1900-1914,” Social History of Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1 (2009), 61-77.

Neill, D. “Commerce, Cookbooks and Colonialism: Cross-Cultural Cuisine in the Age of Empire,” World History Bulletin, 1 (Spring 2008): 10-13.

Neill, D. “Local History as Total History: a Conference at the University of Toronto,” in German History, 20 no. 3 (2002): 373-378 (co-written with Lisa Todd).

Conference Papers

“The Colonial Anti-liquor Campaigns and the Origins of Western Humanitarianism, 1880-1930" Max Kade Center for European and German Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN, November 29, 2012.

“The History of Humanitarianism: Complicating the Grand Narrative,” roundtable at the Western Society for French History, Banff, October 13, 2012.

“From Global Knowledge to Local Standards: Foreign Influences on Emerging Nutritional Science in France, 1890s to 1914,” Conference entitled “Setting Standards: the History and Politics of Nutritional Theories and Practices, 1890-1930,” Brock University, August 2010.

“Crossing Borders: Competition, Cooperation and Medical Expertise in the African Sleeping Sickness Campaigns Before World War One,” Columbia University Centre for International History, New York, December 3, 2010.

“Health Reform or Moral Crusade? French Doctors and the Colonial Anti-Alcohol Movement, 1890-1914,” Society for French Historical studies (SFHS), New Jersey, April 2008.

“The Intellectual Origins of German Colonial Studies: Interdisciplinary Origins of an Evolving Research Agenda,” roundtable at the American Historical Association (AHA), Washington D.C. January 2008.

“The International Anti-Alcohol Movement and the Atlantic World, 1885-1930,” presented at the York University Workshop “Alcohol and the Making of the Atlantic World: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” Toronto, October 2007.

“Germans and the International Anti-Alcohol Movement, 1880-1914,” presented at the German Studies Association, San Diego, October 2007.

“Colonial Cuisine: Hygiene, Health and “Frenchness,” 1890-1940,” presented at the French Historical Studies Association, Houston Texas, March 16, 2007.

“Trading Spaces: Duala Elites in Europe Before and After World War One,” presented at a roundtable at the American Historical Association (AHA) Annual Meeting, Atlanta Georgia, January 2007.

"Transnationalism, Internationalism, and Scientific Networks Before World War One," Second Annual German Modernities Workshop, University of Michigan, May 2006.

"Sleeping Sickness in Africa: Colonialism, Medical Ethics and the Search for a Cure, 1900-1914," African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., November 2005.

"'Accidents May Happen': Experimentation and the Treatment of Sleeping Sickness in the African Colonies, 1900-1914," McMaster Colloquium in the History of Medicine, Hamilton, October 2005.

Book Reviews

Evans, Andrew. Anthropology at War: World War One and the Science of Race in Germany. Chicago, 2010. For German History, 30, no. 1 (2012): 145-146.

Stephen A. Toth, Beyond Papillon: The French Overseas Penal Colonies, 1854-1952. Lincoln, NE: 2006. For Itinerario, 31 (1) (2007).

Brantlinger, Patrick, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800-1930. Cornell: 2004. For The Canadian Journal of History, 40, no. 1 (2005).

Maurer, Konrad and Maurer, Ulrike, Alzheimer: The Life of a Physician and the Career of a Disease. New York: 2003. For H-German, (August 2004).

Penny, Glenn. Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany. Chapel Hill and London: 2002. German History, 22, no. 2 (2004): 277-8.

Walther, Daniel Joseph. Creating Germans Abroad. Athens, Ohio: 2002. German History, 22, no. 2 (2004): 278-279.


Teaching:

Current Courses

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TermCourse NumberSectionTitleType 
Fall/Winter 2017-2018 AP/HIST1010 6.0  War, Revolution and Society in the 20th Century LECT