Fields of Study
Originally trained as a Canadian labour historian, Radforth’s early work was firmly in the field of ‘the new social history’ with its agenda of doing history from the bottom up and deploying the analytical categories of class, race/ethnicity, and gender. His research focused on the everyday lives and work experiences of the men who lived in bush camps and who worked in northern Ontario ’s forest industry. It dealt with issues relating to transiency, male bonding, technological change, ethnic radicalism, and class conflict. His Bushworkers and Bosses: Logging in Northern Ontario (1987) covers 20th-century developments, and ‘The Shantymen’, in the collection Labouring Lives (1995) deals with the 19th century.
Radforth teaches labour and immigration history and has co-edited Canadian Working-Class History (2006). A second interest (evident in his co-edited collection Colonial Leviathan ) has been state formation: evolving forms of governmentality and citizenship, particularly in Victorian Canada. More recently Radforth has taken up ‘the new cultural history’ with its emphasis on representation, ritual, and performance. Royal Spectacle (2004) examines the ceremonies and popular demonstrations got up for the first royal visit to Canada and the United States in 1860. Popular royalism – an aspect of the Victorian ‘British World’ – is examined in its various guises: as an Aboriginal strategy, as an outlet for Orange/Green conflict, as a gendered script, etc. Current projects range from a study of 19th-century street demonstrations for conservative causes to work on the role of historians in recent ethnic redress campaigns.
- Jeannie’s Demise: Abortion on Trial in Victorian Toronto (Between the Lines : 2020)
- Canadian Working-Class History, 3rd Edition (Canadian Scholars' Press Inc. : 2006)
- Royal Spectacle: The 1860 Visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the United States (University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division : 2004)