Health crises such as the SARS epidemic and H1N1 have rekindled interest in the 1918 influenza pandemic, which swept the globe in the wake of the First World War and killed approximately 50 million people. Now more than ever, medical, public health, and government officials are looking to the past to help prepare for future emergencies.
Epidemic Encounters zeroes in on Canada, where one-third of the population took ill and fifty-five thousand people died, to consider the various ways in which this country was affected by the pandemic. How did military and medical authorities, health care workers, and ordinary citizens respond? What role did social inequalities play in determining who survived? To answer these questions as they pertained to both local and national contexts, the contributors explore a number of key themes and topics, including the experiences of nurses and Aboriginal peoples, public letter writing in Montreal, the place of the epidemic within industrial modernity, and the relationship between mourning and interwar spiritualism.
The Canadian experience brings to light the complex ways that biology, science, society, and culture intersect in a globalizing world and offers new insight into medical history’s usefulness in the struggle against epidemic disease.
This book will be of value not only to historians and medical anthropologists but also to clinicians and government officials charged with planning responses to pandemic diseases.
This timely book undertakes a detailed and rigorous analysis of the 1918 flu epidemic as it affected Canada. It is a welcome addition to Canadian medical historiography, as well as the international literature of this pandemic.
Magda Fahrni is an associate professor in the Department of History at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Esyllt W. Jones is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Manitoba.
Contributors: Francis Dubois, Denis Goulet, D. Ann Herring, Mark Osborne Humphries, Mary-Ellen Kelm, Ellen Korol, Heather MacDougall, Linda Quiney, Karen Slonim, and Jean-Pierre Thouez.
Introduction / Magda Fahrni and Esyllt Jones
Part 1: Public Responses to the Influenza Pandemic in Canada
1 The Limits of Necessity: Public Health, Dissent, and the War Effort during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic / Mark Osborne Humphries
2 “Rendering Valuable Service”: The Politics of Nursing during the 1918-19 Influenza Crisis / Linda Quiney
3 “Respectfully Submitted”: Citizens and Public Letter Writing during Montreal’s Influenza Epidemic, 1918-20 / Magda Fahrni
Part 2: Who Contracted Influenza and Why?
4 The North-South Divide: Social Inequality and Mortality from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Hamilton, Ontario / D. Ann Herring and Ellen Korol
5 Beyond Biology: Understanding the Social Impact of Infectious Disease in Two Aboriginal Communities / Karen Slonim
6 A Geographical Analysis of the Spread of Spanish Influenza in Quebec, 1918-20 / Francis Dubois, Jean-Pierre Thouez, and Denis Goulet
Part 3: Influenza and the Limits of Modernity
7 Flu Stories: Engaging with Disease, Death, and Modernity in British Columbia, 1918-19 / Mary-Ellen Kelm
8 Spectral Influenza: Winnipeg’s Hamilton Family, Interwar Spiritualism, and Pandemic Disease / Esyllt Jones
Part 4: Influenza and Public Health in the Contemporary Context
9 Toronto’s Health Department in Action: Influenza in 1918 and SARS in 2003 / Heather MacDougall
Conclusion / Esyllt Jones and Magda Fahrni
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