Dr Deborah Toner

Associate Professor of HistoryDr Deborah Toner

Contact details

  • Tel: +44(0) 116 229 7392
  • Email: dt151@le.ac.uk
  • Office: Attenborough 514

Personal details

I completed my BA, MA and PhD in History at the University of Warwick. My doctoral research explored the social and cultural history of alcohol in nineteenth-century Mexico, through an interdisciplinary methodology, synthesising the analysis of archival records, medical texts, and government publications, with literary texts.

I subsequently held an Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, as well as teaching positions at the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Warwick. Before joining the School of Historical Studies in 2012, I completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, where I established an international research network, convened a series of events, and compiled a digital library of resources on the subject of Liberalism in the Americas.


My teaching interests are chronologically and geographically broad, encompassing North, Central and South America and ranging across some 1,000 years! Whether considering life within the Aztec empire or gang-related crime in 1920s Chicago, my teaching often relates to core themes in social and cultural history: gender, social class, race and ethnicity, and the relationship between reality and representation.

Key questions related to my research interests also feature prominently in my modules, including the social and cultural importance of alcohol, colonialism and colonialist discourse, and indigenous histories. Methodologically, I often encourage students to approach subjects using a comparative framework, in order to foster skills in the identification of patterns, trends and differences within large-scale historical processes.

Examples of modules I teach:



My research interests include the social history of nation-building, race and identity, and political culture in the Americas in the nineteenth century, especially Mexico and the border regions of the United States.

I am also particularly interested in the social and cultural history of drinking in the Americas, and the expanding interdisciplinary field of drinking studies, which I have supported through the establishment and co-ordination since 2010 of a Drinking Studies Network based at the University of Warwick.

I am currently working on a research project that brings together all these areas of enquiry, examining how and why racial stereotypes about drinking developed in the United States and Mexico between 1845 and 1940. The project investigates the extent of dialogue or interaction between the multiple racial stereotypes about the drinking behaviours of different ethnic groups that formed in this time period, by analysing points of heightened international exchange: the Mexican American War (1846-48), international exhibitions (1876-1929), international alcohol conferences (1885-1939) and temperance tours (1891-1940).

In recent years, I have been working collaboratively on several projects on food and food history, centred on the social and cultural exchange and cohesion that sharing our experiences and stories of food and food heritage can bring.


  • Mexican history
  • Mexican-American relations in the 19th century
  • Social and cultural history of alcohol

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