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Meet The Scholar: Ed Armston-Sheret – Brandy, Poison or Medicine?

March 25 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm GMT

Episode 2: Brandy – a poison or a medicine?

Victorian explorers and arguments about the health effects of drinking.  

Debates about drink and abstinence are not new. Victorian medics argued at length about the effects of alcohol on the human body. Abstainers argued alcohol was a poison, but some medics viewed certain drinks as having medicinal effects – particularly in cold and hot climates. Others advocated moderate consumption. These arguments weren’t just scientific. Discussions about expeditionary drinking were shaped by class, racial, and gender prejudices. Explorers played a prominent role in these debates. Explorers’ practices of drink and sobriety were used as evidence by both medics and temperance campaigners. This talk examines how British explorers became embroiled in these debates about drink and abstinence – drawing on a range of examples from the tropics and polar regions. In doing so, the talk highlights the need to view debates about drink and sobriety in a longer historical context. The discussion will be facilitated by Claire Davey, PhD research student at Canterbury Christ Church University.




Please note the time is in UK time (GMT). Find the right time in your own time zone.



Ed Armston-Sheret, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Ed Armston-Sheret is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate. His research examines the relationship between changing social and scientific understandings of the human body and the cultures and conventions surrounding Victorian and Edwardian exploration. His work has been published in the Journal of Historical Geography, Geography Compass, the Victorian Review, and The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs.

Ed’s scholarship to date has been recognised by the AHRC through the award of a three-month Fellowship at the Huntington Library in California. He has also been awarded an American Geographical Society Library Fellowship to visit the organisation’s archive in Milwaukee and a Royal Historical Society grant to support research at the National Library of Scotland. 

Follow Ed on Twitter.

Claire Davey, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Claire is a full-time PhD research student and recipient of the University Research Scholarship at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is currently researching women’s experiences of entering sobriety through online recovery communities, particularly seeking to understand how sobriety influences performances of gender and sexuality. Claire formerly completed her MA (Dist.) at Birkbeck College, University of London in Gender, Sexuality & Culture (2018). She is a member of the Drinking Studies Network and participates in its cross-disciplinary research clusters.   

Follow Claire on Twitter.


March 25
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm GMT
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