Congress 2020 is cancelled

 

Dear members and friends of the Federation,

On March 18, 2020, we made the difficult decision to cancel Congress 2020 at Western University, and began consulting our members on a proposal to move the event online. Our priority was to protect public health, while giving our scholarly associations an alternative to share their research and connect with their communities.

But in those conversations, we realized that many of us are feeling tired and overstretched. We are worn out trying to balance new demands at home and in our work. The burden is especially heavy for marginalized, racialized and disabled people, as this crisis compounds existing inequities and creates new ones.

So today, I am announcing that we will no longer move forward with Congress this year, in any form, including online. It is time to pause and give ourselves some space to meet our immediate needs.

Our members have told us that we need to turn our energy to other things right now: picking up groceries for our parents; caring for children who are home without school or childcare; answering emails from worried students; and making the shift to virtual classrooms.

Cancelling Congress is the right decision, but it is a difficult one. It is a unique event, built on people’s hard work and generosity, and we owe our thanks to association Presidents and Directors, Program Chairs, and Local Arrangement Coordinators.

To Alan Shepard, President of Western University: please accept our deepest gratitude for the work of your talented and dedicated organizing team, led by Academic Convenor Jeff Tennant and Project Manager Cliff Fielder, who have poured their heart and soul into this Congress. We will not forget your spirit of partnership, and we look forward to collaborating with you again.

We know some of the most important questions remain to be answered, including that of this year’s Congress theme – Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism. Despite this cancellation and the immediate challenges of COVID-19, we remain committed to having these critical conversations, and we will be working with all of our Congress partners and member associations to make that a reality.

While the past few weeks have been difficult, I was inspired many times by the commitment and collaboration of my staff and our association leaders. It is a privilege to work with them and on behalf of our members. Thank you, be safe, and let’s look forward to many more conversations to come.

Sincerely,

Gabriel Miller
President and CEO, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Five surprising truths about language mixing

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Guest blog by Dr. Shana Poplack, Member of the Order of Canada, Canada Research Chair in Linguistics and founding director of the Sociolinguistics Laboratory, both at the University of Ottawa.

On this International Day of Multilingualism, I celebrate coexisting languages and their speakers everywhere. I’m in good company, since more than half the world’s population is said to speak more than one language, often many more. This means that multilingualism is not the exception, but the norm. And yet this most ordinary state of affairs continues to be associated with a variety of deficits, mainly linguistic. One of the most salient and stigmatized is language “mixing”, widely considered to display laziness and ignorance, when not blamed for the deterioration or even demise of one or all of the languages involved. 

As a sociolinguist, my job is to investigate such stereotypes scientifically. I run a vibrant lab where the structure of bilingual speech represents a major research focus. Over the last several decades, my team and I have carried out cutting-edge analyses involving 13 language pairs, nearly 500 bi- or multilingual speakers, and hundreds of hours of their recorded conversations. Here’s an example of what we heard, produced spontaneously by one of our study participants. 

 

We systematically located, extracted and analyzed more than 43,000 instances of such language mixing in these data. Our results showed that much of the received wisdom about bilingual speech is simply wrong! Here are 5 surprising facts that explain why.

While language mixing may appear frequent (22,000 cases appeared in our study of the national capital region alone, for example), it actually pales in comparison to the unmixed stretches produced by the same speakers in the same interactions. This is true of every bilingual community we’ve studied, regardless of the specific languages involved: rarely does mixed material account for more than 1% of the verbal output! Needless to say, this is a far cry from what the media or speakers themselves (2) would have us believe. 

 

Starting a sentence in one language and ending in another, as in the Spanish/English example in (3), is a widespread stereotype of bilingual speech.  

But systematic quantitative analysis shows that mixed discourse is overwhelmingly (95%) constituted of inserting single words from one language – the donor – into a recipient, as in example (1). This is known as lexical borrowing. Most such insertions turn out to be established loanwords, attested for centuries in recipient-language dictionaries, like English-origin chum in example (4), or sandwich, gang, or bar, considered to be “French” words since 1801, 1837 and 1860 respectively.  

  You don’t even need to be bilingual to use those; just witness the unfettered use of French-origin words like beef, fashion, government, literature and verdict (among thousands of others) by monolingual anglophones worldwide! In comparison, sentences involving longer stretches of different languages (i.e. multi-word code-switching) are thin on the ground – if used at all – in most bilingual communities systematically studied to date.  

Far from displaying laziness, ignorance or worse, we found language mixing to be orderly and systematic. With no explicit instruction on how to combine languages (obviously, since the practice is generally chastised), bilinguals follow the same unspoken rules. First, they confine their mixing to two major strategies: borrowing and code-switching.

The key mechanism behind borrowing involves converting (or integrating, in technical parlance) donor-language words into recipient-language grammar. In the process, bilinguals divest these words of their original grammatical features and imprint them with those of the borrowing language. Depending on the requirements of that language, this may mean inflecting them with prefixes or suffixes, assigning them a grammatical gender, and and/or positioning them in a specific order. In (5), for example, another participant conjugated the English verb groove with the appropriate French 1st person singular imperfect affix “ais”, gave the noun show French masculine gender, and postposed the qualifier rap to it, following French word order, instead of preceding, as per English. 

 

Remarkably, borrowed items are treated like their recipient-language counterparts regardless of the languages involved! This explains why the English-origin words in the examples below may seem unrecognizable to unilingual anglophones. Car is inflected with the Tamil accusative marker -ei in (6), consistent with its role as direct object of a Tamil verb, change is conjugated with the Igbo past tense affix in (7), while represent and conference in (8) carry the Ukrainian masculine singular instrumental and feminine singular locative case-markers respectively. And this doesn’t begin to exhaust the possibilities offered by the world’s languages. 

Remarkably, such appropriation of recipient-language grammar does not take centuries to achieve! It happens right away, when the word is first borrowed. This adaptive property of word borrowing has important consequences for understanding how mixing affects the languages involved. 

The other major mixing strategy is code-switching, defined as the juxtaposition of a multiword sequence of one language with that of another. Code-switching is applauded when a bilingual changes languages to accommodate to a monolingual participant, as happens so often, even in officially bilingual countries like Canada. But what fascinates linguists (and horrifies the casual observer) is when it occurs within the confines of a single sentence, as in (3) and (9). Such examples are often invoked to support the widespread claim that code-switchers can’t speak either language. 

Our research shows that nothing could be farther from the truth. On the contrary, the vast majority of such intra-sentential code-switches respect the grammar of not one, but both, of the languages involved simultaneously. How could this be? First, unlike borrowing, the internal constituency of each sequence remains that of its language of origin, explaining, for example, why the adjective dead precedes the noun bodies, just as required in English, rather than following it, as does the borrowed rap in example (5) above. But the degree of bilingual prowess required to code-switch felicitously is most evident from the way the switched segments are positioned. In striking contrast to received wisdom, they’re not just thrown in at random. Instead their placement follows robust, albeit implicit, rules, and as far as we can tell, these operate across all language pairs, regardless of their makeup. Simply put, languages are switched only between sentence elements that are normally ordered in the same way in the unmixed grammars. This rule, which has been formalized as the “Equivalence Constraint” (Poplack 1980), is schematized in the figure below.  

 

The dotted lines indicate permissible code-switch sites; crossovers indicate elements that remain in the same language (i.e. resist switching), because their word orders conflict. Here, the object pronoun him follows the verb in English, while its counterpart le precedes the verb in Spanish. A switch is thus licensed before the verb phrase or after, but not within it. (This speaker, like many others, opted to eschew two potentially permissible sites in favour of switching at a major sentence boundary (between main and complement clause). Quantitative analysis shows that this implicit constraint is obeyed 99% of the time, revealing that code-switching is a skill, rather than a defect. And further research associating it with the most proficient bilinguals in the community only confirms that fact! This flies in the face of received wisdom. 

Every spontaneous, or nonce, borrowing has the potential to become a bona fide dictionary-attested loanword. But our historical research (Poplack & Dion 2012) shows that few complete that trajectory. Based on data produced by francophone Quebeckers born between 1846 and 1994, we determined that under 7% of their English-origin words persisted over the century and a half studied. This mean that most borrowings are ephemeral. They simply don’t stick around long enough to have a lasting impact on the lexicon of the recipient language. 

 

It should now be apparent why language mixing is not detrimental to the languages involved. In the first instance, despite the salience of this discourse strategy, both its major manifestations are not only exceedingly rare, but also short-lived. In addition, because borrowed words jettison their grammatical structure to adopt that of the recipient language as soon as they are borrowed into it, it stands to reason that they can’t alter that structure. And since code-switching involves respecting (i.e. maintaining) the grammatical structure of each of the languages involved, it follows that this process doesn’t affect them either.  

So, in addition to the enhanced cognitive benefits, job prospects, sociocultural advantages and more conferred on us by multilingualism, let us also celebrate language mixing, this endlessly expressive and fascinating resource uniquely available to speakers of more than one language. Happy International Day of Multilingualism! 


Shana Poplack, C.M., D.Litt, FRSC, CRC (I) is Distinguished University Professor and Canada Research Chair in Linguistics at the University of Ottawa, and founding director of the Sociolinguistics Laboratory there. She and her team have spent decades scientifically studying bilingualism and its effects among speakers of more than a dozen language pairs, including Canada’s official languages. She is the author of Borrowing: Loanwords in the Speech Community and in the grammar (2018; Oxford University Press). 


* Examples are reproduced verbatim from audio recordings. Codes in parentheses identify the language, (corpus), speaker number and location in transcript or audio recording. 


Further reading 

Poplack, Shana. 2018. Borrowing: Loanwords in the Speech Community and in the Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

Poplack, Shana. 1980. “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence in Spanish y termino en español”: toward a typology of code-switching. Linguistics 18, 7/8. 581-618.  

Poplack, Shana & Dion, Nathalie. 2012. Myths and facts about loanword development. Language Variation and Change 24, 3. 279-315.

 

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My multifaceted Francophonie: Coming together to bring a language to life

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Dr. Anne-José Villeneuve, assistant professor of French Linguistics at the Campus Saint-Jean and adjunct professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Alberta. This article was originally published in French and has been translated with permission from the author.

photo of Anne-José Villeneuve, professor at University of Alberta

With over 300 million speakers, French is the 5th most widely spoken language in the world. It is also one of the official working languages of the United Nations (UN), which will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020.  

Every year, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) recognizes March 20th as International Francophonie Day. This year, as part of its official Language Days, the UN will celebrate the OIF’s 50th anniversary through its French Language Day activities. On Friday, March 20, 2020, Canadians will join French speakers around the world to celebrate the French language as it is spoken on both sides of the Atlantic. But this year, much of the celebration will be taking place in virtual spaces…   

In this period of uncertainty and social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this very special March 20th is a perfect moment to come together and get to know one another. To talk about our experience as francophones, franglophones, and friends of the Francophonie. To reflect on a vision of the Francophonie in which every voice counts. 

As a sociolinguistics researcher working on a francophone campus in Alberta, I am interested in linguistic variation, bilingualism and language learning. Born to a Québécois father and a Haitian mother, I have long felt the effects of prescriptive norms of French, which sing the praises of a so-called “standard French” while stigmatizing other varieties. Even as a child, I found myself analyzing the harmful effects that this linguistic discrimination had on people and their self-esteem. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was a budding sociolinguist before I even started school.

Growing up in the Montreal region, I was always surrounded by French. In Quebec and in France, you’re not born a francophone, you become one. In Ontario or Alberta, it’s a different story. Only after I arrived in the anglophone world did I discover that I was a francophone. 

I learned English by deciphering cereal boxes, in ESL courses, and later in a pilot immersion program in grade six. Having been in the francophone school system since kindergarten, I wanted to pursue part of my postsecondary studies in my second language. Despite a few challenges relating to linguistic insecurity, I learned a lot from this new intercultural experience. I was gradually becoming a bilingual francophone. 

My mother never spoke to my brother nor I in Haitian Creole. Although I sometimes heard the language at home when Mom got mad or when she was on the phone, I never dared to speak Creole for fear that “real” Haitians would make fun of my Québécois “accent”. I wanted to do research on the language of my ancestors, so I learned Haitian Creole at university. I discovered my roots and was able to talk to my mother in her native language. I had only ever communicated with her in the language of the colonizers; now, for the first time, I spoke to her in Kreyòl, the language of the people. 

Like Louisiana gumbo, I am the product of a meeting of cultures. Like any child of immigrants with a bicultural identity, I navigate between two worlds on a daily basis, I am constantly adapting, I am intercultural. The same is true of my Francophonie. I’d like to tell you about it, if I may. 

My Francophonie is a community of French speakers – a language from France that has spread its colonial influence to the Americas, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. My Francophonie brings people together to celebrate the diversity of French as it is spoken, here and around the world, alongside languages as diverse as English, Arabic, Breton, Wolof and Spanish. My Francophonie is made up of people of all ages and backgrounds who gather in communities of practice around a language to bring it to life each and every day. It is a symphony of voices with diverse accents and different modes of expression, all pointing to a living, dynamic, and modern French language of the future. After all, a language is not some inert object to be protected in a museum; it is a living object that evolves in the mouths of its speakers.  

My Francophonie is multifaceted, but above all, it builds bridges, by recognizing and celebrating the linguistic and cultural heritage of the people who comprise it. Like the heritage of my father, a Québécois from Lac-Saint-Jean, whose French ancestors go back to the early 17th century when New France was first founded. Like the heritage of my mother, a francophone and Creole-speaking immigrant from Haiti, a “new Canadian” who came to Canada in the early 1970s. 

My Francophonie recognizes the experience of francophones in minority language communities who have been surrounded by English since childhood, who live with a non-francophone partner, who sometimes struggle to hear their voices (and to make them heard) in the media. While some have been able to attend school in their first language, thanks to the efforts of those who have passionately defended the rights of linguistic minorities, others have found their access limited to school French, to “correct” French. Still others have lost the language of their ancestors and are now working to help their children rediscover it.  

A multifaceted Francophonie is one where we can recognize each other’s experiences, and one where we can laugh, learn, help, talk, and thrive in French. Sometimes in the “correct” French of the classroom, in the formal language of public discourse, but more often in the French of the street, the French that takes off its makeup, that comes from the gut – and yes, the French that dances and mingles with English from time to time. 

Whether you’re a francophone, a franglophone, a new francophone or a francophile, speak French if you can, and add your voice to those of others to bring the French language to life. Happy French Language Day and happy International Francophonie Day, everyone! 

To learn more about the United Nations (UN) French Language Day, visit https://www.un.org/fr/observances/french-language-day/.

 

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Le français vue de chaque côté : une conversation entre deux membres de notre équipe de communication à l’occasion de la journée internationale de la Francophonie

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Pour encourager chacun à réfléchir à son lien avec la langue française, nous avons demandé à deux de nos collaboratrices bilingues de parler de leur expérience: l'une dont la langue maternelle est le français, l'autre qui parle le français comme langue seconde. Bonne journée internationale de la Francophonie !

Géraldine Gautier: Née et élevée à Paris, je me suis établie au Canada il y a 21 ans. Quand je repense aux facteurs qui m’ont conduits à vivre ici, il y en a eu beaucoup. Sans doute l’un marquant a été d’abord mon environnement familial porté sur d’autres cultures et langues étrangères. J’habite Ottawa depuis 1999 mais j’ai fait une parenthèse de 5 ans dans la région de Toronto. Une chance car grâce à cette dernière expérience, j’ai vraiment réalisé que le bilinguisme et la Francophonie ne coulaient pas de source. Mon engagement à les préserver s’en est trouvé accru. En temps normal et dans un environnement familier, on prend beaucoup de choses pour acquises. En situation minoritaire, c’est tout le contraire. Disons que cela a été très révélateur.

Lily Polowin: Je suis québécoise anglophone, donc je parle le français comme langue seconde. Comme tous les enfants québécois anglophones, j’ai commencé mes cours de français en maternelle. Cette éducation a continué pendant 13 ans au primaire, au secondaire et au CEGEP. J’ai grandi en Outaouais et j’ai habité à Montréal pendant cinq ans. Je viens d'une famille anglophone, mais ma mère est complètement bilingue et elle a commencé à m'apprendre le français depuis que je suis toute petite.

Comment tu te sens lorsque tu travailles dans ta langue seconde?

Géraldine: Je me souviens de mes débuts au travail. De ce bilinguisme pour lequel j’étais très mal préparée, des codes sociaux et de travail que je ne maîtrisais pas. Mon impatience à vouloir tout comprendre d’un coup et la lenteur du processus. Car le cerveau ne peut pas digérer d’un coup cette multitude d’informations qui l’assaille, de ‘digérer’ ces deux langues presque simultanément. Et cela malgré toute la bonne volonté que l’on y peut mettre. Des années après, je continue à m’émerveiller de pouvoir travailler dans les deux langues, de rires de blagues propres à chaque culture, de lire certains auteurs dans leur propre langue, d’avoir le choix de choisir des mots d’une culture qui me paraît plus appropriés lorsque je veux m’exprimer.

Qu'est-ce qui te plaît le plus dans la langue et la culture françaises?

Géraldine: Son immense culture si particulière, son histoire fascinante, la beauté de la langue, ses valeurs partagées par de nombreux pays qui la parle.

Lily: J’admire la façon avec laquelle les francophones sont fiers de leur langue et se battent pour la protéger. J’adore les expressions uniquement québécoises que j’ai entendues toute ma vie, et je me réjouis d’apprendre des expressions de provenance d’autres pays francophones. J’adore la joie de vivre que possède mes voisins francophones. Je ne sais pas si j’ai raison sur ce dernière point, mais je trouve que la façon de s’exprimer en français est plus précise et plus délicate qu’en anglais.

Quels conseils donnes-tu aux gens qui apprennent le français?

Géraldine: Apprendre une nouvelle langue, c’est souvent au début l’excitation de pouvoir communiquer différemment et de prendre conscience d’un monde qui s’ouvre. Si c’est aussi s’exprimer de mieux en mieux, saisir des centaines de détails, l’apprentissage comporte son lot de frustration, souvent, à cause de la lenteur et la rigueur pour acquérir les bases; beaucoup d’étapes qui se font graduellement. Alors, un conseil, lorsque l’on bloque sur des points de grammaire ou sur tout autre point, prendre le temps de découvrir la langue autrement que ce soit par la gastronomie, le sport, la culture, la politique, etc., autant de découvertes amusantes et motivantes, sans oublier les rencontres avec des francophones.

Lily: Il faut se souvenir qu’avec chaque règle de grammaire qu’on apprend, il sera nécessaire plus tard d’apprendre comment la règle est souvent brisée. Aussi, je dirais que la meilleure façon de vraiment devenir bilingue est de travailler avec des gens qui parlent une autre langue. Même si j’ai pris 14 ans de cours de français, je ne serais pas capable de parler français si je n’avais pas commencé à parler quotidiennement au travail quand j’avais 15 ans.

Comment réagis-tu lorsque tu rencontres des versions du français différentes de celle que tu as apprise à l'école?

Géraldine: Il n’y a pas de bon ou de mauvais français à apprendre. Je n’aime pas quand les gens jaugent une langue par rapport à l’autre. C’est souvent le cas entre le québécois et le français. C’est juste que chaque langue, chaque accent raconte son histoire. On peut rire des différences gentiment mais jamais se moquer. Essayer de comprendre pourquoi on utilise certaines expressions plutôt que d’autres invite vraiment à comprendre l’autre et son univers. Les langues s’inscrivent dans un environnement contextuel fascinant et très vivant.

Lily: I love everything about Quebecois French. Some people don’t like how much slang is used and how the words are slurred, or that they use different expressions. But I find all these things adorable, charming and expressive. Maybe also because they remind me of home. Even if I was taught in school that they are a no-no! I think we need to stop assuming that one version of a language is the ‘correct’ version and that dialects are a form of bastardization. Language evolves as culture evolves and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Vive le franglais!

What is it like to work in bilingual Comms at the Federation?

Géraldine: À la Fédération, le bilinguisme est respecté. J’écris en français en général. Pour l’anglais, je n’hésite pas à demander de l’aide à mes collègues anglophones avant d’envoyer lorsque j’ai des doutes. Ils font de même pour leurs communications francophones. Cela crée un espace d’échange neutre pour trouver le bon mot ou la bonne formule, cela nous force à écouter l’autre, à être plus attentif à ce qu’il/elle essaye d’exprimer et nous rapproche à ce moment-là.

Ton film préféré pour apprendre le français?

Géraldine: Pas besoin d’un gros budget pour regarder des films en français, sur le net, YouTube, Netflix. A French doctor et He even has your eyes (Netflix).

Lily: Le film Bon Cop, Bad Cop devrait être obligatoire pour tous les gens qui apprennent le français au Canada. Nulle part ailleurs peut-on obtenir un si bon cours sur l’art de sacrer en québécois.

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2020 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences to Be Moved Online in Midst of COVID-19

 

Ottawa, ON – March 19, 2020 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Western University announced today that in light of COVID-19, there will not be an in-person Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in London, Ontario in 2020. Instead, a proposal is being developed to move Congress online, in close collaboration with the Federation’s member associations who wish to participate.

The online Congress 2020 will continue to encourage multidisciplinary engagement through association programming and open events, all under the 2020 theme Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, which remains a strong focus.

Seventy-one associations, and 8,000 researchers, graduate students, policy-makers and practitioners were to gather on Western University’s campus between May 30 and June 5, 2020 to present a full week of public lectures, workshops, panels, cultural events and receptions. However, in recent weeks, it became apparent that a traditional, in-person Congress was no longer possible this year.

“Our number one priority is the protection of public health and the safety of all Congress participants,” said Patrizia Albanese, Chair of the Federation Board of Directors. “By hosting a virtual Congress, we can help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19, and give our members other opportunities to connect and to disseminate their research.”

The Federation will be working closely with participating scholarly associations to determine the best online option, and ensure that they are equipped to successfully host their conference via a virtual platform.

"While a gathering on Western's campus would have been the preferred forum for the programming we have been developing for many months, the current public health crisis makes it impossible this year,” said Jeff Tennant, Academic Convenor, Congress 2020. “It is our hope that a virtual Congress 2020 will serve as a starting point for the many conversations on this year’s theme within the humanities and social sciences community.”

 -30-

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Camille Ferrier
Manager, Communications and Membership
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
M. (613) 265-6993
cferrier@ideas-idees.ca

Keith Marnoch
Director, Media & Community Relations
Western University
T. (519) 661-2111 ext. 85468
kmarnoch@uwo.ca

About Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest academic gathering in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 89th year, Congress brings together approximately 70 academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

We recognize that our office is located on unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation. We extend our respect to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for their valuable past and present contributions to this land.

About Western University
Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Western challenges the best and brightest faculty, staff and students to commit to the highest global standards. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world applications. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community. Since 1878, 'The Western Experience' has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities.

Western University acknowledges that its campus is situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron (Neutral) people, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and with the Dish with One Spoon Convenant Wampum. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous peoples who are recognized as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors to society.

What does International Women's Day mean to you? Federation staff perspectives.

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator at the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation currently has 18 staff members, 14 of which are women. Being part of a team of strong women inspires me daily, and so this International Women’s Day, I wanted to probe my colleagues to see what empowering thoughts were blooming within. I asked staff if they’d be interested in answering this question: What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Here are the answers I received. Enjoy, and Happy International Women’s Day!

Lamis El-Zein, Executive Assistant:

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate girls and women all over the word, and to honour those who have been at the forefront of the fight against gender discrimination and inequities in legal, civil and human rights, and those who lost their freedom or lives while doing so. It is also a reminder that we need to increase our efforts and mobilize our actions to help empowering women everywhere at all levels, and giving them control over their own lives.

On a personal note, on IWD, I make sure to meet up with my friends and give away homemade cupcakes to women I know. I also write a card to my daughters, telling them how proud I am of them and that they should have big dreams, as one day they will change the world. I love to support and sponsor initiatives involving providing education, clothes, etc. for little girls in underprivileged countries.

Gina Hill Birriel, Manager, Programs and Policy:

International Women’s Day is one dedicated day in the year to be conscious of the very many barriers women face in the quest for equality. Some of the most fundamental human rights are still denied to many women and girls around the world and in Canada: from equal pay for equal work, to access to clean drinking water; from freedom from violence at the hands of a male partner or family member; to access to education. While the struggle of feminists of all stripes have brought gender equality a long way, there is still far to go to achieving true equality. IWD gives women – and our allies – a shared moment to reflect on where we are now and where we want to focus our attention. It’s also a chance to celebrate all the women, publicly recognized and toiling in silence, who have contributed to our advancement.

This March 8, I commit to recognizing a trailblazer and challenging gender biases. What will you do on IWD to contribute to a gender-equal world?

Camille Ferrier, Gestionnaire, communications et adhésion des membres :

#GrâceàVous, c’est aussi grâce à moi

Cette année, la Journée internationale des femmes rend hommage aux femmes et aux filles qui posent des gestes significatifs, qu’ils soient petits ou grands, pour favoriser un changement positif permettant de faire progresser l’égalité des genres.

On pense souvent que les mouvements tels que celui-ci n’ont d’effet que par les actions d’un grand nombre de personnes; que soi-même tout seul dans notre bataille, nous ne ferons pas grande différence. Tout comme le recyclage ménager, si moi je le fais bien comme il faut, est-ce que cela contribue vraiment à une planète plus saine?

La réponse est « oui ». Je suis une femme, une seule, avec toutes ses qualités et ses défauts; avec toute son expérience et ce qu’il me reste à apprendre, avec mes ambitions et la portée de mon message mais aussi dans mes limitations intrinsèques d’être humain. Mais grâce à mes petites actions quotidiennes, moi toute seule, comme des millions d’autres femmes, je peux changer le monde.

Je change le monde lorsque j’apprends à mon fils à être respectueux envers ses petits camarades, à traiter ses peluches avec tendresse, et à prendre soin de sa maman comme moi je prends soin de lui. Je change le monde quand je jongle toutes mes responsabilités au travail et ne compte pas mes heures dans une organisation dont le mandat me passionne, tout en gardant de l’énergie pour être mère, être partenaire et être une femme. Je change le monde quand je suis à l’écoute, attentive, et bienveillante avec mon équipe, avec mes amis, avec le personnel dans les magasins, ou les piétons dans la rue. Et je change le monde dans mes relations avec les autres femmes, et avec les hommes, en qui j’inspire le respect et l’égalité; non pas parce que je travaille fort pour le mériter, mais parce que nous le méritons toutes, tout court. #Grâce à vous, c’est aussi grâce à moi, et si l’on avance aujourd’hui sur le chemin de l’égalité, c’est grâce à nous toutes, individuellement et ensemble.

Kristin Bourassa, Program Officer:

I’m a woman with a PhD, and when I’m being facetious, I say that I finished my doctorate for two reasons. One was for the hat (it’s a truly hilarious hat). The other was so that I would have an honorific that is both gender-neutral and marital-status neutral. The use of honorifics is pretty context-dependent, and at the time I was living in a country that used them a lot and I was pretty unhappy about that “Miss” on my debit card. Suddenly being able to use “Dr” when appropriate didn’t make things much more straightforward, though – even in professional settings there are politics.

Some people felt that including “Dr” in a professional email signature was a bit snobby – but those people tended to be mid-career academic men who hadn’t been mistaken for an undergrad in decades. Then there was the #ImmodestWomen kerfuffle, which erupted after a woman historian on Twitter had the audacity to insist on using “Dr” and faced an immediate backlash of accusations that this was very immodest behaviour. Suddenly women everywhere started adding “Dr” to their Twitter names and/or handles in solidarity. I did it too! So, for International Women’s Day, I say: hilarious hats off to #ImmodestWomen everywhere.

Laura Chajkowski, Director, Congress and Events:

What does International Women’s Day mean to me?

This is a day to celebrate the strength and determination of each and every woman globally.  Together women are a powerhouse, and if we all can remember to stick together, we can move mountains. 

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator:

To me International Women’s Day has always felt a little bit exciting and celebratory. I always wake up on March 8 with an extra spring in my step knowing that all over the world, we women can collectively celebrate ourselves without shame or doubt. It’s exhilarating to think of every woman on earth taking a reprieve from patriarchal thinking, sexism and internalized misogyny and instead focus on women’s power, passion, progress and unity.  I like to take a moment to listen to the contemporary choral work The Womanly Song of God by Libby Larson, which I participated in singing last year with the women’s choir Choeur Adleisia. To me, the multiplicity of dissonant treble voices coming together brings to mind an image of every woman on earth having a voice and singing together in a powerfully diverse polyphony.

I have also learned how essential it is that white women fighting for equality centre the experiences of women of colour, who face the intersectional oppressions of both sexism and racism. In that spirit I’ll definitely turn up the volume on Laura Mvula’s “That’s Alright”, in which she joyfully talks back to the white, male gaze, singing: “I will never be what you want and that’s alright/ ‘Cause my skin ain’t light and my body ain’t tight / But if I might, I must stand and fight.” I’m going to gratefully take a page out of Laura’s book this March 8, and joyfully implore the patriarchy to “Tell me, who made you the center of the universe?” Thinking about our collective power gives me shivers every March 8!

Patrick Newton Bondo, Program Officer, ASPP:

Together with stakeholders, from governments, the private sector, civil society, Indigenous peoples, others working on health, education, climate change, human rights and Sustainable Development Goals, I want to mobilize to end gender-based violence; I am calling for economic justice and rights for all; bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health and rights; and feminist action for climate justice. I want technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist leadership in Canada and around the world.

The International Women’s Day is an occasion to reflect on where we are in our struggle for equality, peace and development, and a chance to unite and mobilize for meaningful change in Canada and around the world. We all believe that if you educate a woman, you educate the whole community, through education and public awareness education as the means to achieve a structural change in the mentality towards girls and women’s position in society.

Let's continue joining forces to ensure that next year will be another record-breaking year in promoting Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights for girls and women in Canada and around the world. Together we are stronger, always!

Géraldine Gautier, Agente des communications:

Cette journée évoque toujours pour moi un souvenir qui continue à m'habiter.Pendant cinq ans, j'ai habité dans une coopérative d'habitation à Ottawa. Femme monoparentale, j’élevais alors mes deux jeunes enfants, travaillais à plein temps et retournais à l’université pour obtenir un diplôme. Mon appartement jouxtait celui réservé à ‘jeune avec enfant’. Ma voisine avait quinze ans et un bébé. Elle avait pu avoir ce logement pour aller à une école du quartier qui lui permettait de finir son secondaire pendant que l’on s’occupait de son enfant.

Tous les matins, tandis que je montais dans le bus pour me rendre à mon travail, descendaient des jeunes filles avec poussette et bambins. Toutes se dirigeaient vers l’école de ma voisine. Jamais, je n'ai vu un homme les accompagner!

Au fil des années, ce souvenir n'a pas diminué en intensité.Peut-être parce qu’il s’est inscrit à une époque difficile de ma vie – certainement parce que ces jeunes filles m’avaient touchée par leur courage et leur détermination – elles m’ont toutes inspirée de ne pas se décourager et d’aller de l’avant, et sans qu’elles ne s’en rendent compte, ont contribué à me sensibiliser davantage aux inégalités féminines. Mais l’impact le plus révélateur, même si je l’ai pas réalisé immédiatement, a été dans ma façon d’élever plus consciemment mes enfants envers ces inégalités criantes et de les sensibiliser vers plus de responsabilités et d’humanité.

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Federation newsGender equityStatus of women in the academyEquity Matters

Welcome to Congress 2020: “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.”

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Guest blog by Jeff Tennant, Academic Convenor of Congress 2020 and Associate Professor, Department of French Studies, Western University

The Congress theme this year is incredibly timely as Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast navigate thorny issues from the Wet'suwet'en land dispute to the global coronavirus outbreak, not to mention a highly divisive presidential campaign currently underway south of the border that will greatly affect us all no matter the outcome.  

For nearly 90 years, Congress has united more than 70 scholarly organizations under a common banner. It’s an opportunity for academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas and build partnerships that focus on Canada’s future.

At Western, we place special emphasis on connecting with the broader community – bridging divides not only between academic disciplines but also between the institution and society beyond the university’s gates. To this end, we will be hosting a Festival of Public Scholarship featuring events open to Congress delegates and the general public. Programming is being finalized; but think outdoor and indoor displays, performances and readings at various locations on campus and throughout the city.

In addition to the Festival, Western’s awesome organizing team of faculty, staff, students and volunteers has planned an extraordinary week of speakers, panels, events and exhibits for the 8,000+ delegates expected to assemble in London, Ontario, from May 30 to June 5.  

The City of London has it all. Located on the banks of the Deshkan Ziibi (also known as the Thames River), London boasts a beautiful, walkable downtown close to the waterfront, a vibrant culinary scene and scores of activities that showcase art, culture and music. 

In the 15 years since Western last hosted Congress, we have continued to evolve and grow. We can’t wait for you to come and experience Western again. And for newcomers to the Forest City, I promise that you won’t be disappointed. 

Jeff Tennant
Academic Convenor, Congress 2020
Associate Professor, Department of French Studies, Western University

 

 

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Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2020

Boxes and trolleys and tape, oh my! The Federation moves offices.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The first time I experienced the joy of moving was when I packed up my teddy bear, band posters, my first laptop, and my dignity in many boxes and made the trek out to Lennoxville, QC to move into my residence at Bishop’s University where I was going to be studying music and philosophy. In second year, I recall living in a very cramped four-bedroom apartment on top of the local poutine restaurant, and in third year, a horrific day in which a roommate and I moved two apartments’ worth of contents into separate apartments. Watching my roommate haul his fridge up four flights of stairs is a sight I will never forget. No matter that the new place came with a fridge, he insisted on bringing his own.

There’s something profound about moving. Not only does the process of sifting through the contents of your space force you to reflect on things like consumerism and waste, unfinished projects, ill-advised ambitions, and memories you’d rather forget, being able to count on someone during that period of anxiety and instability causes bonding. We at the Federation experienced that bonding earlier this month, and are now happily settling in to our new office at 141 Laurier!

These are the types of projects that feel bigger than all of us. And though we work on team projects all throughout the year, the feeling of actually needing other people – depending on them to make a project move forward – becomes all the more real when it involves physical labour. In our day-to-day, digital connections often bring us farther apart. But the physical, located, rooted process of moving is a welcome reminder that our physical space connects us just as much as the digital networks we have come to rely on.

Speaking of reflecting on our possessions, it was unearthed during the move that the Federation is in possession of not one, not two, not three, not four but five coffee makers. Needless to say, we know where our priorities lie. Settling into our new office means a space with more light, more room, and an opportunity to create a place that our community can feel is their own. The new location contains coloured accent walls to hint at the Federation’s branding palette, and a brighter and more open workspace. Of course, we still left ample space for books.

 

Our new boardroom is in a bigger space and is equipped with a big screen TV. We hope to host events for the HSS community here to take advantage of the new digs!

Moving day also brought to mind a certain yearly project that we at the Federation are all very familiar with. Our COO, Brenda Dashney, expressed that sentiment in an email:

“Moving offices was like watching an all-hands-on-deck at Congress.  I love how everyone pulls together to make stuff happen.  This is why the Federation is able to pull off what feels like the impossible and make it look EASY!”

 

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Beyond a Single Story: Black Lives and Hidden Figures in the Canadian Academy

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

photo of Dr. Malinda S. Smith standing in front of bookcase wearing redGuest blog by Dr. Malinda S. Smith, a Professor of Political Science and a 2018 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow at the University of Alberta, a former Executive member (Equity & Diversity) on the FHSS Board, coauthor of The Equity Myth (2017), and a coeditor of the forthcoming book, The Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy.

As Congress 2020 undertakes to “Bridge Divides” and confront the intersections of colonialism and anti-Black racism, it is critical to confront the histories and multiplicity of Black lives in Canada. As Desmond Cole’s new book reminds us, Black lives are neither reducible to “The Skin We’re In” nor to singular narratives of the Black experience. Yet, reports of humiliating incidents of profiling continue to proliferate, including the experience of Black graduate student Shelby McPhee at the 2019 Congress. We are reminded that Black lives in Canada are often reduced to fixed and singular identities – the violence of stereotypes, of being deemed out of place,” and of being under suspicion” and surveillance – even in the academy. 

Drawing on novelist Chimamanda Adichie, I want to underline “The danger of a single story,” which “creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” and, in so doing, they rob Black people of their humanity, dignity, and futures.

At the heart of my meditation is a fatigue with the hegemonic deficit stories of Blackness that often circulate in the academy. I am particularly concerned about the tyranny of low expectations and the debilitating lens through which the stories of Black scholars are too-often told – of B(lack) or Black-as-lack, as being out of place, as not belonging. This lens manifest in so many ways, not the least when Black students are carded, when Black professors are mistaken for the cleaning staff at universities and conferences, when they are refused access to the professoriate, or denied a seat at the table of university leadership.

This moment of “Bridging Divides” invites us to attend to the many stories that, in Isabel Allende’s poetics, get “lost in the fog of repetitive absence,” and other stories that are mobilized to constrain Black futures.There is an urgent need to attend to the ways deficit stories circulate and what those stories do. As poet and novelist Ben Okri writes in Birds of Heaven (1995), It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you.” Stories can change lives. They can destroy lives, too. In A Way of Being Free, Okri (1997) reminds us of the potentially transformative power of telling different stories: If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives.”  

Bridging divides begins with a recognition that knowledges inherited from slavery and colonialism continue to circumscribe our collective social and literary record and imaginaries. Telling different stories has the potential to reignite historical memory by stitching together fragments of Black lives and hidden stories that have been “lost in the fog of repetitive absence.” Here I briefly recount three counter-narratives of trailblazing Black women who resolutely defied social barriers, pushed back against the weight of stereotypes, and pursued their higher education aspirations on the Indigenous territories that we now know as Canada. 

Sophia B. Jones (1857-1892)

Few Canadians know about physician Sophia B. Jones, who was born in Chatham, Ontario. In some biographical accounts she is characterized as a Canadian-born American physician. According to Nina Reid-Maroney at Huron College, Sophia Jones exemplifies the way in which women followed the opportunities of higher education opening to them in the United States, and used that education as passage through and beyond the restrictions on womens public roles in late-Victorian Canada.” Because she was a woman, and Black, Jones was denied full access to medical education at the Toronto Medical School. Determined to pursue her aspirations, however, she moved to the United States and became the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Michigans Medical School in 1885. In that year, she also became the first Black professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she started Spelmans nursing program. Jones authored many publications, including Fifty Years of Negro Public Health,” which appeared in a special issue on Negro Progress” in Political and Social Sciences in 1913. Over the course of her career Jones travelled in search of opportunities, working at Wilberforce University and practicing medicine across the U.S. Midwest. Although her story is little known in Canada, her trailblazing continues to be recognized at the University of Michigan with the Sophia B. Jones Lecture in Infectious Diseases, a Sophia B. Jones conference room, and the Black studentsalumni society – Fitzbutler Jones Alumni Society – named in her honour.

Ivy Lawrence Maynier (1922-1999)

In Canada, Black scholars have long had to overcome the intersecting obstacles of the colour line and the glass ceiling. This was certainly the case for Ivy Lawrence Maynier (1921-1999), who was born in Montreal to parents from Trinidad. Maynier obtained a BA from McGill University and went on to become the first Black woman, and woman of colour, to graduate from the University of Toronto Law School in 1945, and the first student to graduate with an honours degree in international law. Had she stayed in Ontario or returned to Quebec, she likely would have become the first Black woman to be called to the Bar in Canada. However, Maynier was called to the British Bar in 1947 and practiced law in Britain and in Trinidad, before working with the United States Information Services in Paris, and teaching in Continuing Studies at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. Lennox Bernard, a Resident Tutor at UWI, recalls that Maynier moved, “with ease and panache among the upper class and the intellectual elite, but she also related directly to the various dispossessed groups and communities…She was pragmatic, innovative, people-oriented, radical at times, strong-willed and an agent of social change.”

At the University of Toronto, an endowed scholarship for marginalized students is co-named after Maynier and her classmate and former fiancée, Peter Fuld, a self-described German half-Jew,” who similarly faced discrimination and marginality in the Canadian academic and broader communities of the 1940s. An Ebony Magazine article, entitled The Legacy of a Love Affair,” describes the evolution of the Maynier-Fuld relationship which birthed the scholarship. The two were engaged and planned to spend their lives together, but Fulds German mother, Fran Ida Fuld, objected and reportedly threatened to kill herself if her son married a Negro.” Fuld died of cancer but bequeathed 15 percent of his estate to Maynier who, upon her death, bequeathed $600,000 to the Faculty of Law, where the legacy of this improbable love affair continues in the Maynier-Fuld scholarship. 

Violet King Henry (1929-1982)

Violet King Henry was born in Calgary in 1929 to a family of Albertas Black pioneers – African Americans who emigrated from Oklahoma in 1910 and established all-Black communities in Keystone (now Breton) in central Alberta, and in Amber Valley in northern Alberta. King pursued her post-secondary education at the University of Alberta, where she accomplished a series of “firsts.” King was an engaged student who was elected as vice-president of the Students’ Union, serving with SU president Peter Lougheed. She obtained a BA in History (1952) and the following year was the only woman in her Law School graduating class, becoming the first Black person in Alberta to graduate with a law degree. After articling with the law firm of Edward J. McCormick, Q.C. in Calgary, King became the first Black person to be called to the Alberta Bar (1954) as well as the first Black woman lawyer in Canada.

“People told me it wasn’t a good idea for a girl to be a lawyer, particularly a coloured girl—so I went ahead,” King recalled in a speech to the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Calgary in 1956.  King voiced a prevailing recognition among Black folk that, you have to be twice as good to get half as far” when she lamented, “It is too bad that a Japanese, Chinese or coloured girl has to outshine others to secure a position.”

Throughout her career, King actively advanced womens rights, women in leadership, and equal pay for equal work. As one of a handful of women lawyers working in private practice, she represented clients in domestic violence, and in estate and criminal law cases. Two years after being called to the Alberta Bar, King accepted a federal government position as assistant to the chief liaison officer for the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration. A 1956 Winnipeg Free Press article, entitled “Colored girls career in law leads to Ottawa,” described Kings career as fulfillment of a kind of Canadian dream – Blazing a trail as the first woman negro lawyer in Canada has proven this country a land of opportunity to Violet King.”

Yet, the frequent moves that mark the careers of the three stories I recount here also gesture towards the ways in which the intersections of racism and sexism limited opportunities for advancement for Black women no matter how talented. After seven years in Ottawa, King migrated to the United States, where in 1963 she became the first woman to hold any executive position at the YMCA. As the Executive Director of the YMCA Community Branch in Newark, New Jersey, she worked with African Americans seeking employment, later moving to Chicago to serve as the YMCAs Director of Manpower, Planning and Staff Development. When King was promoted to Executive Director of the YMCAs National Council in 1976, she became the first woman to hold a national executive position with that prominent organization. Violet King was only 52 years old when she died of cancer in New York on March 30, 1982.

These are only three among myriad stories of Black lives, past and present, in the Canadian academy. These stories defy single narratives that bring into being an idea of Blackness that fits, or is made to fit, the stereotypes of Black-as-lack or being out of place, underlining instead the historical complexity of the lived realities and struggles of Black Canadians pursuing higher education. There is a fundamental distortion of the diversity and complexity of global diasporic Blackness that informs the heterogeneity of the Black lives across Canadas vast geography. Confronting anti-Black racism necessarily begins with laying bare stereotypes that construct Black-as-lack, as out of place and not belonging, and that make possible, indeed produce, persistent Black marginality in the Canadian academy. We need these different stories because, quite possibly, they may change our lives as we chart more just futures.


Editor's note: For more information about the racial profiling incident at Congress 2019 please see the Federation's statement on the outcomes of the investigation.


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Congress 2020Status of women in the academyAnti-racismEquity MattersEquity and diversityEducation and Equity

Indigenous knowledges and inclusivity: understanding the challenges before science.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Guest blog by Julien Commanda, a member of the Anishinaabe people, currently studying at Carleton University in Communications and Media.

When I was invited by the Federation to attend the Canadian Science Policy Conference and write about my experience and thoughts, I found it rather intriguing. For me, "science" meant what they call "hard science" (e.g. Math, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences), which came in contrast to my Social Sciences background and particular interest in Indigenous Studies. As a young Anishinaabe man, the interest in Indigenous Studies did not happen by accident ― it is a field that allowed me to learn a lot about myself and to tap into my intellectual curiosities and passion. Once I read about the conference and got a glimpse into its program, I began to understand that "science policy" is actually inclusive of all sciences, and that the session that mostly was the object of my observations, The Influence of Indigenous Knowledge on Policy and Practice, was an interdisciplinary panel, bringing together perspectives from both 'hard' sciences and 'soft' sciences, as well as across sectors of activity, on a topic close to my mind and heart.

My mind started to think about how I was going to approach this joining of two worlds. I looked up the panelists and did a little bit of research. Not only were they prominent names in academia generally, but in Indigenous academia more specifically. I must admit I was somewhat star-struck. I was quite happy to attend this panel and take as many notes as possible. Seeing names of outstanding First Nations scholars like Kim TallBear, Vanessa Watts, and Nadine Caron started to shape thoughts on how I was going to write about this panel: Indigenous minds and knowledge were finally getting through into the world of science!

To understand my excitement about Indigenous voices in the world of science, one has to look at science in the past. There is a reason why this panel, and others like it, are taking place today: the scientific world has long been dominated by Western ideas and principles. It should come to no one’s surprise that the science we know today, both 'hard' sciences and 'soft' sciences, comes from the same forces that colonised the lands that are now called Canada. What Western thought and practices did to Indigenous spirituality, identity, and understanding of the world, Western Science did to Indigenous Science: it discredited it or it ignored it. Similarly to how many Indigenous ceremonies and teachings had to be taken underground and kept safe, Indigenous Sciences had to do the same, as many of these things cannot be separated (i.e. teachings and ceremonies are also often, if not almost entirely, part of Indigenous Sciences and Knowledge).

Before the panel, I got to meet the panelists and join them for the pre-panel discussions. The experience planted a seed in my head, but I was unable to articulate what exactly it was. There I was, in a room with all those prominent professionals ― Indigenous representation was very present, with a majority of speakers First Nations and Inuit and the others having worked closely with Indigenous communities in their respective fields. Yet, something did not sit right with me.

The panel started off with a valid critique of terminology and associated meaning in the world of science, where a more appropriate term to use is "Indigenous knowledge systems," to encompass the diverse and rich ontologies and epistemologies that Indigenous peoples have relied on as societies since times immemorial. But the news was mostly good, with examples of what a proper partnership with Indigenous communities in research looks like, with case studies of Indigenous knowledges being applied in various fields of study, and with making the point that Indigenous knowledge systems need to be understood and accepted as 'valid' science that can complement current Western scientific endeavors. However, panelists did not shy away from critiquing science policy and its stakeholders when it came to recognizing the 'validity' of Indigenous knowledges as science, including funding issues and matters related to ways of thinking and doing business (pun intended!) in the research and education industries. The fact that this conversation was had, looked like we were on the right track for Indigenous inclusion in the world of science. Except that we are not, or at least not as quickly as one may think.

That seed that was sprouting in my thoughts bloomed and completely changed how I looked at this panel. Yes, this is a step forward in beginning to understand Indigenous knowledge systems. And, yes, it is also a step towards Indigenous inclusion in sciences. But that is where it stops for me. I was looking at some of the most prominent Indigenous scholars and it hit me ― the colonial forces of science have opened up and started including Indigenous ideas and thoughts, but only once they pass through another colonial institution: academia.

I am not stating that these panelists have become part of a system that denies Indigenous inclusivity. Every one of these panelists has contributed palpably in their fields when it comes to Indigenous inclusion. What I am saying is that academia itself brings extensive challenges, hopefully not insurmountable, to ‘true inclusion’ of Indigenous knowledges and understandings in science.

This first challenge I see is that this institution adds another barrier for Indigenous peoples to prove that they are ‘up to snuff’ when it comes to higher education and knowledge. This is not a new problem, neither is it unknown: Indigenous youth are some of the most at risk when it comes to graduating high school, let alone continuing past that. This can be attributed to many factors that are worthy of a separate discussion. The fact of the matter is that, to be included in these discussions on policy and inclusion, Indigenous people must pass through the gauntlet that is known as higher education.

This gauntlet not only affects individuals that have decided to pursue it, but also the knowledge that the individual brings. Indigenous knowledges as sciences have been around since time immemorial, but the process of having those knowledges recognised is still fraught with Western influences. In other words, academia only credits Indigenous knowledges that have gone through the scrutiny of university rigour and research, defeating the “true inclusion” of Indigenous peoples in science and their knowledge. There are many more teachings and ceremonies that can bring innovation and understanding to the table, but the judgement of those knowledges is still in the hands of colonial powers. Only once they have deemed that this does in fact bring something, will it be “considered valid”.

This was not missed by a couple of the panelists, who pointed out the lack of a broader understating of Indigenous inclusivity, not solely confined to one’s field of study or specific application. They called for a more honest and open relationship between Indigenous knowledge keepers and the ‘gate keepers’ of science.

A second aspect that I noticed while attending this panel was that academia can create an inner elitism within the Indigenous community. There is a ‘clique’ feel of who can hold knowledge and who is credible in exhibiting this knowledge, which can still be confined to the standards of value that academia brings ― a person who has gone through the rigours of university and graduate studies has more value than someone who has not, even though that person may have a lifetime of knowledge and understanding. And, as part of the education and research industry, conference organizers replicate this mode of thinking, too.

This is by no means a critique of Indigenous scientists. It is a critique of the larger system that still decides who, what, and when is ‘credible’ and useful. Indigenous knowledge systems have always been there as Indigenous sciences, yet they are still being disregarded and ignored. This also applies to those who hold that knowledge, given their lack of 'accreditation' from a ‘reputable’ education institution.

In other words, while this panel was a good step forward in Indigenous inclusion in science policy discussions, I could not help but notice the irony that Indigenous inclusion only happened by crediting knowledge and thoughts of Indigenous professionals who have passed through another institution that holds power over knowledge and policy.

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Equity Matters

In the Middle. . . Somewhat Dislocated

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Guest Blog by Dr. Henry Daniel, Professor of Dance, Performance Studies and New Media Technologies, School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

This blog draws on my performance "In the Middle...Somewhat Dislocated" from the recent BCSA Conference (Black Canadian Studies Association) at Congress 2019 at The University of British Columbia. It also touches on some of the ideas presented in my keynote paper “Decolonizing Bodies: Engaging Performance” given at the 3rd Biennial International Dance Conference at the University of the West Indies, Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. A link to the video of the choreographic work In the Middle...Somewhat Dislocated from the BCSA Conference is provided below.

In the Middle...Somewhat Dislocated

I am an academic; a dance and performance studies scholar. But I am also a choreographer and  performer with an extensive international career in the professional world. My academic life in Canada has therefore been an interesting exercise in bridging these two vastly different spaces. For example, in almost two decades of living and working in this country, I have seen the term Research/Creation go through a number of transformations as academia continues to grapple with the idea of Art as a research enterprise.

The most recent set of 'tricks' that continue to baffle me about the politics of academic institutions are associated with the almost mantric iteration of two familiar phrases; 'decolonizing knowledge' and 'indigenizing the university'. Ironically enough, they are inserted into any and every discourse and publicity stunt the University fabricates, with those in positions of power requiring that we, its tenured and untenured Professors, find a way to fulfil these 'decolonizing' and 'indigenizing' mandates; all of this with our hands tied behind our backs.

At the risk of unsettling an already established hierarchy of interests, may I say here that, as part of a Black Diasporic minority, newly 'arrived' after the initial colonization of these Canadian lands, but whose labor has been and continues to be utilized in the institutionalizing process, people like myself still do not seem to have much of a voice, or rather, our voices do not seem to be heard. And therein lies our principal dilemma, especially at a time when certain priorities regarding entitlements have already been set. Thus, in search of a route to inclusion, I have chosen to question the very idea of entitlement to land, place, home and hence belonging within a much larger context. My reasoning here is that the colonizing process, i.e., the accumulation of capital and power, especially in times of increasing scarcity, has so skewed our minds that we forget that individuals, groups of people, and entire communities have always followed resources, whether those be within their native habitats or at some distance from it.

In fact, the very terms 'native' and 'habitat' have become so linked with, and at the same time so restricted to nationalized borders and the resources that those bordered lands contain, that only those with hereditary claims, or the power and influence to cross into and/or out of those borders, stand any chance of survival in this highly capitalist environment. In many ways, the extremely complex relationship that those of us 'newly arrived', 'immigrant' or 'descendants of the formerly enslaved' have to land, place, and belonging has made us into contemporary nomads, a condition that Stuart Hall once described as a "contemporary travelling, voyaging and return as fate, as destiny […] as the prototype of the modern or postmodern New World nomad, continually moving between centre and periphery” (Hall in Rutherford, J. 234:1990). In short, we seem to belong nowhere even as we are forced to occupy anywhere.

If resources determine where one is able to live, and power and opportunity - or lack of it -, the quality of one's life, then the question of belonging, and hence ownership of land and/or resources and therefore the ability to call a place home, does change the nature of the game somewhat. So, regardless of how actively we seek to decolonize or even indigenize, these terms are moving targets within established institutional structures that are unlikely to change. And since people follow the same routes as the resources they need for their survival, when those resources are removed, exported or otherwise taken away from them, they will follow. What these 'homeless', 'immigrant', or 'descendants of the formerly enslaved' are left with is a contorted relationship between two sets of maps, cortical and cartographic, which we are forever trying to re-inscribe. And as the relationship between the two becomes increasingly tense, we are faced with loud cries and silent screams for the freedoms inherent in terms such as 'decolonization' and 'indigenization'. So, how do our cortical maps determine our behaviors, and what influence do they have on our geographical wanderings in search of new habitats?  

I say we change the way we think about how these two types of maps have been configured, while reminding those in power that it is in everyone's long-term interest to reconfigure them. This blog post suggests that if dislocation and displacement are the results of a set of tragic historical circumstances, we need to understand precisely how those circumstances have also shaped minds and bodies over time. The performance work In the middle...somewhat dislocated identifies one particular circumstance that many of us may be familiar with. If according to Kenyan playwright, novelist and scholar Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, the real aim of colonialism was “to control the entire realm of the language of real life […] the destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a people’s culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language by the languages of the coloniser” (1986: 16), the opposite must take place if that situation is to be reversed. The short work that follows is a reminder to those who control the gates of entry to various programs within our University system that the same cultures, art practices, dances, religions, histories, oratures and literatures they forbade must be reintroduced into the system as part of the larger re-educative effort. In short, decolonization and indigenization are not mere talking points.

Click for the author's text for VJ Smith's music. 

 

In the Middle...Somewhat Dislocated was initially presented at the BCSA conference within Congress 2019 at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver. This event called for academics and artists to think about how politically engaged scholarship could address three main themes; i) ending anti-blackness and imagining Black freedom; ii) centering anti-blackness in our scholarly analyses, and iii) thinking about Black and decolonial futures. My response was to present the situation as the paradox it really is. A single Black female performer, surrounded by an audience on four sides, enters a rectangular White space and engages with those who surround it through text, movement and music. The idea for the work resides in the title itself: as a Black Professor and artist/scholar working in an institution where there are so few black students - and surprisingly even less in the arts -, I find it extremely difficult to have a conversation about issues that concern us as a diasporic people. Since choreography is an integral part of the research I do, it is important for me to have these bodies in the room to begin such a conversation. In the middle...somewhat dislocated explores what happens when these bodies are either absent or alone in those spaces. The title also references an immensely successful avant-garde work by the American choreographer William Forsythe. However, my half-title is as far as the reference goes; I am taking aim at an institutional framework that does not seem willing or able to accommodate the bodied discourses of many of its constituents.

The stage:

  1. Four chairs, strong and flexible enough to dance with and on, which can also be easily lifted and moved through a space 10ft x 12 ft with audience on all sides.
  2. A heavy white cloth that covers the floor space at the margins of which are the aforementioned chairs. This is the White Space to which I refer.
  3. Four speakers are wired to a sound console and controlled by a laptop computer. The music is by American-born Toronto resident Vanese VJ Smith (Pursuit Grooves) from her album Felt Armour (2018) and the tracks are Hide and Slick & Defensive Play respectively.

Sources Consulted

Hall, Stuart. ‘Cultural identity and diaspora’ in Jonathan Rutherford (ed.) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990

Henry, Frances., Dua, Enakshi., James, Carl E., Kobayashi, Audrey., Li, Peter., Ramos, Howard., and Smith, Malinda S. The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity in Canadian Universities. Vancouver British Columbia; Toronto Ontario: UBC Press, 2017

Mbembe, Achille. “Decolonizing knowledge and the question of the archive”. Lecture given at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), 2015. Available at:  http://wiser.wits.ac.za/system/files/Achille%20Mbembe%20-%20Decolonizing%20Knowledge%20and%20the%20Question%20of%20the%20Archive.pdf 2015 [Last Accessed Nov 5 2019]

Meerzon, Yana. Performing Exile, Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan 2012

Prinsloo, E. “The role of the Humanities in decolonising the academy”. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education 2016, Vol. 15(1) 164–168. DOI: 10.1177/1474022215613608

Reid-Pharr, Robert F. Archives of flesh: African America, Spain, and post-humanist critique New York: New York University Press, 2016

Todd, Zoe. “Indigenizing Canadian academia and the insidious problem of white possessiveness”. https://zoestodd.com/2018/05/04/indigenizing-academia-and-the-insidious-problem-of-white-possessiveness/ [Last Accessed Nov 5, 2019]

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Vol. 1”. Toronto: James Lorimer  & Co. Ltd., 2015 http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf [Last Accessed Nov 5, 2019]

Wa Thiong’o, Ngũgĩ. (1986) Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey. Nairobi: Heinemann Kenya. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann. Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House

Wynter, Sylvia. “1492, A New World View” in Race, discourse, and the origins of the Americas: a new world view. Edited by Vera Lawrence Hyatt and Rex Nettleford. Smithsonian Institution. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press 1994

---. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation-An Argument”. CR: The New Centennial Review, Michigan State University Press 2003, Vol.3(3), pp. 257-337

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University of Alberta to Host Canada’s Largest Academic Gathering in 2021

Congress 2021 logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

University of Alberta to Host Canada’s Largest Academic Gathering in 2021
 

Ottawa, ON, January 24, 2020 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce that the University of Alberta, located in Edmonton, has been selected as the host of the
2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

From May 29 to June 4, 2021, the Federation, the University of Alberta, and more than 70 scholarly associations and partners representing over 8,000 researchers, graduate students, policy-makers and practitioners will present a full week of public lectures, workshops, panels, cultural events and receptions. From environmental studies, Canadian politics, and sociology to education, literature studies and history, Congress represents a unique showcase of scholarly excellence, creativity, and leadership. 

"We are excited to partner with the University of Alberta and bring the largest gathering of scholars in Canada to the beautiful city of Edmonton," said Patrizia Albanese, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "Congress creates a unique space where people from across Canada – and beyond – come together, share ideas, collaborate and contribute to shaping our future. We cannot wait to welcome our diverse scholarly community here next year for what we know will be a memorable Congress."

Congress 2021’s theme, Northern Relations, will encourage delegates to explore the connections between peoples, communities, cultures, and ways of knowing, while also listening to those voices that speak directly to some of the most pressing issues in the North: reconciliation, governance, social justice, climate change, reciprocity, education and much more.

“Congress 2021 is an incredible opportunity for the U of A to convene leading thinkers and the public to address together some of the most pressing challenges facing our local, national and global communities," said David Turpin, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta.

Congress 2021 represents an estimated $16 million economic boost to the Edmonton region and hundreds of work-integrated learning opportunities for students. Congress also features Canada’s largest academic trade show, Expo.

"The Edmonton area has long been a place for communities to gather, to share ideas, and to explore innovative solutions to many of the world’s pressing problems,” said City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “Congress 2021 at the U of A will serve as a continuation of that tradition."  

The University of Alberta last hosted Congress in 2000.

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For more information, please contact:

Camille Ferrier
Manager, Communications and Membership
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
M. (613) 265-6993
cferrier@ideas-idees.ca

Bev Betkowski
Communications Associate
University of Alberta
T. (780) 492-3808 
beverly.betkowski@ualberta.ca

About Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest academic gathering in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 90th year, Congress brings together approximately 70 academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca. The Federation office is located on the traditional, unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa.

About the University of Alberta
The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of Canada’s top teaching and research universities, with an international reputation for excellence across the humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering, and health sciences. Home to more than 40,000 students and 15,000 faculty and staff, the university has an annual budget of $1.9 billion and attracts more than $500 million in sponsored research revenue. The U of A offers close to 900 rigorous undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in 18 faculties on five campuses—including one rural and one francophone campus. The university has more than 275,000 alumni worldwide. The University of Alberta acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, and respects the histories, languages, and cultures of First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our vibrant community.

Congress 2021 logo concept
The Congress 2021 logo concept idea stems from its theme Northern Relations. The ribbons of light are representative of Northern lights, but also suggest sound waves, a symphony of voices, perspectives, ideas, communities and cultures coming together in harmony. The dots within the light ribbons suggest stars and constellations. Bears, a common University of Alberta symbol, are the other main feature of the logo. The bear cub follows in the footsteps of its mother; they are moving together in the same direction, communicating the concept of leading by example and being aware of the generational impact of our actions.

Championing interdisciplinarity: Polytechnique Montréal joins the Federation!

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Please join the Federation in welcoming one of our newest institutional members, and Québec's largest engineering university, Polytechnique Montréal! Polytechnique was officially voted in at the Federation’s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting on May 15, 2019 alongside another Montréal institution, HEC Montréal.

Yes, you read that right: an engineering school and a business school have joined the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences! If you’re interested to know more about what motivates these institutions to work with us, read on. I investigated that question myself and found some very interesting answers!

Polytechnique Montréal is one of the country’s most renowned engineering schools, and not only for its reputation for training excellent engineers. The school was recently awarded a Certificate for its efforts in achieving gender parity by the Women in Governance Organization. It is the first time that a university has been awarded the certification, as the award usually goes to companies. Polytechnique's Board formally declared the institution's commitment to support and promote equity, diversity and inclusion in 2017, and this award confirms that they are on the right track. 

As part of my search for an answer on how HSS and engineering collaborate, I asked two engineer friends of mine to summarize their profession in one sentence. I was intrigued to find that, despite the fact that one friend is Canadian and studied engineering in English and French at the University of Ottawa, and the other studied engineering in Spanish at the Universidad del Atlantico in Colombia, they both came back to me with a nearly identical answer. According to them, an engineer’s job is firstly to fully comprehend the scope and nature of a problem and secondly implement a concrete, step-by-step technical solution that solves the problem.

Engineering design process loop imageEngineers use what is called the engineering design process to get the problem to the solution. Although different sources will use variations on the framework, in general the process involves defining the problem, collecting information or hypothesizing, designing and building models, testing the models and using the feedback gained from the tests to improve the design. Once this process is complete, it may be necessary to start from the beginning using the new data gained from the initial cycle. In a word, the process could be summed up as iterative. So what does this whole design process have to do with HSS?

I spoke with the head of Polytechnique, Phillippe Tanguy to gain insights from the executive level. Tanguy has been president of Polytechnique since the beginning of 2018 and is a professor of chemical engineering. He mentioned that Polytechnique already has a research group that brings together professors that have expertise in social sciences and engineering. Known as the Groupe de recherche en gestion et mondialisation de la technologie, the members of this group work at the confluence of technology, society and innovation. The group’s mandate is to contribute to knowledge in a context of rapid technological change with the cognizance that economic growth does not happen in a vacuum: it has social, human and environmental costs.

The collaboration takes place before the iterative design process gets set in motion. It is less about the nature of engineering work than it is to respond to the question of its purpose or direction. While an engineer’s job is to solve problems, those problems exist within a social context and the solutions need to be cognizant of that context and the effects it may have on that fragile, ephemeral and vital thing we call social life.

 

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100 volumes on understanding nationality

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Guest blog by Shirley Tillotson, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Dalhousie University, and Inglis Professor, University of King’s College

The Canadian Historical Review celebrates its 100th volume this year. It was among several new national organizations that were born in the nationalist years following the First World War. In the journal’s September issue, I looked back at the CHR's history. Being the journal of a national history has been a fine thing, but it means something different now, something more ambiguous, than it did on the CHR's previous anniversaries in 1944, 1970, and 1995.

Contributors to the CHR have usually been professional Canadianists. It’s to be expected that they would investigate the nation. This was especially so in the 1950s through the 1980s. Many Canadians then were excited about national political autonomy (and some about Quebec independence). Many were involved in struggles for economic sovereignty and for Canadian content in both popular culture and the universities. But since the 1990s, history with a national focus has come into question, even in the CHR.

Now, the CHR's contributors very often think about empire, about Canadians’ past as colonists, colonizers, and the colonized. This more transnational approach to history expresses, among other things, the last quarter century’s worries about the limits of nations as problem solvers. We grapple with the great possibilities and real problems of lives lived transnationally.

In all this, we have been part of an international scholarly and political conversation, prompted by events. Globalization, digitization, and a politically-inflected appreciation of human diversity complicate how we understand nationality.

In this context, nationally oriented historians have turned to questions about the cultural meanings and political weight of the nation. We have joined with scholars in many disciplines to study nationalism. Some have hoped that nationalism might fade away. Others saw it as expressing human values worth defending. Studies in nationalism ask whether nationalist politics have always brought hateful, even belligerent, exclusions or forced cultural conformity, or both. Or has there been in nationalism something of solidarity and autonomy, the values of welfare state nationalism and anti-imperialism, that warrants respect and reinvention in less dangerous forms? Historians have answered as we usually do: “It depends.”

In my CHR essay, I explore some examples of what historically contextualized nationality has meant. And I examine how historians have enlarged their scope beyond the nation, showing the historical importance of other kinds of spatial and political frameworks of human (and sometimes non-human) agency.

Perhaps the largest growth of non-national modes of analysis has been in the new imperial history. Instead of a taken-for-granted imperial belonging as the background to Canadian history, we have been asking questions about how that sense of belonging was created, and how effectively. This current, more than any of the other alternatives to national history, is surely a response to globalization. We revisit our place in these earlier world networks, noting the opportunities and the cruelties, the creativity and the oppressions that these other globalizations entailed.

But there remain a number of subject areas where a national frame of analysis is important. Environmental history is one. In a 2014 issue of the CHR, Alan MacEachern noted this field’s arguably unusual curiosity about a national frame of analysis. Biomes transcend borders, but national comparisons show exceptionally well how “natural” history is also human history. In this subfield, as in others, “Canadian” history will stop at the border only if doing so gives us good historical explanations.

In short, contributors to the CHR are no longer focused on the nation in the way that they more commonly were in the 1950s and 1960s. But, like the Canadianists in other disciplines that the Federation serves, historians of Canada in the CHR and elsewhere contribute both to national and world politics precisely because we think about nationality’s complex and contradictory possibilities.

In anti-imperial politics, nationality has been a sword wielded to whack away constraints imposed from afar. As a majority’s identity, nationalism has sometimes been a boot on the neck of unruly or ill-understood minorities. In creative hands, it has both oppressed and liberated, shifting its content relationally and situationally. Individuals have embraced it as a tool of self-knowledge and self-expression, or they have found themselves forced into a social or legal straitjacket.

Nationalism has sometimes been driven by fear and sometimes by aspiration. Dreams of nationhood have appeared in poetry and music, politics and law, and energize mobilizations of many kinds (religious, labour, and military, to name a few). The nationalism of welfare states (Canadian health care as a defining symbol) affirmed and affirms values of shared responsibility and care but also of citizen entitlement and non-citizen exclusion. Canada’s history is a treasure chest of stories about what nationality can be used for.

Canadian cultural institutions like the CHR give Canadians and the world a viewpoint on nationality that is, without exaggeration, unique. The CHR may be unparalleled as a resource for understanding the many meanings of nationality. The human problems to which Canada is an imperfect – some might even say failed – solution are widely shared. Celebrating the heroic rise of the nation is no longer what Canadianists do. But still, our more troubled stories of the places, politics, and peoples related to Canada speak to this nation’s present challenges and equally so to those of the world.

Access the full text of Shirley Tillotson’s article here with open access granted from October 23 to November 18, 2019: http://bit.ly/chr1003pma

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Creating the Spaces Where I Belong: Phenomenology of an African Canadian Professor

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Guest blog by Tamari Kitossa, Associate Professor, Sociology, Brock University

This essay is a modified contribution to the forthcoming collection The Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy, edited by Awad Ibrahim, Tamari Kitossa, Malinda Smith and Handel K. Wright. I wish to express my appreciation to Anita Jack-Davies, Carl James, Delores Mullings and Awad Ibrahim for commentary on various stages of this paper. Errors and omissions are mine.

Introduction            

           Phenomenologically the lifeworld of an African Canadian professor is fraught with ambivalence, contradiction, risks and paradox. They are a minority both in the academy and within their communities. In the former there is considerable pressure to be the face of representational inclusivity and are expected to perform a range of emotional labours (Norris 2019), quite aside from standard instructional and scholastic expectations. In the latter there are intensive expectations that their scholastic and service work must be instrumentally directed toward a unitary Black community. Based on my experience these opposing tendencies position Black professors between a rock, that of academia’s (White) codes and modes, and a hard place, that of expectations and demands of recompense to a reified Black community. To effectively, healthfully and sanely live and make a living between, in and within these sometimes conflicting lifeworlds, the Black professor must identify the relations to which they will contribute and those they will resist. To do so, the first order of business rests on the ancient Khemetan (i.e., Egyptian) philosophy of ‘know thyself,’ which Socrates, at least according to Plato, reframed more aggressively as ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’  I assert then that the challenge for African Canadian academics is to develop analytical capacity and exercise critical reflexivity toward building relations of liberation within, between and outside the academy.

            True, there is a growing body of scholarship, op-eds and blogs that expose and explore anti-blackness among gender inequality, homophobia and racism more generally in academia (Nelson 2011; A. Henry 2017; F. Henry and Tator 2009; Kitossa 2016; Smith 2018; Stewart 2004). But alongside laying siege to the moats and parapets of policies and practices in the university which defend specified relations bound by authority and power, I think it is important to share stories that centre reflexivity within the struggle to expand the domain of liberation within the university. To this end, a part of my scholarship aims to add to scholarship from the likes of Anthony Stewart (2014) and Annette Henry (2019) which aim to offer practical considerations for African Canadian academicians at varying stages of their career.

            My aim in this brief reflection is to critically account for my experience in the academy and my effort to navigate contexts, relationships and situations that are imperiling, while seeking to identify persons and relationships that enable me to contribute to an organizational culture of accountability, equity, inclusivity and transparency. But weighing heavily on me is another struggle besides resisting anti-blackness in academia: and it is to identify and transcend the politics of racial debt-peonage, essentialist Black solidarity and the animosity, anti-intellectualism and instrumentalism which variously positions Black academics as ‘leaders,’ and ‘servants’ when not the collective ‘property’ of a reified ‘Black community.’ All of this in my experience has led to instances, almost as a disciplining technique, where non-academic intellectuals believe is their right to claim the energy, time and obedience of Black academics. The way I’ve found out of the boxes and demands imposed by academia and elite guardians of conscience in the so-called Black community, is to go deeper into both worlds. In doing so, my tendency is to draw on the epistemic and political philosophies of W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, Alvin Gouldner, Karl Marx and Kwame Nkrumah as guides in the struggle for defining my existence.

Fanon’s ‘certain uncertainty’ and Gramsci’s reflexivity: Sketch of a Black professor’s ontology

            As a starting point, if we accept Fanon’s (1967, 85) proposition that “a given society is racist or it is not,” then we can accept his citing of French philosopher Karl Jaspers’s contentions that “comprehension in depth of a single instance will often enable us, phenomenologically, to apply this understanding in general to innumerable cases,” so that “what is important in phenomenology is less the study of a large number of instances than the intuitive and deep understanding of a few individual cases” (1968, 168–169). In the contemporary parlance of Black feminist thought, we might call this “standpoint.”

            I cannot and do not, therefore, speak for others, but I assert in the same breath that my experiences are not exclusive to me alone. Whether we are female, male, queer, straight, trans, light- or dark-skinned, immigrant or Canadian-born, etc., we are all marked by what Du Bois called, in reference to the condemnation of Jack Johnson, this “unforgivable blackness” (1914, 181). Anticipated by Du Bois, Fanon (1968) also asserts the “fact of blackness” as a white cultural psychosis that manifests in ‘a historico-racial schema’ projected onto the world by the ontological gaze of whiteness. In it, because of blackness in the White cultural imaginary, the African’s “…body impedes the closing of the postural schema of the white man [and woman] – at the point the [African] makes [their] entry into the phenomenal world of the white man [and woman]” (160). A priori, marked with meaning independent of their actual personality, the African descended person is a source of neurosis, manifested in the White imaginary as a phobogenic object – a thing to be feared as much as desired, precisely because White ontology depends on it (Fanon 1969; 1968).            

            A regime of violence is the result, one in which the African descended person is imagined as the blameworthy cause of the effect. As I will demonstrate, this is a violence that is not only epistemic and symbolic. Because of the fantasies and fragility of whiteness, I am asserting that African descended professors are objects of psychic and spiritual — when not criminal — violence (Christian, 2017; Griffin, Pifer, Humphrey and Hazelwood 2011; Grundy 2017; Johnson and Bryan, 2017; Samuel and Wane, 2012). In my case, I routinely endure violent commentary interspersed with supportive comments on student experience surveys, tolerate with good humour being told that students are intimidated by me because I am “so smart.” But I was shaken to learn that because White students felt aggrieved after I gave a lecture on neoliberalism and whiteness in response to a 2014 campus Halloween blackface incident, one alarmed student took seriously his peers utterance they wanted to kill me.

            But if epistemic and actual violence is what Black professors encounter in the university, is ‘community’ any less dangerous? Here, I am referring to (a) animosity and disparagement and professional jealousy among some African Canadian academicians, and (b) the ambivalence, anti-intellectualism and resentment of a reified “Black community” toward any Black academics deemed to be uselessly “taking up space” in, and retreating to, their “cave of solitude” in the “Ivory Tower.” Following a path well-worn by E. Franklin Frazier (1962), Harold Cruse (1967), and many others, Black intellectuals are perceived to suffer from the twin crises of deformed identity and racial irresponsibility. Which is to say they do not know who they are, in part because they are too self-interested and suffer from Stockholm Syndrome which makes them toadies to the ‘White man’ and his institutions. I am sympathetic but do not subscribe to this condemnatory, messianic and prescriptive view of the role of African descended academicians. In different contexts, degrees and tone, it is espoused by contemporary scholars such as Houston Baker Jr. (2008) and Eddie Glaude Jr. (2003) in the U.S. and, in Canada, by George Dei (2019). I agree with these scholars that it is right to advocate and undertake a scholar-activist role for and within Black communities. But it is in my estimation an unacceptable and ineluctably elitist orientation, if not doctrine, to suggest that Black academics who do not measure up to the performance criteria established by elite moral guardians of blackness have abdicated their civic, moral and racial responsibilities to Black people.

            The demand for instrumentalism and subservience was confirmed when I started a half-cycle sabbatical in January 2014. I received a call to my home from my Dean requesting to meet with me to discuss and present the claims of a Black church group in St. Catharines insisting that I be fired. At issue was that I reviewed the draft of an article by a Fulbright MA researcher specializing in the Underground Railroad. She described in the piece visiting the closed church and finding the bust of Harriet Tubman smeared with feces. Church officials took exception to the article and wrote an eight-page rebuke of the student to the director of the Fulbright Scholarship Board, demanding that her funding be revoked and that she be recalled to the U.S. I wrote a letter in defence of the student to the director of Fulbright Canada, asserting that the student’s right of academic freedom is in the public interest and ought not to be conditional upon the pleasure of any one audience. My doing so drew the ire of the church clerk, who wrote a four-page letter to the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences demanding that I be fired for “conflict of interest” and that I submit a letter of apology. For good measure, the letter was cc’d to 11 officials and offices in Canada and the U.S., including the Black Congressional Caucus. While the complaint was vexatious and stood little chance of depriving me of employment, its calculus was simply to be an irritant, interfere with my career and to assert the authority wielded by proprietary non-academic intellectuals Carl James (2019) calls “cultural curators” (2019).

            That experience revealed also what I think many do not want to address in African Canadian communities: that there are some ‘cultural curators’ who have an aggrandizing proprietary and totalitarian disposition — neither of which is helpful or useful. While on the other side of the ledger as noted by Cornel West, there are many in Black communities with a healthy “distrust and suspicion... [of] the usual arrogant and haughty disposition of intellectuals toward ordinary folk, but, more importantly, from the widespread refusal of black intellectuals to remain, in some visible way, organically linked with African American cultural life” (West 1993–1994, 60–61). From Gramsci’s writings, there ought to be healthy skepticism about intellectuals. Time and again, it has been proven that as a class intellectuals cannot really be trusted not to be complicit with power; or, when like Lenin they did grab the reigns of state they differed little from the bourgeoisie. This is not to say that the romantic construction of the hard-pressed, ‘salt of the earth’, toiling masses is not itself contradicted by their own complicity with power. In extremis, was not Pol Pot a ‘salt of the earth’ who slaughtered every intellectual he could find? There are many in this anti-intellectual culture of ours who may not want to murder academicians, but there are gate-keepers and self-styled leaders of the Black community who would be content to see Black academicians root around as pigs and die like hogs. Back to my point, whether in general Black academics are “arrogant and haughty,” this is a claim that is dubious at best or at the least is a stereotype masquerading as evidence. Who after all, prior to becoming a Marxist, was more haughty and moralistic than the (deservedly sainted and much-loved) W. E. B. Du Bois? Whatever the case may be, this scenario gives me at least pause for thinking about how to understand and think about the condition of Black professors in relation to Black communities.

From ‘zones’ to ‘relations’: making space for one’s own belonging

            The task of writing this paper lead me to think that Kwame Nkrumah's (1969) strategic understanding of revolutionary warfare has application to the academic setting. Whereas Nkrumah worked from the aspiration of a revolutionary Africa drawing on the specificity of a material “topography” and relational “balance of forces,” these metaphors must be substituted with different meanings. There is no doubt that the Western academy is patterned on the medievalism of the cloister and feudal social relations (one only has to contemplate the meaning of maces and ermine collared robes at graduation to see this inheritance). There is no doubt also that the contemporary university is vital for the reproduction of social order and the undertaking of corporate and state-sponsored research and development that sustains capitalism and state apparatuses of symbolic and actual violence. We cannot escape the fact that many Canadian universities are colonial in curriculum as well as being sited on unceded indigenous Canadian territories (Dei 2016). The tenured and the tenure track professor and the ensemble of relations that constitute the university must be liberated from sustaining a socially repressive and ecologically insane social order. Thus rather than as specified by Nkrumah of counter colonial struggles that there are zones that liberated, under enemy control, or contested, I suggest a discursive transformation and displacement in favour of relationships that are liberated, contested, and enemy. As I contend with the ambivalances, contradications and paradoxes of being a professor, I feel that I lose none of my blackness by struggling against enemy relations, persuading contested relations toward the arc of justice and expanding the zone of liberated relations.

References

Baker, H. A. (2008). Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era. New York: Columbia University Press.

Christian, M. (2017). From Liverpool to New York City: Behind the Veil of a Black British Male Scholar Inside Higher Education. Race Ethnicity and Education 20, no. 3: 414­–428.

Cruse, Harold. (1967). The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual. New York: Morrow.

Dei, G. J. S. (2019). Leadership and Black Intellectuals: An Indigenous Africentric and Pan-African Perspective. In Re/visioning African Leadership: Perspectives on Change, Continuity and Transformation, edited by Tamari Kitossa, Philip Howard, and Erica Lawson. Buffalo; Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Dei, G. S. J. 2016. Decolonizing the University: The Challenges and Possibilities of Inclusive Education. Socialist Studies/Études socialistes 11, no. 1: 23–61.

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1914). The Prize Fighter. Crisis. 8(4): 181. https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/workers/civil-rights/crisis/0800-cr...

Fanon, Frantz. (1968). Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press.

Frazier, E. F. (1962). The Failure of the Negro Intellectual. http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/frazier_failure.html

Glaude, E. S. (2013). Black Intellectuals Have Sold Their Souls. New York Times, June 23, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/02/04/do-black-intellectuals-n...

Gramsci, A. (1991). Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Edited and translated by Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. New York: International.

Griffin, K. A., M. J. Pifer., J. R. Humphrey., and A. M. Hazelwood. (2011). (Re)Defining Departure: Exploring Black Professors’ Experiences with and Responses to Racism and Racial Climate. American Journal of Education 117: 495–825.

Grundy, S. (2017). A History of White Violence Tells Us Attacks on Black Academics are Not Ending (I Know Because it Happened to Me). Ethnic and Racial Studies 40, no. 11: 1864–1871.

Henry, A. (2019). Standing Firm on Uneven Ground: A Letter to Black Women on Academic Leadership. In Tamari Kitossa, Erica Lawson and Philip Howard (Eds., African Canadian Leadership: Continuity, transition and transformation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Henry, A. (2017). Dear white people, wake up: Canada is racist. The Conversation. September 6, 2017. https://theconversation.com/dear-white-people-wake-up-canada-is-racist-8...

Henry, Frances and Carol Tator. 2009. Racism in the Canadian University: Demanding Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

James, C. E. (2019). Black Leadership and White Logic: Models of Community Engagement. In Re/visioning African Leadership: Perspectives on Change, Continuity and Transformation, edited by Tamari Kitossa, Philip Howard, and Erica Lawson. Buffalo; Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

James, C. E. (2012). Strategies of Engagement: How Racialized Faculty Negotiate the University System. Canadian Ethnic Studies 44, no. 2: 133–152.

Johnson, J., and N. Bryan. (2017). Using our voices, losing our bodies: Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and the spirit murders of Black male professors in the academy. Race Ethnicity and Education 20(2): 163–177.

Kitossa, T. (2016). Implicit Racism: The Need for Deep Diversity at Brock University. Brock Press, March 22, 2016. http://brockpress.com/2016/03/implicit-racism-the-need-for-deep-diversity-at-brock-university/

Krumah, K. (1969). Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare: A Guide to the Armed Phase of the African Revolution. New York: International.

Nelson, C. (2011). Toppling the ‘Great White North’: Tales of a Black Female Professor in Canadian Academia. In Sandra Jackson and Richard Gregory Johnson III (eds.), The Black Professorate: Negotiating a habitable space. New York: Peter Lang.

Norris, A. (2019). Discussing Contemporary Racial Justice in Academic Spaces: Minimizing Epistemic Exploitation While Neutralizing White Fragility. In The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity, edited by Steven Ratuva. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.

Said, E. (1996). Representation of Intellectuals. New York: Vintage.

Samuel, E., and N. Wane. (2005). ‘Unsettling Relations’: Racism and sexism experienced by faculty of color in a predominantly white Canadian university”. The Journal of Negro Education 74(1): 76-87.

Smith, M. (2018). Equity at Canadian Universities: National, Disaggregated and Intersectional Data. Academic Women's Association University of Alberta. June 22,  2018. https://uofaawa.wordpress.com/awa-diversity-gap-campaign/the-diversity-gap-at-canadian-universities-in-2018/

Stewart, A. (2004). Penn and Teller: Self, Racial Devaluation and the Canadian Academy. In Racism Eh?: A Critical Inter-disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada, edited by Camille A. Nelson and Charmaine A. Nelson, 33-40. Toronto: Captus.

West, C. (1993–1994). The Dilemma of the Black Intellectual. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 2: 59–67.

Wingfield, A. H. (2015). The Plight of the Black Academic. The Atlantic, December 15, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/12/the-plight-of-the-black-academic/420237/

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Federation welcomes three new scholarly association members

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to three new Association members! Each of them was voted in by existing members at the Federation’s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting, which took place on May 15, 2019. Read on to learn more about each one — their mission, their leadership and what motivated them to join the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. [Pssst…. And next month, we’ll be introducing two new institution members who joined the Federation membership as well.]  

The Canadian Association for American Studies (CAAS) is a multidisciplinary scholarly association that promotes research concerning the United States, and considers the implications of this research for Canada and other countries.

Curious as to what exactly that means? A glance at the association’s list of recent winning publications suggests this area of study covers a breadth of inventive topics from pop culture, to American history, to American literature, to Communication studies. Wondering more specifically what sorts of topics they study? To name a few:  homosexuality in Herman Melville, suffrage print culture, antebellum Black literature... The list goes on, but it’s safe to say that in addition to their academic contributions, these types of topics might pique the curiosity of any inquisitive layperson in North America.

The association was founded in 1964, had its first conference in 1965 and published the first issue of its journal, the prestigious Canadian Review of American Studies, in 1970. The association will be hosting a symposium at Concordia University this October 25-27 for all scholars of American studies. 

CAAS will also be holding its annual conference at Congress this year for the first time. Proposals for Congress 2020 are being accepted until November 15, 2019. In addition to their general call for papers at Congress, they are also soliciting proposals for a roundtable entitled “The Legacies of Toni Morrison,” with suggested topics such as race and literary representation, social justice, the politics of language and more.

So why did they decide to join the Federation and jump on board for Congress 2020? Their application says it all:

 
Get to know CAAS: 
 

We are also pleased to welcome a relatively new scholarly association into the fold. Formed in 2010, the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics (CSSC /SCEBD) held its first conference in 2011 as part of the New Narrative conference at the University of Toronto.

The year 2019 has been a busy one so far for the CSSC. The Society held its annual conference at Congress for the first time in 2019 and its membership presented 40 papers at the event. Members also kept busy throughout the year with presentations at numerous Canadian and international comics studies conferences, including the annual conference of the Comics Studies Society, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the Michigan State University Comics Forum, the Comics & Travel conference at Oxford University, the Comics and Comic Art area of the Popular Culture Association conference, and  the academic track of the Edmonton Comics and Entertainment Expo, among many others.

CSSC will be at Congress 2020 and their call for papers will be posted later in October.

Comics have captured the popular imagination for decades, and are quickly growing as a serious area of study. With that in mind, it seems there was no better time than now for the CSSC to join the Federation:

Get to know CSSC: 


And, last but not least, we welcome the Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT). The association was officially formed in 1951 at McGill University after several informal annual meetings that took place in the years preceding. The main motivations for forming into a society were to strengthen the sense of professional identity and purpose among law teachers and to consolidate teaching methods and materials. In the early days, the forming of an association also meant that CALT members could more easily ask universities for travel grants, which at the time were not common practice.

The association is open to a wide base of members, including part-time law teachers, law professors and teachers from legal studies programmes, law teachers in paralegal programs, graduate students, as well as those teaching law outside of Canada. CALT publishes an annual journal, the Canadian Legal Education Annual Review (CLEAR) and also grants three awards annually. They have been holding their annual conference at Congress since their formation.

CALT was a Federation member in the past, and has rejoined after a brief hiatus away from us. So great to have them back!


 

Get to know CALT: 

 

Back to school 2019 - What is the media saying?

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Lily Polowin, Communications Coordinator, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Since I started working for the Federation on May 31 (the first day of Congress 2019), I’ve been doing all I can to get up to date on the conversations the media is having about post-secondary education in Canada. With the rhythms of a new semester starting up, here is a summary of what makes back to school 2019 unique. Happy reading!

Equity and representation in academia are top of mind for many this back-to-school season. The Canada Research Chairs program recently updated its equity measures with more ambitious targets that will aim to represent traditionally marginalized groups proportionally to their presence in the general population rather than to a specific hiring pool. Equity experts such as Malinda Smith point out that the argument that diversity is antithetical to excellence relies on nothing more than a negative stereotype. The new targets will use an intersectional lens and disaggregated data to capture specific needs.

The prevalence of this conversation is not limited to the humanities and social sciences. Some medical schools in Canada, such as that of the University of Manitoba, have added a new section to their application that aims to capture the extent to which prospective students’ socioeconomic background may have disadvantaged them on the application form. The new application format aims to correct the inequality by assigning a numerical value to specific answers. The results at U of M appear successful so far: in a recent graduating class, more than half of graduates were women, 10 per cent were Indigenous, 20 per cent were from rural areas and 50 per cent were from families with an income of less than $75,000. At Queen’s University, a new course has been introduced to teach first year medical students about the school’s former ban on Black students. Queen’s recently apologized for the ban that was enforced from just after veterans returned from World War I all the way until 1965. The course, aptly named “Who gets to be a doctor?,” will ensure that all incoming medical students are aware of the school’s history of racial discrimination. Meanwhile, the Lord Dalhousie Scholarly Panel on Slavery and Race at Dalhousie University has just released its Report on Lord Dalhousie's History on Race on Slavery. It is the first time a Canadian university has examined its history with regard to slavery and race, and the report recommends actions Dalhousie can take in response.

Thirty-one post-secondary leaders from across the country spent time in three Yukon cities at the “Perspectives on Reconciliation” institute in August to learn ways of incorporating Indigenous knowledge and history into their institutions. Some key suggestions were to re-examine policies that may create barriers for Indigenous students, to encourage Indigenization in the senior ranks, and to increase the number of Indigenous students and faculty. Some universities already seem to be on the right track. Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has an award-winning program called Knowledge Makers, which encourages research by Indigenous students using Indigenous methodologies. The program has had more than 65 students since 2015 and has separate streams for undergraduate and graduate studies.

As the federal election nears, students are mobilizing to make their concerns known. Forty-six student unions across the country are joining forces to release an open letter to the federal political parties asking them to consider their concerns, some of which are increased support for Indigenous students, elimination of interest on student loans, programs to help students integrate into the workforce, and more. Student concerns are especially poignant in Ontario, where recent cuts to OSAP funding are forcing some to sit out the year. Since the Ford government’s new initiative to allow students to choose which ancillary fees they pay took effect, student groups that rely on these fees to operate are campaigning to persuade their fellow classmates to support them. Indeed, it seems it’s not an easy time to be a student; the number of post-secondary students seeking mental health support in 13 institutions increased by 35 per cent between 2011 and 2015, and some universities are increasing their investments in free mental health services in an attempt to keep up with the demand. 

In Quebec, some are calling for mandatory training for CEGEP teachers, arguing that simply earning a bachelor or master’s degree in one’s subject matter does not provide graduates with the pedagogical skills needed to be a good teacher. The new Bill 21 is coming into effect this season, meaning that despite a shortage of public school teachers, the government’s policies are turning away capable candidates because of their choice to wear head coverings. On the positive side, there is some great news for Franco-Ontarians: the Ontario and federal governments recently signed a long-awaited agreement that will commit both to fund the creation of the first francophone university in Ontario: l’Université de l’Ontario français.

International students arriving at Pearson airport this year will be met by staff from Destination Ontario who were in their shoes not long ago. Some lucky students will be participating in homestay programs that give them a rich cultural exchange. Meanwhile, international students in Manitoba are organizing to pressure the future provincial government to reinstate the international health care coverage that was cut in 2018. Another body providing aid for international education is WUSC, which offers up to 130 places to refugee students every year. Unlike many other immigration procedures, this program gives the students an automatic permanent residency, allowing them the chance to establish themselves in Canada once their studies are done. On the federal side, the Trudeau government has a new plan to diversify the international student population coming to Canada beyond India and China, and it wants to encourage these students to move to smaller Canadian cities.

Some academics are joining a movement to limit their air travel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including Ryan Katz-Rosene, President of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (a Federation member). A recent study found that professors at Université de Montréal travel an average of 33,000 km per year for their research. With air travel being one of the fastest growing sources of C02, the flight shame movement is growing. 

Two new programs at Western University are educating graduate students and employers alike on how to bridge the gap between school and work. A big part of that gap is learning how to explain core competencies in plain language – which is a good thing because motivation, adaptability and other “soft skills” are often what can make or break a job candidacy, even when technical skills are involved. Considering your own collaboration style can help you articulate your post-academic career goals.

Ultimately, the fight for equity and representation would not be happening if opportunities and outcomes really were equally available to all. Here’s hoping that the prevalence of these topics in the media this year indicate we are stepping towards a future where the cycle of privilege determining success -- in both visible and invisible ways-- can be broken.

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Institutional Growth and ChangeResearch and ProgramsLearningResearchTeachingAnti-racismEquity MattersEquity and diversityEducation and Equity

Positioning Blackness, Necessarily, Awkwardly, in the Canadian Academy

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Guest blog by Handel Kashope Wright, Professor and Director of Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, The University of British Columbia

This blog is based on a paper presented on the panel #Black Professors Matter: Experiences in White Academe at the 2019 Canadian Sociological Association Conference. The paper is an abridged version of “The Awkward Presence of Blackness in the Canadian Academy,” a contribution to The Nuances of Blackness and the Canadian Academy, a forthcoming book co-edited by Awad Ibrahim, Tamari Kittosa, Malinda Smith and Handel Kashope Wright.

The Canadian academy at the present historical juncture, like much of the academy worldwide, has become the neo-liberal academy in a time of extended austerity. Academic work is now highly stressful, marked by work intensification and time pressures for those lucky enough to be on tenure track and increasing casualization for many well qualified others. On the one hand, much of the administrative labour of running universities as institutions has been downloaded onto faculty while on the other university administration has become bloated, with administrators earning exorbitant salaries. All of this has led to, among other things, a marked rise in burnout among academics (Malesic, 2016). It is hardly surprising then that there has been a notable uptick in the numbers leaving academia, a phenomenon documented and reflected in the growing literature that has been named “quit lit” (Dunn, 2013; Coin, 2017).

A principal characteristic of critical discussions of the neo-liberal university in times of extended austerity is that its primary subject and indeed audience is the tenure track academic. When it does deal with diverse constituencies it considers the place of faculty versus administrators or the fate of tenured and tenure track faculty versus non-tenure track sessionals and only very rarely does it address graduate and undergraduate students. And when it comes to the disciplines, the focus is, rightly, on the precarious position of the humanities and to a lesser extent the social sciences. What this literature does not address is the specifics of the sociocultural identity of these constituencies; of administrators, academics, staff and students as embodied subjects and the politics of difference entailed. My position is that it is both crucial and urgent that we introduce sociocultural identity politics, and the politics of difference into the discussion of the neoliberal university in a time of protracted austerity and that we also introduce the neoliberal university in a time of austerity into our discussion of Black Canadian Studies and the representation of Blackness in the academy. In other words, what is needed to understand the position of Blackness in the academy is the imbrication of critical anti-racism and/or critical race theory and the critique of neoliberalism.      

The Canadian academy is a true part of the Great White North — with serious problems around hiring, recruitment, retention and promotion of racialized faculty and staff, including Indigenous peoples and Blacks. The university in the West, including in Canada, was originally intended for the education of white middle class and upper middle class males and these institutions of higher education continue to be predominantly white. Indeed the very fact that diversity efforts are now both prominent and ubiquitous at institutions of higher learning in the West (Ahmed, 2012), including in Canada, is proof that there is a chronic, perennial problem around diversifying universities at all levels. The Canadian Employment Equity Act identifies four designated groups for proactive hiring, namely women, people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and visible minorities, and given that Canadian universities have been stubbornly predominantly white, one would expect that equity policies and diversity work would put emphasis on the racial diversification of the university. Instead, diversity work in the Canadian university has largely resulted in what Malinda Smith (2018) has identified as “diversifying whiteness” (p. 55). The result for Blackness is that the black body is still what Lewis Gordon, drawing on Frantz Fanon, has referred to as an illicit presence — a body that does not belong, in this case a body out of place on campus. As I pointed out in 2003 about teaching cultural studies within a College of Education at the University of Tennessee, “As an African and even as a black person teaching at a decidedly white institution, I am the unexpected colleague and teacher…..the unexpected pedagogue teaching the unexpected discipline” (Wright, 2013, p. 818). The Black academic in Canada is, similarly, the unexpected professor, received, not with the crude shocked exclamation that greeted Fanon’s Negro at large: “Look Mama, a Negro!” but rather with a polite translation of that shock and discomfort into the raised eyebrow, the furtive second glance, the studied avoidance or token inclusion, subtle affective reactions in which institutional white privilege and anti-black racism both melt into thin air, even as they permeate everywhere (Tate, 2014; Gordon, 1995).

Given the neoliberalization of the Canadian university and the exacerbated effects on Black and other racialized and minoritized groups (e.g. underrepresentation on tenure track faculty and especially in leadership positions, overrepresentation in sessional positions), Black academics might be forgiven for eschewing institutional politics and concentrating on career advancement or indeed mere survival within the profession. Some of us, however, cannot not be politically engaged, even as that means a considerable additional burden. We hold a radically different view of the nature and function of the university, captured most succinctly in Stuart Hall’s trenchant assertion that: “The University is a critical institution or it is nothing.” (Stuart Hall). Given his perspective, Hall therefore advocates that critical academics go beyond academic work to undertake intellectual work and sees the two as being both distinct and complexly related.

Despite Hall’s preference for intellectual over academic work, it is important to re-conceptualize the academy as inherently political and hence to recognize that there is crucial work to be done in making institutions of higher learning more diverse and equitable, in imbricating academic and intellectual work, in doing what we might call academic activism. For the critical Black academic taking on certain “service” roles constitutes political work, diversity work which, as Sara Ahmed (2012) observes, “…is hard because it can involve doing within institutions what would otherwise be done by them.” (p. 25).       

As an academic who works on Africana studies I am cognizant that at many Canadian institutions, including here at the University of British Columbia, Africana Studies is at best marginal, located in Spivak’s words (1993), “Outside in the teaching machine.”  But marginality is not all negative. As bell hooks (1990) reminds us, the margins are not only a site of exclusion and deprivation but also “a site of resistance… a location of radical openness and possibility” (p. 153).  So, far from being simply a victim of discrimination and in part in reaction to this, we need to acknowledge activists for Blackness in the Canadian academy, including a growing “Black Canadian Studies Association,” and active contributions by Black scholars to discussions on historical and contemporary race and racism in Canada.

There are various stances that academics take in relation to the justice and representation at their institutions, communities and society at large — some choose to eschew it completely, while others tinker in academic and community activism, and yet others come close to what Gramsci identified as the organic intellectual. I hold that irrespective of whether they choose to engage or not, the Black academic is always already politicized — looked upon variously as a real or potential radical, a mere, probably underqualified equity hire, a niche expert, a grateful conformist, an ungrateful non-conformist, etc. There is no such thing as a neutral Black academic.

The very category “Black academic” is an identity involving the employment of an assemblage of phenotypical characteristics  in a willful homogenization of a very disparate set of subjects, a strategic essentialism employed to create a united front by us and a lazy failure to entertain difference within Blackness by others (and indeed too often by us).

For some of us, especially those of us from what V.Y. Mudimbe (1988) has called an invented Africa, who were not black back there, coming to Canada meant becoming black/Black — in other words, it meant being brought directly under the White gaze and being interpellated into such identities as black, Black, Black-Canadian, African-Canadian, Canadian-African, Afrikan-Canadian and visible minority, and incorporated into a hegemonic, self-congratulatory, celebratory Canadian multiculturalism that is proving incapable of coping with what Steven Vertovec has identified as “superdiversity” and not particularly interested in true recognition and just representation.

So who are African-Canadian academics?  We are francophone immigrants from Africa who (as Senghor declared of himself) speak better French than the best educated Parisian (let alone Quebecois); Anglophone immigrants from the Caribbean for whom, as Marlene NourbeSe Philip (1988) declared, “English is a foreign language, a foreign anguish,” we are Blacks who can trace their ancestry back as far as the Underground Railroad and the Black Loyalists, and contemporary African-Americans recently hired despite all advertisements for academic positions specifying that “preference will being given to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants.”  We are male, female, transgendered, intersexed; we are straight, gay, lesbian and queer; we are the ironic and sometimes ambivalent beneficiaries of the one drop rule: dark skinned, light skinned, creole, browning, octoroon, yalla rose, biracial and multiracial. We are proudly Afrikan (yes, sometimes spelled with a militant K) and passively hyphenated African-Canadian; landed and rooted but never fully belonging in the academy nor in Canada; all of us asked, as Gayatri Spivak (1990) puts it, to “cathect the margins” of the academy “so that others can be defined as central” (p.41). We are those who, irrespective of how long or short our historical roots are in Canada are constantly asked, “where are you from?” We are an awkward presence, the other in position of authority and privilege, supposedly misplaced in the middle class and at the front of the class; we are Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic come ashore on Turtle Island; we are, as Gloria Ladson Billings (2000) puts it, “the children of fieldhands [who] have returned to do fieldwork” (p. 269).

If Blackness in all its diversity is an always already politicized category, it is important to choose a position, an ideological stance from which to operate. The question is not whether — but how — to reach beyond Black identity politics to work with marginalized/minoritized others. As a starting point, I would say we should heed the radically activist and politically sensitive approach advocated by Audre Lorde, namely to work “on the edge of each other’s battles.”

We should choose recognition and just representation for Blacks and Black Studies within and outside the academy and indeed for all, and we should work on that project by forging alliances with and working on the edge of the battles of other progressive racialized and minoritized peoples in a Black version of what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak refers to as working “in the spirit of conjunctural inclusiveness and solidarity” (Spivak, Gilbert & Fisher, 2014). This to me is what a critical Blackness means or ought to mean in the Canadian academy at this historical juncture of the confluence of ineffective multiculturalism, perennial racism, neoliberalism and austerity on the one hand, and on the other, a multiple and pliant Blackness as part of the Canadian super-diversity (Steven Vertovec, 2007); a strategically essentialized Black agency, and collaborative activism. This is how we ought to position ourselves as Black academics in spite of or indeed precisely because of our supposed awkward presence in Canada and in the Canadian academy, so that, to paraphrase Kobina Mercer (1994), “we can live.”

References

Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and diversity in institutional life. Durham: Duke University Press.
Coin, F. (2017). On quitting. ephemera, 17 (3), 705-719.
Dunn, S. (2013) ‘Why so many academics quit and tell?’ Chronicle Vitae. [https://chroniclevitae.com/news/216-why-so-many-academics-quit-andtell?]
Gordon, L. (1995). Fanon and the crisis of European man: An essay on philosophy and the human sciences. London: Routledge.
hooks, b. (1992). Black looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End Press.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2000). Racialized discourses and ethnic epistemologies, in N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Malesic, J. (2016) ‘The 40-year-old burnout. Why I gave up tenure for a yet-to-be-determined-career’, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 October. [https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-40-Year-Old-Burnout/237979]
Mercer, K. (1994). Welcome to the jungle: New positions in black cultural studies. New York: Routledge.
Mudimbe, V.Y. (1988). The invention of Africa; Gnosis, philosophy, and the order of knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Philip, M.N. (1988). She tries her tongue, her silence softly breaks. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Smith, M. (2018). Diversity in theory and practice: Dividends, downsides, and dead-ends. In Janine Brodie (Ed.). Contemporary inequalities and social justice in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Spivak, G.C. (1993a). Scattered speculations on the question of culture studies. In G.C. Spivak, (Ed.). Outside in the teaching machine. New York: Routledge.
Spivak, G.C. (1993b). Outside in the teaching machine. New York: Routledge.
Spivak, G.C., Gilbert, J., & Fisher, J. (May/June, 2014). Stuart Hall, 1932-2014. Radical Philosophy. https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/obituary/stuart-hall-1932-2014
Tate, S.A. (2014). I can’t quite put my finger on it: Racism’s touch. Ethnicities, 1741-2706.
Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30 (6), 1024-1054.
Wright, H.K. (2013). Cultural studies as praxis: (Making) an autobiographical case. Cultural Studies, 17 (6), 805-822.

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Federation President’s update regarding the outcomes of the investigation (June 2nd incident)

 

August 28, 2019

Today the Federation announced the results of an investigation into an incident that occurred on June 2 at the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The investigation’s findings are clear: a member of our scholarly community was harassed and discriminated against by another Congress participant, in violation of the standards of behaviour that every person who registers for Congress has a duty to uphold.  

This incident involved a case of racial profiling. The Scholar who endured this mistreatment was denied what, in the words of our Code of Conduct, all Congress participants are entitled to: “an environment free of all forms of discrimination [and] harassment.” We are profoundly sorry this happened and we extend our deepest apologies to him for the pain, disrespect, and public embarrassment that this experience has caused him.

We are taking decisive action in light of the investigation’s findings. The individual responsible for these actions has been suspended from Congress for a minimum of three years, and must demonstrate that he has met five conditions before he will be eligible to return.

We are strengthening our organizational policies and practices to prevent discrimination, harassment, racial profiling, and anti-Black racism, and we are committed to making these issues an integral part of the program at future Congresses. We have announced a revised theme for Congress 2020: Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, and we are working with our members to incorporate this change into the theme’s description and programming.

Thank you for your patience as we took the necessary steps to investigate the events of June 2, determine what happened, and take responsible actions based on facts.  My Board colleagues and I look forward to continuing the dialogue about these important issues and working with our scholarly community to address racial and social injustices.

Please contact me if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

Sincerely,

Patrizia Albanese
President
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
president@ideas-idees.ca

Statement by the Federation on the outcomes of the investigation (June 2nd incident)

 

August 28, 2019

On June 2, 2019, a scholar attending Congress 2019 reported that he had been subject to racial profiling, discrimination and harassment by another conference attendee (“the Respondent”), in violation of the Congress Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct, which all Congress registrants must agree to follow, prohibits racial discrimination and all forms of harassment, including “stalking, following, harassing photography or recording.”

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which organizes Congress, retained a lawyer with human rights expertise (“the investigator”) to investigate the incident and determine the facts of what occurred.  The investigator collected evidence and conducted interviews between June 11 and August 7, speaking with the scholar who reported the discrimination (“the Scholar”), the Respondent, and several other witnesses before reporting back to the Federation. All of the persons directly involved in the incident cooperated with the investigation.

Investigator’s Findings

The investigator found that the Respondent breached the Congress Code of Conduct by taking photographs of the scholar who reported the discrimination, a Black man, and another individual without their consent. It further found that the Respondent discriminated against the Scholar on the basis of race in questioning his right to be on campus, questioning whether he was a registered attendee, and implicitly accusing him, without any justification, of stealing his laptop. The investigator found that the Respondent subjected the Scholar to heightened suspicion and scrutiny and, in doing so, acted from “unconscious bias against him as a Black man.”

Actions by the Federation

Based on the investigation’s findings, the Federation has suspended the Respondent from attending Congress for a minimum of three years (2020-22.) He will be ineligible, during that period, to register for Congress, attend or present at any event that is part of Congress, or participate in any of its activities.

Further, before he is eligible to return to Congress, the Respondent must demonstrate that he:

1.  Takes full responsibility for his actions on June 2, and for the pain and harm they caused the scholar who reported the discrimination.
2.  Will meet all Congress Code of Conduct requirements, without exception, at all points in the future.
3.  Understands that the Code of Conduct applies to all Congress attendees and that it prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion (or lack thereof), age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or body size.
4.  Understands the obligation under human rights legislation not to engage in discrimination on the basis of race.
5.  Is engaged in educational and critical thinking activities to increase his awareness of white privilege and its consequences.

Moving Forward

The Federation is learning from this incident. We are strengthening our organizational systems to prevent discrimination, harassment, racial profiling, and anti-Black racism from occurring. We are immediately undertaking, in consultation with our members, a full review of our Congress Code of Conduct and the systems we use to support and enforce it, including staff education and communications protocols. Improved policies and procedures will be in place in time for Congress 2020.

We recently announced a revised theme for Congress 2020 - Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black racism. Over the coming weeks and months, the Federation will continue working with its partners to incorporate this change into the theme’s description and programming. We are committed to making these issues an integral part of future Congresses, and to working with our scholarly community to address racial and social injustices.

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Federation President’s update regarding the Congress 2020 theme

 

August 14, 2019

Today, I am pleased to inform you of an important step we are taking to respond to the serious issue of anti-Black racism. The Federation has listened to its members and we share your deep concerns about this issue. 

With the strong support of the 2020 Programming Committee, the Federation has revised the theme of Congress 2020 – Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism. Over the coming weeks, we will continue working with our partners to incorporate this change into the theme’s 200-word description.

This change opens important opportunities for participants at next year’s Congress. In particular, the revised theme:

  • Adds, for the first time, an explicit reference to Anti-Black Racism, setting the stage for critical exchanges about this systemic problem and the nuances of Blackness in society and the academy;
  • Seeks to overcome the divisive legacy of colonialism, a critical aspect of promoting reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler populations;
  • Promotes difficult but essential discussions about the most serious issues facing us as scholars, citizens, and members of our society; and
  • Remains sufficiently broad (“Bridging Divides”) for thousands of scholars, from more than 70 scholarly associations, to engage deeply in questions specific to their fields of study. 

By revising the Congress theme, not only has the Federation addressed all four of the requests made by the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) following the June 2 incident at Congress 2019, but more importantly, we have demonstrated our deep desire to address the critical issues it has raised.

We look forward to building on this in the future. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to our members as we develop this new theme and an engaging program for Congress.

I am grateful for your patience and support as we addressed this matter, and I urge you to contact me any time if you have comments, questions, or concerns.

Sincerely,

Patrizia Albanese
President
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
president@ideas-idees.ca

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Anthropologists without borders: Canadian and American associations to meet in Vancouver

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Guest blog by Dr. Martha Radice, Associate Professor, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University,
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography and Program Co-Chair, CASCA-AAA 2019.

AAC Logo that says "Changing Climates / Changer d'air"For the first time, the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) will hold its annual conference jointly with the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Vancouver from November 20 to 24, 2019. The jointly developed conference theme is Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice / Changer d’air: Lutte, collaboration et justice.

“We are very excited about this theme,” said Nicole Peterson, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Executive Program Co-Chair for the AAA. “We are inviting anthropologists and their collaborators to think about how we engage with issues of change over time to envision and build a more equitable future. We’re thinking about climates in terms of the environment, of course, but also the other contexts in which we work: social and political climates as well as climates for research, for teaching, and for inclusion and equity.”

The land on which the organizations will gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. “There’s a very important tradition in Canadian anthropology of conducting research with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Because of this, we wanted to highlight how anthropology connects to Indigenous communities through active collaborations and reflect on how we deal with our implications in ongoing coloniality,” said Pam Downe, Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan and Executive Program Co-Chair for CASCA.

In this spirit, the keynote speaker will be Douglas Cardinal, renowned Canadian architect of Métis, Blackfoot/Kainai, German and Algonquin heritage, who envisions his buildings in intimate relation with their environment as well as their users. He will be in conversation with Monica Heller, a Canadian linguistic anthropologist and Professor at the University of Toronto, who is also a former President of the AAA. A special presidential panel has also been convened in recognition that 2019 is the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The joint conference marks a monumental first for both organizations. Planning started in 2013, with a memorandum of understanding signed the following year. “It is an exciting opportunity for CASCA to partner with the AAA, but also a major challenge to mesh our two organizations, especially since CASCA is significantly smaller than AAA!” said Martha Radice, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University and the other Executive Program Co-Chair for CASCA. “For instance, we usually meet in May, not November like the AAA, so we held an online Annual General Meeting in May 2019 to fulfil our obligations to our members.”

Both organizations strove to make the scientific program as “joint” as possible, which meant harmonizing the submissions and review systems. “The AAA staff have been incredibly generous and patient with us as we adapt to their system,” said Martha Radice. “As challenging as it is to organize, a spirit of cooperation and collegiality runs through all dimensions of this event.”

Sabrina Doyon, CASCA President and Professor at Université Laval agrees. “We are really looking forward to reflecting with our American sister organization on the struggles, collaborations, and justice-centered dimensions of our discipline’s work in changing climates.”

To find out more, visit https://casca-aaa-2019.com   

Stan Douglas: Impossible Pictures

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Mandy Len Catron, Congress 2019 guest blogger

All of this year’s Big Thinking events consider how the arts function as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Organizers were inspired by three big questions: Who speaks for whom? Whose stories get told? And who gets left out?

In a talk entitled “Impossible Pictures,” Vancouver photographer and multi-media artist Stan Douglas spoke about the challenges of making some of his recent work. Douglas said he makes art “because I want to see something in front of me.” His most recent projects all use sophisticated digital technology to recreate the past in the present moment, raising questions about how art can connect us to the past and think critically about how we live in the present.

One project, Circa 1948, used an augmented reality app to recreate two Vancouver locations that can no longer be visited: Hogan’s Alley, which was razed for the creation of the Georgia Viaduct in 1970, and the old Hotel Vancouver, which was demolished in 1949. Douglas explained how he used old photographs, maps, and archive data to recreate a 3-D environment of a post-war world that no longer exists. The app allows viewers to move through these locations and reimagine the communities that occupied them.

Circa 1948 is part of a larger multi-media exploration of Vancouver in the post-war era. Douglas showed a clip from the hybrid play/film Helen Lawrence and photorealistic images from his series Nocturnes. All three projects evoke a world that no longer exists, tackling race, class, power, and what Douglas calls the “reorganization of urban space.”

Douglas also spoke about his series of high-resolution images depicting the global social unrest of the year 2011. The images, which were pieced together from aerial photographs, video imagery, and 3D imaging technology, recreate the riots in the Tottenham district of North London. In a conversation with the audience, Douglas said he wanted the images to tell a story slowly, the longer a viewer looked. “This is not a humanistic view,” he said, “this is the view of surveillance. Having this kind of scale, I can give a sense of time being played out spatially.

Douglas reminded audience members that, though art may have the capacity to elicit empathy, the technology he uses is fundamentally a “bourgeois medium”—especially virtual reality. “The reality they’re surrounding you with is actually controlled by the corporations who are making it,” he said. 

Mandy Len Catron is a writer and a faculty member in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. Catron is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. The book was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Walrus as well as literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

 

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Federation President’s update regarding racial profiling and anti-Black racism at Congress 2019

 

June 10, 2019

Thank you to the many members who have contacted the Federation to express their concern and outrage about the incident that took place at Congress on June 2, 2019. Instances of anti-Black racism, racial profiling and racial discrimination are deeply troubling no matter when or where they may take place. I want to assure you that the Federation is taking action to address this issue and is committed to keeping our community informed as we move forward.

Enforcing our Code of Conduct

The Congress Code of Conduct sets out clear standards of behaviour for anyone taking part in Congress. The Code, which all participants must agree to follow, states that “all attendees are entitled to enjoy an environment free of all forms of discrimination [and] harassment.”  

Anyone committing such acts must be held responsible. To that end, the Federation has undertaken an investigation to collect all relevant information about the June 2nd incident.  Based on that information, and in light of the Code of Conduct, we will decide what approach to take with the parties involved (e.g. punitive, restorative).

Professionals with human rights and legal backgrounds have informed us of how important it is to follow the principles of procedural fairness when dealing with a situation like this one. The steps we take must be fair, thorough, and unbiased. This is essential for ensuring that any sanctions we impose are grounded in sound principle and facts.

Confronting anti-Black racism, racial profiling and racial discrimination

We will complete our investigation without delay. Meanwhile, we are committed to learning from this incident and to acting on it:

  • We have apologized to the racialized scholar who reported the incident and we are keeping him up to date on the steps we are taking.
  • We are communicating with the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) and are taking action on their four requests arising from this incident. We are preparing to meet with the BCSA this week so that we can resolve outstanding questions and move forward together.
  • We are also planning the next Congress, and future ones, with a commitment to make equity, diversity, and inclusion a focus that cuts across our activities.
  • We will be looking for ways to strengthen the Code of Conduct, and the procedures for enforcing it, so that Congress, as a platform for scholars, students, and community members to engage with one another, is a space free of discrimination and harassment of any kind.

We will have more information for you in the coming days and weeks about next steps. We will be looking for your input as we move forward. Congress belongs to all of us – to scholarly associations, host institutions, and everyone who participates – so we all have a part to play in shaping its future.

Work ahead for our community

While our community of members, partners and collaborators is often a progressive one, we have been reminded of how much work still needs to be done by all to stop racial profiling and anti-Black racism.

The Federation condemns the policing of Black bodies, violence against Black individuals and the surveillance of Black members of our communities. We must, together, unequivocally condemn anti-Black racism. By raising our voices against racism, we keep each other accountable and can work collectively to name it when it happens, and take action against it.

Anti-Black racism has no place in the Social Sciences and Humanities community nor any community. We are committed to working harder and collaboratively with our members and partners to create safe spaces – spaces that are free from harassment, racial profiling and discrimination.

Again, thank you to all members who have raised their voice and demanded action. We are listening, we are learning, and we are acting.

Patrizia Albanese, President
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
president@ideas-idees.ca

 

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Storytelling and Strength: Voices from Indigenous theatre in Canada

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Mandy Len Catron, Congress 2019 guest blogger

All of this year’s Big Thinking events consider how the arts function as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Organizers were inspired by three big questions: Who speaks for whom? Whose stories get told? And who gets left out?

This event, moderated by Dr. Lindsay Lachance, brought together a group of award-winning Indigenous performers, writers and directors to share songs and stories.

Margot Kane, Cree-Saulteaux Founder and Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance, opened the event with a Cree mourning song. Kane spoke about how, as a young Indigenous actor working in mostly-white productions, she was inspired to create the Indigenous theatre community she longed for. Full Circle developed from a desire to “tell our own stories” free from Western ideas of storytelling. “We didn’t have any resources,” she said, “so we pooled them.” It worked: her Vancouver-based Talking Stick Festival has just completed its nineteenth year.

Sylvia Cloutier, Indigenous artist in residency at the National Theatre School in Montreal, spoke about learning her Inuit musical and storytelling traditions from community elders. “I’m the daughter of someone who went to residential school,” she said, emphasizing how completely colonialism alienated an entire generation. Cloutier described her family’s throat singing tradition as a means of expressing intimacy with the natural world: “Nature isn’t in our back yard. We are nature.” For her, storytelling and performance are essential ways of manifesting pre-colonial values and community. “It’s so important to have a voice and to feel heard,” she said, explaining how theatre welcomes everyone from throat singers to musicians, storytellers, and seamstresses.

 

Corey Payette, Artistic Director of Urban Ink in Vancouver, found that his early love of musical theatre inspired him to try playwriting: “I started writing because there were no roles for me, unless it was chorus member number two.” Now he works to help other Indigenous actors and playwrights find their place. “My work as an artist really has been shaped by the reclamation of my Indigenous self,” he said. “Just because the stories we’ve been told have positioned us in a certain way doesn’t mean those are the stories we have to keep telling.”

Kane encouraged non-Native audience members to think about how they might support Indigenous work by simply stepping aside and making space for Indigenous folks to lead the way.

To learn more, have a look at the event photo album.

Mandy Len Catron is a writer and a faculty member in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. Catron is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. The book was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Walrus as well as literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

 

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David Suzuki and Ian Mauro: Beyond Climate: Science, Storytelling and Solutions

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Mandy Len Catron, Congress 2019 guest blogger

All of this year’s Big Thinking events consider how the arts function as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Organizers were inspired by three big questions: Who speaks for whom? Whose stories get told? And who gets left out?

Activist David Suzuki and filmmaker Ian Mauro came to Congress to screen their latest film, Beyond Climate. The film, which was made over the course of several years, focuses on the increasing impacts of climate change across British Columbia, what Suzuki and Mauro refer to as “a sentinel province” for the crisis. The filmmakers toured the province to find those on the front lines of climate change—cherry farmers, firefighters, local government officials, First Nations communities—to see how they are confronting what Suzuki calls “the existential issue of our time.”

Suzuki and Mauro told moderator Katherine Harrison that making the film was an iterative process without an agenda, focused on listening at “the level of the landscape.” Suzuki explained that he once believed he wouldn’t see the effects of climate change within his lifetime. But making this film only further confirmed that effects are already being felt across British Columbia, from scallop farmers in Qualicum Bay to firefighters in West Kelowna.

“There’s something undeniable about the observations of people in their homelands where they know the land so intimately,” said Mauro of the many Indigenous folks they interviewed. The filmmakers worked hard to find a balance between sounding the alarm on the urgency of climate activism and encouraging citizens to feel empowered and even hopeful about our capacity to prevent total ecological catastrophe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is Canada’s moment,” Suzuki said, insisting that the most powerful thing Canadians can do for the climate is demand politicians make climate action the issue of their campaigns, particularly in the next federal election. He believes Canada is capable of setting high standards on climate policy for the rest of the world: “How can we expect anyone else to do the right thing if we aren’t fully engaged to do the right thing?”

For those looking for resources, Mauro suggested www.climateatlas.ca, a comprehensive website for individuals, communities, businesses, and governments. Suzuki criticized academics for their reluctance to get involved in climate activism. He encouraged them to get out of their comfort zones, arguing that institutions must use their status as thought leaders to support scientists and mobilize society to take action.

To see more, check out our photo album of the event on Facebook. 

Mandy Len Catron is a writer and a faculty member in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. Catron is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. The book was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Walrus as well as literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

 

 

 

 

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Letter to the Black Canadian Studies Association

 

This letter was updated on June 7, 2019 (see bold text)

June 5, 2019

Dear Black Canadian Studies Association,

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has received and read the Black Canadian Studies Association’s Open Letter and offers the following response.

We apologize for the pain and suffering that was inflicted upon the member of the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) who experienced this incident of racial profiling.

We are committed to addressing the issues of racial profiling, anti-Black racism and harassment experienced by members of the BCSA and other Federation members.

We have carefully reviewed your four requests and are addressing them as follows:

  1. As you may be aware, the Federation issued a statement this morning and stands by its Code of Conduct.

  2. The Federation will share information about the impacts of this event, including input from the BCSA, with the respondents.

  3. The issues of anti-Black racism and racial profiling will be an integral part of Federation programming at Congress 2020.

  4. In regards to Congress fees, we are reimbursing Congress 2019 registration fees to the member of BCSA who brought to our attention this incident of racial profiling and anti-Black racism. We also extend to him free registration for Congress 2020. The Federation will also waive BCSA’s fees for Congress 2020, as requested. 

Lastly, the Federation wishes to once again extend an invitation to meet with you at your earliest convenience to further discuss these issues and to take action on them together.

Sincerely,

Patrizia Albanese
President, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

View this letter as a PDF.

Simon Brault: The role of arts in protecting democracy

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Mandy Len Catron, Congress 2019 guest blogger

At Congress 2019, the Big Thinking lecture series considers how the arts function as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Organizers were inspired by three big questions: Who speaks for whom? Whose stories get told? And who gets left out? 

Monday’s Big Thinking event featured a talk from Simon Brault, the Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Brault spoke about the Council’s efforts to protect artistic freedoms while maintaining an ethic of civic responsibility. “Citizens,” he argued, “must be able to relate to and see themselves in the actions of organizations.” After his talk, Brault was interviewed by by Mirelle Langlois, Host of Culture et confiture on Radio-Canada.

In his talk, Brault emphasized the increasingly important role of arts organizations in protecting democracy. Historically, he said, the power of art has often been used “justify the status quo or maintain privilege.” But in today’s shifting political and media landscape, funding bodies like the Canada Council must consider important questions about its responsibilities to democracy, artists, and the larger social context of our time:

“What is artistic excellence today? Who defines it?”

Who’s being urged to submit grant applications? And under what circumstances?”

Brault also emphasized the Council’s ability to “act at arm’s length” from the federal government. He believes that this relative autonomy allows the Council to resist propaganda, defend artistic freedom, and imagine the role of the arts in sustainable development for the future.

Langlois asked Brault about the Council’s initiatives to support an ongoing renaissance of Indigenous art and culture. Brault acknowledged that Indigenous creators need spaces where they can express themselves “beyond the colonial mindset.” Art, he said, still has the power to create these kinds of spaces. In this way, he said, public arts funding is “about building the society we want to live in.”

Brault’s comments raise larger questions about the role of institutions in enabling individual freedom of expression while also supporting diverse communities, especially those who are often underrepresented. How can institutions support diverse creative output without over-imposing their own ideologies about what counts as art or how it should be practiced? What capacity do large public institutions have to make space for individuals to challenge the status quo, support democracy, and enact reconciliation and decolonization.

Mandy Len Catron is a writer and a faculty member in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. Catron is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. The book was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Walrus as well as literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at The University of British Columbia.

To see more, check out our photo album of the event on Facebook.

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Statement by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

 

June 5, 2019

On June 2, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences received a complaint from a Congress participant who informed us that he had been the victim of harassment and racial profiling by another participant.

The Federation is treating this incident very seriously as it unequivocally opposes and denounces anti-Black racism, racial profiling, harassment and discrimination of any kind.

Upon receiving this complaint, the Federation contacted the complainant and invited him to meet with the Federation as soon as possible. The following day, senior leaders of the Federation met with the complainant, who was accompanied by two Executive members of the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA). Since then, the Federation has continued to be in communication with the complainant and will continue to do so.  

The Federation is committed to working with BCSA to address this important issue.

The Federation stands by its Code of Conduct and does not tolerate anti-Black racism, harassment or discrimination of Congress participants in any form.

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Download this statement as a PDF

Childcare deserts Cause Psychological Distress for Working Parents

 

VANCOUVER, June 4, 2019 — Just about any parent will tell you that finding quality, affordable childcare is a difficult task no matter where you live. But what if you live in what’s known as a “childcare desert”?

New research shows that working parents of young children report greater psychological distress when they live in a childcare desert — which is defined as a neighbourhood with more than 50 non-school aged children, with less than one childcare space for every three children.

Marisa Young, a researcher at McMaster University, is the lead author of the study, which explores the mental health consequences for parents with young children who live in these deserts. She says her research shows that “those parents who are in the most need of childcare options—full-time, overworked parents with young children—may also be suffering the most from living in childcare deserts because of their inability to find care options.”

One of the most surprising results of the study was that fathers in childcare deserts who work long hours report worse mental health compared to mothers. While further analysis is needed to determine why, Young speculates that this might reflect the increasing responsibility that fathers are taking for childcare.

While this research focused specifically on parents living in Toronto, these findings could have implications for parents elsewhere, as the cost and availability of childcare continues to be a contentious issue across Canada. Young points out that solutions like childcare tax benefits don’t necessarily solve the issue of creating more childcare spaces. Instead, she says “the number of licensed childcare spaces needs to increase—particularly in urban centres.”

The paper Canadian Childcare Deserts: Consequences for Parental Work-Family Conflict and Well-Being by Marisa Young and Shirin Montazer is among thousands of new pieces of research being presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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The views and opinions expressed by the researchers in this media release and in the paper being presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences are their own and do not reflect those of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences nor of The University of British Columbia.

For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Hockey provides Pathway to Integration for Newcomers

 

VANCOUVER, June 4, 2019 — Hockey is the quintessential Canadian game and is considered emblematic of our country. Whether it’s being played by kids at a local rink, or by professionals on TV, hockey unites us and gives everyone something to cheer for. It’s part of what makes us feel Canadian, and the history and traditions of the game are embedded in our national identity.

But what does that mean for newcomers to Canada? Does Canada’s multiculturalism — itself a key part of our national identity — extend to the hockey arena? Can hockey help integrate newcomers into Canadian society?

Lloyd Wong, a researcher in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary, is investigating these questions. Partnering with Howard Ramos of Dalhousie University, the research team is conducting interviews with hockey players and fans at arenas in Calgary, Toronto, and Halifax. Both researchers grew up playing hockey, a personal interest which dovetails with their professional interests.

Wong says that initial findings suggest that hockey “has a community-building aspect,” helping immigrants who play or watch the game to integrate into Canadian life. Furthermore, participating in hockey can help newcomers develop a sense of Canadian identity.

While the project is ongoing, Wong says the new knowledge gained “will contribute to a better understanding of the role of hockey in Canadian multiculturalism.” He thinks these results could have policy implications, specifically around making sports like hockey more accessible and inclusive for underrepresented and marginalized populations in Canada.

The paper Just Add Ice?: Hockey and the Social Integration of Newcomers and Racialized Minorities by Lloyd Wong and Howard Ramos is among thousands of new pieces of research being presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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The views and opinions expressed by the researchers in this media release and in the paper being presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences are their own and do not reflect those of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences nor of The University of British Columbia.

For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Esi Edugyan: Making space for convergences of disparate ideas or unlikely connections

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Mandy Len Catron, Congress 2019 guest blogger

At Congress 2019, the Big Thinking lecture series considers how the arts function as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Organizers were inspired by three big questions: Who speaks for whom? Whose stories get told? And who gets left out?

In the first of what will be five events at UBC’s Frederic Wood Theatre, writer Esi Edugyan sat down with Minelle Mahtani, Associate Professor in UBC’s Institute for Social Justice. After reading an excerpt from her Giller Prize winning third novel, Washington Black, Edugyan spoke about her process as a writer, but also about the many ways the act of crafting a novel can speak to larger personal and political questions.

For Edugyan, novel writing is a means of making space for convergences of disparate ideas or unlikely connections. “I’ll often have five books on the go,” she said of her research process, “so I can see things come together that might not otherwise seem alike.” Research is a way of opening herself up to seeing things that might otherwise go unseen. Washington Black, in particular, was inspired by a footnote in the report of an old criminal trial.

Edugyan and Mahtani talked about toxic white benevolence—the damaging effects of good intentions as they manifest in both the book and the academy—and the political power of shared listening. “The act of reading a book and reading about someone who is completely unlike yourself, when you’re forced to confront their lives on this very granular level—to see the actual structure of someone else’s thinking—this can be revolutionary,” Edugyan said.

She also spoke about how, in writing historical fiction, she must move between imagination and the factual details of the historical record: “When I was reading about how slavery manifested in Barbados, I had to honour those lives that were lost. And part of the honoring was to depict the horrible brutality exactly as I had read it.”

The interview inspired some complicated questions: How can the combination of benevolence and privilege be damaging? When and how do we fail to do the work of confronting our own complicity? And how might we tune our attention toward the footnotes around us, the kinds of stories that might otherwise go unseen?

Mandy Len Catron is a writer and a faculty member in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. Catron is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. The book was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and The Walrus as well as literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

To see more, check out our photo album from the event on Facebook.

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Congress 2019

Stereotypes Affect Voter Perception of Candidates

 

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2019 — When you picture a politician, you probably imagine a middle-aged white man, because historically, that’s what most politicians have been. While the Canadian population is growing increasingly diverse, stereotypes about who does and does not run for politics persist. Although most of us like to think of ourselves as making voting choices based on facts, policies, and ideas, our reliance on stereotypes means that might not always be the case.

Researcher Joanie Bouchard of Université Laval examined the ways that race-, gender-, and age-based stereotypes were used by voters in Québec to evaluate political candidates. She says that the motivation for this research came from observing how Québec’s former minister of health, Gaétan Barrette,  was seen by many as less competent, despite years of experience in the health field, because he was overweight. “I was surprised at the fact that this man’s ability to lead an important ministry was judged based, in part, to his weight. It led me to pay more attention to the way appearance influences perceptions in politics,” Bouchard said.

Her work, which used focus groups to understand voters’ experiences, revealed that appearance-based stereotypes do influence how we view politicians. In particular, Bouchard found that Québecers have specific expectations about how candidates should look depending on their political affiliation. For example, a candidate with brightly dyed hair would look out of place among conservatives. There are even particular stereotypes that lead Québecers to assume whether or not someone supports Québec’s independence.

While stereotypes are pervasive and can be hard to avoid, Bouchard suggests that being aware of how and when we use them can be helpful. “Knowing what stereotypes are and what they mean in politics can help one recognize when they’re tempted to rely on them too much,” she said.

Bouchard’s paper, Getting the Picture: Gender-Based, Race-Based, and Age-Based Stereotypes in Politics is among thousands of new pieces of research being presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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The views and opinions expressed by the researcher in this media release and in the paper being presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences are her own and do not reflect those of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences nor of The University of British Columbia.

For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Canada marks 50 years of Official Bilingualism; Policy Still “Something to Be Proud Of”

 

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2019 — Language conflicts between anglophones and francophones have been one of the most important elements of Canadian history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act (OLA), the federal statute that made English and French both official languages in Canada and sought to quell the ongoing conflict. So, 50 years on, what does our progress look like?

Michael MacMillan, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, says one of the main goals of the OLA was balanced representation of francophones and anglophones in public service — a goal we have successfully met. Another objective was to make federal services available to the public in both official languages, which we have also achieved.

One area where the federal government has fallen short is in getting all provinces on board with bilingualism. Another area where progress has been slower is ensuring federal public servants have the opportunity to work in their own language.

While the OLA was met with significant opposition when it was enacted in 1969, MacMillan says one of the most surprising things has been the consistent increase in support for official bilingualism over the years, especially in parts of the country where the opposition had been strongest. He notes that younger people tend to be more supportive of the policy than older people, saying “looking forward, we would project that the levels of support will continue to increase.”

Canada has been one of the most successful countries in the world at dealing with a language conflict, says MacMillan. He adds that with increased global migration, almost all major industrial nations are going to become more multilingual in the coming years, and “Canada offers one of the best examples in the world of how to do it.”

So while there is still work to be done, 50 years later, Canada’s Official Languages Act remains, as MacMillan puts it, “something to be proud of.”

Michael MacMillan’s paper, Mission Accomplished or Work in Progress?: Canada's Official Languages Act at 50 is among thousands of new pieces of research being presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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The views and opinions expressed by the researcher in this media release and in the paper being presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences are his own and do not reflect those of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences nor of The University of British Columbia.

For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489

University of British Columbia

Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Trump, Online Voting and Nationalism: Canada’s Leading Political Experts gather in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2019  — Trump, online voting, and white nationalism are all on the political agenda this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at the University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the hot-button political issues being explored include:

●       Trust, Trump, and the Future of the Canada-US Security Community
The election of Donald Trump was a seismic shift in Canadian-American relations. This paper explores the implications for the trust and cooperation that have existed between the two countries for two centuries.
June 4 — 8:45 - 10:15 am

●       There’s a Party at City Hall: Political Parties and Candidate Diversity in Canadian Municipal Elections
Do cities with political parties increase the electoral presence of women, visible minorities, and people from queer and Indigenous communities? Based on a survey of over 3,200 candidates in BC and Ontario, this work analyzes the role of parties on representation.
June 4 — 8:45 - 10:15 am

●       The New Urbanism: Transformation of Vancouver Municipal Politics in the 2018 Election
Among the most notable developments of the 2018 Vancouver election was the rise of a new urbanist-conservationist axis, a new dimension of politics that is not reducible to the left-right axis.
June 4 — 8:45 - 10:15 am

●       Tweet to Follow, Tweet to Lead: Social Media Portrayal of Leadership Styles Among Canadian Mayors
How do elected officials use Twitter and how does that impact their engagement with the public? Tweets and retweets of about 20 mayors of Canadian cities have been analyzed based on the ability of each mayor to lead and to follow.
June 4 — 8:45 - 10:15 am

●       Newspaper Endorsements, News Consumption, and Vote Choice: The Case of the 2015 Canadian Federal Election
Are a newspapers’ readers more likely to vote for the party it endorses? 2015 data suggests yes, with Toronto Star readers in particular being almost 50% more likely to vote for the Liberal Party in 2015.
June 4 — 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Congress is an annual gathering of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Circles of Conversation,” reflecting the need for dialogue, debate, and dissent within and across disciplines.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

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For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Child Welfare, Food Security and Land Rights: Indigenous Research presented in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2019  — Child welfare, food security and land rights are among the topics being discussed this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at the University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the topics related to Indigenous affairs and reconciliation include:

  • Transforming the Relationship Between the Canadian Military and Indigenous People: Evidence From the Traditional and Social Media
    The perceptions that the military would not be welcoming to them keeps more Indigenous people from joining. Researchers analyzed social media posts by officials at the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces on Indigenous issues to determine how they connected with the public on key issues.
    June 6 — 8:45 - 10:15 am
  • Ensuring Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities
    This project focuses on enhancing communities’ self-reliance on sustainable, nutritious, and organic foods, while ensuring sustainable access to water and energy. The work seeks to ensure that these communities are resilient against impacts of climate change.
    June 6 — 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
  • No Surrender: The Land Remains Indigenous — Recent Treaty Historiography in Support of Indigenous Rights
    Many historians argue that treaty negotiations suffered from misunderstandings between commissioners and Indigenous chiefs, but new evidence shows that the government had a strategic plan to deceive Indigenous people, and that therefore the land remains Indigenous.
    June 4 — 1:30 - 3:00 pm
  • Inuit Mothers’ Recommendations for Culturally Relevant Child Welfare: Countering Qallunaat Misunderstandings
    Many now understand the need for Indigenous communities to be more involved in child welfare. In Nunavut, there are a number of things hampering this… specifically, white people. Research with Inuit mothers highlights the need for a decolonized approach to child welfare.
    June 6 — 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Educational Aspirations and Residential School Legacy Among Canada's Indigenous Population
    Are the attitudes and aspirations of Indigenous people still tainted by the awful legacy of residential schools? Data from Statistic’s Canada’s 2012 Aboriginal People Survey indicate that those who have direct relatives that attended residential schools are significantly less like to have higher education aspirations. This finding is discussed in the context of the reasons for the relationship, and the policy implications that extend from its persistence.
    June 4 — 3:30 - 5:00 pm

Congress is an annual gathering of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Circles of Conversation,” reflecting  the need for dialogue, debate, and dissent within and across disciplines.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

More information about the Federation and Congress 2019 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

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For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

 

Diversity, Appropriation and Online Hate: Humanities and Social Science Researchers discuss Cultural Issues

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2019  — The alt-right, cultural appropriation, and diversity in fashion are among the topics being discussed this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at the University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the cultural and artistic issues being explored include:

  • Frogs, Red Pills, Torches, and Swastikas: An Examination of Alt-Right Masculinities
    This research focuses on the gendered language that “alt-right” figures use to construct their own ideal masculine persona, and how masculinity in Canada is intertwined with whiteness.  By shining a light on this, the project aims to counter the growth of such hateful groups.
    June 6 — 10:30 am -12:00 pm
     
  • Stonewall, Dad, and Me: An Eccentric Circle of Silence
    On his 81st birthday, the author’s father disclosed that he was at the Stonewall Inn on the night of the historic 1969 gay rights riots, working “on the job” as a cop. While his queer peers think he should interview him about Stonewall, he hasn’t…yet. In this session he will unpack and examine why.
    June 4 — 3:15 - 3:45 pm
     
  • The New Faces of Fashion - Representing and Responding to Disability in the Fashion Industry
    Representation of diversity in fashion is on the rise. This paper examines whether images of disability serve to challenge or reinforce stereotypes. The authors argue that consumers’ reactions to the use of disabled models provide an opportunity for increased representation and industry change.
    June 5 — 3:30 - 5:00 pm
  • Something Witchy This Way Comes: Examining Contemporary Pagan Backlash to the Sephora Witch Kit
    In 2018, Sephora released a ‘Starter Witch Kit’ which was quickly pulled due to accusations of cultural appropriation by Contemporary Pagans, who were in turn accused of appropriating from others. This research gives us insight into how cultural appropriation plays out in a multicultural modern society.
    June 4 — 10:45 am - 12:15 pm
  • Games that Stink: Towards a Theory of Olfaction in Digital Games

Videogames are typically thought of as an audio-visual medium. But this leaves other sensory domains under-served. This paper examines the use of smell in film, television, and virtual reality, and imagines what the use of smell in video games might look like.
June 5 — 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Congress is an annual gathering of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Circles of Conversation”, reflecting  the need for dialogue, debate, and dissent within and across disciplines.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

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For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia

Erik Rolfsen

Media Relations Specialist

erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca

Cell: 604-209-3048

 

Food Sovereignty, Cancer Risks, and Selling “Wellness”: Humanities Researchers Discuss Health Topics

 
VANCOUVER, June 2, 2019  — Food sovereignty, cancer risks, and selling the idea of “wellness” are among the topics being discussed this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at the University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.
 
Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the health issues being explored include:
 
      Perceptions and Experiences of End-of-Life Care and Medical Assistance in Dying within Marginalized Populations
With the legalization of MAiD, there is concern over vulnerable people feeling pressured to end their lives. This presentation will feature results of the first Canadian study of what people in highly marginalized communities know and feel about MAiD and other end-of-life care options.
June 6 — 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
 
      Are Those French Fries Local? Food Sovereignty in Regions Where Food is Grown
This presentation explores the irony that farm workers and their children are often unable to attain nutritious food, despite their close ties to food production. Specifically, we look at California's Central Valley, which exports a great deal of food to Canada.
June 4 — 9:00 - 10:00 am
 
      What Drives Wellness Discourse?
We know that wellness sells: it's everywhere — on granola bars, in yoga studios and in the media. It is a self-perpetuating system, as there is no ceiling to how “well” we can be. This presentation explains how the language of wellness has seeped into every aspect of our lives.
June 2 — 8:30 - 9:00 am
 
      Investment in Obesity: What's the Return on Fat Stigma in Food Studies?
Fat stigma seeks to preserve the status quo, not only within dominant food systems, but within movements that purport to challenge them. This research will examine how fat stigma undermines efforts to revolutionize and democratize the food system.
June 3 — 1:30 - 3:00 pm
 
      Narratives of breast cancer in an environment with identified risks
Up to 70% of breast cancers are linked to environments, but the risks are not well understood. Interviews with women workers at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, where over 20,000 transport trucks cross daily and where breast cancer rates are 16 times higher than expected, were conducted to understand their perception of risk and the influencing factors.
June 5 — 1:30 - 3:00 pm
 
Congress is an annual gathering of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Circles of Conversation,” reflecting the need for dialogue, debate, and dissent within and across disciplines.
 
Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.
 
The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here.
 
More information about Congress is available on their websiteTwitter and Facebook.
 
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 For interview requests
 
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
Cell: 604-209-3048

Unwanted Sexual Experiences an Everyday Occurance for Undergraduates

 

VANCOUVER, June 2, 2019 — A survey of undergraduate students in Canada found that unwanted sexual experiences are an everyday occurrence. The study involved 145 post-secondary students who were asked to complete a daily survey about their experiences on campus for 60 days.

“If we can understand these experiences, we can help address the sexual violence that is part of campus culture,” says lead author Katelin Albert, a researcher in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. 

It’s well known that university campuses tend to have high rates of sexual assault. However, sexual assault is only one type of unwanted sexual experience that students are subject to. The spectrum can range from hearing sexual remarks, to harassment, all the way to rape and sexual assault. Albert argues that it’s important to take even those subtler incidents seriously. She points out that even subtle forms of discrimination have been strongly linked to depressive episodes.

This study was unique in its approach to collecting data. Most of the existing research on this topic has relied on retrospective accounts, which can limit the scope of results. By surveying students every day for 60 days, this study was able to document unwanted sexual experiences as close as possible to when they occurred. This method also allowed researchers to pinpoint typical characteristics of these incidents like location, perpetrators, and use of substances.

“Unfortunately, the high frequency isn’t surprising,” says Albert, but she hopes in the long term, the results will provide insight into the connection between unwanted sexual experiences and mental health, insights which will hopefully help foster healthier campus communities.

The paper Sixty days in the life of a student: A daily e-dairy study into unwanted sexual contact and mental health on a Canadian campus by Katelin Albert, Amanda Couture-Carron and Erik Schneiderhan is among thousands of new pieces of research being presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here. More information about Congress is available on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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The views and opinions expressed by the researchers in this media release and in the paper being presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences are their own and do not reflect those of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences nor of The University of British Columbia.

For interview requests

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

Environmental Despair: Researchers Discuss the Social Impacts of Climate Change

 
VANCOUVER, June 1, 2019  — The impact of climate change on mental health, reconciliation and inequality is one of the hot topics this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at The University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.
 
Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the environment and energy issues being explored include:
 
      Environmental Despair: Exploring the Impact of the 2018 New Brunswick Spring Flood on Residents’ Mental Health
In 2018, 12,000 New Brunswick homes were impacted by floods, affecting residents’ abilities to feel safe and secure. The evidence from this study suggests a clear need to address the effects of environmental despair on mental health.
June 5 — 3:00 - 5:00 pm
 
      Beyond Climate: Science, Storytelling and Solutions
David Suzuki and Ian Mauro will screen their latest film, Beyond Climate, and engage in conversation with the audience. The film addresses many of the pressing issues facing BC — including pipelines, liquified natural gas, salmon, and Indigenous rights.
June 4 — 7:00 - 9:00 pm
 
      The Sociology of Fossil Fuels: A Glimpse into Power, Politics and Inequality in Canada
What are the social and environmental costs of fossil fuels? How do different actors in society bear the burden of these costs? How did we arrive at this moment, when private, fossil fuel companies have so much power over our governments?
June 3 — 3:30 - 5:00 pm

      Climate Impacts: Our Changing Arctic Roundtable
Climate change in the arctic affects mental health, cultural resilience, and efforts at reconciliation and self-government. This panel will examine climate change in the Arctic from the overlapping perspectives of Indigenous peoples, the social sciences, and the humanities. Participants include:
 
  • Dalee Sambo Dorough, International Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Anna Hudson, York University
  • Tony Penikett, Simon Fraser University, and former Premier of the Yukon
  • Frédéric Lasserre, Université Laval
June 4 — 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
 
      Why are We So Afraid of GBA+: Troubling Debates in Resource Extraction Impact Assessment
Discussion of gender and gender analysis has largely been missing from the debates around resource extraction. When gender is mentioned, it is often presented as irrelevant or 'bad for business.' This research unpacks some of the key messages in these debates to determine why.
June 2 — 1:30 - 3:30 pm
 
Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.

The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here.
 
More information about Congress is available on their websiteTwitter and Facebook.
 
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For interview requests
 
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Cell: 613-282-3489
 
University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
Cell: 604-209-3048

Social Exclusion, Academic Integrity, and the End of Essays? Canadian Researchers Discuss Pressing Issues in Education

 
VANCOUVER, June 1, 2019  — Social exclusion, academic integrity, and the place of essays in our tech-focused world are among the topics being discussed this week as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences gets underway at the University of British Columbia. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings 8,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to Vancouver from June 1-7.
 
Over 5,000 pieces of research are being presented on a wide range of topics. Some of the education issues being explored include:
 
      Peers' Perspectives on the Social Exclusion of Children with Behavioural Difficulties
Children with behavioural difficulties have trouble developing positive peer relationships and are at a heightened risk of social exclusion. This study examines children’s beliefs regarding the social exclusion of children with behavioural difficulties.
June 5 — 9:45 - 11:00 am
 
      The Same, but Different: Understanding the Strategies of Historically Underrepresented University Students in Canada to Persist to Graduation
This research compares the challenges faced by three groups of Canadian undergraduates: Canadian-born visible minorities, immigrants to Canada, and Indigenous students, and the factors contributing to their persistence to graduate.
June 3 — 2:00 - 3:30 pm

      Where Have all the Essays Gone? Print-Based Conventions of Classroom Writing vs. Digital Writing Tools
This panel is a debate on the place of academic essays in today's university. Are digital forms and genres of more relevance to today's students? For Post-Millennials, digital technology is part of their entire memory. Can digital tools and classroom writing co-exist?
June 1 — 2:00 - 3:30 pm
 
Frameworks of Accessibility: Academic Integrity Curriculum and Institutional Codes of Power
This project shifts the focus from what teachers would like to avoid – cheating or academic misconduct – to what they want to achieve – academic integrity. This work has helped researchers understand that academic integrity can reinforce privilege, while transparent instruction about academic integrity can simultaneously foster both belonging and accountability.
June 3 — 8:30 - 10:00 am
 
Congress is an annual gathering of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Circles of conversation”, reflecting the need for dialogue, debate, and dissent within and across disciplines.
 
Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. Congress 2019 is hosted by The University of British Columbia.
 
The Congress 2019 media kit can be downloaded here.

More information about the Federation and Congress 2019 is available online through their websiteTwitter and Facebook.
 
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For interview requests
 
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Cell: 613-282-3489
 
University of British Columbia
Erik Rolfsen
Media Relations Specialist
Cell: 604-209-3048

Canada’s largest academic conference welcomes scholars and public to UBC

OTTAWA, May 28, 2019 – The 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences will spotlight the role of the arts as a political actor and agent of change, with The University of British Columbia and the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences providing the stage, from June 1-7.

In its 88th year, Canada’s largest annual gathering of scholars, students, educators and the public will draw up to 10,000 people to UBC’s Vancouver campus for a week of conversations about important topics like sustainability, Indigeneity and reconciliation, global mobility, culture and citizenship.

“This is more than just a conference. It’s a chance to bring together groups across a broad spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to connect and share world-changing ideas that have direct importance for Canada and the lives of Canadians,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono.

The public is welcome at more than 280 free events during Congress 2019. These include live performances, art exhibitions, films, research presentations, and discussions with scholars from more than 70 participating academic associations. These events present an opportunity for academics and the public to exchange ideas and share research findings.

“Congress brings thousands of scholars together to share their best ideas and we are absolutely thrilled to be in Vancouver this year,” said Patrizia Albanese, President of the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The humanities and social sciences help us understand our world and confront the most pressing issues of our time.” 

With “Circles of Conversation” as its theme, Congress 2019 will take place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, which has been a place of learning for thousands of years. Many of this year’s conversations will focus on productive scholarly relations with Indigenous communities.

The annual Big Thinking series will bring together Indigenous theatre artists Sylvia Cloutier, Margo Kane, Lindsay Lachance and Corey Payette to talk about storytelling and strength on June 5. Other Big Thinking guests include:

  • Esi Edugyan, Canadian novelist - In conversation with Dr. Minelle Mahtani (June 2)
  • Simon Brault, Director/CEO of Canada Council for the Arts - What is the price of reconciling freedom and responsibility in a changing democracy? (June 3)
  • David Suzuki and Ian Mauro, science and environment communicators - Beyond Climate: Science, storytelling and solutions (June 4)
  • Stan Douglas, visual artist - Exploring the boundaries of artistic expression in photographic depictions of the past. (June 6)

Suzuki and Mauro will screen their latest film, Beyond Climate, as part of Climate Day on June 4. UBC has organized climate-related programming throughout the day, with featured talks on carbon pricing in Canada and the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

The following day, the host university has invited Carole Taylor, Preston Manning, and Adriane Carr for a panel discussion on how to bring evidence-based policymaking, consensus-building, and ethical partisanship to our democracy.

“I am excited that we have brought together so many people from across the disciplines to talk about important contemporary issues,” said Laura Moss, professor of Canadian literature at UBC and academic convenor for Congress 2019. “We’ve focused our programming especially on the vital intersection of art, community, and politics in creating change.”

For further information, calendar of events, and media accreditation, visit www.congress2019.ca/about/media.

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About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Unrivaled in scope and impact, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is the convergence of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. Now in its 88th year, this flagship event is much more than Canada’s largest gathering of scholars. Congress brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow. www.congress2019.ca

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. www.ideas-idees.ca

About The University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global centre for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world and recently recognized as North America’s most international university. Since 1915, the university’s motto, Tuum Est (It is Yours), has been a declaration of its commitment to attracting and supporting those who have the drive to shape a better world, and helping them realize their greatest potential. UBC students, faculty and staff continue to embrace innovation and challenge the status quo, placing the university at the forefront of discovery, learning and engagement. www.ubc.ca

Media contacts

Nicola Katz
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Manager of Communications and Membership
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489

Erik Rolfsen
The University of British Columbia
Media Relations Specialist
erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca
Cell: 604-209-3048

 

Looking back on three centuries of shared life in North America

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In revisiting the mechanisms that led to the decimation and expropriation of the peoples of North America, authors Denys Delâge, a specialist on Indigenous peoples, and Jean-Philippe Warren, a specialist on French Canadian society, paint a portrait of the meeting between Indigenous nations and European empires and the resulting clash of cultures.

It took them some twenty years to interpret a few key dimensions and realize their shared vision of telling a story that would summarize the encounters between America and Europe at the time of the earliest European exploration efforts. Focusing on the period between the early 17th century and the late 19th, the pair refutes the impression that Indigenous peoples were not free when the first Europeans arrived. 

In Le Piège de la liberté (the freedom trap), the two researchers highlight the opposition between the individual freedoms prized by the Europeans and the collective freedoms that the Indigenous people held dear. While acknowledging that the Europeans’ promise of freedom to the Indigenous peoples was not kept, Warren says that the interpretation with which people are generally familiar is “a bit too simplistic. Our book wants to go beyond that interpretation. There was a confrontation between two models of social organization. It wasn’t just that Europeans appropriated Native land; more fundamentally, they wanted to undermine the First Nations' mode of social organization.”

With an analysis based at the level of societal archetypes, Delâge notes that Western society is compartmentalized into religious, economic and political aspects. As a result, even though they expressed admiration for Indigenous peoples in certain circumstances, merchants, missionaries and the military could not allow profit, religion, and submission to orders from superiors to be called into question in their respective areas of activity. The explorers thus found themselves caught between the inflexibility imposed by their form of social organization, and their enthusiasm for certain aspects of Indigenous life. 

While never questioning the value of liberty, freedom of association and freedom of religion, Delâge argues that these individual freedoms are more highly prized by Europeans, and that the emphasis placed on these freedoms has contributed to the disappearance of a sense of collective belonging among Indigenous peoples. “We are deluding ourselves if we think that adding more individual rights will resolve the Indigenous issue; there needs to be a collective space, a collective recognition of Indigenous peoples, and we have to be able to say that there are three founding nations in Canada: the Indigenous peoples, the French and the English.”

The essay is about Canada’s colonial past, but Warren believes that its content could prove useful for the present and the future. “The book is intended as a mirror in which the dominant society, in Canada or Quebec, can see itself and criticize itself. Even today, Indigenous peoples offer us an incredible example of how to build a more open, equitable, fairer and more tolerant society.”

 

Denys Delâge is Professor Emeritus in the Sociology Department at Université Laval in Quebec City. He is also a member of the Société des Dix. The majority of his published work discusses the history of the major Franco- and Anglo-Amerindian alliance networks centred in Montreal between the 17th and 19th centuries, including the dynamics of conquest and alliance, hot and cold societies, animism and monotheism, the relationship to animals, cultural exchange, justice, commerce, land issues, memory and identity, and departure from colonial relations. Author of Bitter Feast: Amerindians and Europeans in Northeastern North America, 1600-64 (Le Pays renversé, Amérindiens et Européens en Amérique du Nord-Est (1600-1664)), published by Éditions du Boréal in 1985, Delâge received the Gérard-Parizeau Award in 2013 in recognition for his body of work.

Full Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University and Concordia University Research Chair for the Study of Quebec, Jean-Philippe Warren has published over 200 academic and scientific articles. He has published widely on the history and sociology of Quebec society. His work has appeared in literary, sociology, political science, history, and anthropology journals. Warren’s book Honoré Beaugrand, la plume et l’épée, published by Éditions du Boréal, received the 2015 Governor General’s Award for French non-fiction. He was elected as a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2018.

Le Piège de la liberté is the French winner of the 2019 Canada Prizes. The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP). The winning books make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.

 

 

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Indigenous resilience as seen through lacrosse

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

At this time of year, the Cayuga nation is generally getting ready for a special occasion: its annual lacrosse game. This event may seem insignificant to some, but as we learn in The Creator’s Game, it is of great significance indeed for many First Nations people, for whom the sport is intimately tied to their identity.

In this work published by UBC Press, Allan Downey, the historian of Indigenous nationhood, self-determination and sovereignty, paints a portrait of the role this sport has played and continues to play in the lives of Indigenous peoples. 

Presented as a collection of archival texts, testimonials and explanations of relevant background context, the book guides readers through the different stages that have marked the history of this sport, both in terms of the game itself and with regard to the underlying political strategies.

In tracing the history of lacrosse as a sport from 1860 to 1990, Downey is able to show that colonial history is not necessarily at the centre of Indigenous history. “Indigenous history is independent of colonial history. While the history of colonialism is indeed important and deserves discussion, it does not define and will never define Indigenous communities and their stories,” the author argues.

Created by our First Nations, lacrosse preceded hockey as Canada’s national sport. “Though it was first introduced by Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous Canadians later appropriated the sport of lacrosse as their own and reshaped it to symbolize Canadian identity. The strange thing is that lacrosse was eventually used as a means of assimilation in Indigenous residential schools,” Downey notes, but goes on to clarify that this was not the end of the story.

To push back against colonial pressures, Indigenous people reappropriated this sport for themselves and used it to reclaim their status as a nation with a right to self-determination. “Thanks to lacrosse, Indigenous communities achieved emancipation in terms of language, culture, government structure and ceremonial ritual,” explains Downey, who notes that he considers himself lucky to have been a witness to this resurgence.

True to his roots, he also chose to relate this story by using the art of narration. “I wanted to narrate the story this way because it’s a much better reflection of how Indigenous communities tell their stories.”

This element was important to Downey because he believes that the book’s success is due to the support he received from his mentors and from the Indigenous elders, scholars and knowledge-holders who worked with him as he wrote it. “It’s their stories that take centre stage in this book. This was a collaborative project, and I think that this prize is a recognition of their commitment to this project.”

The author wrote this book primarily for First Nations youth, and he has every intention of continuing to reach out to them. “I wanted this book to serve as a kind of resurgence for Indigenous communities, and to contribute to this movement, at least to some extent, through knowledge,” he concludes.

 

Allan Downey is Dakelh, Nak’azdli Whut’en, and an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. Author of The Creator’s Game (2018), Allan is a recent recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Columbia University where he continued to advance his research focused on the history of Indigenous nationhood, sovereignty, and self-determination. Beyond his research and teaching activities, one of Allan’s greatest passions is working with Indigenous youth and he volunteers for several Indigenous communities and youth organizations throughout the year.

The Creator’s Game is the English winner of the 2019 Canada Prize. The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP). The winning books make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.

 

 

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Media release: Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences welcomes a new President and announces four new Board members for 2019-2020

 

OTTAWA, May 17, 2019 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce its Board of Directors 2019 election results. The 2019 Board elections took place at the Federation’s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting, which was held on May 15, 2019.

Patrizia Albanese now assumes the role of current President, thereby ending her one-year term as President-Elect, and Guy Laforest assumes the role of Past-President, after completing his two-year term as President.

Re-elected for a second two-year term to the Board of Directors are:

Newly elected to two-year terms to the Board of Directors are:

  • Joel Faflak, Treasurer. Faflak is a Professor in the Department of English at Western University, and a Visiting Professor at Victoria College, University of Toronto.
  • Yolande Chan, Director, Institutions. Chan is Associate Dean (Research and PhD-MSc Programs) and E. Marie Shantz Professor of Information Technology Management, Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
  • Deanna Reder, Director, Associations. Reder is Associate Professor in the Departments of First Nations Studies and English at Simon Fraser University, and Former President and founding member of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association.
  • Annie Pilote, Director, Research Dissemination. Pilote is Associate Dean of Research, Graduate and International Studies, Department of Educational Foundations and Practices at Université Laval.

The Federation wishes to thank the following outgoing members of the Board for their years of much-appreciated service:

The Federation also sincerely thanks now Past-President Guy Laforest for his dedication and leadership in his role as President over the last two years.

To see the Federation’s new Board of Directors, effective immediately, click here.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year.

Questions:
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications and Membership
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Cell: 613-282-3489
Email: nkatz@ideas-idees.ca

Drug education takes a philosophical route: UBC postdoctoral fellow aims to open dialogue with youth about drug use

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Congress 2019 guest blog from Mitacs

How can today’s young people be educated about the perils of drug use beyond scaring the heck out of them? How can we help them explore their questions about drugs and develop their capacity to survive in a society where people use drugs?

Mahboubeh Asgari, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, hopes to address these questions during her two-year Mitacs Elevate fellowship with ARC Programs, a community agency based in Kelowna, BC, and the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC).

Mahboubeh believes traditional education programs—which try to scare or shame youth into abstinence—have not been effective. “Traditional drug education has tended to address a perceived deficit in knowledge. The assumption has been that if children learn the risks involved in drug use, they will tend to avoid use,” says Mahboubeh.

Working under the academic supervision of UBC professor Barbara Weber, Mahboubeh’s research is exploring how a philosophical inquiry approach to drug education could promote health and reduce harm associated with substance use.

Learn more about the Elevate program here

“When it comes to drug education, children have questions such as ‘why do people use drugs?’ or ‘what is addiction?’ Using a stimulus such as storybooks, video clips, and songs, philosophical inquiry involves facilitating an open dialogue about drugs where these types of questions can be explored in an open space,” explains Mahboubeh. “Our aim is to promote drug literacy — the skills and knowledge children and youth need to survive and thrive in a world where drug use is common.”

Mahboubeh will work with ARC Programs and CARBC to bring her findings to schools and the community. Her research fellowship will help develop materials and lesson plans for teachers so they can have meaningful discussions with children and youth about drugs. 

Mahboubeh says her Elevate research is allowing her passion for inquiry and reflection to have a bigger meaning. “Using philosophical inquiry as a pedagogical approach for drug education will empower children and youth to think critically, creatively, and caringly.” Together, Mahboubeh, Professor Weber, UBC, ARC Programs, CARBC, and Mitacs will give teachers and community workers the framework to help change the face and meaning of drug education.

Read more inspiring stories at mitacs.ca/impact

About Mitacs
Mitacs delivers research and training programs to students, postdocs, and faculty in all disciplines. We help build partnerships that support research and innovation in Canada and around the world. Visit the Mitacs booth in the Congress Expo Event Space to find out more.

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Being a Graduate Student at Congress 2019

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Thursday, April 11, 2019
Guest blog by Sharon Engbrecht, Program Assistant for Congress 2019
 
As a graduate student and the UBC Programming Assistant for Congress 2019, I’m excited to share my experiences of Congress. Congress can be an overwhelming experience: many new faces and events can be disorientating and might leave you feeling a bit isolated. Maybe you are presenting your first paper, or are interested in networking but don’t know where to start, or haven’t quite figured out that elevator pitch. It’s not uncommon, especially as a graduate student, to have a sense of imposter syndrome when listening to papers presented by early-career researchers, faculty, or keynotes. But, in the words of Adam Douglas, Don’t Panic. Although Congress might seem insanely complicated and intimidating, it’s really a place to share ideas and develop community. This year’s theme, “Circles of Conversation,” hopes to envision the ways in which larger research communities can come together in dialogue, debate, and even dissent to showcase creative critical engagement, including graduate students’ knowledge and experience. 
 
In my first year at Congress in 2016, I highlighted my Essentials Guide like an eager student, planning to attend as many open events as I could possibly manage. As a master’s student recently accepted into a Canadian PhD program, I was eager to learn more about my chosen discipline and academia in general. Although I’d signed up to attend two association conferences, I admit one of the main draws was seeing Margaret Atwood give a lecture on compassion for the School of Nursing. As a first-generation university student, Congress was enigmatic but offered a wonderous peek into the mechanisms of the Canadian academy. I remember talking with editors from university publishers who were always generous and willing to answer my questions about academic publishing. I soaked up everything I could about writing, from turning my dissertation into a book to a behind the scenes look at the research that goes into CBC’s Ideas. For me, Congress that year was like an informational interview for my PhD career. I wanted to know everything I possibly could about the outcomes of a graduate education. It fundamentally changed my approach to graduate studies. 
 
What I learned is that Congress offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in conversations about your discipline that will change how you approach and even work through your graduate studies, especially if you are hoping to pursue a career in academia. Alternatively, there are always discussions taking place about working beyond academe. More and more, there is a demand for graduate degrees in Alt-Ac or para-academic careers. I love that Congress creates a space and place for opportunities, for thinking outside the box, for generating new ideas about what is possible for individuals who hold graduate degrees across diverse disciplines. Because of those small meetings and chance networking opportunities, Congress can be career changing. 
 
I would especially encourage graduate students to take full advantage of everything on offer. Check out the MITACS sessions and “Reimagining the PhD” in Career Corner. Consider attending the Pedagogy Hub workshops and programming, including a full day symposium on integrating experiential learning into your graduate degree. And don’t miss out on “Invisible to Visible: A Symposium of Contract Faculty Work.” In short, attend as many open events as you can including at least one on campus performance! Congress brings together a multifarious group of scholars working in your field. Do your best to introduce yourself or strike up a conversation. Take advantage of the opportunity to mingle during the Presidents’ Reception. And don’t forget your associations’ Graduate Student events. While it might seem overwhelming and intimidating, you might be pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the diverse people you meet. Never would I have imagined in 2016 that I would be working with the Academic Convenor behind the scenes to coordinate the largest congress of conferences in Canada, and it all started with that first Congress and the value I found in every aspect of my experience there.
 
As Congress edges ever nearer, the excitement at UBC is building! This year we’ve worked hard to offer an array of opportunities for all attendees, and we look forward to welcoming everyone at this year’s Congress in Vancouver.
 
See you then!

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Making social media part of the conservation conversation: Biologist spreads awareness of endangered Garry Oak habitats

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Congress 2019 guest blog from Mitacs

As a child bringing home wounded birds and other critters, Alina Fisher developed a passion for helping wildlife – a love that eventually drove her to become a biologist. But during her studies, Alina realized there was a pressing need for researchers to engage the public.

So she began a Master of Professional Communications at Royal Roads University. Now, thanks to a Mitacs internship, Alina is helping the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) enlist the public’s support to save endangered woodland areas.

“I […] knew lots of scientists and organizations saying things need to be done, but no one seemed to be listening,” she says. She wondered why some social media messages get picked up while others languished. “I was also concerned about vulnerable Garry Oak habitats in BC.”

Garry Oak ecosystems are home to more than just the gnarly trees unique to the west coast. These meadows and woodlands harbour more plant species than any other coastal ecosystem, including wildflowers such as camas, spring-gold, and buttercups. Endangered creatures like the western bluebird, Roosevelt elk, and sharp-tailed snake also thrive in these areas. Currently, less than five per cent of the province’s original Garry Oak habitat remains.

“I live near a protected Garry Oak ecosystem, and I bring my daughters there, so I know how important these areas are,” says Alina. “I wanted to get the message about conservation out, and I came up with a proposal to help GOERT create an effective social media plan.”

Learn more about Accelerate internships here

“We’d tried some social media before,” says GOERT chair Val Schaeffer, “but were unsuccessful — we didn’t have Alina’s expertise.”

Alina researched ways to increase public awareness of the importance of protecting Garry Oak habitats. “The public knows there’s a problem,” she says. “They just don’t know why they should care. We have to explain how the loss of this habitat affects them personally. I also discovered a person’s perception of conservation messages changes depending on their background, and the messages need to be customized to specific social media platforms.”

“Alina has made some good recommendations,” says Val. “The Mitacs internship has been a fantastic program because it produced tangible results for us.”

Since her internship, Alina has continued to collaborate with GOERT. Once the social media plan is finalized, she’ll be part of the team that implements it. “This experience got me out of the world of theory and into applied research,” she says. “It’s also been a good marriage of my biology background with my new communications focus. I’ve learned how to be a ‘scientific communicator’ — it’s made me better at explaining what I do, and at having conversations with people about environmental issues.”

Read more inspiring stories at mitacs.ca/impact

About Mitacs
Mitacs delivers research and training programs to students, postdocs, and faculty in all disciplines. We help build partnerships that support research and innovation in Canada and around the world. Visit the Mitacs booth in the Congress Expo Event Space to find out more.

 

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Media release: Winners of Canada Prizes 2019 announced

 

OTTAWA, April 8, 2019 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is very pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Canada Prizes. This year’s winners are Allan Downey for his book The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press) and Denys Delâge and Jean-Philippe Warren for their book Le Piège de la liberté. Les peuples autochtones dans l'engrenage des régimes coloniaux (Les éditions du Boréal).

The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to books in the humanities and social sciences that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. Winners are selected from books that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, which is administered by the Federation and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

“It is striking that both winners’ books this year are focused on Indigenous identity and reconciliation. It is a testimony to the growing space that these complex themes are taking and to the contributions that humanities and social sciences scholars make to our understanding of them,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“One book examines Canada’s national game of lacrosse and how it can serve as a way of understanding Indigenous culture and agency in the face of colonialism, racism and appropriation. The other is a reflection on the relationships between European colonizers and North American Indigenous peoples through the lens of what we call freedom.”

This year’s winners are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Allan Downey, The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press)

From the jury’s citation:

In The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity and Indigenous Nationhood, Dakehl scholar Allan Downey tells the fascinating story of Canada’s national game of lacrosse. This engagingly written book will have wide appeal and makes an important and valuable contribution to Canadian cultural history and social understanding in an era with hopes of reconciliation and better understanding.

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales

Denys Delâge and Jean-Philippe Warren, Le Piège de la liberté. Les peuples autochtones dans l'engrenage des régimes coloniaux (Les éditions du Boréal)

From the jury’s citation:

Denys Delâge and Jean-Philippe Warren’s engaging and richly documented Le Piège de la liberté offers readers a new reflection on the history of the exchanges between indigenous peoples in America and European societies through the prism of freedom. Delâge and Warren’s book is not only a historical work but a comparative sociology essay, demonstrating the full extent of this chain of events — through time, space and society — that ultimately traps all actors involved.

A media kit including biographies and photos of the 2019 winners, along with the full jury citations, is available on the Federation’s website.  

The prizes, each valued at $10,000, will be presented at a ceremony during the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of British Columbia.

 

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. 

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz Manager
Communications and Membership
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
T: 613-238-6112 ext. 351
C: 613-282-3489
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas_idees #canadaprizes

#BlackProfessorsMatter: Intellectual survival and public love

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Guest blog by Wesley Crichlow, Associate Dean of Equity and Diversity, Ontario Tech University, and the Federation’s Board Director of Equity and Diversity

There is a distinct paucity of material, scholarly or otherwise, on the experiences of African Black Canadian scholars within the Canadian academy. This #BlackProfessorsMatter blog post — and others in the Equity Matters series — aims to help fill and contribute to a Black intellectual space to create an international conversation that includes Black professors across the country. It builds on the tradition of past Equity Matters blogs, through which, since 2010, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has been fostering scholarly debate on diversity issues in Canada, such as : Trans, LGBTQ, feminist, disabled, Indigenous faculty and staff equity issues. A pressing question we must ask ourselves is why is it that after 30+ years of Justice Rosalie Abell’s “Employment Equity Report” (1984) and the enactment of the Employment Equity Act (1986), Black Professors are still calling the university and public attention to Black employment in Canadian universities? The discriminatory barriers in employment make this unconscionable three decades after enactment of the employment equity act. Posts in the Equity Matters blog series  serve as a platform and contribute to public conversations on equity and build recognition for the need for Black scholars, community researchers, activists and students to come together to share our work and interests, in the areas of arts, humanities, social sciences, law, STEM and medicine.

My decades of community and institutional efforts towards equity, Black LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, social justice and transformation attest to the need for this diligent work also. I collaborated with colleagues from Ryerson University and York University to host the first Anti-Black Racism: Criminalization, Community, and Resistance Conference in Canada (2015). The conference aimed to advance scholarship on social issues facing Black Canadians and to construct concrete ways of addressing these structural problems. The conference was a gathering of over 500 African Black Canadian leading academics, community organizers, activists, students, human services providers, policy makers, and artists/performers whose work pertains to the life experiences of Black Canadians. Areas including education, criminal justice, and child welfare systems were all represented.

This conference was the outcome of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connections Grant funding in the amount of $25,000, with the principal applicant from Ryerson University, Dr. Akua Benjamin (Principal Investigator). I was a co-applicant in this grant and a participant in the conference organization. Many of us attending the conference at Ryerson University were concerned with how those with academic interests can deal with timely community and public issues by disseminating our findings and knowledge to broader audiences outside of academia. I strongly believe that the future of universities is contingent on academics being able to engage the pressing social problems of contemporary society in an accessible manner and to use their position to inform social policy and public debate.

Antiblackracism (ABR) is a conceptual framework for understanding a dialectic, which involves “a particular form of systemic and structural racism in Canadian society, which historically and contemporarily has been perpetrated against Blacks.” (Benjamin, 2003: ii) ABR is systemic and historically grounded discrimination towards people of African descent and origin and about the relationship Black bodies have to various systems which have historically stratified societies.

An extension of my antiblackracism (ABR) scholarship encompasses Black queer bodies. Race intersects with the over-representation of particular groups of youth in varying ways and degrees. Blacks are dramatically over-represented in every stage of the criminal justice system. But what we do not know is what percentage of Blacks in or under criminal justice supervision is Black LGBTQ. I have been actively researching the criminalization of Black LGBTQ bodies through an examination of Black queerness and Queer experiences during incarceration; this is research which is breaking new ground in Canada. To date, there is no theoretically informed engagement with sexual orientation and gender identity within Canadian correctional facilities (in either youth prisons, adult prisons, or detention centers). This research is both timely and important because of the marked absence of theoretical and scholarly Canadian evidence and/or data demonstrating that LGBTQ young adults are being overlooked in correctional institutions and gang-exit rehabilitation programs.

In 2017, Ryerson University hosted the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and I organized the first #BlackProfessorsMatter panel, attracting over 150 attendees with a distinguished Black professor panelists, highlighting the yearning for a continuing discussion. I committed myself to organizing this panel every year at Congress after feeling motivated by the Ryerson panel’s attendance and discussion. A common theme at this Ryerson panel was that — despite public commitments to improving equity and enabling full participation by all members of the academy — universities and colleges continue to be places that exclude Black, Indigenous people; persons with disabilities; persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirited; racialized minorities; and women. A recent study shows that universities in Canada are still predominantly led by white men. And the lead researcher says it’s time for the government to call a royal commission on racialized minority academic staff (Smith & Bray, 2016).

In 2018, I was elected Director, Equity and Diversity for the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. As a national organization, and as the organizer of the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Federation has an important, scholarly role to play in giving voice to Black professors who struggle to have their voices heard and their contributions to the production of knowledge in the academy recognized. As Director of Equity and Diversity, my aims are, first, to bring critical reflection to the fore on the meaning of Black professors as one of Congress’s key themes. Another aim is to create conversations on the tenure and promotion process, publications, research grant writing, collaboration, student opinion surveys, university committee service, mentoring and investing in each other and creating global connectedness. These conversational threads aim to humanize and contextualize our experiences. Another thread focuses on how equity, diversity and inclusion work involves recognizing that people from different social groups face different barriers, and on how equity means providing different supports to reduce barriers and give more people an equal chance to participate in university life. The Equity Matters blog will continue to work on projects and initiatives to provide resources and support to promote Black professors. Equity is more than a particular set of issues; it is a lens through which all issues need to be considered. Our university campuses and communities should have a climate that is welcoming to everyone. Everyone needs to take responsibility. If we want a campus community that is welcoming and inclusive, we all need to play a role in contributing to that vision.

I recognize that the Equity Matters blog may be placing more demands on — among others’ —  Black professors’ time to write and publish while they are juggling the work of university service responsibilities, research, teaching, publications, conference presentations, family and self-care. As Cornel West in his essay “The Dilemma of the Black Intellectual” (1985) puts it, “the Afro-American who takes seriously the life of the mind inhabits an isolated and insulated world . . . the choice of becoming a black intellectual is an act of self-imposed marginality; it assures a peripheral status in and to the black community. . .[but] the predicament of the Black intellectual need not be grim and dismal. Despite the pervasive racism of American society and anti-intellectualism of the Black Community, critical space and insurgent activity can be expanded” (pp. 109-110, 124). It is hoped that the blog will not dilute but offer practices of intellectual survival, a space for public love, and foster Black professors’ empowerment and humanity through an equity lens.

Want to learn more about #BlackProfessorsMatter?

Attend this session at Congress 2019 at UBC:

#BlackProfessorsMatter: Experiences in White Academe
Thursday, June 6 at 13:30 to 15:00
Leonard S. Klinck Building 201
The University of British Columbia campus
This session is open to all Congress 2019 attendees
 

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Media release: The Federation applauds Budget 2019 commitment to increased learning opportunities for Canadians

 

OTTAWA, March 19, 2019 — The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences applauds the federal government’s Budget 2019 commitment to increase learning opportunities for Canadians in a complex and rapidly changing world.

Especially important is the government’s commitment to expand the Student Work Placement program, which will create new learning opportunities for the more than one million humanities and social sciences students across the country.

“Canada’s social and economic well-being is linked to the ability of its current and future workers to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce. Today’s announcement makes skill development a priority and opens up new opportunities for persons studying in the humanities and social sciences,” said Federation President Guy Laforest.

The Federation also welcomes today’s commitment to provide new research scholarships to Canadian graduate students by providing $114 million over the next five years to the federal granting councils, with 42 percent ($48 million) of these new funds flowing through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

Finally, the organization is also pleased by the government’s promise to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure that they have both better access to post-secondary education and better support to achieve academic success.

"Today’s budget  builds on the long-term research investments announced  last year. The Federation looks forward to working in partnership with the federal government to ensure that humanities and social sciences scholars have the support and infrastructure they need in an ever-changing world,” said Laforest.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. 

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
C: 613-282-3489
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees

 

Media release: Finalists for Canada Prizes announced

 

OTTAWA, March 12, 2019 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2019 Canada Prizes. The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP).

The Canada Prizes are awarded to books that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. This year, the prize amount doubled to $10,000 each for the two prizes — one for French and one for English scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

 “The diversity of issues explored by these exceptional scholars demonstrates the immense breadth of research underway in the humanities and social sciences, and points to the relevance of the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program. As the book titles suggest, what we have here is a cross-section of topics spanning from social well-being and health, to cultural identity and language, to politics, democracy and reconciliation,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The Federation congratulates these finalists and is proud to play a role in promoting their work to the Canadian public.”

This year’s finalists are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales

The two winners of the 2019 Canada Prizes will be announced on April 8, 2019 and will be presented at an awards ceremony to be held during the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of British Columbia.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager, Communications and Membership
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
613-238-6112 ext. 351 nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees  #CanadaPrizes

 

Talking Teaching at the Pedagogy Hub

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Guest blog by Tiffany Potter, Congress 2019 Pedagogy Hub Convenor, Associate Head, Department of English Language and Literatures

Congress brings together scholars from dozens of universities, myriad disciplines, and uncountable research niches. Within this diversity, there is one thing almost all of us have in common: in our profession, we teach. Congress 2019 at UBC will recognize this shared ground with a new feature: the Pedagogy Hub. Located in the heart of Congress, next to the book Expo and registration zone on the second floor of the Nest, the Pedagogy Hub will create a physical and intellectual space for a Circle of Conversation around teaching and learning. The Hub invites crossover discussions among associations and disciplines over the course of six days of special event clusters, workshops, and a series of one-hour conversations around research and innovations in teaching that we are calling “Coffee Talks.”

Like many Canadian universities in the last decade or so, UBC has made significant philosophical, policy, and budgetary investments in teaching and learning, as a classroom practice, as a site of critical inquiry, and even as a tenurable faculty rank in the Professor of Teaching. The Pedagogy Hub will use this work as a jumping-off point for an interdisciplinary national conversation about the most public-facing part of our profession.

There will be lots of ways to be part of the Pedagogy Hub while you are in Vancouver:

  • Try out the Augmented Reality teaching tool.
  • Join us at the drop-in space to connect with others interested in the best new thinking on post-secondary teaching, or maybe the special drop-in event, “The Doctor is in: Conversations with Killam and 3M award-winning teachers.”
  • Participate in one of our special-interest clusters on pedagogies in Asian-Canadian studies, or the latest in instructional technology, or teaching modern languages, or how experiential learning can work as a class, a module, a course, or a degree.
  • Attend a talk on managing hostility and risk in the classroom, or on inclusive teaching, or hear the Conference Board of Canada “Addressing the Myth of the Humanities and Work.” 
  • Have a coffee and peruse the poster display on some scholarship on teaching and learning (SoTL) research projects.
  • Come to one of the daily Coffee Talks, offering one-hour shots of caffeinated teaching inspiration on topics like:
    • How many?!? Successful strategies for active learning in larger classes;
    • Life hacks for the classroom: Easy, small changes with a big impact on learning;
    • Can students really evaluate each other? Using peer feedback and peer grading;
    • Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in your courses; and
    • What is SoTL, and how can I get it funded and published?

Everyone is welcome to all sessions and we hope to see you there to converse about teaching and its innovations across disciplines and geographies. 

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Welcome to Congress 2019 at UBC!

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Guest blog by Laura Moss, Academic Convenor, Congress 2019

I remember my first Congress so clearly: it took place at the University of Calgary in 1994. I was a new PhD student and I was terrified to be presenting my first conference paper. I remember the flight of butterflies I had in my stomach before giving my paper on magic realism in The Moor’s Last Sigh. If I close my eyes, I can still see the room I presented in. What I remember most clearly, however, are the encouraging smiles from my fellow students and senior faculty alike. It was the first time I really felt like I could actually belong in academia.

Over the past 25 years, I have been to 16 more Congresses. Some of my memories are academic, some are social. Some are wonderful, some are not. Each Congress has had a personality that has reflected the time and place. I loved the sense of community that I felt as soon as I got off the plane last year at Congress in Regina. I remember mind-blowing keynotes at Concordia, Brock, and UQAM. I enjoyed the grassy lawn at the University of Victoria, the lobster at the University of New Brunswick, and the social street at Ryerson. And over the years, I taught my butterflies to fly in formation before presenting my papers. Congress has been the most important annual event in my academic calendar over the course of my career.

When I was asked to be the Academic Convenor for Congress 2019, it seemed like a good way for me to give back to the scholarly communities I value so highly. I didn’t quite realize what a big job I was taking on. Congress is a giant jigsaw puzzle that works well because of all the combined pieces I’d never seen as a delegate.The job of the Academic Convenor is multifaceted: creating host-institution programming, leading the cultural and social programming that sits beyond association events, collaborating with the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences on Career Corner and Big Thinking events, and working with the logistics teams both here at UBC (led by the extraordinary Carolina Cerna, my co-convenor) and the Federation. Although I’ve drawn from my past Congress experiences, I’ve also added a few things.

My own research on Canadian and African literatures is fundamentally interdisciplinary, bridging historical periods, literary genres, and national boundaries. For Congress 2019, we wanted to highlight multidisciplinary approaches to the intersections of art and politics. This Congress will emphasize the arts and creative conversations around contemporary issues in the humanities and social sciences. This means that we will have an overflowing menu of art exhibitions, films, plays, poetry readings, archival exhibitions, and musical performances on campus all week. 

When it comes to Congress on the ground, as an attendee, I have often wanted more space and time dedicated to talking about the intricacies of teaching and classroom dynamics with colleagues. Over the past few years, there has been much important work on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) that I haven’t had a chance to read. Here’s a chance to catch up! For Congress 2019 we’ve created the Pedagogy Hub — a zone dedicated to interdisciplinary discussions of teaching and learning. There will be talks on the latest SoTL, sessions on Ed Tech, and strategic sessions on topics like how to deal with risk in the classroom and changing classroom climates. We will also have a drop-in Conversation Room in the Congress Hub for people to sit down, have a coffee, and talk about pedagogy and teaching. It will be open all day, every day.    

When my children were younger, I also wished for more nearby activities and facilities for them and my partner. For Congress 2019, we’ve created a whole suite of programming for families and companions. There will be a designated family space with couches, a kitchen, and play space. We’ll be offering day care, day camps, and daily expeditions to local natural and cultural attractions. Families and companions can enjoy access to UBC facilities, such as the new aquatic centre, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology, and more. We have also created a lovely lounge for Professors Emeriti. Stay tuned for more details in a future Congress blog.

It’s been a busy few months, and Congress 2019 is fast approaching. While I realized how important Congress is when I first accepted the role of Academic Convenor, I didn’t realize how gratifying organizing an event like this would be, especially when working with the amazing team of professionals from the Federation and from UBC. There are many women and men who put a lot of labour and time into making Congress a success, and I am grateful to them all. We are all working our hardest to make Congress 2019 at UBC accessible, fun, and full of thought-provoking moments. We hope that it will be a space for people to engage the difficult questions that we tackle in our research and professional lives, productively, safely, and comfortably. 

For everyone coming to Vancouver in June, I hope that Congress 2019 is memorable for all the right reasons.

See you soon!

Laura Moss, PhD.
Academic Convenor Congress 2019
Professor, Department of English Languages and Literature, UBC

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Media release: Canada Prizes double to $10,000 each, and juries announced

 

OTTAWA, December 10, 2018 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce the doubling of its Canada Prizes, which celebrate outstanding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, to $10,000 each.

In 2019, the Federation will award two prizes:

  • A $10,000 Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, for a work in the English language
  • A $10,000 Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales, for a work in the French language

The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP). Now in their 28th year, the Canada Prizes celebrate books across all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.

“The quality of works competing for the Canada Prizes is remarkable,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “These books contribute to deepening our understanding of society and reflect the immense talent of Canadian scholars working across the humanities and social sciences. I am delighted to announce that these prizes will double in value in 2019 as it is a testimony to the important impact these exceptional authors are having on Canada’s literary landscape.” 

Two juries, each comprised of four distinguished academics representing a range of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, will select the finalists and winners. The English jury is chaired by Eric Helleiner of the University of Waterloo and the French jury is chaired by Lucie Lamarche, of Université du Québec à Montréal.

The finalists will be announced in March 2019, the winners in April, and the prizes will be formally awarded at the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of British Columbia in June.

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences (English language)
Full list of jury members 

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales (French language)
Liste complète des membres du jury

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager, Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
613-238-6112 ext. 351
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees  #CanadaPrizes

Assisted Reproduction Policy in Canada: Framing, Federalism, and Failure

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Guest blog by Dave Snow, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph

My interest in assisted reproduction began on an airplane. In August 2017, I was flying from Fredericton, New Brunswick to Calgary to begin a Master’s degree in political science. The day before my flight, I had grabbed a book – Margaret Somerville’s The Ethical Imagination – from my father’s collection to read on the plane. The book, which explored the ethics of assisted reproduction and genetic manipulation, was my first foray into the subject area. Before that, I had intended to study how Canadian courts had shaped our electoral system in my MA thesis. When I arrived in Calgary to meet my supervisor, I spoke of my new interest in ethical debates surrounding technologies and practices such as surrogacy, gene editing, and embryonic research. Given my interest in the courts, perhaps I could study judicial involvement in assisted reproduction? “I think that’s a hell of a lot more interesting than what you were going to study,” he said. And so it began.

Eleven years later, I published Assisted Reproduction Policy in Canada: Framing, Federalism, and Failure, which drew heavily from my PhD research. I never imagined how the policy field would develop in the last decade. In 2007, Canada was only three years removed from the passage of the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act. In subsequent years, the federal framework unravelled. In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that much of the law violated provincial jurisdiction over health and medicine, effectively rendering its regulatory framework unconstitutional. Since then, provincial governments have done little to pick up the slack. The federal government has maintained its criminal prohibitions, but they are almost never enforced. A grey market has developed over payment for eggs, sperm, and surrogacy. Intended parents from around the world are increasingly coming to Canada to access reproductive services. The law was designed to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable surrogates and egg donors, yet journalistic tales of such exploitation abound. Everyone agrees that the experience has been a failure, but few agree on why.

My research shows how the interaction of federal institutions, combined with the way in which policymakers “frame” a field to the public, can lead to unintended consequences. It also explores how courts and medical organizations have developed policy in the absence of government regulations. I believe my research has benefitted considerably from the fact that I began as an “outsider” to the field: I do not have a scientific or medical background, nor do I have any experience with fertility services. The field is dominated by ethical and moral debates, but my research is not motivated by normative concerns. I am first and foremost a scholar of political institutions; by focusing on those institutions, it is my hope that my work can help inform policymakers at all levels of government about what worked, what didn’t, and what might, in the future of this increasingly important field.

David Snow

Dave Snow is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Graduate Coordinator of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy (CCJP) program at the University of Guelph. He completed his PhD in political science at the University of Calgary, and was a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in 2014-2015. He is the author of Assisted Reproduction Policy in Canada: Framing, Federalism, and Failure, (University of Toronto Press, 2018), and the the co-author (with F.L. Morton) of the edited textbook Law, Politics, and the Judicial Process in Canada (4th edition, University of Calgary Press, 2018). His current research examines the governance of naturopathic medicine in the Canadian provinces.

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

 

 

 

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The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Guest blog by Ann Travers, Associate Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University

My research with and on behalf of trans and gender nonconforming kids brings my personal experience together with my scholarship in a particularly powerful way. I was a gender nonconforming kid and experienced very harsh gender policing. I now identify as trans non-binary and wish there had been more options when I was growing up. My own experience really influenced my efforts as a parent to keep people from imposing gender categories and norms on my own children. This often felt like a losing battle, as people and institutions are relentless when it comes to dividing children into girl and boy categories and attempting to restrict the range of behaviors and interests children are able to express.

Interviewing trans kids and their parents has been a very powerful experience for me. I necessarily viewed each interview as an important piece of social action research on behalf of justice for trans kids. This involved making the kids and parents feel really heard and sharing their triumphs and tragedies with them. Some of the trans teens I interviewed had been forced to leave home by unsupportive parents, and I strongly felt the significance of my role as a trans adult in affirming who they are and that they matter. Many of the kids and parents had harrowing stories to tell, and establishing the intimacy and trust it took for their stories to be told was a key part of the research. I really had to be there for them and to share some of myself with them. My interviews with trans kids and parents of trans kids have been the most moving and important research in which I have ever engaged.

One of the most powerful experiences I had while writing the book was realizing that I had “forgotten” who many of my participants “really are” in terms of assigned sex at birth. I experienced this as wonderful and liberating, and the exact change in consciousness that I hope my book contributes to stimulating. That my hope for a future where gender self-determination for everyone becomes taken for granted seems so much more possible now that I have experienced the possibility of a disconnect between gender and genitals on a personal level.

I wrote this book within the tradition of scholar activism established by the great sociologist W.E.B. Dubois and draw on the contributions of black feminism and other scholarship by people of color to situate trans kids within mutually reinforcing systems of privilege and oppression. I consider single issue scholarship and activism to be indefensible: trans kids are not just harmed by trans-negativity and cis-sexism but also by racism, colonialism, poverty, anti-immigrant sentiment, etc. Trans kids are in every population, and centering the more typically visible binary gender conforming middle and upper class white trans kids in social change efforts fails to address the complexity of oppression that most trans kids experience. In order to meaningfully improve the life chances of all trans kids, it is necessary to adopt coalitional politics to fight racism, poverty, colonialism and xenophobia. It is my hope that The Trans Generation motivates future scholarship and activism relating to trans people of all ages to take up overlapping oppressions.

Ann Travers (PhD, University of Oregon) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University. In addition to studying transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth in Canada and the United States, Travers examines the relationship between sport, inclusion and social justice. Travers is the principal investigator on a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant titled “Gender Vectors of the Greater Vancouver Area: Using videogame technology to assess social safety nets for transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth.” Prior to The Trans Generation, Travers edited (with Eric Anderson) Transgender Athletes in Competitive Sports (Routledge, 2017) and authored Writing the Public in Cyberspace: Redefining Inclusion on the Net (Routledge, 2000).

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

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Gender equityAward to Scholarly Publications ProgramEquity MattersEquity and diversity

Thinking about War

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Guest blog by Jonathan Chan

Reflections on the Congress 2018 Big Thinking lecture entitled Thinking about war with Margaret MacMillan, C.C. organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Regina.

In a country like ours, it can be easy to forget about the prevalence of war in modern society. Nonetheless, some of us walk by war memorials every day, while others may see military regalia at hockey games, for example. Famous movies, books, and video games depict war as an exciting, honourable endeavor. Margaret MacMillan examines the intersection of war and society, and shows how war is woven into so many areas of a peaceful life.

It is important to consider what has enabled humanity to wage war. As modern society moved from hunter-gatherers to agricultural society, humans reduced their ability to move between locations. Individuals settled in specific areas, developing their resources, and establishing nations. With the ownership of land came the desire to protect it from those who want to steal or overtake one’s property. Nationalism plays a role in why war is waged, with government leaders rousing fear and suspicion of neighboring regions. Emotional responses such as fear and pride can manifest in the need to assert dominance through large-scale conflict.

But while war can be waged for evil intentions, progress for an overall society may result from the conflict. Consider the effect of World War II on the perception of women in western countries. Prior to the conflict, women were largely relegated to housework and deemed unsuitable for working roles in society. After able-bodied men were sent to the frontline, women began taking up the roles traditionally held by men. The myth of women being ‘better equipped to stay in the household’ was quickly set aside, leaving women, in the post-war context, with a higher social standing than that which they had prior to it.

While war has resulted in overwhelming suffering, it also ushered in the development of many of our most important institutions. The British Navy required efficient management systems, which triggered the development of bureaucracy and government control in the overall country. From medical advancement to education, institutions that serve us today were, at one time, developed for the purpose of serving those on the front lines. War is ultimately cruel, but an important part of human history. With war shaping how we live and how we interact today, the understanding of war is important in determining the future of society as we move towards an unstable world.

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Remembering Terry D’Angelo (1962-2018)

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Nicola Katz, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Terry laughed easily, and with gusto. Her joie de vivre was sincere, and she had a knack for finding the upside even where others could not.

In fact, as it was recently pointed out by Terry’s brother-in-law, never once in the nearly year-long battle she had with cancer, did Terry ever ask “Why me?” Instead, in typical Terry style, she remained practical and got right down to the business of making the best of the situation at hand: caring for the needs of her loving family, organizing every last detail of their fundraising efforts, making time for farewells to friends and colleagues, and ultimately planning the details of one final event – her own celebration of life.

This engagement and dedication comes as no surprise for those of us at the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences that had seen Terry in action over her six years as Manager and later as Director of Congress. Ever the mother hen, no matter how busy she was, Terry made the rounds at our flagship Congress events (putting thousands of steps on her tracker) to personally ensure that staff were taking care of themselves and that they were feeling supported.

In the office, at the end of a busy week, we’d often smell Friday afternoon popcorn, popped by Terry and left in the lunchroom for all to enjoy. And there were lots of other surprise pick-me-up treats at key points in our busy event cycles, and at epic-long meetings where Terry led us in sorting out 1,001 details, none of which she was going to allow to slip. After a job well done, she knew how to mark a success and acknowledge her staff’s contributions, carving out time for celebration, such as the post-Congress staff event, and her signature year-end staff breakfast.

Despite her thorough attention to detail at work, Terry knew how to draw the line between her life at work and at home. After all, home, and specifically her family (her beloved husband and two sons) was her number one priority. Dedicated as she was to her career, family always came first. She proudly told colleagues about the daily full-course pancake breakfasts she made (yes, on workdays!) for her sons. Her face lit up whenever she spoke of them. Family time was something she took great pleasure in sharing with others through stories and photos. In many ways, Terry served as an example to us all.

With Terry, you knew where you stood: she spoke her mind frankly, called a spade a spade, was disarmingly real. As a result, she brought out the best in people. Terry also brought out the best in Congress, year after year. She poured her heart into it. This spring, when she was unable to attend Congress 2018 in Regina, a “Send a message to Terry” board was set up on the Expo tradeshow floor to gather messages of hope and love from those who had been touched by her work – attendees, association executives, university leaders, and even The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

As we journey on without her, our team will honour her memory by remembering her head-on approach to problem solving, her people-centred approach to staff, and the joyful sprit with which she tackled life and all it threw her way. We send condolences along with thoughts of courage and compassion to everyone who, like us, loved Terry for all that she was and for all that she taught us. We are better people for having had her in our lives.

 

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The Medium Is the Monster: Canadian Adaptations of Frankenstein and the Discourse of Technology

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Guest blog by Mark A. McCutcheon, Professor of Literary Studies at Athabasca University

Like much of my work on Canadian popular culture, the idea for The Medium Is the Monster arose from my experience and research in raves and electronic dance music (EDM). The kernel of the book's first argument -- that technology is a word whose modern meaning was historically shaped by Frankenstein -- first appeared in a 2007 article, "Techno, Frankenstein, and copyright." The book's other key argument -- that Canadian pop culture, anchored in Marshall McLuhan's work, has popularized this sense of technology as manufactured monstrosity -- took shape in the keynote I delivered (in my role, then, as guest professor of Canadian Studies at the University of Bonn) at that year's conference of the Association for the Study of New English Literatures, in Jena, Germany.

That keynote discussed David Cronenberg's Videodrome and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake as Canadian adaptations of Frankenstein that also adapt McLuhan's ideas. After the keynote, though, the archive of such adaptations kept growing, and showed that reworking both Mary Shelley and Marshall McLuhan forms a pattern in Canadian Frankenstein adaptations, which, in the process, have established a monstrous sense of "technology" in pop culture and everyday speech. It quickly became evident that one can't swing an undead cat, in Canada, without hitting some reference to "technology" as manufactured monstrosity that conjures not only Frankenstein but also McLuhanesque ideas about technologies as emergent environments that shape subjects -- and pose unforeseen hazards.

I thought I had a complete study ready to pitch to publishers as early as 2009, but it was declined then, and there's something to be said for the inadvertent productivity of rejection, because other crucial evidence for the Canadian Frankenstein adaptation archive then came my way. Especially memorable finds were, first, Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, the EDM superstar whose music features Gothic motifs and whose performance practice builds on a rich tech-noir legacy in Canada's underground rave scene; and, second, Catalyst Theatre's stage Frankenstein, which debuted in Fort McMurray and led me to drill down into the national debate over the Alberta oil sands, finding there a rich vein of Frankenstein references and adaptations across a range of op-eds, analyses, and pop culture productions. (Remember how Avatar was used for "avatar-sands" activism?)

As a result, the book ended up surveying a broader spectrum of Canadian Frankenstein adaptations and citations than first expected, found among many media and cultural forms, including condensed, ephemeral, and lyrical forms that have tended not to figure in adaptation studies. So it's my hope that The Medium Is the Monster models some methods for expanding adaptation studies to recognize and analyze the adaptation work that goes into short, ephemeral cultural forms like photographs, poems, posters, and songs. (I think Maestro Fresh-Wes' "Let your backbone slide" is one of Canada's most remarkable Frankenstein adaptations...and one of Canada's best songs, period.) Relatedly, I hope this book can contribute productively to the renewed attention Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is enjoying during this bicentennial year of its first publication. But I also hope this study will help to sustain and deepen the critical reception and extension of McLuhan's ideas, which continue to prove uncannily prescient -- since the real world continues to persist in turning into science fiction.

Mark A. McCutcheon is Professor of Literary Studies at Athabasca University. His scholarly publications include articles on Canadian popular culture, Romantic literature, and copyright policy in English Studies in Canada, Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, Continuum, and Popular Music, among other scholarly journals and books. Mark has also published poetry and short fiction in literary magazines like EVENT, Existere, Carousel, and subTerrain. Originally from Toronto, Mark lives in Edmonton. His scholarly blog is www.academicalism.wordpress.com and he’s on Twitter as @sonicfiction.

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

 

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That’s a wrap! Congress 2018 ends in success

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Guest blog by the University of Regina communications team

From May 26 to June 1, thousands of guests made their way to the University of Regina campus for the 87th Congress of The Humanities and Social Sciences. By all accounts, the event was a tremendous success and further proof that when it comes to hosting major events, nobody does it quite like Regina.

For Academic Convenor André Magnan, the success of Congress was a direct result of community support and the many volunteers who worked tirelessly both leading up to and during the event. “People put a lot of hours into making this event a success. We heard a lot of positive feedback about our campus and the friendliness of all of our volunteers. It was a great reflection of our campus and our community.”

The week-long event, the largest of its kind in Canada, brought together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners, for a series of lively discussions and debates. A wide range of topics were discussed, including the many social, cultural and political issues currently affecting Canada.

According to Magnan, this year’s discussions were especially relevant in the area of environmentalism.  “I think this is a strength of the humanities and social sciences. We’re researchers and students who are looking at some of the biggest challenges facing our society,” said Magnan. “We’re all looking for answers to the challenges of climate change and the resulting environmental impacts. It’s not an easy solution to find.”

In addition to in-depth environmental discussions, Congress 2018 also shone a spotlight on the area of reconciliation.  A variety forums were held in this area, including a keynote address by Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “People are becoming more educated about the past, but also starting to understand the importance of building stronger relationships with Indigenous peoples moving forward,” said Magnan.

Beyond the extensive lineup of keynote addresses and workshops, Congress also provided a platform to showcase plenty of Canadian talent. From Buffy Sainte-Marie to Jeffery Straker, Congress offered plenty of free entertainment for event attendees and the general public. This combined with an impressive offering of local food and drink, made Congress 2018 a great success.

 

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Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2018

Media advisory: Congress 2018 research looks at atheist comedy, links between The Tragically Hip and Canadian identity, and the history of professional tattooing

 

REGINA, May 30, 2018 – Researchers examine how humour can destabilize religion, how live streaming has influenced the gaming industry, how the Tragically Hip define Canadians, all as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences. All of these researchers are on the University of Regina campus this week.

Highlights in research in arts and culture include:

Atheist Comedy as Reality Maintenance: Atheist comedy is found in stand‐up comedy, movies and TV shows. Rather than relying on scientists who can properly explain the group’s belief, comedians are at the forefront of a movement which hopes to destabilize and eliminate religion from the public sphere. This paper analyzes the techniques employed by several atheist comedians to analyze how their humour constructs religions and religious people as ‘Others’ who are laughable and confused at best, and manipulative or harmful at worst.

“Canada was Joined at the Hip”: Issues of Diversity in the Connections between The Tragically Hip, the CBC and Canadian Identity: This research is about the connections between the CBC and The Tragically Hip, particularly how the CBC aided in promoting The Hip as “Canada’s band”. This presentation aims to consider the implications of a band like The Tragically Hip representing a diverse, multicultural nation such as Canada, and suggests that CBC’s promotion of The Tragically Hip as “Canada’s band” creates an idea of diversity that is rather limited.

The Influence of Live Streaming and Twitch.tv on the Games Industry: Twitch.tv is the dominant market leader in the live‐streaming of video game content. It is not just affecting the play nor spectating of games, but also their production, marketing, and reviewing. This paper reviews the effects of live streaming on the games industry, and situates these changes within the broader dynamics of the contemporary video games sector.

‘Visually Interesting and Not Without Some Mystery’: The Intersecting History of Professional Tattooing in Halifax and Beyond: Aided by its position as an international port city and regional center, tattooing thrived in Halifax in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a wide‐ranging clientele that encompassed transient and permanent populations. This research counteracts misconceptions of  tattooing as the domain of ‘low’ and ‘marginalized’ social and cultural groups, and argues that it uniquely contributed to Halifax’s urban milieu and nationwide social and cultural networks.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

Media advisory: Congress 2018 research looks at carbon footprints, carbon pricing and the Paris Agreement

 

REGINA, May 30, 2018 – Researchers examine the carbon footprints of Academia, misunderstandings of carbon pricing and Canada’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, all as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences.

All of these researchers are on the University of Regina campus this week.

Highlights in research in environmental issues include:

The Problem of Academia’s Carbon Footprint: The session will address how universities and scholarly organizations can adopt new low carbon technologies and policies, and highlight criteria and other ways to help scholars flourish in their careers while using only their fair share of carbon.

Burn the Money on the Steps of the Legislature: Misunderstanding / Misrepresenting Carbon Pricing in Saskatchewan: Discussions of carbon pricing by the province have been decidedly one‐sided, focusing on the cost of paying a carbon price, while ignoring that revenues could be used to reduce income taxes or provide rebates to vulnerable groups. Brett Dolter of the U of R will present his research on the dominant and alternative perspectives.

Canada's Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement: What is Fair and What is Fair Share? In Canada, climate action plans vary considerably across the country. Ontario and Quebec have implemented economy‐wide emissions trading systems. In contrast, Saskatchewan is actively opposed to carbon pricing and does not have defined emissions reduction targets. If the core objective of the Paris Agreement is to be achieved, Canada, along with most countries, must increase the level of ambition to curtail future emissions.

From waste to wealth: Managing wastes for sustainability generates wealth in return. When recyclables and reusables are thrown out, “we waste waste” which would have helped to produce wealth in other areas of the economy. The unthoughtful disposal of wastes in our homes and municipalities also leads to environmental pollution. Countries like China and Sweden can offer lessons for Canada on dealing with abundant waste production.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

-30-

For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

Media advisory: Congress 2018 research looks at free speech on university campus, the “Take a knee” movement and film history in the post-Weinstein era

 

REGINA, May 29, 2018 – Researchers look at free speech on university campuses, trigger warnings in the classroom, and teaching in the wake of #MeToo, all as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences.

All of these researchers are on the University of Regina campus this week. Highlights in research in the fields of education include:

Emails with My Dad, or What the hell has happened to free speech in universities? Conversations about free speech on university campuses have been receiving an unprecedented level of mainstream media coverage. This presentation thinks through what it would look like to make the work of the university more public, and whether that might fight against the disinformation of extremist positions.

Trigger‐Shy: Opposing A Singular Model of Trauma, Embracing an Ethos of Care: Trigger warnings have been a hot‐button issue in higher education in recent years. This presentation suggests that part of the anxiety around safe spaces and trigger warnings in the classroom is not just about a fear of censorship, but about not being able to predict what may or may not be difficult for students.

Courting Change on the Field: Lessons from the “Take a Knee” Movement about Pop Culture’s Potential for Critical Public Pedagogy: The movement emerged among sports stars in the US in summer 2016. This research explores it as a form of adult education and learning, including the successes and limitations to celebrity-led social movements.

Resignation is a Feminist Issue: Sara Ahmed, Critical University Studies, and Institutional Abuse: Harassment, bullying, and discrimination in academic contexts are receiving enhanced scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement and high‐profile disclosures of faculty misconduct at Canadian institutions. Drawing on her own experience of resignation in the wake of harassment, this researcher considers how human rights tribunals and other fora offer a more feminist approach to pursue rights‐based and discrimination claims compared to universities themselves.

Destabilizing the Film Canons of “Old Dinosaurs”: Teaching Film History in a Post‐Weinstein Era: In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and #MeToo, traditional film canons must be destabilized. From an educator’s perspective, the lack of female representation in film canons sends a negative gendered message to film students, especially female or trans student. How can film educators create more diverse and inclusive canons without resorting to tokenism or ghettoization?

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

-30-

For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

Media advisory: Congress 2018 research looks at why some people are rejecting the fat stigma, and at the politics of abortion in Northern Ireland

 

REGINA, May 29, 2018 - Researchers are thinking out of the box: questioning assumptions about how we traditionally treat Lyme disease in Canada, and why some people reject fat stigma and are ‘pro fat.’  Others are examining the (in)equity Canadians may face in accessing psychotherapy, based on their income levels. These and many more topics will be presented this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences.

All of these researchers are on the University of Regina campus this week. Highlights in research in the fields of healthcare include:

Lyme Disease in Canada: Lyme disease in Canada is on the rise in recent years, yet our means of dealing with this disease have been severely handicapped by narrow‐minded assumptions. This paper argues that these assumptions need to be rejected in order to effectively deal with how this disease is diagnosed, treated, and researched. The unjustified belief that there is a single “scientific” approach unnecessarily limits how Lyme disease has been addressed in Canada.

The Audacity of Being For Fat and Against Health: “Obesity” has been considered an epidemic for several decades now, despite a significant body of research that has established people can be healthy at a wide range of non‐conforming sizes. This research will examine how fat stigma is a pervasive and fundamental cause of the problems that have been commonly associated with body fat. Taking such a position is still seen as radical and irresponsible. This presentation embraces that accusation as a means to complicate health discourses and promote a stand for equity and justice.

What is the Purpose of Dietary Guidance for the Prevention of Chronic Disease? When evidence is gathered to provide guidance about diets meant to prevent chronic disease, the issues of class, race, and gender are either ignored or accepted as a means to an end. This presentation explores how public health nutrition policy is based on white, middle‐class notions of "healthy lifestyle" and how this perspective invalidates other ways of knowing about food and "health" and devalues the lives of those whose bodies or ways of being do not fit with mainstream approaches to food and health.

Income and Equity in Access to Psychotherapy in Canada: While equitable access to mental health services is only one of many critical determinants of mental health, inequitable access is nevertheless an important economic and social justice issue in its own right. Public health insurance in Canada has long privileged hospital and physician services over care provided by social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists. This study takes a closer look at the extent to which how rich or poor you are determines how likely you are to access psychotherapy and other mental health services when you need them. May 30 in Language Institute LI 143 at 11:00 am.

The politics of abortion in Northern Ireland: This research examines the future of the Northern Ireland power-sharing model; the curtailment of feminist activism and persistent division over reproductive rights and access to abortion; the role of external intervention and funding; and struggles over memory and memorialization projects in the post-Agreement period. This panel will contribute to a number of political science subfields such as the comparative politics of institutional design; gender and security in international relations; peace and post-conflict studies; and the growing interdisciplinary field of memory and memorialization. May 31 in Classroom - CL 434 at 3:45 pm.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

-30-

For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

Media advisory: Sex ed curriculum revamp and research on street harassment and Islamophobia among highlights of Congress 2018

 

REGINA, May 29, 2018 - Researchers from King’s University College at Western University consider what it’s like to grow up Muslim in Canada in the face of surging bigotry, others look gender inclusivity in locker rooms, all as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences.

Highlights in research about equity and diversity include:

Right to the City: An Exploration of the Gendered Impacts of Street Harassment Often dismissed as trivial, street harassment is a form of gender‐based violence that impacts thousands of Canadian women everyday, and ranges in severity from catcalls and whistles to stalking and assault. This research indicates that women who experienced SH reported being more fearful of gender‐based violence in public, including rape and sexual assault. May 29 in Laboratory LB 235 at 1:00 pm.

Gender Transgressors: An Intersectional Analysis of the Change Room: Across North America accommodating transgender individuals in change rooms is frequently a site of controversy. This research proposes that to make change rooms inclusive for all what is needed are methods for widening the parameters of gender, rather than architectural accommodations. May 29 in Laboratory LB 206 at 8:30 am.

Growing Up Muslim: The Impact of Islamophobia on Children in a Canadian Community: Based on interviews with elementary age students, this research presentation shows how they regularly experience discrimination and overt hostility because of their religion, and discusses what changes are needed. May 29 in Language Institute - LI115 at 3:30 pm.

Touchy Subject: Understanding the Controversy over Sexuality Education in Ontario: While the new sex education curriculum introduced in 2015 was welcomed by a majority of teachers and parents, vocal opposition to the government’s initiative stoked heated public debate. The leader of Ontario's PCs, Doug Ford, is campaigning on a promise to repeal sex education. This research clarifies the aims of the curriculum and the values of both its proponents and opponents. A deeper understanding of stakeholders’ concerns will facilitate more productive public discourse. May 30 in Riddell Centre - RC 128.1 at 9:45 am.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

-30-

For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

 

 

Media advisory: Implications of fake news, Trumpisms and research on TV’s House of Cards among highlights of Congress 2018

 

REGINA, May 28, 2018 — Researchers from Simon Fraser University and UBC examine the transformation that podcasting is having on university, others look at the dangers posed by mis/disinformation, all as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Canada and often called the “Academic Olympics,” Congress is great fodder for journalists looking for fresh research stories in the humanities and social sciences.

Programming highlights in news and journalism at this year’s event include:

Podcasting and the Transformation of Scholarly Communication: This roundtable brings together four speakers to discuss the role podcasting might play in making scholarship more accessible to wider audiences. Current models of scholarly communication significantly impede public engagement and thus the possibility for our research to impact policies. Podcasting presents a viable way to make research more accessible. This roundtable will consider some of the different scholarly podcasting projects that already exist, barriers to making this practice more common and widespread, and what we think the future of scholarly podcasting might look like. Researchers on the University of Regina campus this week.

The Media, Trumpism, and Liberalism Collide in the 21st Century: Modern media has expanded from newspapers and magazines, into new media platforms and practices that are becoming multinational and global in scope. A panel of researchers will discuss how the voices of diverse Canadian and American perspectives are represented, or not, in today’s changing media landscape. May 29 in Classroom CL 136 at 8:30 am.

The Problem of “Fake News”: Media, History, and Democracy: In today’s world, how do we reconcile fact from fiction? Misinformation threatens our ability to inform ourselves as citizens. How do we reconcile the role of media—which is essential to transparency, good governance and democracy—with social media networks, business objectives and the needs of citizens to be accurately and properly informed? This panel brings together a journalist, a professor and an archivist to shed light on the problem of “fake news” and its implications for media, democracy, and history. May 29 in ED 612 at1:30 pm.

Audiences Perceptions of House of Cards. The Role of Transportation and Identification: Media have been accused of manipulating the public, framing information strategically, to the point of creating cynical audiences. This research explores the effects of a particular media product, the political TV show House of Cards. It indicates that people watching this series believe they understand politics better and have  higher interest in politics because of it. This might have serious implications - people might tune off news if they have the feeling they might get political information and cues from fictional series (while also being entertained). June 1 in Classroom - CL 434 at 1:30 pm.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Congress is open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

-30-

For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

 

Media advisory: Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, research on nativist politics and the impacts of cannabis policy among highlights of Congress 2018

 

REGINA, May 28, 2018  - Political scientist Antonia Maioni will deliver a lecture on the progress (or not) that Canada is making in gender and politics as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Canada’s largest academic gathering, Congress brings over 5,000 of the country’s brightest researchers, thinkers, and policy-makers to the University of Regina this week.

Unique to Congress 2018 is the first all-female line-up of speakers for the Big Thinking lecture series. Attendees will hear from inspiring thinkers, including TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson on diversity and reconciliation, Antonia Maioni on gender in Canadian politics, Alaa Murabit on leadership and sustainable peace building and Françoise Baylis on the ethics of genetic technologies. The Big Thinking schedule is available at: https://www.congress2018.ca/program/big-thinking. Big Thinking is free and open to the public.

Additional programming runs the gamut of issues in Canadian politics:

Breaking Up the Party: Quebec Nationalism and the Submerging of Nativist Politics in Canada: Canada has been celebrated in popular and academic work for its relative immunity to nativist populism. No competitive nativist party has emerged in federal politics that challenges the mainstream consensus around mass immigration, unlike virtually every other postindustrial democracy. This paper argues that existing explanations for this “exceptionalism” fail to appreciate the importance of Quebec nationalism in contributing to this outcome. Quebec nationalism fractured the relatively strong anti‐immigration sentiment found in rural and small urban areas in Quebec and Anglophone Canada, and prevented right‐wing parties from mobilizing that sentiment in a way that could feasibly win elections. May 31, Classroom CL 232 at 8:45 am.

CrISIS: A Study of Propaganda Games as Digital Recruitment Tools: This research focuses on interactive artifacts used by the terror group ISIS for the purpose of propaganda. It examines why (and how) video games are powerful platforms for both ideological‐extremist propagation and terrorist recruitment in the real world. In addition to exploring the “why”, it also investigates the “how” or the cognitive mechanisms of “priming” and “deindividuation” which are exploited in players of games like ARMA III and Grand Theft Auto 5. May 31, Classroom CL 130 at 1:30 pm.

The Politics of Solidarity: Assessing the Foundations of Québec’s Student Movement: Compared to other provinces, Quebec's post‐secondary students are unusually politically mobilized. Yet the student movement is also clearly divided along linguistic and ideological lines, as well as based on student's fee‐paying status. This research is among the first to measure the relationship between these potential cultural, material, and ideological obstacles to organization and individual students’ commitments to collective student interest. May 31, Classroom CL 316 at 2:00 pm.

Path Dependence and Policy Replication: The Case of Canadian Cannabis Policy: In legalizing cannabis, governments across Canada are undertaking one of the most intense exercises in national policymaking in the country’s history. Under tight timelines provincial policymakers are turning inward - rather than seeking alignment with other governments or innovation within their own borders, they have engaged in internal policy replication. As a result, they have excluded Indigenous people and racialized communities from meaningful involvement in a policymaking process that will have its greatest impact on them. May 31, Classroom CL 316 at 3:45 pm.

Congress is an annual gathering of more than 65 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. This year’s theme is “Gathering Diversities”, reflecting the history of Regina as a traditional place of gathering and rich buffalo hunting grounds for Plains cultures.

Events listed here are open to the public. More information about the Federation and Congress 2018 is available online through their website, Twitter and Facebook.

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For interview requests
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Cell: 613-282-3489
 

University of Regina
Dale Johnson
Communications Strategist
dale.johnson@uregina.ca
Cell: 306-531-5995
 

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

 

Media release: University of Regina welcomes Canada’s largest academic conference, May 26 - June 1

 

OTTAWA, ON, May 23, 2018 — For the first time, Canada’s largest annual gathering of academics will take place in the Queen City. The University of Regina will host 5,000 distinguished academics, policy-makers, researchers, and practitioners at the 87th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences from May 26 to June 1.

Nearly 70 academic associations will be represented at Congress 2018, and approximately 4,000 research presentations in the humanities and social sciences will be delivered.

“As our nation positions itself as a global innovation leader, a platform to showcase research in the humanities and social sciences is more important than ever,” says University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vianne Timmons. “The University of Regina is honoured to host Canada’s thought leaders as they address some of our world’s most pressing public policy issues including reconciliation, gender equity, diversity, social justice, politics, and immigration.”

Unique to Congress 2018 is the first all-female line-up of speakers for the Big Thinking lecture series. Attendees will hear from inspiring thinkers, including Melina Laboucan-Massimo on Indigenous women and climate change, Margaret MacMillan on the history of war, Marie Wilson on diversity and reconciliation, and Alaa Murabit on leadership and sustainable peace building. The Big Thinking schedule is available at: https://www.congress2018.ca/program/big-thinking. Big Thinking is free and open to the public.

“Congress brings thousands of scholars together to share their best ideas and we are absolutely thrilled to be in Regina this year,” said Gabriel Miller, Executive Director of the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. “What happens at Congress over the next seven days will help people from across the country to go home and teach the skills and new ways of thinking Canada needs to thrive in a complex world.” 

The theme for Congress 2018, “Gathering diversities,” honours the history of the area as a traditional gathering place of the Nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda nations, and the Métis. It celebrates the region’s heritage as rich buffalo hunting grounds for a multitude of Plains cultures. Today, the symbol of the buffalo signifies the rise of education as a new buffalo and the way forward for Canada and its diverse citizenry.

University of Regina programming for Congress 2018 builds on this theme with a series of events that look at the challenges and opportunities facing diverse communities, the importance of Indigenous ways of knowing, and the role of universities in reconciliation. The events feature:

  • National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, who will deliver a keynote address on May 26;
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie, who will perform a public concert on May 28; and
  • Regina-born University of Oxford professor Jennifer Welsh, who will speak to “The decline of the west” on May 30.

More about the rich cultural and community-based programming planned can be found at: https://www.congress2018.ca/program/university.

The university has also created the Social Zone in the heart of the campus – the Dr. Lloyd Barber Academic Green. Congress 2018 attendees and members of the public (must be 19+) are welcome to sample Academic Ale, a special Congress 2018 beer crafted by Regina-based Rebellion Brewery, and take in performances by Andino Suns (May 26), Etienne Fletcher (May 29), and the University’s own Darke Hall Five (May 29). More information about the social zone is found at: https://www.congress2018.ca/plan-your-trip/food-services.

“Hosting the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is an incredible opportunity to showcase our campus and the life-changing work that goes on here. It’s also a chance for the entire city and surrounding area to gather with us at the University of Regina, to learn from each other, and to celebrate our diversity,” says Congress 2018 Academic Convenor and University of Regina professor, Dr. André Magnan.

For information on Congress 2018, the wide range of free public programming, and media accreditation, visit www.congress2018.ca.

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NOTE TO MEDIA:

The official launch to Congress 2018 will kick off with the:
What:    Congress 2018 Flag-raising Ceremony
Where: Thursday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall
Who:     His Worship Michael Fougere, Mayor, City of Regina
Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Regina
Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences}
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 87th year, Congress brings together academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2018 is hosted by the University of Regina. For more information, visit www.congress2018.ca.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

About the University of Regina
The University of Regina is constantly pushing the bounds of knowledge and pioneering new ways of thinking about the world. It’s no surprise that the University is ranked in the Top 200 by Times Higher Education in the Best Young Universities category. At the heart of its success is the institution’s commitment to growing diversity. Since 2009, it has increased its international student population by 122 percent and its Indigenous student population by 84 percent. The University of Regina is home to the country’s highest percentage of graduate students from outside Canada, and has received the top ranking in Canada for its number of international research collaborations. For more information about the University of Regina, visit www.uregina.ca.

 

Media contacts
Nicola Katz                                                                                   Dale Johnson
Communications Manager                                                           Communications Strategist
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences                    University of Regina
Mobile: 613-282-3489                                                                  Mobile: 306.531.5995

nkatz@ideas-idees.ca                                                                dale.johnson@uregina.ca

 

Saskatchewan addresses absenteeism by linking health and productivity

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Guest blog by Mitacs

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing supports province’s mining industry.

Robin Thurmeier, Dr. Mary Ellen Andrews, Janet Luimes, Dr. Heather Exner-Pirot, Dr. Lorna Butler and Emmy Neuls

The mining sector plays a critical role in the Saskatchewan economy — it accounts for one in every 16 jobs in the province, with a total payroll of $1.5 billion. Therefore, the health and productivity of mine employees have considerable economic and social benefits in the province, yet the impacts of physical and mental health on productivity within the industry are not yet widely understood.

Professor Lorna Butler and her team at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing and the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development aim to address this issue through a research partnership with the International Mineral Innovation Institute (IMII) and Mitacs’ Accelerate program, which supports research collaborations in all disciplines.

According to Statistics Canada data, Saskatchewan led the country in average days of worker illness at 11 days, compared to the national level of 9.5. Professor Butler’s research team is identifying the predictors of health and health behaviours that could decrease absenteeism and consequently increase the productivity of both mines and their employees.

“The goal of our research is to determine ways to promote health and employee wellness as a way to increase productivity by linking healthy workplaces with healthy employees at mine sites throughout Saskatchewan,” explains Professor Butler.

Health promotion is particularly important in mines, as their employees (primarily men) are less likely to get regular physical exams, seek health care, or proactively address mental health issues of excessive stress or depression, due to various social and demographic factors.

With joint funding from Mitacs and IMII, Professor Butler assigned a postdoctoral fellow to visit mine sites throughout Saskatchewan to collect data for the project. “To receive funding from IMII and Mitacs to address workforce productivity, including absenteeism and disability, is an investment in a long-term sustainability plan,” she says.

Given the mining industry’s provincial prominence and economic impact, buy-in from citizens is crucial to this sustainability: “The people of Saskatchewan are actively demanding that the mining industry achieve a ‘social license to operate’ when considering environmental and social impacts,” Professor Butler explains. “We want to extend that expectation further by helping to ensure the province’s mining industry is at its most effective in supporting the health of its workers and its workplace.”Looking for funding for a research collaboration? Mitacs Accelerate supports projects with academic institutions and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Projects start at four months and all disciplines and sectors are eligible to participate. International collaborations can also be supported through Accelerate International.

About Mitacs
Mitacs delivers research and training programs to students, postdocs, and faculty in all disciplines. We help build partnerships that support research and innovation in Canada and around the world. Visit the Mitacs booth (booth #33) in the Congress Expo Event Space to find out more.

 

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SSHRC does documentaries at Congress 2018

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Guest blog by David Holton, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) @SSHRC_CRSH #SSHRCDocs

Quick, think of a great documentary film.

Got one? Whatever topic it covers, chances are, social sciences and humanities (SSH) scholars have thought about it—and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has funded research on it.

What about An Inconvenient Truth? We fund climate change research. The Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens? SSH scholars study family dynamics and mental illness. Or Ava DuVernay’s 13th? We’ve got incarceration and social justice covered. Harlan County, USA? Roger and Me? Waiting for Superman? Labour relations, post-industrialism and education: check, check and check.

Documentary film can be a compelling, engaging way to mobilize knowledge and reach a wide audience. Have you ever wondered how you could use this medium to showcase your ideas? If so, join SSHRC at Congress 2018 to explore the possibilities of filmmaking in the social sciences and humanities.

To quote Arthur Miller, in the closing moments of Ken Burns’s Oscar-nominated Brooklyn Bridge, "Maybe you, too, could make something that could be lasting and beautiful."

SSHRC Documentary Film Series

Come by the Shu-Box Theatre in the Riddell Centre to watch documentary films and take part in a conversation with the researchers/filmmakers. Popcorn will be provided.

Sunday, May 27, at 19:00: The culmination of years of SSHRC-funded documentary filmmaking and research, the web-based Climate Atlas of Canada brings the human dimension of climate change to life, providing a holistic narrative about how this issue affects various aspects of Canadian society. In this interactive presentation, Ian Mauro will screen documentary stories from the Atlas—collaboratively developed with local and Indigenous knowledge holders as well as other experts—and share his experience as both a researcher and filmmaker.

Wednesday, May 30, at 19:00: Shot in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Iceland, Data Mining the Deceased explores the business of genealogy, uncovering the privacy and ownership concerns raised by one of the largest data mining operations in history—an operation driven by big religion, big business and big tech. A conversation with writer-director Julia Creet of York University will follow the screening.

The Art and Science of Mobilizing Research through Documentary Film

On Wednesday, May 30, at 15:30, in the Expo Event Space, join a panel of faculty, student and private-sector filmmakers to discuss the process and promise of documenting social sciences and humanities research on film. Panelists and audience members will share best practices and challenges, and discuss how film can be an effective way to share your ideas and research results with a broad audience.

For more information

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Media release: Western to host more than 8,000 scholars in London

 

OTTAWA, ON, May 16, 2018 – Western University has been selected to host the 2020 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the country’s largest multidisciplinary gathering of academic scholars in the humanities and social sciences.

The conference, which will run from May 30 to June 5, 2020, is also expected to be the largest ever held in London. In all, organizers expect more than 8,000 attendees to visit the city over the seven-day event.

Gabriel Miller, Executive Director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, made the announcement at Western this morning.

“We look ahead with great excitement to organizing Congress 2020 in partnership with Western University,” said Miller. “Congress is a tremendously exciting event each year, drawing talent from a wide array of disciplines from across the country to share and discuss ideas about shaping the Canada of the future, enriching both the research community and the local community where it takes place.”

For nearly 90 years, Congress has brought together more than 70 scholarly organizations who hold their annual conferences under a common banner. It’s an opportunity for academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas and build partnerships that focus on Canada’s future.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to not only show off our university and our city, but to highlight the important work our faculty members and partners are conducting across a variety of disciplines,” says John Capone, Western’s Vice-President (Research). “The importance of scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences can’t be understated, as it relates to everything we do, experience and feel, including how we understand the world around us, build communities and advance culture.”

Western last hosted Congress in 2005.

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Media contacts:
Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, 519-520-7281 (mobile), jrenaud9@uwo.ca
Nicola Katz, Manager of Communications, 613-238-6112 x351, 613-282-3489 (mobile), nkatz@ideas-idees.ca

About Western University
Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community. Visit www.uwo.ca

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

 

Good Eats

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Guest blog by the University of Regina communications team

Over the past several years, Regina has experienced an explosion of exciting new pubs and eateries. From popular food trucks, to fine dining featuring local fare, to hip new pubs, there’s no shortage of places to satisfy your appetite or quench your thirst.

Downtown Regina offers your biggest selection of dining opportunities. Looking for a delicious steak supper? Check out Golf’s Steak House at 1945 Victoria Avenue, or The Diplomat located at 2032 Broad Street. For those hoping to sample some tasty local fare, check out Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar, located at 1925 Victoria Avenue in the historic former site of the Assiniboia private gentleman’s club. The Capitol, located at 1843 Hamilton Street, offers an ever-changing menu of fresh menu items plus live jazz. Just down the street at 1965 Hamilton, you will find Victoria’s Tavern, a popular choice with locals. Victoria’s serves up all of your typical pub fare, as well as a seriously impressive drink menu.

For those craving some fine dining options, the Willow on Wascana is an ideal choice. Located at 3000 Wascana Drive, this local gem offers stunning views of Wascana Lake and delicious seasonal fare curated from the freshest local ingredients. The Creek in Cathedral Bistro, located at 3414 13th Avenue, is another wonderful choice for those wishing to enjoy a North American French-style cuisine. Just a hop, step, and jump away from the Creek Bistro, you’ll find Bodega Tapas Bar at 2228 Albert Street, home to one of Regina’s best patios and specializing in international-style tapas with an emphasis on the Mediterranean quarter.

Head a little farther north and you’ll find yourself in another popular pub and restaurant hotspot – the Warehouse District. Here you can find an excellent assortment of pubs, restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops. Check out Bushwakker Brewpub, located at 2206 Dewdney Avenue and considered one of the Top 5 Brewpubs in Canada by The Globe and Mail. They also serve us some seriously delicious pub fare! Just down the street you’ll find Rebellion Brewing at 1901 Dewdney Avenue, a popular local brewhouse that offers an impressive beer selection. (Cool fact: Rebellion Brewing has partnered with the University of Regina to create a Congress 2018 beer! You’ll have to visit the Congress Social Zone to get a taste of the Academic Ale – a light, lentil-forward brew.)

Looking for excellent vegetarian or vegan options? Check out 13th Avenue Coffee House, a cozy restaurant located in a character home in one of Regina’s trendiest neighbourhoods. Grab a tea or coffee while you’re there; located at 3136 13th Avenue.

Curry on your mind? Try Caraway Grill, voted one of Regina’s best restaurants by local paper, Prairie Dog. Located at 1625 Broad Street, Caraway brings creativity and mouthwatering flavour to authentic Indian cuisine.

Clearly there are lots of places to eat and drink in Regina. For more information and options, check out the Discover section at http://tourismregina.com/.

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Change a Life, Change your Own: Child Sponsorship, the Discourse of Development, and the Production of Ethical Subjects

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Guest blog by Peter Ove, faculty member at Camosun College

It was January 1996, and I was standing on a gangway in a Cuban cement factory. There was no safety railing between me and four massive cylinders crushing limestone some five meters below. The air glittered with dust, and the noise was deafening. At that moment, I was reconsidering my participation in the inaugural Canadian World Youth exchange to Cuba, which I had happily begun the year before. In the end, I stayed for four months, working just outside the small town of Taguasco, although I was eventually able to secure a “cushy” job in the plant’s physical-testing laboratory. Living together with Cubans was an eye-opening experience for me. While it was challenging to be confronted with their poverty and my privilege, I learned a great deal about the nature of resilience and ingenuity by watching them navigate a world that seemed bitterly unfair.

This experience in Cuba fueled my interest in global poverty, and I went on to take a Master’s degree from Dalhousie’s interdisciplinary program on international development. Thanks to this background, I landed some years later in the air-conditioned office of UN-HABITAT in Rio de Janeiro where I spent about a year as an intern working on an urban development program. Despite my junior status, I lived in a penthouse on Copacabana Beach, and when I showed up at the office, I was served coffee at my desk by an elderly man who lived just down the way in a favela. There is no doubt that I took away a lot from this position, but I also began to develop a concern about working in what is sometimes known as the development industry. Call me naïve, but it really was not until I started a job “overseas” that I began to think about the colonial undertones of much development work.

My time in Rio made me question my perceived future as a foreign development worker. I felt uncomfortable starting a career that placed me as an advisor to other people when I was becoming increasingly aware of the skewed nature of global power dynamics. In particular, I was concerned about how poverty was presented as a problem for poor countries and poor peoples, to address with guidance from the “developed” North. Rather than continue working in the global South, consequently, I decided to go back to school to study Northern perceptions of global poverty. Having already done a Master’s thesis on representations of poverty in the news media, it seemed a logical next step for me to look at the promotional material of nongovernmental development organizations. Given its status as one of the largest and best known fundraising mechanisms for international development efforts, child sponsorship presented the perfect topic.

It would be convenient to highlight a single incident in which I felt called to focus on child sponsorship – a particularly troubling televised appeal that made me weep or cringe. The truth is, however, that child sponsorship is banal. Most people are already familiar with it. It provides a common cultural backdrop regarding Northerners’ relationship to global poverty that is rarely questioned because its charitable narrative seems to require no explanation. Perhaps this is the reason that so little research has focused on child sponsorship. There have been some accounts of the misguided – or even nefarious – practices of some sponsorship agencies, but because of my background, I was more interested in the way sponsorship helps construct perceptions of, and seemingly appropriate responses to, global poverty.

Change a life, Change your own represents my attempt to examine the way the child sponsorship informs Northerners’ worldviews. Drawing on approximately 50 interviews with sponsors and sponsorship staff, I present an argument that tries to explain the relationship between sponsorship promotional practices and the construction of development narratives.

Peter Ove is a faculty member at Camosun College in Victoria, BC, and has been teaching Sociology since 2009.

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

 

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Mexican student brings new perspectives to Indigenous treaties in Saskatchewan

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Guest blog by Robyn Dugas, Content Specialist, Mitacs

Wendy Ortega Pineda is determined to do her part to make the world a more equitable place. As a law student at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Mexico, Wendy learned much about the profound differences between nations regarding access to basic resources, issues of discrimination, and justice for human rights violations. In Summer 2015, she gained even greater knowledge through a 12-week Globalink Research Internship at the University of Saskatchewan. The program matches top-ranked international undergraduates with summer research projects at Canadian universities, giving the students hands-on experience in Canada’s diverse research landscape.

Wendy was attracted to apply to Mitacs Globalink because of the opportunity to conduct research on constitutional and human rights law with Professor Dwight Newman. During her summer in Saskatchewan, Wendy researched Latin American regimes’ practices for consulting indigenous communities during local policy and infrastructure project discussions, through the lens of an international treaty that guarantees indigenous rights. By understanding how the specific concerns of these groups were incorporated or disputed in international courts, local human rights advocates can determine best practices for future projects. Wendy and her professor co-authored an article on the subject that was subsequently published in Constitutional Forum.

Throughout her time in Saskatchewan, Wendy was exposed to new ideas that had a profound effect on her desire to correct the wrongs of the past. For example, a seminar about Canada’s Residential School System opened her eyes to the challenges that Canada’s Indigenous people have faced, and made her think about how she might be able to make a difference to similar problems in her home country. She hopes that her experience through Mitacs Globalink will prove to be beneficial on her road to a career with the United Nations.

“What makes Mitacs Globalink different is that it is a complete internship program. I am very thankful that Canada has this opportunity for Mexicans, and we are very lucky to be included in the program. I have learned so much and had a very good summer here in Saskatchewan.”

University faculty: get a top-ranked international undergrad for your Summer 2019 projects. The Globalink Research Internship will be accepting faculty project submissions, from April 18June 13, 2018. Visit the Globalink Research Internship page for more information and to apply. Mitacs will be at Congress Expo. Visit us at our booth to find out more about the program.

About Mitacs
Mitacs delivers research and training programs to students, postdocs, and faculty in all disciplines. We help build partnerships that support research and innovation in Canada and around the world.

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Top tourist destinations in Regina

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guest blog by the University of Regina communications team

Located smackdab in the middle of the prairies, Regina is Saskatchewan’s capital city and home to countless exciting attractions. Whether you’re a fan of beautiful parks, lively sporting events, arts and culture, great shopping, or unique culinary experiences – Regina truly offers something for everyone.

Wascana Centre is a stunning 930-hectare park located in the heart of Regina (and it’s where the University of Regina main campus is located!). Take a picturesque stroll or run around Wascana Lake and enjoy being close to nature. Wascana, the largest urban park in Canada, is also home to many other tourist attractions, including the Legislative Building, Saskatchewan Science Centre, and Willow on Wascana – a popular fine dining restaurant offering stunning views and local fare.

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum promotes Saskatchewan's natural history and aboriginal cultures. The MacKenzie Art Gallery (MAG), Saskatchewan’s oldest public art gallery, offers original exhibitions of works by local, national, and international artists including its permanent collection of more than 4,500 works by artists such as Picasso, Rodin, and Edvard Munch. Both the museum and gallery are located in Wascana Centre. 

Beyond the beauty of Wascana, Regina’s thriving downtown, with all of its theater productions, live music, sports venues, lively pubs, and attractions, is the place to be. Labelled by the Globe and Mail as the “Okanagan of craft beer,” Regina is the place grab a drink with the locals.  To get a taste, visit one of the many breweries – Rebellion Brewing, Malty National or Bushwakker Brewpub.

Other attractions including the RCMP Heritage Centre which tells the story of the RCMP through interactive exhibits, audio tours and programming, and Casino Regina which is housed within the historic Union Station, a provincial heritage site, are must-see.

For more information and a complete listing of local attractions, visit www.tourismregina.com.

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Congress 2018

Gabriel Miller addresses March for Science 2018

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Speech made at the March for Science in Toronto on April 14, 2018

[Check against delivery]

Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here with you marching for knowledge, for evidence, and for science!

And I want to thank the organizers. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into today. And thank you for inviting me, someone who represents the humanities and social sciences to be part of today’s festivities.

You understand that there’s lots of space for everyone in this parade – everyone, that is, who cares about learning. Who cares about facts. Who cares about truth.

The tools and methods we use will differ depending on the subject, but beneath those differences is something much bigger and more important that unites us – a drive to better understand ourselves and the world we live in.

So this is exactly where we should be on an April morning in Toronto, whether you study biology or politics, physics or the economy.

Of course we don’t just need a diversity of disciplines, we need a diversity of people.

Because great insights and great discoveries have roots in a person’s life experience and personal perspective.

That means our science – and our society – will grow stronger if we throw open the doors of our labs and our classrooms and our governments and our companies to people with the richest and most balanced mix of identities and backgrounds.

And I salute you for putting that diversity right at the centre of today’s event – we can’t be content to pat ourselves on the back, we have to challenge ourselves and the status quo – that instinct is the essence of a scientific spirit.

I have to admit that the first time I heard about the March for Science I thought it sounded kind of funny – like marching for language, or oxygen, or vegetables. I mean, who can be against these things?  There was part of me that couldn’t quite accept that some people won’t accept science.

But let’s be clear – those people do exist, and in some frighteningly powerful positions. People with a huge influence on governments, economies, on human lives.

You might say they inhabit a “post-truth” world, but they don’t object to the truth – as long as it’s one they like. Otherwise, the facts are optional.

We’re all guilty of sticking our heads in the sand from time to time. But deep down I know and you know and we all know that living that way is no way to live at all. Not if you’re smart and curious and aspire to engage the world in all its complexity, and not just the parts that fit your agenda.

So today’s march, like most good ones, is at least a little bit about resistance – about pushing back on forces that are bad for us.

But today is too hopeful for me to finish with doom and gloom. This is an important and an exciting moment.

It’s a moment of opportunity in part because we’ve just seen a budget released in Ottawa that presents a chance to fundamentally strengthen research and education in Canada. The budget contained a research package that makes long-term investments based on a thoughtful policy analysis. It’s smart and it’s focused on the future – two things we don’t see always see enough of in our politics.

It was a great achievement by the people who advocated for it: researchers and lab assistants, professors and graduate students, universities and organizations like Evidence for Democracy. They told the government what needed to be done, and made sure it didn’t forget before Budget Day.

As those budget promises get turned into new programs, and then into new grants and partnerships, we need to keep banging the drum for smart, future-focused decisions.

Today is also about something more personal. It’s a chance to stand up for something we care deeply about. A chance to strengthen the foundations of knowledge so they continue to withstand what’s thrown at them in the future.

 It’s a chance to show our kids the power we all have to make a fundamental, daily choice about the way we will interact with our world, learn about the world, and act in our world. It’s a chance to choose “smart,” when we can see that the costs of “being uninformed” are just too high.

Marching for science might have once felt funny to me, but it doesn’t anymore. It feels like the right thing to do.

Thank you for coming, thank you for listening, have a fabulous weekend.

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How debate about taxation reveals social inequality

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

When it comes to taxes, there is a widespread popular belief that we all agree on one thing: others don’t pay their fair share of income tax.

The feeling was much the same among early Canadians, as we learn from reading Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917. The book, by Elsbeth A. Heaman, a professor of history at McGill University, won a 2018 Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Power struggles between the inhabitants of Upper and Lower Canada regarding taxes and the impact of taxation on the lives of their poorest citizens form the basic fabric of the book, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. Note that this volume forms a tandem with Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy by Shirley Tillotson, which covers the period beginning with the introduction of income tax in 1917.

While acknowledging that taxpayers are not kindly disposed towards taxes, Elsbeth Heaman insists on the importance of taking an interest in the country’s financial policies, with an eye on the consequences of these policies on the less well off.

To illustrate relations between rich and poor in the first half-century of Canada’s history, she pays close attention to the public debate and policies that led to the introduction of income tax.

Heaman believes that the question “What do the poor deserve?” was central to political debate in the 1860s and expresses concern that few traces of the issue remain in what is known of Canadian history. “I think we should write our political history differently,” she says. Among other things, Heaman proposes stepping back from the romantic notion of political history as a group of men sitting around a table making decisions, and including the broader public debate on the question of what people deserved.

In her bid to educate the general public on the issue of Canadian taxation, the author and her team trawled through large quantities of documents from municipal, provincial and federal archives in various offices across the country.

During this information-gathering exercise, she came across a message from an A. Goldstein beseeching the tax collector of the City of Montreal to waive payment of his municipal water tax bill. In the note, dated 1890, Mr. Goldstein reveals that his family had faced numerous trials and tribulations in the preceding months and that, in his mind, insisting on payment of the bill would be tantamount to condemning him and his family to death. 

Struck by the urgency of this plea, Heaman inquired into the rights that such a person held at the time. “Part of the purpose of social history is to give a voice to people who generally have no opportunity to express themselves and prove that their claims have merit and deserve the attention of journalists, politicians and the public.” Today, there are more mechanisms in place for addressing social justice issues. “People are exposed to this type of debate and consider the arguments, even if they do not always act,” says Heaman.

She sees only one way to kill off the firmly entrenched popular belief alluded to earlier: “People need to be constantly and publicly talking about fairness in public.” 

Elsbeth A. Heaman is associate professor of history and classical studies, and the current director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. Her book Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917 is published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

 

 

 

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Canada Prizes

Crimes that tell us much about our society

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

What do “La Corriveau,” “Dr. l’Indienne” and the “brigands of Cap-Rouge” have in common? All were celebrated criminals who captured the popular imagination in 19th- and 20th-century Quebec.

La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe – XXe siècle) (the outlier community – collective imagination and famous crimes in 19th- and 20th-century Quebec) by Alex Gagnon, a postdoctoral fellow at Université du Québec à Montréal, published by Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, relates how these crimes achieved notoriety and explains the role played by the popular imagination in Quebec society. 

Having already garnered four awards since its publication in 2016, the book has now won a 2018 Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Seeking to determine what holds a society together, Alex Gagnon found that people tend to rally around negative rather than positive elements. “People are united not so much by a set of common values as by what arouses their indignation.” Analyzing social tolerance thresholds thus becomes essential for an understanding of phenomena that societies stand against.

Gagnon feels that the best way to understand a society is to identify what is cast out into a sort of moral ostracism. “Notorious crimes provide the most striking examples I have found of this rejection,” he says. “Crime forces a society to express its fears, its sensibilities and its tolerance thresholds — things that are not normally openly stated.”

For a crime to become notorious, it must make a deep impression on people’s minds and enter — but not necessarily monopolize — the public space. All the crimes in Alex Gagnon’s study leave the realm of fact at some point to carve a niche for themselves in works of fiction.

The manner in which certain crimes take root in collective memory is largely dependent on modern means of communication and mass media, starting in the 18th century and gathering strength in the 19th.

Although the popular imagination is generally placed in the category of abstract phenomena with no concrete existence, a study of celebrated crimes reveals that, on the contrary, it plays a fundamental role in history. “Imagination is part of our daily lives. No society can exist without imagination. The imaginary is what lends meaning to the world around us, which is something very concrete.”

Although the popular imagination of societies continues to be fed by various crimes, and in so doing indicates where society's new boundaries lie, the phenomenon varies over time. “The crimes of the 19th century which marked the Quebec society of the time might leave us indifferent today, for reasons that have to do with the differences in popular imagination of then and now,” says Gagnon.

Thus, having gripped people’s minds in a bygone era, the crimes of the past are fading in importance today, yielding their place in the popular imagination of Quebec to others, a cycle that is bound to continue over time. 

Alex Gagnon is a postdoctoral fellow at UQÀM. His book La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle) is published by Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

 

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Canada Prizes

SSHRC celebrates 40 years of ideas, talent and diversity

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Guest blog by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Congress 2018 coincides with the 40th anniversary of the founding of SSHRC, and we are excited to contribute some excellent events to its program. 

Our Storytellers contest will once again bring the next generation of talented students to the event to showcase how social sciences and humanities research is affecting our lives, our world and our future for the better. Come watch their presentations in the CK-Centre for Kinesiology — also known as the Congress Hub — in the Expo Event Space.

Don’t forget to join us at a reception in the same location after this event to celebrate SSHRC’s 40th birthday — cake will be served! Find out more about SSHRC’s 40-year history.

SSHRC will host a number of other events, including:

We will also bring two SSHRC-funded research projects to the screen with our documentary series.

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Media release: Winners of Canada Prizes announced

 

OTTAWA, April 9, 2018 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is very pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Canada Prizes. This year’s winners are E.A. Heaman for her book Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917 (McGill-Queen’s University Press) and Alex Gagnon for his book La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle) (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal).

The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to books in the humanities and social sciences that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. Winners are selected from books that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, which is administered by the Federation and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

“This year’s winners are representative of the remarkable scholarship produced in our country, and we are grateful for the funding support from SSHRC that makes this program possible,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “One illustrates how an examination of taxation can deepen our understanding of this country’s political, economic, social and cultural history. The other takes a closer look at how a society documents its history and defines itself, specifically examining stories of famous crimes in Québec. Each of these books contributes to a deeper understanding of our society, our history, and how we can shape our future,” he added.      

This year’s winners are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences

E.A. Heaman, Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917 (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

From the jury’s citation:

In Tax, Order and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917, Elsbeth Heaman provides a path-breaking history of Canadian taxation from Confederation up until the introduction of the progressive income tax. All Canadians interested in the history and growth of the nation will want to read this meticulously researched and captivating analysis.

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales

Alex Gagnon, La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle) (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal)

From the jury’s citation:

Magnificently written, rigorous, and relevant to our media age, La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle) reads like a novel, with a story that draws the reader into the history of our societies, of the ways in which our society writes its own history, and above all, a history of the stories we tell ourselves. Starting from tabloid coverage of Quebec’s most famous criminal cases of the past two centuries, Alex Gagnon lays out a simple and elegant demonstration of how journalistic accounts engage with imagined representations that define the community just as much as they reflect it.

A media kit including biographies and photos of the 2018 winners, along with the full jury citations, is available on the Federation’s website.  

The prizes, each valued at $5,000, will be presented at a ceremony during the 2018 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Regina on Tuesday, May 29. The ceremony will take place in Riddell Centre - RC 128.1 and will include moderated interviews with both winners.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

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Jennifer Welsh addresses the crisis of liberal democracy in ‘The Decline of the West’

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Guest blog by André Magnan, Congress 2018 Convenor, University of Regina

This is a Congress 2018 blog about event #1235. Click here to find out more about it.

In recent weeks, the governments of the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and other Western countries have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats from their capital cities. This diplomatic rebuke has come in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil, a crime the U.K. blames on the Russian state. Add to this the on-going fallout from Russian interference into the 2016 American election, and it seems that relations between Russia and the West have hit their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

Do these events suggest the dawn of the Cold War 2.0, or an even more complex and multi-sided era of geopolitical rivalry? What are the prospects for liberal democracy in such a world? What can be done to protect and revive the democratic project both within the West and around the world? Renowned scholar of international relations, Oxford University Professor, and Regina native Jennifer Welsh will address these and other questions during her keynote address The Decline of the West, at Congress 2018.

Professor Welsh delivered the 2016 CBC Massey Lectures, which were subsequently published as The Return of History, a book that examines crises such as regional wars, the plight of refugees, and rising social inequality, all of which threaten the stability of the international order. Her analysis is a sober reminder that democratic values and institutions cannot be taken for granted; rather, they must be defended and renewed by each subsequent generation.

The University of Regina is honoured that Professor Welsh will be delivering this talk at Congress 2018, on May 30 at 16:00-17:30. The event is sponsored by the Faculty of Arts, and is free and open to the public. For more details, please click here.

 

Decolonizing and strengthening Indigenous research: International perspectives

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Guest blog by Dina Guth, PhD, Program Officer, Research Grants & Partnerships Division, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

This is a Congress 2018 blog about event #1212. Click here to find out more about it.

How does the research community act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to strengthen Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods at post-secondary institutions? The social sciences and humanities must lead the way in engaging and learning from different perspectives to respond to this question.  

For Congress 2018, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has gathered a panel of leading international scholars to explore strengthening Indigenous research and research training through a global lens. Come hear how countries such as Australia, Mexico and others have begun Indigenizing research and education, and what models they can offer towards responding to the TRC’s calls to action. Join us for an afternoon of stimulating discussion!   

Here is some additional details on how this event will take place:

Opening ceremony

Noel Starblanket is Elder-in-Residence at the University of Regina. A longtime advocate for First Nations organizations, he has served as Chief of the Star Blanket Cree Nation, Chair for Treaty Four Chiefs, Vice-Chief for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.   

Moderator

Dominique Bérubé is Vice-President, Research Programs, at SSHRC. She holds a doctorate in environmental sciences from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Prior to joining SSHRC, she held a variety of senior positions in research administration at the Université de Montréal. From 2012 to 2015, she chaired the board of directors of Érudit, which provides access to publications on social sciences and humanities research.

Panelists

Emiliana Cruz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social in Mexico, and Director of the Chatino Language Documentation project. A linguistic anthropologist and native speaker of Chatino, her research aims to empower native speakers to study and teach their own languages.      

Aileen Moreton-Robinson is Distinguished Professor of Indigenous Research at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and Director of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network. A leading scholar of race and whiteness theory, she is an executive member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium.

Rowena Phair is Project Leader in the Education and Skills Directorate of the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). She is the former Deputy Secretary of Student Achievement in New Zealand’s Ministry of Education. In 2017, Phair led the OECD study: Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students.

James Riding In is Interim Director and Associate Professor of American Indian studies at Arizona State University and Editor of Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies. Instrumental in the development of American Indian studies at Arizona State, Riding In is a public figure known for his research and advocacy for repatriation.  

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, PhD, FRSNZ, CNZM, is Professor of Māori and Indigenous studies at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. She has helped establish a number of research institutes, including the Māori Centre of Research Excellence as a founding Co-Director. She has also served on New Zealand’s major research funding boards. Her book, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, has been an international bestseller since its publication in 1999.

 

Eat Local, Taste Global: How Ethnocultural Food Reaches our Tables

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Guest blog by Glen C. Filson, Professor Emeritus, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph and Bamidele Adekunle, Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph

When questions emerged about a decade ago regarding whether — and to what extent —Toronto’s immigrant communities could access their preferred vegetables, our multiethnic team sought empirical answers. We interviewed 250 vegetable buyers each from the Greater Toronto Area’s largest ethnic groups — South Asian, Chinese and Afro-Caribbean Canadians — to determine their 10 preferred vegetables, such as okra, callaloo, bok choy, and bitter melon. They also told us their monthly ethnocultural vegetable (ECV) expenditure. In 2010, we thus determined their ”effective ECV demand” was $61 million/month, and this has since grown to about $800 million/year in 2018.

These results generated attention from the media, horticultural researchers, farmers, supermarkets and ethnic stores who were interested in these largely tropical “ethnocultural vegetables.” But they also raised more questions, such as which of them can be grown in Canada. Working with horticulturalists who focused on how to grow those vegetables which we had determined were most popular, we then investigated global ECV value chains, vegetable pricing, and the roles of the dominant corporate food regime and emerging local food movement in meeting this demand. After publishing several journal articles, conducting ECV demand workshops, and being active on social media, we decided to write a book about our work.

To study the barriers to ethnic groups’ food sovereignty, our combined political/economic approach had identified key societal contradictions. Poorer immigrants, for instance, tend to inhabit food deserts where they can access cheaper, unhealthy junk food, but not their cherished, but more expensive, ethnocultural vegetables. We employed historical class analysis of these ethnic groups’ cuisines and ethnic vegetable value chain analysis to study wholesale Ontario Food Terminal companies, ethnic stores and supermarket ECV pricing. We found that farmers’ markets are insufficiently inclusive and generally lack ECV, despite the fact that ethnic vegetable cross-over is expanding to other ethnic and national groups. We also found that Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs) are now growing and supplying more ECV.

In addition to the corporate/local ethnocultural vegetable conflicts, the cheaper industrial diet blocks people from accessing healthier ethnocultural vegetables. Too many immigrants are unable to afford ethnocultural vegetable alternatives (to their actual preferred ECVs) that many corporations promote. There are contradictions between mainstream commercial agriculture and both the temporary foreign workers many superexploit as well as the small, organic ECV growers with whom these commercial farmers compete. Conflicts also exist between the predominant vegetable growers of European descent and their multi-ethnic wholesale and retail consumers.

This book argues that Human Rights Codes should require that people have access to culturally appropriate food, and governments should consider tax incentives for farmers wanting to grow ECV locally. The inclusivity of farmers’ markets and CSAs needs to be augmented and more food hubs need to be initiated. Interdisciplinary ECV research should be expanded and disseminated. Canadian food sovereignty and our health depend upon it. 

Dr. Glen Filson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph. He is co-investigator of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant on Food Sovereignty and Refugee Path Immigrants. He has edited and co-authored other books including Intensive Agriculture and Sustainability: A Farming Systems Analysis (2004) which was also ASPP supported. 

Dr. Bamidele Adekunle is a Professor at the University of Guelph and at Ryerson University. He is the principal investigator of the SSHRC Insight Development Grant on Food Sovereignty and Refugee Path Immigrants. He is also the co-editor of a book entitled Negotiating South-South Regional Trade Agreements: Economic Opportunities and Policy Directions for Africa (2017).

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

Photo credit: University of Guelph's communication team, Spark

 

 

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Bookmark It!

Indigenous knowledge at the heart of Cultural Connections programming

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Communications team, University of Regina

We’ve all experienced it. Call it “session fatigue” – that moment you realize that, as compelling as the topic may be, your mind and body need a break from paper presentations. Thankfully, Congress includes plenty of innovative cultural programming that will provide such a break. The Cultural Connections series will give attendees an opportunity to learn, reflect, network, and be entertained through events that creatively bridge the social sciences, humanities, and the arts and build on the Congress theme, “Gathering diversities.”

These events will showcase the University’s strengths in the areas of art and technology, music, theatre, film, and visual arts, and build connections with Regina’s arts community at large.

“There is a wide array of Cultural Connections events for Congress 2018, including musical performances, theatre, cultural workshops, tours, and film presentations. We have a particularly strong lineup of events that present Congress attendees with a valuable opportunity to deepen their appreciation for Indigenous culture and knowledge,” says André Magnan, Academic Convenor for Congress 2018.

One such event is Beaded Blanket Collage hosted by beadwork artist and Bachelor of Human Justice student, Katelyn Ironstar. Ironstar will demonstrate how to do Indigenous beadwork while encouraging participants to contribute to a collaborative art piece.

Another event, Saskatchewan medicinal plant and languages traditional knowledge residency includes a residency at the First Nations University of Canada Cultural Activity and Medicine Room featuring medicinal plant and languages learning circles carried out by First Nations Elders and other traditional knowledge keepers. Organized by the First Nations University Regina Cultural Committee, elders and knowledge keepers will discuss medicinal plants of the Southern Saskatchewan prairie and their traditional uses.

For a full listing of Cultural Connections events and times, see the lineup here.

 

 

Lyne Sauvageau takes on Acfas presidency

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Guy Laforest, President, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation wholeheartedly congratulates Lyne Sauvageau on her election to the presidency of the Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas).

In her role as Vice-President, Academic and Research at the Université du Québec since November 2011, Lyne Sauvageau has made significant contributions to developing and expanding teaching and research capacity within the Université du Québec network. She is also Chair of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities and serves on the Boards of both the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations (CIRANO) and the Érudit scientific committee. Her appointment to the Acfas presidency will further broaden her already tremendous impact on the humanities and social sciences community not only in Québec, but in Canada more broadly.

Now Past-President Frédéric Bouchard, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Université de Montréal was at the helm of Acfas since December 2015 and has led the organization through a highly productive period. The Federation thanks him for the work he has done and for the collaborations he enabled between our respective organizations.

Looking ahead, as President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences for the next year, I see many areas in which the Federation and Acfas can work in tandem to advance our shared priorities. Both of these organizations are committed to:

  • the advancement of science and research across a broad range of disciplines, in both English and French;
  • promoting the value of scholarship and scholarly publishing in a way that enriches the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada; and
  • convening scholars to share ideas and  showcase research that informs policy, benefits the economy and builds a vibrant, pluralistic country.

It is with great enthusiasm that I congratulate Lyne Sauvageau on her appointment. I sincerely look forward to working with Acfas under her stewardship, in finding ways to collaborate on mutual goals, and in successfully advancing our similar agendas.

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Federation News

Sharing knowledge through Community Connections

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Communications team, University of Regina

More than ever, universities are expected to produce knowledge that is of tangible benefit to people and communities. This idea is the inspiration behind Community Connections, a series of events held throughout the week of Congress that will touch on a wide range of social issues of local, regional, or global significance. The series showcases the University of Regina’s strengths in the areas of research, community engagement, Indigenous scholarship, and more.

Community Connections events are a wonderful opportunity for university researchers, students, and the general public to come together to share knowledge,” says André Magnan, Academic Convenor for Congress 2018.

The events will explore and discuss ways in which the humanities and social science scholarship can contribute to the needs of diverse communities, including Indigenous communities; the Fransaskois community; LGBTQ communities; and immigrant and refugee communities.

“I’m impressed by the breadth and innovation of the programming that our University of Regina faculty members and students have come up with. From an audio tour that explores the experiences of LGBTQ people in Regina, to a workshop on Bringing Higher Education to Prison, to talks on controversial issues in our education system, the series has a lot to offer. We’re eager to share the wonderful work our scholars and students are doing with the community at large,” says Magnan.

Over the duration of Congress, more than a dozen topics will be explored through the Community Connections series. They are free and open to the public. For specific dates and times, please see our full series lineup here.

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences announces 2018 Board election results

 

OTTAWA, March 27, 2018 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce its Board of Directors 2018 election results. The new Board will take office following the Federation’s Annual General Meeting on May 27, 2018.

The following three positions were acclaimed:

Patrizia Albanese was acclaimed as President-Elect. Albanese is a Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University, Chair of the Ryerson University Research Ethics Board and a Past President of the Canadian Sociological Association. Albanese has been a member of the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) Publications Committee since 2017 and played an integral role in Congress 2017 as Interdisciplinary Lead, which involved coordinating Ryerson’s interdisciplinary programming, facilitating faculty and student involvement, and liaising with Indigenous communities to develop Indigenous protocol for participating associations. She is doing research and publishing in the areas of policies affecting children, youth and families, including on the well-being of youth in Canadian Forces families, and on how care is conceptualized in Canadian family policies. Albanese holds a PhD from the University of Toronto.

Wesley Crichlow was acclaimed as Director, Equity and Diversity. Crichlow is the Associate Dean of Equity and Diversity at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and the first person to hold that position.  He also serves as UOIT’s Director of Engagement and Recruitment for Black Youth in Care and as a member of the UOIT Presidential Equity Taskforce. He is the Equity Director of the Canadian Sociology and the Canadian Anthropology Society and Chair of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) at the Toronto South Detention Center. His teaching focuses on the challenges to implementing policies and practices that strengthen broader notions of diversity and social justice within educational institutions and organizations across Canada, accounting for the intersections of race, gender, class and LGBTQ2S identities. Crichlow holds a PhD from the University of Toronto.

Tim Goddard was acclaimed to a second term as Director, Teaching and Learning. A teacher for over four decades, Goddard is currently Professor of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island. He teaches in the field of educational administration and leadership, with a focus on international development and education in fragile communities. Goddard has been a regular attendee at Congress since 1994, presenting papers and serving in numerous roles with the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Administration (Board member, Program Chair, President) and the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (Board member, Vice-President). He was the Canadian representative to the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management and a member of the Canadian Association of Deans of Education.

The following appointment was made:

Marcel Martel was appointed Chair of the Awards to Scholarly Publishing Program (ASPP). Already a member of the ASPP Academic Council, Martel is holder of the Avie Bennett Historica Canada Chair in Canadian History at York University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Martel is a Professor of History at York and a specialist in twentieth-century Canadian history. He has published on nationalism, relations between Quebec and the French-speaking minorities of Canada, public policy and counterculture, moral regulation, deviance, drug use, and RCMP surveillance activities. He holds a BA from Université Laval and both an MA and PhD from York University, and is former Chair of the Department of History at York.

The results of the elections were ratified by the Board of Directors at its meeting on March 23-24, 2018. These results will be approved at the Annual General Meeting on May 27, 2018, after which date the four new Board members will assume their new roles.

To see the Federation’s new Board of Directors, effective May 27, 2108, click here.

-30-

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit ideas-idees.ca.

Questions:
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
C: 613-282-3489
E: nkatz@ideas-idees.ca

 

Media release: Finalists for Canada Prizes announced

 

OTTAWA, March 12, 2018 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Canada Prizes. The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP).

The Canada Prizes are awarded to books that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. There are two $5,000 prizes, one each for French and English scholarship.

“The humanities and social sciences are essential to a vibrant, pluralistic society. The scholarly works of these 10 exceptional finalists demonstrate immense talent and the rich array of research underway in our scholarly community,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The Federation congratulates these finalists and is honoured to play a role in raising their profile to the Canadian public.”

This year’s finalists are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Christopher Dummitt, Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King's Secret Life (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • E.A. Heaman, Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917 (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • Adam Montgomery, The Invisible Injured: Psychological Trauma in the Canadian Military from the First World War to Afghanistan (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • Cheryl Suzack, Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law (University of Toronto Press)
  • Donald G. Wetherell, Wildlife, Land, and People: A Century of Change in Prairie Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales

  • Houda Asal, Se dire arabe au Canada. Un siècle d'histoire migratoire (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal)
  • Alex Gagnon, La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle) (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal)
  • Julien Goyette, Temps et culture. Fernand Dumont et la philosophie de l'histoire (Les Presses de l’Université Laval)
  • Lucie Hotte et François Paré, Les littératures franco-canadiennes à l’épreuve du temps (Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa)
  • Laurent Poliquin, De l’impuissance à l’autonomie. Évolution culturelle et enjeux identitaires des minorités canadiennes-françaises (Éditions Prise de parole)

The two winners of the 2018 Canada Prizes will be announced on April 9, 2018 and will be presented at an awards ceremony to be held during the 2018 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Regina.

-30-

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
613-238-6112 ext. 351 nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees  #CanadaPrizes

 

Getting a Life: The Social Worlds of Geek Culture

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Guest blog by Benjamin Woo, Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University

When someone asks you where the idea for a research project came from, there’s a right and a wrong answer. The right one is about debates in the field and gaps in the literature, and it presupposes what you eventually discovered. I find the wrong one is usually more interesting.

The story behind my latest book, Getting a Life: The Social Worlds of Geek Culture, begins at an early iteration of the Toronto Comic Art Festival, now the premiere independent comics festival in North America. I wore a belt buckle made from an old Nintendo Entertainment System controller, and the compliments it garnered from my fellow comics aficionados came as no surprise. What did surprise me was that I kept receiving appreciative comments after I left the show and went poking around trendy boutiques on Queen Street West. Didn’t these hipsters know that Nintendo and classic video games were for us nerds, not them? Reflecting on the experience, I thought there might be a research project here — and there was, just not the one I was looking for.

I started out interested in exploring how geek culture was entering mainstream culture — a discourse I have come to call the “triumphal narrative.” This assumption that nerdy hobbies, pastimes and fandoms used to be marginal but are moving to the centre of media culture was everywhere at the time, as it has continued to be. But, when I went looking at how the press had talked about geeks and nerds since the late 1970s, I found that they were always in this state of arrival, always just about to have their revenge.

Instead, I started asking who was being left of out the story. When I looked at cultural criticism being published in mainstream media sources, I was told I should care about geek culture because of its broadening popularity, but where did that leave people who had been involved with it for years, even decades? I hung out in comic book and game stores, conventions and fan club meetings, spoke with the people who ran them, and interviewed participants representing a range of different communities within geek culture about the place they held in their lives. The result is a snapshot of one Canadian city’s geek culture scene at a particular moment in time.

Getting a Life argues that geek culture is a name for a set of social practices oriented to media such as comic books, games, and cult genres like science-fiction and fantasy. Over the years, media (especially whatever media happen to be new media at the time) have been blamed for isolating people, replacing active engagement with our neighbours and fellow citizens with a passive relationship with objects. In the spaces of geek culture, however, I found that media also provide the basis for community-making. The various practices of connoisseurship that draw people to the objects of their fandom necessarily put them in relationships with one another, and their shared cultural experiences create a common frame of reference for articulating — and struggling over — the values that are important to them.


Benjamin Woo is Assistant Professor of communication and media studies at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. His research examines the production, circulation and reception of “geeky” media, with a particular emphasis on comic books and graphic novels. He is the Director of the Comic Cons Research Project and a level-five sorcerer. Getting a Life is his third book.

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

 

Media release: Budget strengthens social sciences and humanities after decade of underinvestment

 

OTTAWA, February 27, 2018 — Today’s commitment by the federal government to make sustained new investments in social sciences and humanities research will benefit Canadians and help to reverse years of underinvestment in these disciplines.

Of particular importance is the government’s promise to fund thousands of new research grants through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This commitment, worth $215 million over the next five years alone, will fuel new insights and discoveries and enable more researchers to contribute solutions to our most pressing challenges, from climate change to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

“This budget is an important down payment on the vision for Canadian research outlined by the government–appointed Fundamental Science Review panel,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “Budget 2018 will contribute to a smart Canada with the knowledge we need to compete in the global economy and thrive as a pluralistic and inclusive federal society.”

The Federation also welcomes today’s commitments to support early career researchers, increase equity and inclusiveness in Canada’s research system, and create an entirely new fund supporting research that is “interdisciplinary, international, fast-breaking and high-risk.”

The Science Review panel report provided a long-term roadmap for building the dynamic research system Canada needs to succeed in the 21st century. To realize this vision, the government will need to build on today’s commitments in the years to come.

“Today’s budget is an important and welcome step forward and the Federation will continue working in partnership with the federal government to ensure that Canadian scholars have the support they need to be world leaders,” said Laforest.

 -30-

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
C: 613-282-3489
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees

Responding to Human Trafficking: Dispossession, Colonial Violence, and Resistance among Indigenous and Racialized Women

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Guest blog by Julie Kaye, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan

Responding to Human Trafficking: Dispossession, Colonial Violence, and Resistance among Indigenous and Racialized Women is dedicated to my late mentor and friend, Trisha Anne Monture. Her Mohawk name, Aywahande, means “the one who starts things with words.” It is a fitting dedication for this book since so many of the ideas that eventually unfolded in this work began in conversation with her: in the classroom, in her office, in restaurants, and in her home. It was in these exchanges where my theorizing of the complexities of humanitarian interventions and their muddied relation to self-determination began to take shape. I hope this book will invite a conversation about the possibilities and the harms of anti-violence strategies in a context of settler colonialism and its ongoing, daily lived expressions of violence.

There have been many times I wished I could have sat across from Trisha as I later worked through the theories and ideas that came to shape my work. Her voice will continue to echo through generations of research and resistance. But, even more so, she resounds in relationships of resistance. As Trisha wrote, “self-determination is principally, that is first and foremost, about our relationships.” We cannot express self-determination apart from relationship. It was important to me that even the format of the book demonstrate the foundation of relational conversation. This is also why I was honoured that Dr. Sarah Hunt provided the foreword. In all she does, Sarah exemplifies a dedication to building networks and relations of kindness and inclusion, while fiercely working to dismantle systems of oppression.

The book begins from the premise that rights-based interventions are simultaneously a source of resistance and oppression. They hold the capacity to draw attention to the necessity of social change, while also reproducing ongoing conditions of colonial dispossession and restricting efforts to dismantle settler colonialism. This approach assumes that rights-based discourses emerge through a continuous process of negotiation and interaction between representatives of formal policy and social and moral entrepreneurs, activists, and advocates. From this premise, the book traces the construction of “domestic” and “international” anti-trafficking discourses and how such discourses provide a particular site to analyze how Canada negotiates its boundaries and consolidates national entitlements.

Situating anti-trafficking initiatives within ongoing settler colonialism reveals the restricted possibilities for transformative change involving settler societies. I build on the argument – put forward by critical race and gender thinkers – that national identity in Canada is built on multicultural and humanitarian ideals of inclusion that “invisibilize” settler colonial structures of domination and “naturalize” settler interventions. This continues to reproduce the systems and structures that humanitarian efforts claim – and oftentimes aim – to be addressing through rights-based mobilization.

I further argue that anti-trafficking efforts (including my own frontline work in this area) and other rights-based interventions too often remain unreflexive of the spaces of privilege they occupy within a persistent “matrix of domination.” Beyond merely demonstrating the appropriation of rights-based discourses, the book considers how anti-trafficking discourses naturalize the national, racial, and sexual priorities of the state and continued forms of state-sponsored violence.


Dr. Julie Kaye is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and the Academic Coordinator for the Certificate in Criminology and Addictions Program at the University of Saskatchewan. She also serves as the Research Advisor for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW). She specializes in the areas of colonial gendered violence, community-based research, anti-violence, and critical analysis of law and criminal justice. Her recent book, Responding to Human Trafficking: Dispossession, Colonial Violence, and Resistance among Indigenous and Racialized Women, published by University of Toronto Press, is the first book to critically examine responses to human trafficking in Canada. Dr. Kaye engages in CIHR-funded, community-based research with individuals working in sex trade industries, community organizations, and harm reduction agencies in Edmonton and interprovincial explorations of body autonomy and anti-violence strategies funded by SSHRC. She also engages community in researching racialized policing and works alongside families, relations, and grassroots organizers of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two-spirit (MMIWGT2S). Dr. Kaye participates in decolonial, anti-violence organizing and research alongside Indigenous-led responses to violence against Indigenous women. She has published findings from this work in the Canadian Review of Sociology, Social Inclusion and the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal as well as in widely accessible publications, such as the New York Times, Toronto Star, and the Edmonton Journal.

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

 

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Bookmark It!

What you need to know about Congress 2018 calls for papers

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ghassen Athmni, Communications Officer, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

With more than 5,000 research papers and lectures presented each year, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is a must-attend event for academics.

The winter season is the time of the year when most of the Congress programming is being developed. It is natural that calls for papers are among the most important deadlines of this period.

Researchers wishing to present at Congress 2018, which will take place from May 26 to June 1 in Regina, must submit their abstracts and proposals in respsonse to their associations’ calls for papers.

Given the size of Congress and the diverse audiences that attend the numerous conferences therein, researchers should gear their presentations in language accessible to as many attendees as possible.

Some conferences will be open to various audiences, including scholars of other disciplines, media outlets as well as the general public.

An incentive to participate

This year, the University of Regina is offering the Graduate Student Travel Awards. In order to allow graduate students and recent graduates to participate to Congress, the University of Regina is providing this assistance to offset the costs associated with attending.

Graduate students and recent doctoral graduates who meet the requirements will be eligible for a grant that will cover accommodations, food and bookstore costs to attend Congress 2018 and present their research.

Deadlines to come

Most call for papers deadlines are still ahead. The Federation has prepared a list of associations whose deadlines are still open for the months of December, January and February.

If you wish to submit an abstract for an association that has closed their call for papers, please contact the association directly.

Registration begins in mid-January on the Congress 2018 website and early bird pricing is in place until March 31.

* If the deadline for your association's call for papers is different from the one listed below, please send an email to congress@ideas-idess.ca.

 

December

Association

Deadline

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians

12/22

Black Canadian Studies Association

12/24

International Association for the Study of Popular Music Canada

12/31

 

January

 

Canadian Association for Social Work Education

01/05

Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture

01/07

Sexuality Studies Association

01/08

Canadian Association of University Teachers of German

01/10

Hungarian Studies Association of Canada

01/10

Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research

01/12

Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration

01/12

Canadian Game Studies Association

01/12

Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science

01/12

Canadian Communication Association

01/12

Canadian Association of Hispanists

01/12

Canadian Association for the Advancement of Netherlandic Studies

01/12

Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing

01/12

Canadian Philosophical Association

01/14

Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies

01/15

Bibliographical Society of Canada

01/15

Film Studies Association of Canada

01/15

Environmental Studies Association of Canada

01/15

Association for Canadian and Québec Literatures

01/15

Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies

01/15

Canadian Society for Digital Humanities

01/15

RhetCanada/Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric

01/15

Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada

01/15

Canadian Society of Medievalists

01/15

Canadian Association for Food Studies

01/15

Canadian Society of Biblical Studies

01/17

Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation

01/19

Canadian Association of Slavists

01/20

Canadian Association for Information Science

01/23

Canadian Society for the Study of Names

01/24

Canadian Theological Society

01/26

Canadian Society of Church History

01/26

Canadian Population Society

01/29

Canadian-American Theological Association

01/31

Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies

01/31

Society for Socialist Studies

01/31

Canadian Society of Patristic Studies

01/31

 

February

Canadian Catholic Historical Association

02/01

Indigenous Literary Studies Association

02/01

Canadian Linguistic Association

02/04

Canadian Society for Aesthetics

02/15

 

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Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Graduate student awards

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

André Magnan, Congress 2018 Academic Convener and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Regina

Graduate students are the lifeblood of universities. Their energy and creativity help research programs thrive – so it’s vital students seize upon opportunities to publicly present their research.

On a student budget, this can be tough. But I also know that Congress is worth it.

In 2003 I attended my first Congress in Halifax as a PhD student studying sociology. While my department provided me with some funds to make the trip, I covered most of the bill myself.

Despite the costs, Congress was my first big conference presentation and was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I met peers from across Canada, presented my research to respected scholars, received valuable feedback about my work and explored a new city. For the first time, I saw myself as an academic.

To help graduate students attend Congress 2018, the University of Regina is providing 600 student awards totaling $270,000. 

The funding includes a subsidy for on-campus accommodations, a meal card for on-campus meals, and a credit to the campus bookstore – all to help make it easier for students to experience Canada’s largest gathering of scholars.

Plus, 100 of these awards are for recent grads of a PhD program who have yet to obtain work, which helps people caught between grad school and a secure job.

Visit the Congress 2018 Graduate Student Travel Awards page for more information.

See you at Congress 2018!

Members come first

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Guy Laforest, President, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

It’s important to keep your promises.  Since taking on the role as President of the Federation, my number one priority has been to build a closer, more collaborative relationship with our members. The organization made a strong commitment to improve member engagement in its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, and it is a commitment I plan to uphold in my tenure over the next 18 months.   

In my first six months, I have been actively listening and learning about member needs, looking for ways to improve the work we do:

  • as a voice in Ottawa for scholars,
  • as the organizer of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and
  • as a provider of programs and services that benefit our community.

While we do these things well, I believe we can do them even better.

In the next 18 months, members can expect to see changes.

  • In our advocacy work, we will undertake a major new project to better articulate the value of the humanities and social sciences to Canadians.
  • With respect to Congress, we will make improvements in the member experience.
  • We will help more of our scholars publish their books by renewing the relationship with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and looking for ways to better profile and evolve the Awards to Scholarly Publishing Program.
  • We will continue to expand outreach to all members, and improve our service offering, stepping up and expanding our programs and services.
  • In the area of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, we will continue to support the journey, working with associations and universities to take up the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

We have our work cut out for us!

Together we will succeed because we believe deeply in the potential for humanities and social sciences to contribute meaningfully to fundamental questions about the nature of human agency, the importance of freedom, and the role of education in a flourishing, bilingual and multicultural society.

 

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On the Side of the Angels: Canada and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Guest blog by Andrew S. Thompson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo

Otto Von Bismark once famously remarked that: “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” I respectfully disagree. I first decided to write On the Side of the Angels: Canada and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights because I wanted to better understand the diplomacy behind international human rights law – the how and why the sausages are made, not just the final outcome or the what. As a constructive middle power and liberal democracy committed to multilateralism, Canada seemed like an obvious actor – the who – to investigate. I also wanted to understand where the sausages were made. For 60 years beginning in 1946, this was the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. But it was disbanded in 2006 and replaced by the UN Human Rights Council because it was deemed no longer fit for purpose.

The most gratifying moments were the ones in which I found the “smoking guns,” the memoranda or briefing notes that revealed the true motivations behind particular positions, which often pitted human rights concerns against other considerations such as pressure from allies, Cold War constraints, or the rise in influence of the Non-Aligned Movement.

What I soon found was that Canadian diplomacy at the Commission was complex, calculated, and often nuanced and full of contradictions. On some issues – such as political and civil rights, or the advancement of women’s human rights internationally – Canada was “on the side of the angels.” By this I mean the side that supported the development, expansion and enforcement of international human rights law – and often in very principled ways. But on other issues – economic, social and cultural rights, or the rights of Indigenous peoples – Canadian governments of various stripes stood in the way of progress. In this respect, Canada is no different than any other state.

On the Side of the Angels shines a new light on an aspect of Canada’s foreign policy that hasn’t received a lot of attention to date. It is an overview of Canadian contributions to international human rights law at the UN. But it is by no means the final word. Rather, it just scratches the surface. There is so much more that can be done – and needs to be done. If the UN human rights system is ever to fulfill its potential as an effective guardian of universal human rights, we will need to expose the many factors that go into sausage-making, as unappealing as many of them are.


Andrew S. Thompson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and a Fellow at both the Centre for International Governance Innovation and at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. He is the author of In Defence of Principles: NGOs and Human Rights in Canada (2010).

Bookmark It!
As the voice of the humanities and social sciences in Canada, the Federation is a great supporter of books. Our Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has supported the publication of important Canadian scholarly books since 1941. Bookmark it! shares the story behind some of these fascinating books. Occasionally, we’ll also highlight other books that are significant to Canadian culture, society and research. Read more posts.

Category

Bookmark It!

We need a better understanding of ‘good’ research impacts

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Paul Benneworth, Senior Researcher, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands

My starting point is to welcome the recently published Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences report, Approaches to assessing impact in the Humanities and Social Sciences as a valuable addition to a growing policy understanding of the diversity of ways in which humanities and social sciences research (HSS) creates societal impact. It matches what has been found elsewhere by the British Academy in the UK, the AWTI in the Netherlands and the Norwegian Research Council, and reflects a nuanced understanding among policy-makers that there are no simple metric-based ways to measure HSS impact.

Those countries that have introduced assessment methods for impact have had to use relatively qualitative, descriptive approaches, such as the UK’s Impact Case Studies or the Netherlands Standard Evaluation Protocol. Both these approaches rely on stylisation and peer review to turn particular exemplary activities into scores allowing comparison between research groups. And research from within our own ENRESSH network shows that these two approaches are being adopted more widely across most research councils within Europe seeking to assess HSS impact.

But despite the widespread understanding of the diversity of ways in which HSS creates societal impact, there remains a persistent concern that HSS researchers have made little, or at least fragmented, progress in achieving societal impacts. One explanation for this phenomenon is organizational: Researchers have neither the time, the training nor the incentives to make achieving impacts a primary goal. Our own ENRESSH research (reported recently at the Eu-SPRI conference) started identifying a second general explanation: the difficulty of determining what constitutes “good” impact in research.

In particular, we focus on the question of what constitutes a benefit, who benefits from the research impact, and how closely that fits with the researchers’ own ethical frameworks. In much of the work undertaken on HSS research impact, there is a tendency to highlight case studies that are unambiguously “positive” for society. And herein lies the problem: what is positive for “society” is not fixed, unlike economic impact defined in terms of GDP, but is instead a politically defined characteristic.

At ENRESSH, for example, we found an example of a historical research group studying a country whose popular self-image as an independent nation-state was bound up with a particular conservative-nationalist political current. Challenging that historical narrative was bound up with challenging that conservative political capital, the impacts of which could be regarded as negative, unpatriotic or worse.

Likewise, urban socologists working in the field of social exclusion find their research increasingly co-opted by “resilience studies.” Resilience approaches involve equipping weaker communities to deal with difficult circumstances and turbulence and therefore carry the imprimatur of being socially positive. But from certain progressive political perspectives, the concept of resilience has become embroiled in a wider political climate in which state responsibilities for welfare are passed back to smaller groups, and therefore abandoning those more vulnerable groups to the market.

And just as no ethical medical researcher is going to develop a drug that significantly harms their patients, it is unsurprising that HSS researchers are concerned that promoting impact may lead to their research harming their research subjects or others. From my perspective, the elephant in the corner of the room for the HSS debate is this wider question of “which publics benefit in what ways from research impact?” If we do not seriously consider such questions about the assessments of public value, such assessments risk looking anecdotal, subjective, and ultimately as less convincing than more economic impact assessments that hide behind the faux objectivity of pricing.

This question clearly needs more serious consideration and resolution of the tensions arising in using research before we will really experience a qualitative improvement in the wider societal benefits created by HSS.


About this blog series: Following the publication of the Federation’s new report, “Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” we have reached out to other members of the research community to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities associated with assessing scholarly impacts. It is our hope that this series of blogs and our new report will help support a productive conversation in the HSS community about the important topic of scholarly impact assessment.

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#SeeYouInRegina: An event team perspective

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ashley Craven, Event Planner, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Sitting at the Toronto airport, waiting to board my connecting flight to Regina ahead of the Congress 2018 planning meetings, I was very excited. Members of the Federation team, the host university team and association organizers meet every fall for very important operational meetings to kick off the planning cycle for the upcoming Congress. It is a very exiting time.

Since I started at the Federation two years ago, the entire team has been very excited about Congress in Regina for a number of reasons. Among these are the facts that the campus is beautiful, and that both the city and the university are excited to host us. Our Congress Registrar, Donna Lelievre, who has been with the Federation over 16 years, recalls that one of the best Congresses she has experienced was in Saskatoon in 2007, and she expects Regina to be just as excellent — if not better. After experiencing the vast city of Toronto and hitting a record 10,014 delegates this past May for Congress 2017, we look forward to heading to a prairie city for an entirely different experience.

In Regina, wherever attendees go, even outside the university campus, they will see others sporting their Congress name badges and connecting with one another across disciplines, in a way you can’t do in other destinations. Needless to say, the Federation events team couldn’t wait to see the city of Regina, explore the campus, meet the team at the university, and connect with association organizers, the local university press representatives and others!

While we were in Regina, we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Saskatchewan downtown, across from Victoria Park. It was an easily navigable drive to the university, which is just under 10 minutes away. The campus has abundant green space and is covered in trees. Once we arrived on campus for our meetings, we had no trouble orienting ourselves, and by day two, we were pros at finding our way around.

Our operational meetings with all the various departments (catering, audio-visual, facilities, residences, to name just a few) went splendidly. We received a warm welcome across the board, and it was clear to me that everyone at the University of Regina is looking forward to hosting Congress attendees and creating a memorable experience for all. The programming the university is putting together is diverse and interesting. The Big Thinking lunch hour lecture lineup is now confirmed, so keep an eye on the Congress website for more details. We had the opportunity to check out the residences, too. They are fresh, spacious and modern, as all residence buildings have been built or updated within the last 10 years.

U of R President Dr. Vianne Timmons hosted a lovely reception for the operational departments, association Program Chairs, Local Arrangement Coordinators, city officials, tourism representatives, the Federation team and many more in her beautiful residence in Wascana Park. She certainly set the tone for the kickoff to our planning cycle, conveying her genuine passion for promoting scholarship and a contagious excitement to host Congress 2018. During her remarks, she made it clear that Congress 2018 was going to be an unmissable, memorable event — and we at the Federation could not agree more.

We will #SeeYouInRegina where you will be able to experience much more of the prairies than the glimpse we received during our visit this fall. The prairie hospitality is unique, the campus is beautiful and the programming lineup is exciting. 

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Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Back to school 2017 – what is the media saying?

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kayla MacIntosh, Junior Communications Officer, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Every September, millions of Canadian students return to campus for a new academic year. In this blog you can read about a variety of conversations happening in the post-secondary education sector this fall.

A big back to school announcement from the federal government is the roll-out of $73 million in wage subsidies to employers  over four years in order to create 10,000 student work placements for post-secondary students. The need to bridge the gap between university and the workplace is being acknowledged as work integrated learning opportunities are increasingly more available to Canadian students.

Canada’s academic reputation is holding steady with the University of Toronto placing at No. 22 in Times Higher Education World University Rankings and five other Canadian institutions in the top 200. International applications have also had their own success, with the number of international students on a steady rise from 83,000 in 2006 to more than 175,000 in 2016.

Tuition costs are top of mind at this time of year. According to Statistics Canada University tuition fees have jumped an average of 3.1 per cent for undergraduate programs for the 2017-2018 academic year, over the previous year. With tuition costs having has climbed more than 40 per cent in the past decade, two in five Canadian students say they have no savings and two-thirds don’t have an RESP. Many students are going into debt, but research shows that graduates with a post-secondary credential out-perform and out-earn people without, supporting the idea that more education makes you richer.

Looking at solutions for the rise in the cost of education, former Director of Research Policy on the Federation’s Board, Lisa Philipps, says that tax policy is not the way to improve access to post-secondary education. “The re-balancing of public support for post-secondary education towards direct spending on students is an important and necessary shift that will level the playing field regardless of gender, generation, or income,”she argues.

Despite the enrollment decline in some humanities programs and the increased public focus on STEM degrees as pathways to “high-paying fields,” , the value of liberal arts continues to be a hot topic. Statistics Canada data shows that between 2005-2015 Canadian enrolment in STEM-related disciplines rose by more than 32 per cent, while enrolment in the humanities and social sciences increased by just less than 17 per cent; nevertheless, graduation rates remain close with a 36 per cent increase in STEM degrees, and a 31 per cent increase in social sciences and humanities.

Institutions across Canada are also altering their programs to integrate skills from both arts and applied disciplines in the curricula science. An example of this is McMaster University’s newly developed Integrated Business and Humanities program, designed to give commerce students the skills of a liberal arts education such as communication, writing, critical-thinking and problem-solving.

In Ontario, the provincial government plans to move forward in creating the first stand-alone French-language university, governed by and for francophones – likely in downtown Toronto. This launch is being supported by two of Ottawa’s bilingual universities alongside Francophone Affairs Minister Marie-France Lalonde, who said “Francophone culture and the French language have always been essential to Ontario’s identity and prosperity”.

And finally, there is much happening as campuses across the country seek to Indigenize their institutions and transform the educational experience. The concentrated effort to improve and incorporate Indigenous values and education in Canadian institutions can be seen as a response to the calls of action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Thanks to Victoria Island University’s $13.5 million increase in funding for Indigenous students the 2017 school year began with a new program aimed at removing barriers for Indigenous learners. This includes financial help with tuition, textbooks and living allowance, as well as emotional, cultural and spiritual support by bringing Indigenous culture to the forefront. Indigenous students at Western University are also walking into a more inclusive campus this fall, with student housing that now incorporates cultural education into the everyday lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Further west, the University of Saskatchewan is looking at making Indigenous content mandatory for all students within the next two years and is calling indigenization one of its highest priorities.

Exciting university programming news can also be found in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia this fall with students from across the country taking part in a one semester groundbreaking Reconciliation Studies program. Offered by the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society (HGHES) this program was developed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors who explain that Indigenous realities a huge part of Canada that gets overlooked in Canadian history and are targeting it as the main focus of the new program.

Importantly, of all students returning to campus this fall, Indigenous students represented the largest hike in Ontario’s Student Assistance Program (OSAP) applications this year, rising by 36 per cent to almost 7,500 since 2016.

I’m looking forward to the discussions that occur as the 2017-2018 academic year unfolds, but for those of you who enjoy a more statistical view, Universities Canada has released a new set of Back to school 2017 quick facts.

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Research and ProgramsTeachingEducation

Canada needs to confront the causes of a post-truth world

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This op-ed was originally published by Canadian Science Policy Centre on October 10, 2017.

Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

One day, the U.S. president is taunting North Korea, treating nuclear conflict like it’s WrestleMania. The next, he glibly dismisses racial injustice in America by smearing black athletes engaged in peaceful protest. Other days, he brags about locking Muslims out of the country, scuttling global efforts on climate change, and spurning his country’s closest trading partners, including Canada. Watching it all is exhausting. How should we react in the face of this relentless volley of ignorance and wrong-headed decisions?

A first step is to look past the constant distraction and refuse to blindly follow the angry bouncing ball. True, Canada needs to respond to the specific threats posed by this presidency, but Canadians must not lose sight of the deeper cause behind these daily crises. Mr. Trump’s rise to power, like the Brexit campaign and the recent resurgence of nationalist sentiment in other countries, flows from a mindset that celebrates thoughtless leadership and rejects respectful, informed dialogue.

What was most shocking about Trump’s presidential campaign was not how many lies he told, but how comfortably he sidelined the truth. Falsehoods were exposed, but Trump didn’t so much as blush, and his support didn’t appear to suffer. It seemed the truth had lost its power to persuade.

The fading power of facts in public discourse, what you might call the “post-truth” problem, is an issue that every country must take seriously, including Canada. Granted, since Trump’s election, Canada has moved quickly to defend its interests, most notably in NAFTA negotiations. We have also showcased a highly successful refugee system to the world and advocated for international cooperation in the face of growing isolationism.

There remains work to do, however, to support the kind of informed, inclusive public dialogue that will enable Canada to address its biggest challenges and sustain the health of our democracy in the longer run.

Climate change, growing inequalities and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are just some of the most obvious issues facing us. Each has deep social and cultural dimensions, and none are likely to be addressed by technological innovation alone. They require solutions informed by new insights from multiple fields, leading to action in a diverse mix of communities and different sectors of the economy. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences, who create knowledge about the way human systems function, and the way that different people think, behave and interact, will have an essential role to play.

Education is a primary defense against the post-truth phenomenon. We need more people who can think critically about complex topics, differentiate between good information and bad, see past their own biases, and respectfully consider other perspectives, especially when confronted with ethnic, religious or cultural differences.

New research is also vital. Scientists and scholars in diverse disciplines provide important evidence that supports informed, fact-based discussion. In a report on Canada’s research system released earlier this year, a federally-appointed panel concluded that new university-led research across disciplines is essential for the country to address its national challenges. This includes not only scholarship in areas such as medicine and engineering, but also in the humanities and social sciences. The authors emphasize that “societies without great science and scholarship across a wide range of disciplines are impoverished in multiple dimensions.”

The Government of Canada is still working on its vision for higher education and research in a post-truth world. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made its choice, doing its best to cut funding for research and culture, and to shut down the National Endowments for the Humanities and the Arts. This is no coincidence — it aligns perfectly with Trump’s post-truth approach to politics. Canada has a responsibility to choose a different path.

Gabriel Miller is the Executive Director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. He is moderating a Big Thinking lecture entitled “Expertise in a post-truth era: How to be a trusted advisor in a low-trust world” on Thursday, November 2 at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa.

Media release: Chief Science Advisor appointment is welcome news for Canadian research system

 

OTTAWA, September 27, 2017 — The Federation welcomes today’s announcement of Dr. Mona Nemer as the new Chief Science Advisor.

“Today's announcement is good news because it shows support for evidence-based decision making" said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Executive Director of the École nationale d’administration publique (ÉNAP). “We look forward to working with Dr. Nemer to ensure that the federal government is drawing on the work of researchers across all disciplines to meet the complex challenges facing Canada.”

“As much as possible, government research must be accessible to the public and researchers should be able to speak openly about their work,” noted Gabriel Miller, Executive Director of the Federation. “We welcome Dr. Nemer’s appointment and look forward to working with her to maintain open channels of communication between government and university researchers in all fields.”

Mona Nemer is former Vice-President, Research (2006 to present) at the University of Ottawa, where she oversaw research strategies, infrastructure and commercialization. In her role as Vice-President, Research, she has worked extensively on fostering partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders to advance research and innovation. Nemer has been awarded honorary doctorates from France and Finland and her work is recognized nationally and internationally. She is a fellow of the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada, a Knight of the Order of Québec and a Knight of the Order of Merit of the French Republic. 

The Federation is pleased to see that Dr. Nemer will report to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan, and will have oversight of staff she will be selecting herself. The Federation had been a strong advocate for this position and submitted numerous recommendations to ensure its effectiveness and autonomy.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

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Nicola Katz
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Présences intermittentes des Amériques

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Ariane Audet, photographe et écrivaine

Ce livre est inspiré de ma thèse de doctorat et répond à une question bien précise : qu’est-ce que le sujet québécois peut apprendre du contact littéraire avec l’écriture chicana?

J’ai commencé à m’interroger sur ce sujet alors que je voyageais moi-même plusieurs fois par année entre le Canada et les États-Unis. Je venais de découvrir l’existence des Chicanos* chez nos voisins du sud, et c’est plongée dans la lecture leur poésie que la similitude avec la littérature québécoise m’a frappée. Toutes deux questionnaient leur présence dans l’espace nord-américain : le malaise transcendait les nationalités.

J’ai ainsi décidé de circonscrire ma réflexion (qui allait ensuite devenir mon projet de thèse) à une période bien précise de leur histoire respective, celle des années 1960 à 1985. Période féconde pour les deux communautés, elle est le berceau de révolutions politiques, culturelles et sociales, ainsi que d’une affirmation littéraire à la fois foisonnante et fragile, qui témoigne avant toute chose d’une fracture avec l’espace dans lequel elle prend forme.

À partir d’une étude des figures de la spatialité dans l’écriture de neufs poètes des cultures québécoise et chicana, j’ai postulé que le caractère problématique de l’appartenance au territoire forçait le sujet poétique à manifester sa présence de manière intermittente. La notion d’intermittence s’est avérée être l’un des modes de représentation privilégiés de ces littérature mineures (ou de l’exiguïté) dans le continent. De celle-ci ont résulté des similitudes infiniment intéressantes, notamment en ce qui a trait à la représentation des villes et de la posture « en retrait » du sujet, mais aussi des divergences marquées.

Par exemple, la diversité des points de vue proposés par les poètes offre une perspective continentale qui interroge les réalités nationales et problématise la notion d’altérité. Le potentiel transaméricain de leur mise en commun dépasse en effet la critique de l’hégémonie états-unienne dans les études transaméricaines, et donne lieu à une remise en cause des rapports de forces, qu’ils soient politiques, territoriales ou langagiers. L’intérêt d’étudier la littérature québécoise en relation avec la littérature chicana tient donc dans la proposition suivante : à défaut de se définir comme minoritaire, le Québec doit devenir un modèle de compréhension – notamment en ce qui a trait à la spatialité en poésie et à l’inscription de la présence dans le continent.

Parce que le rapprochement entre les deux communautés révèle une réalité institutionnelle bien différente, la littérature québécoise ne peut plus simplement être réduite à une exiguïté culturelle dans les Amériques. Il y a d’ailleurs plusieurs années que l’on reconnaît que la souffrance à laquelle l’expérience du territoire donne lieu ne peut être comprise simplement en fonction de l’espace auquel les textes réfèrent. Même si les poètes partagent le même malaise et l’expriment de manière similaire, la réalité du sujet québécois n’est pas, et ne sera jamais, celle du sujet chicano.

C’est d’ailleurs l’étude de ces différences qui m’a permis de participer au renouvèlement de la place du Québec (et de sa littérature) au sein des Amériques et des études interaméricaines. Parce que ces différences touchent à la constitution de l’identité québécoise qui, de nos jours, pose encore problème, le rapprochement entre les textes chicanos et québécois a été un puissant outil afin de prendre la mesure du chemin parcouru, et celui qu’il reste encore à parcourir.

*les Chicanos (ou Mexican-American) sont des Mexicains d’origine qui vivent de manière permanente aux États-Unis. Les Chicanos peuvent être des citoyens nés aux États-Unis ou encore immigrants mexicains qui se sont adaptés au mode de vie états-unien.


Ariane Audet est photographe et écrivaine, et est titulaire d’un doctorat en Études littéraire de l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Outre Présences intermittentes des Amériques, elle a fait paraitre le recueil de poèmes Déjà la horde de chair se tait (2016), pour lequel elle a été finaliste au Prix Émile-Nelligan. Elle vit et travaille à Washington, DC.

Livres à vous!
En tant que porte-parole des sciences humaines au Canada, la Fédération est une fervente défenseuse des livres. Notre Prix d’auteurs pour l’édition savante (PAES) soutient la publication d’importants livres savants canadiens depuis 1941. Livres à vous! dévoile les coulisses de ces livres fascinants. De temps en temps nous mettrons en avant d’autres livres qui jouent un rôle important pour la culture, la société et la recherche canadiennes. Lire d’autres billets.

 

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What is science worth for us?

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jack Spaapen, senior policy advisor, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Since the 1990s, policy makers progressively became interested in assessing scientific research not only on its merits for the scientific community, but also for society at large. However, we still do not have a widely accepted, systematic way to assess scientific impact. So why is it so difficult to assess impact of research?

The main reason is that there are so many different kinds of impact, depending on the societal context. Clearly, this goes for researchers working in, say, medical fields compared to those working in agriculture or ICT. But it goes a fortiori for researchers working in the broad array of humanities and social science (HSS) fields. Researchers who work in language departments and want to have an impact on the language curriculum of high schools have to deal with legal and governmental departments, with school boards, with student and teacher organisations, with parent groups, with publishers, etc. And each of these “stakeholders” has specific interests, ideas and wishes. A researcher working in the area of, say, religious studies or art history faces a rather different context, filled with refugees, NGOs, politics, etc. in the first case and with museum directors, curators, audiences, local and national politics in the second. Moreover, many of the issues HSS researchers are interested in also attract passionate debate among members of the public.

These circumstances make it difficult to develop impact measurements that resemble procedures used for evaluating the scientific quality of research, a system that arguably works the same for all fields of research. The context of the scientific community is overall much more monolithic, and interests of participants are more based on shared values (Merton’s CUDOS for example). Ergo, a one-size-fits-all approach is possible (but see the Metric Tide report for a convincing critique).

However, the situation is not hopeless. On both side of the Atlantic, researchers of the science and technology studies community and beyond have been working steadily on approaches to societal impact evaluation. Journals like Research Evaluation or Science and Public Policy regularly report on these developments. In Europe, there is an active network of HSS researchers under the EU-COST aegis covering most if not all Europe (ENRESSH) and countries are beginning to integrate impact in their national evaluation systems (REF in the UK, SEP in the Netherlands). A 2013 RAND report presents a nice overview of methods for impact evaluation. In the USA and Canada, there is a growing research community (active groups are for example in Arizona State University, University of North Texas). In Canada, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has been active in this area with several reports in HSS impact.

And the interesting thing is that many of these efforts have arrived at similar conclusions. One is that societal impact is not a linear thing; rather, is it the result of the productive interactions between researchers and stakeholders. Assessment methods should respect this. Another is that quantitative methods may be good for measuring certain kinds of impact (for example economic), but qualitative methods are preferred in many other impact areas (changes in politics, or in attitudes, public influence, a new protocol in hospitals, improvements of rules and regulations, organizing work in a different way, a more humane treatment of refugees). Another is that it makes no sense to ignore the differences in context, and that it is much more productive to ensure that contexts inform the evaluation process. In case of the UK (REF 2014) and the Netherlands (SEP 2015-2021) this has led to an emphasis on narratives and case studies, which comes as an advantage for HSS researchers because that is part and parcel of what they do and produce. And after all, Elliot Eisner was right when he slightly rephrased a famous Einstein quote: not everything that can be measured matters, and not everything that matters can be measured.


About this blog series: Following the publication of the Federation’s new report, “Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” we have reached out to other members of the research community to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities associated with assessing scholarly impacts. It is our hope that this series of blogs and our new report will help support a productive conversation in the HSS community about the important topic of scholarly impact assessment.

 

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The CIMVHR Approach to Assessing Impact

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

By Stéphanie Bélanger, CD, PhD, and Heidi Cramm, PhD, Co-scientific director (interim), Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, with thanks for input from the entire CIMVHR team.

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Heath Research (CIMVHR) was created in 2010 with a mission to enhance the lives of Canadian military personnel, Veterans and their families by harnessing the national capacity for research. Being the only country that was a part of NATO that didn’t have an organization focused on this unique population drove Queen’s University and the Royal Military Collage of Canada to take the lead in creating such an institute. Now 42 Canadian universities strong, CIMVHR is the hub for researchers working together in addressing the health research requirements for our military personnel, Veterans and their families.

As an institute that grew from two universities to 42 in a span of seven years, our methods for assessing the impact of what we do have varied. In our early years, we assessed our impact through the growth of our institute. When you’re the first of your kind in Canada, the success and longevity of your organization will depend on the demand for what you do and the relationships you build to foster your organization. For us at CIMVHR, the key areas of focus were the number of universities that signed on to work with us (from two to 42), the number of researchers committed to CIMVHR from each of these universities (now over 1,000), the growth in delegates that attended our annual Military and Veteran Heath Research Forum (250 to 600+), and the number of research presentations delivered at our seven annual forums (970 to over 3,500 stakeholders), to name a few.

After we had the foundation of our institute in place, we expanded on how we can capture the impact of CIMVHR by incorporating surveys into our assessment process. While still valuing our impact in numbers, surveys provided us with feedback from not only our researchers, but from the population to whom we dedicate our research. Surveying attendees at our academic events provides us with the information we need to strengthen the research at our future events, which in turn creates better outcomes for our military personnel, Veterans and their families.

In order to continue CIMVHR’s success as the hub for military, Veteran and family health research, it became crucial that we assess the impact of our deliverables. Our organization has many moving parts that create various deliverables, such as: academic researcher engagement; publications through our journal (the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health); scholarship opportunities; and research contracts through government, industry and philanthropic organizations, among others. Each one of these requires a different approach to assess the impact delivered to our stakeholders. In addition to the previous assessment examples, we found it necessary to incorporate analytics into our process. As a national institute, which recently started working with seven global affiliates, our primary form of communication is web-based (social media, website, online open access journal, funding opportunities, etc.). By gathering the analytics from all of our web-based products we’re able to track our engaged users, reach, top website hits, dropped pages and various other analytics that enable us to make improvements to our organization.

As result of pursuing these various methods of impact assessment since the inception of CIMVHR, we have been able to show our results and thereby grow and strengthen our institute as the leader in military, Veteran and family health research. Moving forward, we will continue to add new assessment methods to increase our strength and develop new tools to track our impacts.

In the recently published report from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences titled “Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Sciences Sciences” (May 2017), there is great emphasis put on identifying the impact of research to help make knowledge more accessible to users. For instance, researcher can “address important societal challenges” and attract “increased attention from decision-makers in government, resulting in increased use of evidence supported by research in the setting of public policy” (p. 14). At CIMVHR, we thrive, in a concerted effort with our university members, to influence policies and practices through pluridisciplinary evidence based research.


About this blog seriesFollowing the publication of the Federation’s new report, “Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” we have reached out to other members of the research community to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities associated with assessing scholarly impacts. It is our hope that this series of blogs and our new report will help support a productive conversation in the HSS community about the important topic of scholarly impact assessment.

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Research and ProgramsResearch

Salons: Perspectives on society through scholarly journals

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In this era of the 24-hour news cycle, alternative facts and the proliferation of hard-to-verify sources, the online magazine Salons reminds us that research in the humanities and social sciences plays a key role in helping us analyze and understand society.

Salons invites the public to reflect on various societal issues as we read and review various articles published over the years in scholarly journals. This is a way for the magazine to showcase the abundance and importance of reputable and rigorously developed research. It also demonstrates the value of easy access to this information, as the articles and other resources featured in Salons are freely available to all.

Instead of offering frenetic commentary and instant analysis, Salons encourages readers to take their time.

Each month between June 2017 and June 2018, a well-known researcher and a stakeholder in the cultural or academic fields will provide commentary on a key societal issue. This analysis will draw on a bibliography of other sources on the issues, as an invitation to the public to explore the articles listed.

“Research in the humanities and social sciences is exceptionally rich in Canada. Its results are generally disseminated as articles published in scholarly journals,” explained the director of the Salons project, Vincent Larivière, a professor at the University of Montreal and Scientific Director of the Érudit platform.

“A research article often represents years of work and analysis for a researcher and undergoes a rigorous evaluation process. Our goal is to remind the general public of the role played by these publications in society as a whole and to demonstrate the extent to which research is now available to all,” he added. “Thanks to digital technologies and open access, academic knowledge has never been so easy to attain. Salons is a kind of monthly stylistic exercise that will introduce the general public to these resources and show how accessible they are, as well as how relevant and rich.”

The project takes the opportunity provided by Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations to bridge the gap between the academic community and civil society, as well as between the country’s two linguistic communities, since the site is completely bilingual. It will examine the question of Canadian identity by looking at 13 themes: linguistic duality in national celebrations, the inclusion of Indigenous communities in archaeological projects, educational changes, and feminist perspectives on Canada.

Research as a public good

Salons advocates the idea that research is a public good and that access to knowledge must be as open as possible. In keeping with these principles, the articles presented in the monthly bibliographies are available through open access, with the magazine’s texts disseminated under a Creative Commons open content license. There are also many links to the databases of various public archives.

The project is coordinated by the Érudit Consortium and has been placed under the leadership of Vincent Larivière (University of Montreal) and Jean-Philippe Warren (Concordia University) with support from a team of researchers from several Canadian universities. It received financial support from the SSHRC (Connection/Canada 150 Programs) and is backed by several Canadian research organizations, including the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Browse through issue number 3 of Salons, which explores the role played by Indigenous communities in archaeological research: http://salons.erudit.org/en/salon/archaeological-and-urban-heritage/.

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Research and ProgramsResearchTeaching

De l’impuissance à l’autonomie : évolution culturelle et enjeux identitaires des minorités canadiennes-françaises

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Laurent Poliquin, membre du Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures de l’Université de Winnipeg et du Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française (CRCCF) de l’Université d’Ottawa.

À l’origine, c’est la littérature pour la jeunesse qui a motivé la recherche qui a mené à De l’impuissance à l’autonomie : évolution culturelle et enjeux identitaires des minorités canadiennes-françaises. Alors à l’emploi des Éditions des Plaines, mon travail d’éditeur me permettait de côtoyer des auteurs et des enseignants avides d’écrire et de lire des textes issus de la francophonie de l’Ouest canadien. J’ai ainsi pu contribuer à faire connaître des auteurs comme Diane Carmel Léger, France Adams, Louise-Michelle Sauriol, David Baudemont ou encore David Bouchard.

Alors que je préparais des conférences à l’intention des enseignants, je me suis rendu compte que la littérature et notamment celle pour les enfants ne naît pas spontanément. On a souvent l’impression que la nouveauté émerge du talent d’un artiste ou d’un créateur et on oublie les prédécesseurs et tout le travail en amont que d’autres ont réalisé avant nous. C’est un peu en hommage aux générations précédentes que j’ai voulu creuser ce qui s’était écrit pour les enfants avant la création des maisons d’édition en milieu minoritaire dans les années 1970. Et c’est donc dans les journaux que devait surtout se faire ce travail, sachant que s’il y a une littérature canadienne-française débutante à explorer notamment chez les minorités canadiennes-françaises, elle se terre nécessairement dans les journaux. Or je me suis rapidement buté à la présence d’une littérature pour la jeunesse pieuse et franchement conservatrice. Il fallait s’y attendre me direz-vous, mais il fallait surtout mettre à profit mes découvertes, même si la qualité des œuvres n’était pas toujours au rendez-vous. Je me suis rapidement aperçu de l’instrumentalisation de cette littérature en fonction des luttes que mène la société. J’ai donc réorienté mes recherches en fonction de ces luttes, notamment celles qui s’articulent autour de l’école et de l’enseignement en français.

Le Canada a été servi en ce qui a trait aux tensions entre anglophones et francophones. Dès les balbutiements de la confédération, certains Acadiens commencent à regretter leur ralliement au Dominion du Canada : la Loi des écoles communes adoptée le 17 mai 1871 institue un système d’écoles non confessionnelles, dans lequel l’enseignement francophone n’est pas dispensé, ce qui fera dire à Lionel Groulx : « Dès sa première épreuve pour la protection d’une minorité, la constitution canadienne se révélait bouclier de carton » (Groulx Enseignement tome II 51). D’ailleurs on ne peut pas dire que la création du Manitoba n’a pas connu des débuts tumultueux qui mèneront à l’exécution du chef métis Louis Riel par le gouvernement canadien. Rappelons que les émeutes de la conscription de 1917 ont réprimé dans le sang alors qu’un bataillon de soldats en provenance de Toronto arrive à Québec, et tire sur la foule le 31 mars 1918, une première pour ces soldats anglais depuis l’occupation de la ville en 1759.

Au final, on s’aperçoit de la force et de la résilience des minorités canadiennes-françaises. Si elles ont pendant longtemps sollicité l’appui des Canadiens-français du Québec dans leur lutte, elles ont acquis une autonomie qui ne permet plus de dire, contrairement à l’idée fort répandue, que le Québec les a abandonnées.

Laurent Poliquin a été chargé de cours en langue et littérature française à l’Université du Manitoba et à l’Université de Winnipeg, puis professeur adjoint en littérature canadienne-française et de la francophonie à l’Université de Saint-Boniface. Il a été éditeur aux Éditions des Plaines de 2003 à 2009 et il a fait paraître une dizaine de livres, parmi lesquels De l’amuïssement des certitudes qui a reçu le Prix Rue-Deschambault en 2015.

Livres à vous!
En tant que porte-parole des sciences humaines au Canada, la Fédération est une fervente défenseuse des livres. Notre Prix d’auteurs pour l’édition savante (PAES) soutient la publication d’importants livres savants canadiens depuis 1941. Livres à vous! dévoile les coulisses de ces livres fascinants. De temps en temps nous mettrons en avant d’autres livres qui jouent un rôle important pour la culture, la société et la recherche canadiennes. Lire d’autres billets.

 

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On the Impacts of Teaching

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nancy Chick, Academic Director of the Taylor Institute, University Chair in Teaching and Learning and Teaching Professor at the University of Calgary

A key contribution of the Federation’s Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences report is its acknowledgement that “Academic work has impacts beyond the initial actions or outputs of the researcher, including effects from teaching” (p. 13). Indeed, the professor of folklore studies sketched in one of the report’s case studies identifies “to strengthen and open the minds of students” as one of two goals for his scholarship (p. 12). His aim is probably familiar to many of us in the humanities and social sciences. He wants to contribute to a wider body of knowledge (his first goal), but on a more human level, the knowledge he wants to contribute to and ultimately mobilize is his students’.

This goal goes beyond the clichés of “students are our future.” As humanists and social scientists, we are most interested in human understanding, expression, action, interaction, and consequence. We take seriously the effects people have on each other, from impressions to words to actions to social institutions to cultural traditions to historical legacies. In this context, the acts of our teaching and (more importantly) our students’ learning take on greater significance, especially when we understand that “learning” is much more than what students do in a paper or on an exam — as suggested by our hypothetical folklore colleague.

Given this significance, and returning to the goal of demonstrating the impacts of our scholarship, we (like our folklore colleague) need “to better understand the experiences of our students.”  We need to understand, assess and demonstrate the effects of our teaching on our students’ learning — with an appropriately complex definition of learning.

This effort is an area of scholarship in its own right, called the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). In Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (1990), Ernest Boyer proposed a broader explanation for the work that faculty do. In addition to the traditional notion of the scholarship of discovery, he pointed to three others with “separate, yet overlapping, functions”: “the scholarship of integration [e.g., interdisciplinary work]; the scholarship of application [e.g., community-based work]; and the scholarship of teaching(p. 16). Later, scholars of teaching added “and learning” to make explicit the attention to our students’ learning and not just our teaching

Our folklore colleague looks to the 16 rubrics from the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) to assess his students’ learning related to his goal of strengthening and opening their minds. Perhaps he used the Intercultural knowledge and competence or Integrative learning rubric. And while he feels it’s important that “he is not himself an expert in assessing learning outcomes,” SoTL is grounded in the assumption that our disciplinary expertise is key in our work to understand, assess and demonstrate our students’ learning.

Our colleague, for example, is an expert in the many ways in which stories, beliefs, performances and other artifacts document the experiences of the individuals and communities that produce them. He is well equipped to bring his expertise to the work of SoTL and just needs the artifacts produced by his students to begin. He is primed to ask how artifacts like regular formative assessments (e.g., the minute paper, muddiest point), final ethnographic projects, think-alouds, or pre-/post-interviews document what’s going on in students’ minds. He could analyze such artifacts collected during the semester, and perhaps continue to collect relevant artifacts from some of the students throughout their folklore studies program. And what if he continued even well after graduation?

The Federation’s report acknowledges that “HSS scholarship has substantial impacts that are felt over long periods of time” (p. 7), making the ability to capture goals like “to strengthen and open the minds of students” within reach. Not simple, as most of our scholarship is messy, human stuff. This is the potential of the scholarship of teaching and learning, a vibrant, multidisciplinary, international field that has much to offer those interested in assessing impacts in the humanities and social sciences.

For more information on SoTL, see my online guide at http://sotl.ucalgaryblogs.ca/.


About this blog seriesFollowing the publication of the Federation’s report, “Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” we have reached out to other members of the research community to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities associated with assessing scholarly impacts. It is our hope that this series of blogs and our new report will help support a productive conversation in the HSS community about the important topic of scholarly impact assessment. 

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Media release: Federation President Guy Laforest to lead École nationale d’administration publique

 

Guy LaforestOTTAWA, July 14, 2017 — The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce that its President Guy Laforest has been appointed Executive Director of the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP), a member of the Université du Québec network.

Guy Laforest, who assumed the role of Federation President in May 2017, will begin his five-year appointment at ENAP on August 14, 2017.

“In the turbulent world in which we live in 2017, an institution like ENAP works to maintain and promote, through teaching and research, the great French-language humanism that is tied to the fate of Quebec society in North America and around the world,” said Laforest.

Guy Laforest is currently Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval, where he has taught for 29 years. He is an acclaimed scholar whose main areas of teaching and research are modern political theory, intellectual history, Canadian constitutional politics, and the theories of federalism and nationalism. Widely published in Canada and internationally, his current work is focused on the reinterpretation of Canadian federalism. Laforest is a Member of the Royal Society of Canada (2014) and a Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Pléiade de l’Association des parlementaires de la francophonie, at the National Assembly of Quebec (2013).

“The Federation is proud to see the prestigious appointment of our President to an institution dedicated to public service education and responsible citizenship, and we wish him the best of luck in his new role,” said Gabriel Miller, Executive Director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
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nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
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Science Minister Kirsty Duncan attends largest ever Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gauri Sreenivasan, Director, Policy and Programs, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, attended the largest ever Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences that took place from May 27 to June 2 at Ryerson University, with over 10,000 in attendance. She offered remarks and awarded the 2017 Canada Prizes at a ceremony on Sunday, May 28.

This was Minister Duncan’s first major occasion since taking office to speak directly to the humanities and social sciences community, and her message was clear: the humanities and social sciences are disciplines key to Canada’s long term success.

This was a welcome message to our community, particularly at an event celebrating excellence in humanities and social sciences scholarship. The Canada Prizes recognize and celebrate the exceptional research that scholars in our community are undertaking. Their passion and dedication are an important part of what allow us as Canadians to better understand who we are — as individuals and as a country.       

Minister Duncan underscored the importance and value of the humanities and social sciences and referred to the recent report of the landmark independent panel examining Canada’s fundamental science system, chaired by former University of Toronto President David Naylor.  (See the full text of her speech here)

“I was pleased the Science Review clearly acknowledged the essential role of the full range of scientific and scholarly disciplines. ‘Research in the social sciences and humanities,’ it says, ‘holds equal promise to help Canada address many of the challenges the nation faces.’ I could not agree more,” said Minister Duncan.

“I truly believe that one of Canada’s key strategic advantages is our social science and humanities. Social science and humanities researchers provide evidence for sound policy making and train the next generation of critical thinkers... We will invest to support your research because we know that a strong culture of research and scholarship will help us build a bold, bright future for all Canadians,” she added.  

Kirsty Duncan

One of the Minister’s and our community’s top priorities are issues of equity and diversity. These are important priorities for Canada and for the academy itself.  Having the insight and perspectives from scholars of diverse backgrounds is crucial not only for justice and fairness, but to mobilize the knowledge and understanding required for an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. Inclusion begins with understanding diverse peoples, cultures and social relations, and the humanities and social sciences are an essential part of this process.    

“We must continue to work together to come up with more ideas on how we can make science look like today’s Canada – open, diverse and inclusive,” said Duncan. “I will be looking to the social science and humanities communities – since your communities have made great strides to be both diverse and balanced.”

Kirsty Duncan

The Federation looks forward to working with our members and the government to take up this important challenge together.  

About the Canada Prizes

The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best books by Canadian scholars in the humanities and social sciences that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. Winners are selected from books that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, which is administered by the Federation.

This year’s winners are:

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Arthur J. Ray, Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History (McGill-Queen’s University Press). Read the blog or watch the interview video about his work.

Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales
Mylène Bédard, Écrire en temps d'insurrections : Pratiques épistolaires et usages de la presse chez les femmes patriotes (1830-1840) (Presses de l’Université de Montréal). Read the blog or watch the interview video about her work.

 

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Big Picture at #congressh: It’s a wrap!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

By Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Congress 2017 wrapped up on June 2, and I am still smiling from the success of the event. It was my first Congress so I wanted to share some highlights with you and take a moment to thank all those who participated.

It was an incredible week at Ryerson University, with a record-breaking number of attendees: more than 10,000 people! The depth of discussion and exchange of ideas was inspiring, and it left me with a lot to think about in the 12 months before we gather again next year in Regina.

Listen here to an interview about the importance of Congress. 

Congress host: Ryerson University

Thank you to Ryerson University for hosting this important event and finding innovative ways to introduce Torontonians to the humanities and social sciences. Ryerson University programming included an outdoor tipi installation, an experiential refugee hut, a thought-provoking discussion with Cornell West, a tour around its urban farm, and a truth and reconciliation tour in the streets of Toronto. And these are just some examples of the exciting Ryerson presents…programming I took in.

Minister of Science attendance

A major highlight for me was an opportunity to hear The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, address the Congress community when she attended the Canada Prizes award ceremony on May 28. 

“I was pleased the Science Review clearly acknowledged the essential role of the full range of scientific and scholarly disciplines. 'Research in the social sciences and humanities,' it says, 'holds equal promise to help Canada address many of the challenges the nation faces.' I could not agree more,” said Duncan.

“I truly believe that one of Canada’s key strategic advantages is our social science and humanities. Social science and humanities researchers provide evidence for sound policy making and train the next generation of critical thinkers,” she continued. Watch the video here:

Big Thinking

The Big Thinking series featured discussions that were thoughtful and at times difficult. We heard from thought leaders such as Mohamed Fahmy, Olivia Chow, Aja Monet, John Raulston Saul, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Wade Davis.

Next 150 on Indigenous Lands

There were extraordinary discussions around truth and reconciliation. We heard from present and powerful Indigenous women and debated protocols and pedagogies of Indigenous ethics in the classroom.

In a session hosted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), leading scholars emphasized how important it is for Canadians to understand how knowledge within distinct Indigenous traditions is created, honoured and shared.

Marking Canada 150

Building on “The Next 150” theme, Congress organizers planned a series of events focusing both on Canada’s past and future. Among the topics discussed were our national identities and building interdisciplinary approaches to the humanities and social sciences.

Important Announcements

Congress 2017 was our last with Stephen Toope as President of the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. Mr. Toope has been a driving force for Congress and all of the humanities and social sciences. I am personally very grateful for his many contributions to this sector and to this organization.

At the same time, we welcomed our new President and Board Chair, Guy Laforest, at this year’s AGM. Mr. Laforest is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval and an acclaimed scholar whose main areas of teaching and research are modern political theory, intellectual history, Canadian constitutional politics, and the theories of federalism and nationalism. Widely published in Canada and internationally, his current work is focused on the reinterpretation of Canadian federalism.

The Federation also expressed its appreciation to Christine Tausig Ford for her leadership as Interim Executive Director of the Federation from October 2016 to April 2017. Thank you, Christine!

See you in Regina!

We’re already looking forward to Congress 2018, which will be hosted by the University of Regina. To find out more about what a great host city Regina will be, read this message from Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Regina. Personally, now that I’ve seen the vast programming possibilities and the tremendous learning opportunities of Congress, next year can’t come soon enough. Thank you to each and every one who was there this year, and I hope to see you at Congress 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Race, Justice, and Movement Building

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers, and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands” celebrates the history, legacy, and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27–June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Aja Monet began the final event of Congress 2017’s Big Thinking series by reading two of her poems with overwhelming force and charisma. Her first, “Dark Matter,” was a scathing criticism of the systems of power in capitalism, value assessment, and White supremacy that keep people of colour in perpetual states of inequality. Her second, “Black Joy,” celebrated sources and moments of pure joy with vivid images rolling off her tongue so rapidly it was almost impossible to keep up, ending with the statement that “true joy has always been and will always be justice.” Audience enthusiasm was palpable, and even an infant in the audience expressed his or her approval, to which Monet quipped that, “nothing really radical’s going on without a baby in the room.”

Interviewer Desmond Cole then engaged Monet on race, justice and movement building in North America and around the world. They spoke about language, about its power as a means of cultural making, remaking, and preservation, about how language is as much how you say something as what you say. Speech for Monet is a pathway to freedom: the same skills of self-expression used in rap can open doors and empower young people. It is also a component of the performance of identity played out on the body, but the language of poetry can express the interior world that the performance of identity obscures.

Cole asked Monet questions about her activism with the Dream Defenders and the Smoke Signals Studio, the latter of which she co-founded. Monet’s work with the Dream Defenders began as part of the Black youth movement to push society forward after the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, the massive protests in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer, and the many other examples of endemic violence perpetrated against Black people in the United States. That work took Monet to Palestine, where she met with young Palestinian activists and artists to collaborate on ways to stand up to state violence. Monet said that with corporate culture making nationalist lines of demarcation less and less relevant, oppression has become more and more unified, so we have to be unified across boundaries and borders in order to be free.

Monet co-founded the Smoke Signals Studio out of her home, and she spoke about how home for her is the first and most important safe space available to people of colour to start building a free society. It is the space where imagination can exist even in the direst of circumstances, and according to Monet there is nothing more powerful than a Black woman’s imagination. For this reason, she called on all of us to do more to foster the imaginations of our children.

It takes more than imagination, however, for Monet to survive and thrive in a world of violence against Black people and systems of White supremacy. When asked how she does it, Monet replied that it is through love—not romantic love but love of all kinds—that keeps her going. Being a lover for Monet is about doing right by yourself and others, making sure that your home is a place of love, and the love of the mundane and the everyday (food, housing, friends). Activism for her is not just about confronting the police and other tools of state violence and oppression: it is also about being of service to each other.

Internationally established poet, performance poet, singer, songwriter, educator, and human rights advocate Aja Monet was interviewed by activist, author, and award-winning freelance journalist Desmond Cole in Black Joy: Resistance, Revolution, & Radical Love, the final event of the Big Thinking lecture series at Congress 2017. 

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Collaboration is the way forward for the social sciences in policy making

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers, and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands” celebrates the history, legacy, and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27–June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Two social scientists and one natural scientist working at the intersection of public policy and academic research spoke on the challenges of bridging the gap between academia and policy making in Critical outlook: Social sciences and humanities’ role in public policy making.

Marie Clair Brisbois, who began her academic career in the natural sciences and left academia to become an activist before returning to the academy as a social scientist, said that the push for fact-based policy developed using the scientific method is still nebulous. According to Brisbois, there is still a lack of awareness among policy makers that social sciences can inform the process of how policy is made as well as its content. The culture of bureaucracy in Canada makes it challenging to present science, but social science has the advantage of already looking at the greater context of politics, economics, and society that informs policy.

Aaron Franks, whose Métis ancestry informs his academic and policy work, outlined the triple role of social science in policy making. The social sciences interpret information with critical tools and quantitative measures, contributing to a process-oriented system of policy making that maintains relevance over time while retaining knowledge of our past. Social science also functions as a critical lens for looking at and changing systems and changing policies to account for the particular. Finally, it is important for educating the public and keeping spaces for public discussion and criticism open, active, and vibrant. According to Franks, the humanities are too often relegated to the role of helping scientists or social scientists present their knowledge and findings rather than being allowed to contribute critically themselves.

Donna Kirkwood brought the perspective of a natural scientist to the panel, having worked previously as a scholar, a professor, and now a policy maker all in the field of geology. According to Kirkwood, federal scientists work primarily to provide information of significant public interest in fields such as forestry or natural resources. They provide scientific advice for different public agencies, laws, and regulations. However, the context surrounding science in society is becoming more complex, and federal scientists have to develop new methods in order to keep up. Kirkwood said that Canada is strong in fundamental research, but weak in developing that research into marketable end products. Science-guided public policy needs to be produced for the public good and needs to be reformed by working together with the social sciences and humanities in a new trend of collaboration within the policy making community.

All of the panelists also agreed that there needs to be more collaboration with the public. Brisbois proposed that we need to start looking at different methods of governance and different knowledge centres in order to account for the increasingly complex contexts in which public policy is developed, and Kirkwood suggested that federal and public scientists need to come to grips with the reality that there is no absolute truth, even in the natural sciences.

Critical outlook: Social sciences and humanities’ role in public policy making featured Donna Kirkwood (chief scientist, Natural Resources Canada), Marie Claire Brisbois (Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow, Natural Resources Canada), and Aaron Franks (Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and was hosted by Mitacs at Congress 2017.

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Public Outreach and Combatting Populism: The Future of the Academy in the Public Sphere

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

What role does the university play in dealing with the very concrete threats of isolationism, abuse of minorities, and the closing of borders in nations around the world and here in Canada? Professors Homa Hoodfar, Bessma Momani, and Anver Saloojee spoke at length on this subject, as well as on the related issues of academic freedom and public engagement.

Hoodfar, who was recently imprisoned for four months in Iran for including feminist elements in her publication record, spoke about what academic freedom is and how we can use it to make our universities more relevant in an age of declining democratic institutions. While in prison, Hoodfar wrote on the walls of her cell with her toothbrush because she was denied writing materials. In that writing, she determined that academic freedom is a social capital left to the academy in trust for the betterment of society, and that capital must be reported on in order to be of use, especially in an age when academic discussion is seen as less and less relevant in the public sphere.

Saloojee spoke of the academy’s role in dispelling myths: the myth of Islamophobia, which is better understood and named as systemic and individual discrimination based on race, religion, class and gender; the myth of the woman in the hijab, bereft of agency or choice; and the myth of the brown Muslim fundamentalist terrorist, when terror comes from many varied sources, including the state itself. It is the role of the academy to uncover the root causes of alienation that result in individuals committing acts of terror as well as the roots of state terror.

According to Momani, universities will become irrelevant if they don’t change to address the rise of populism and increasing attacks on people and institutions that populism brands as “elite.” If academics can’t engage with and make themselves valuable in the eyes of the public at large, they will continue a slip toward irrelevance that is already taking place in the halls of power. While working in Washington, D.C. recently, Momani discovered that the term “academic” as used there is definitely not a compliment. Academics often see themselves as progressive, but the academy is today being cast as the establishment. Expertise is under attack, and the institutional barriers in place within the academy—an expectation to publish for other academics only, a culture that disincentivises public engagement—needs to fundamentally change to keep universities relevant and ensure that they continue to receive public support and funding into the future, as well as making sure the gap in the public conversation isn’t filled by pundits.

When asked by a graduate student in the audience who should be leading the way in changing the university system and bringing public engagement to the forefront, all of the panelists agreed: it is the job of established academics to change the system, the people on hiring and funding committees who enjoy the relative stability of tenure, to lead the way forward, not students or early career academics who might risk everything in the attempt to push through reform.

Open Borders, Open Minds: Academia in an Age of Growing Isolationism, with panelists Homa Hoodfar (Professor of Anthropology, Concordia University), Bessma Momani (Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance, University of Waterloo), and Anver Saloojee (Assistant Vice-President, International, Ryerson University), was hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Ryerson University as part of the “Ryerson presents…” series at Congress 2017. Watch the video.

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At 150, Canada must do more to protect human rights and press freedom both at home and abroad

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers, and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands” celebrates the history, legacy, and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27–June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Mohamed Fahmy first chose to settle in Canada because he perceived this country to be a haven for freedom of the press and basic human rights. It was in this same spirit that he chose to travel to Iraq and Egypt during the American-led invasion and the Arab Spring, respectively, to report on what he hoped would be the rise of democracy in the Middle East. Today, however, both democratizing projects stand incomplete, and the divide between democracies and dictatorships in their attitudes toward press freedom and the media is closing worldwide. In the United States, Trump’s criticism of the legitimate media lends legitimacy to dictators and despots who have made the same false claims for years, and journalists are targeted for violent repression and death more than ever by terrorists and states alike.

According to Fahmy, however, the Arab Spring has not been in vain, regardless of its failure to bring democracy to states like Egypt. It began as a breath of fresh air, with the participation of young people, including thousands of Canadian and American Egyptians, and it demonstrates that protest and activism can be successful in toppling dictators. Though the revolution has stalled, change is still going on all over the Middle East.

This change is taking place often in spite of, rather than thanks to, Western foreign domestic policy. Fahmy argues it was Western intervention and inexperience that have transformed places like Iraq, Libya and Syria into fertile grounds for terrorism. Moves toward reform and protection of democracy need to rely on more than just state intervention: you need NGOs, journalists, and activists working on the ground who are independent of local or foreign governments.

Fahmy also pointed out that freedoms aren’t only under threat or lacking in the nations of the Middle East. Right here in Canada, we lack laws that require the federal government to intervene on behalf of Canadians detained abroad; laws that our closest allies and our fellow developed nations like the United States and France enjoy. Journalism and the independence and freedom of the press are also suffering here in Canada: journalists are being forced to give up their sources in the name of security concerns, which inevitably leads to fewer people choosing to speak to the media, thereby reducing our ability to stay properly informed. Again, Canada lacks laws that protect journalistic sources, whereas many of our allies have them. Canada, it seems, still has a way to go to protect its citizens and its press freedoms.

Media in the Age of Terror featuring multi-award winning Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who while reporting on the Arab Spring in Egypt in 2013 was falsely accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian government and imprisoned in the Scorpion maximum security prison for more than a year, was part of the Big Thinking lecture series at Congress 2017.

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Expanding the Academy and its Toolbox to Include Indigenous Research and Methodologies

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers, and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands” celebrates the history, legacy, and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27–June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Canadian academia needs to expand its methodological toolbox and its definitions of legitimate and fundable research in order to further the cause of Indigenous academic work, according to the panelists who participated in Wise research practices: Reconciliation and HSS research.

Chelsea Gabel of McMaster University—a scholar of Métis ancestry—described some of the findings of her current project that critically examines the methodological trends in social science research on Indigenous issues. Her findings show that Indigenous knowledge systems and epistemologies are not being published, that while there is a general increase in research into these issues that there is a concurrent decrease in participatory research, and that of the more than 200 articles encoded in the project so far, only 12 were Indigenous led. Gabel said that institutional norms and expectations are systematically biased against Indigenous-published research, meaning that Indigenous research is perceived in the academy as less valuable for earning tenure, acquiring funding, or other measures of academic success.

Margaret Kovach of the University of Saskatchewan—of Plains Cree and Saulteaux descent—described the difference between Indigenous research and Indigenous methodology. The two terms are often confused, which either overtly or inadvertently leads to the appropriation of Indigenous methodologies. According to Kovach, Indigenous research is an umbrella term for projects concerned with Indigenous issues that may or may not make use of Indigenous methodologies. A lack of inclusion or participation by Indigenous researchers or communities should raise flags, as there should always be reciprocity for the betterment of the communities involved. Kovach defined Indigenous methodologies as those based on Indigenous knowledge systems, resulting in research processes guided by Indigenous philosophies. Indigenous methodologies must include a belief in, valuing, and acknowledgment of these systems, and an understanding that they are separate from Western systems. They are living, breathing, changing systems of stories and oral traditions of pre-contact origin, and their use should be led by Indigenous people. For Kovach, who can use these systems is dictated more by relationships than personal identity: their proper use is all about benefiting the community.

Heather Castleden of Queens University (and the only scholar of settler ancestry on the panel) said that White scholars working on Indigenous research have to do so in allyship and solidarity with Indigenous communities, and that they have to become comfortable with the politics of their work. With “reconciliation” being the keyword of the year, academics and researchers must ensure that they aren’t merely “checking the right boxes” or adhering to mere tokenism on the part of settler scholars. Castleden said that settler scholars need to spend more time listening and understand that their relational work is more important than research product. For too long, Indigenous knowledge has been delegitimized. Castleden ended with a genuinely funny story of her own first foray into Indigenous research fieldwork where she learned quite thoroughly just how ill equipped (materially and intellectually) she was to go hunting for caribou in the Northwest Territories in January, and pointed out that humility and humour are essential for settlers doing Indigenous research.

Wise research practices: Reconciliation and HSS research featured panellists Margaret Kovach (Associate Professor, Educational Foundations, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan), Chelsea Gabel (Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies Program and Department of Health Aging & Society, McMaster University), and Heather Castleden (Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities, Queen’s University) and was a hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Congress 2017.

 

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HPHD Futures: The humanities PhD in 2027

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Guest blog by Anna Ryoo, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HPHD Futures roundtable brought together four leading thinkers and institution builders to share their thoughts on what the humanities can or must become by 2027 and to consider how PhD programs should be rethought and redesigned over the next 10 years. The panelists were Frédéric Bouchard, Professor of Philosophy and Deputy Vice-Rector for Research, Creation, Discovery and Innovation, Université de Montréal; Barbara Crow, Professor of Communications Studies, and Dean of Graduate Studies, York University; Robert Gibbs, Professor of Philosophy and Director at Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto; Heather Zwicker, Professor of English and Dean of Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Alberta. It was moderated by Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Director of the TRaCE Project, McGill University. 

One of the common threads was their positive outlook on the future of the PhD and the need for recognition of its value, particularly how it can meet the demands of evolving societal needs. Bouchard sees that those with a PhD in the humanities or the social sciences will increasingly become appreciated for understanding how our society is changing, and he foresees dramatic changes in universities over the next decade. Gibbs underscored the importance of restructuring programs from the undergraduate level so that students can be equipped and aware of research skills and other knowledge required to get into intensive research practices by the time they enter doctoral programs. His view is that it is important for the academy to move toward mentoring the ‘relationship and multiplication’ potential of students in their research rather than the application ‘replication’ model that sees students becoming exactly like their teachers. Crow, a strong advocate of student-centered approaches, conveyed the importance of cultivating pedagogical strategies throughout the PhD program as well as becoming more aware of issues around equity and mental health of students. Zwicker envisions PhD research that is more outward-facing, collaborative, and connected to social issues. To do so, she suggests we should consider what it means to take part in ethical engagement as well as consider the shifting contexts for what will define excellence in doctoral work.

This roundtable, “HPHD Futures: The humanities PhD in 2027,” was hosted by Federation for the Humanities and Social Science at Congress 2017 at Ryerson University in partnership with the TRaCE Project.

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At 150, Canada’s Grades Are Mixed at Best

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Canadians have plenty to be proud of after 150 years of Confederation, but we still have very far to go toward creating a truly equitable society. The panel of speakers asked to evaluate our nation at Grading Canada at 150 all spoke about Canada’s past and present with stark honesty and laid out recommendations for the future to help us avoid repeating our past mistakes in the next 150 years.

James Bartleman, past Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and a veteran of the Canadian foreign service, was perhaps the most positive of the speakers, pointing out that Canada’s multicultural society is the envy of the world, but reminded the audience that the Indigenous population of this country doesn’t share that envy or have a rightful place in that society.

Professor Veronica Strong-Boag (UBC) spoke about language, about how lies haunt the evolution of the English language, how the commentary of Canada has abounded with deception, and that linguistic disrespect such as ethnic or gender slurs are ultimately used to justify violent repression and forced consent, either by individuals or governments.

Professor Eugénie Brouillet, George Elliott Clarke, and Jean-François Nadeau each spoke about the history of Canada as a constitution of many parts. While Professor Brouillet celebrated Confederation as a contract of compromise among many parties, Clarke pointed to our history and currently reality as a society deeply stratified along racial and class lines, one that can only be made equitable though a redistribution of power and wealth.

In perhaps the panel’s most impassioned talk, Jean Teillet spoke about why the theme of this year’s congress and the celebration of 150 years of confederation is difficult for her as the grandniece of Louis Riel. She spoke about the hidden history of Canada’s broken promises to the Métis people, of the “reign of terror” perpetuated by “the Canadas” and John A. Macdonald in Manitoba from 1870–1873, and the injustices that are still perpetuated today as the Métis are still denied their land rights.

The panel may not have agreed on everything, especially the subject of forgiveness and forgetting with regard to our nation’s past wrongs towards Indigenous peoples and people of colour, but the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences isn’t always about reaching a consensus: it is about opening a dialogue between different voices, all of whom have something to contribute to the betterment of the academy and the nation.

Grading Canada at 150 was a panel made up of James Karl Bartleman, Professor Veronica Strong-Boag, Professor Eugénie Brouillet, George Elliott Clarke, Jean-François Nadeau, and Jean Teillet, and was hosted by the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) at Congress 2017. Professor Michael Bliss was scheduled to attend as well but passed away on May 18, 2017.

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Congress 2017 in the news - June 2

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Online Coverage

What you're actually saying when you say 'I dunno': The many meanings of a peculiar phrase (Calgary Herald (Online))
Date: Jun 01, 2017
Thousands of academics have gathered in Toronto this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from whether poutine is a form of cultural appropriation to Canada's uncomfortable relationship with nakedness.

Also appears in:

  • Edmonton Journal
  • Montreal Gazette
  • Regina Leader-Post

A Tribe Called Red performs at Lake Devo (The Eyeopener (Online))
Date: Jun 02, 2017
By Sarah Krichel The Native DJ group A Tribe Called Red performed on June 1 at Lake Devo as part of Congress 2017.

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Indigenous Women: Keepers of the Past, Leaders into the Future

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

The audience of Tuesday’s Big Thinking event entitled “Present and Powerful Indigenous Women” was the loudest and most enthusiastic of any I have experienced so far at Congress. The three members of the panel—Tracey Lindberg, Maatalii Aneraq Okalik, and Maria Cambell—were all greeted with raucous applause and cries of joy when they took the stage.

Okalik, an Inuit activist and administrator and student at Carleton University, spoke first, outlining the plight of her people as a result of disruptive and violent Canadian government policy that sought to eradicate their entire way of life. She spoke about the enormous changes that the Inuit have faced over the last three generations, the epidemics of poverty, suicide, and disease that have ravaged their communities as the result of their gross inequities, and the strength of the women in those communities who have historically held — and continue to hold — their communities together. She let the audience know what it is that Inuit youth and the Inuit community seek more than anything: protections for Inuit language, Inuit culture, and the resources to stem the tide of suicide sweeping their communities.

Lindberg, a specialist and teacher in Indigenous law, spoke on the role of women as repositories for culture in Indigenous communities. She said that Indigenous women do more than pass their laws and customs on to the next generation: that they are also the enforcers of that law, and that we have for too long ignored their agency and self-determination. Indigenous women have powerful voices, ones that all Canadians need to heed, that remind us that we have an obligation to take care of each other and our environment.

Campbell, an elder and author whose contributions have spanned multiple generations, said that she has been asked the same questions for the last 58 years and continues having to give the same answers. She spoke about land, about broken treaties and agreements, about the disenfranchisement of Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit peoples, and about the need to redress injustices that have remained unanswered for decades, no less centuries. She also spoke of the role of Indigenous women as leaders in the movement to heal the damage we have done and continue to do to our environment. Campbell pointed out that Canadians today enjoy good lives today thanks to the work and sacrifices of Indigenous women: the punishing injustices of the past and present and the heavy load of rebuilding and healing that Indigenous women seem predetermined to bear into the future.

All three panelists spoke eloquently, with passion and real conviction, and successfully argued that it is women who are leading the way to changing the world.

Present and Powerful Indigenous Women featured Tracey Lindberg (award-winning academic writer and teacher Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa, and the first Indigenous woman to earn a PhD in law from a Canadian university), Maatalii Aneraq Okalik (President of the National Inuit Youth Council, a Director of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada’s Board of Directors, and member of the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Board of Directors, the National Committee on Inuit Education, and the Atausiq Inuktut Titirausiq Task Force), and Maria Campbell (award-winning Métis playwright and author of seven books, including the ground-breaking 1973 novel Halfbreed that initiated a rebirth of Aboriginal literature in Canada, and Elder in Residence at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, Athabasca University), and was hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences as part of the Big Thinking series at Congress 2017.

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Protocols and pedagogies: Indigenous ethics in the classroom

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Guest blog by Anna Ryoo, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

How might culturally specific Indigenous protocols around storytelling inform pedagogical practices? How do such protocols illuminate the ethical parameters of both story-sharing and pedagogy as a means of calling us into relationships?

Moderated by Sam McKegney, Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University, the five speakers at the Congress 2017 session entitled Protocols and pedagogies: Indigenous ethics in the classroom offered each of their takes on the question of how to “weave together experiential evidence, personal reflections and critical commentary in an effort to flesh out the ethical boundaries of, and to think in very practical ways about, engaging with Indigenous protocols in a variety of pedagogical settings.”

The first speaker was Kim Anderson , Associate Professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph, who focused on issues around gender narratives in Indigenous stories and their implications. Raising common stereotypes, such as how Indigenous female characters are characterized in films and how the male characters are often portrayed as heterogeneous and heroic, the central questions for her were: “Where are we going to have red flags raised, and how will we set them up?” In other words, what are we teaching, and how are we teaching about these stereotypes? For Anderson, besides bringing in media literacy and providing opportunities for students to think and talk about their dreams and aspirations to address these issues, what is more important is to remember that everything is a story, and that story is where we come from.

Assistant Professor of English at Laurentian University Michelle Coupal was the second speaker, and she began her talk with a narrative. By showing the audience what she practices as an educator, sharing her pedagogical strategies, and using her own identity to complicate the settler-colonialism paradigm, she offered a different tone and perspective on this panel.

The third panelist was Sarah Henzi, Adjunct Professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University. Acknowledging the significance of storytelling in various forms, from texts to performances and films, the central question she raised was how to textualize storytelling traditions. Henzi emphasized the importance of creating moments of engagement through which we may reconnect with emotion and heart, but also with what most of us often forget – with head and heart. Discussing several works of art, she demonstrated how unsettled pedagogy might be offered and practiced.

Warren Cariou, Associate Professor of English, Film, and Theatre and Canada Research Chair at the University of Manitoba, shared the ways he is attempting to think with the notion of “visiting” in his scholarship. Drawing from how the elders teach that many important things happen in the visiting, Cariou suggested using visiting as a way to foreground the non-agenda-based moment in a classroom, or perhaps even turning the classroom into a visiting space to rethink about our current system.

The final speaker Dovie Thomason, or she who carries stories,” shared powerful stories that made the audience occupying every chair in the room laugh, empathize, learn, think, feel and then laugh some more. No form of text can replace what and how she shared her poetic stories with us, but her stories showed humour, wisdom, and humility.

Panelists, thank you for such powerful conversations!

The roundtable discussion “Protocols and pedagogies: Indigenous ethics in the classroom” took place at Congress 2017 and was jointly hosted by the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS) and the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE)

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The Doctoral Dissertation – A Consultation

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Guest blog by Anna Ryoo, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies co-hosted a Congress 2017 event to offer scholars and students a chance to participate in a round table discussion on the future of the doctoral dissertation. This is part of a year-long set of consultations based on the CAGS discussion paper on the same topic. The consultation was facilitated by Heather Zwicker, a humanities scholar and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alberta, and Lisa Young, a social science researcher and Dean at University of Calgary.

Participants at the session – who included graduate students, graduate program directors, deans of graduate studies and professionals working in the field – shared their perspectives on graduate education in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and two issues percolated to the top: time to completion, and the quality of supervision and pedagogy.   

Probing these further led to an animated discussion on PhD and doctoral education as a whole. Some of the issues raised were specific to humanities and social science disciplines.

  • The move toward alternative forms of the dissertation – whether the three articles model or inclusion of non-traditional components – challenges the scholarly monograph. One participant asked: Isn’t the pursuit of the PhD perhaps the only time that a student can learn the skills needed to write a scholarly monograph?
  • How does the tradition of individual scholarship affect the graduate student experience in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Would supervisors have more invested in their students if they routinely co-published with them, as is the case in the STEM disciplines?
  • How well do other components of the PhD prepare students to write a dissertation? Are they equipped with the skills they need before they start working with their supervisor on their own thesis? Can programs be structured to better prepare them?
  • In light of the challenging academic job market in the Humanities in particular, should the dissertation be altered? Should the model be ‘one form fits all’ or should we move toward a ‘bespoke’ model in which the form of the dissertation is different for students who want to pursue an academic career, and those who do not? Would this create two “levels” of PhD?

A lively discussion of alternative forms and formats for the dissertation, noting that this challenges the boundaries of scholarship. Here, the participants identified an important role for faculties of graduate studies in highlighting exemplars, to give students and supervisors an idea of what is possible.

This consultation shows us — as have many other consultations that have taken place across Canada — the need to engage in ongoing conversations and the need to reimagine the PhD.

The workshop session entitled “The Doctoral Dissertation – A Consultation” was held at Congress 2017 in partnership with the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies.

 

 

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Media release: Federation welcomes Guy Laforest as new President

 

Laforest assumes presidency during largest Congress on record, with 10,014 attendees

OTTAWA, June 2, 2017 — The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to welcome Guy Laforest as its new President of the Board of Directors.

Guy Laforest assumed this role at the Federation’s May 28, 2017 Annual General Meeting held at Ryerson University in Toronto, succeeding Stephen Toope who has completed his two year term. Laforest's term as President extends through May 2019. The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is also welcoming three new members to its Board of Directors.

“It is my great honour to assume the position of President of the Federation’s dynamic and engaged Board of Directors,” said Guy Laforest, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to outgoing President Stephen Toope for his stewardship of the Federation over the last two years and for the leadership he has shown in advancing the organization’s membership focus.”

“It is a particularly auspicious time to take on this role, as the Federation wraps up what has been the largest Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the event’s 86-year history, hosted this year on the Ryerson University campus. With 10,014 in attendance from 70 different associations, I am so proud to head up an organization that brings the spotlight to the important work of the humanities and social sciences both for the intellectual heritage of Canada and for the future of the country,” Laforest stated.

Guy Laforest is Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval and is an acclaimed scholar whose main areas of teaching and research are modern political theory, intellectual history, Canadian constitutional politics, and the theories of federalism and nationalism. Widely published in Canada and internationally, his current work is focused on the reinterpretation of Canadian federalism. Laforest is a Member of the Royal Society of Canada (2014) and a Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Pléiade de l’Association des parlementaires de la francophonie, at the National Assembly of Quebec (2013).

The composition of the 2017-2018 Board membership for the Federation was announced April 6, 2017, following an online nomination and election process, and all Board members who were elected, acclaimed or re-appointed in that process assumed their new roles effective on May 28, 2017.

The Federation’s new Board of Directors for 2017-2018, effective May 28, 2017:
Guy Laforest, President - Full Professor, Université Laval
Stephen Toope, Past President - Director, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Carmen Charette, Treasurer - Vice-President, External Relations, University of Victoria
Cindy Blackstock, Director, Equity and Diversity - Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Professor, McGill University, and Director, First Nations Children's Action Research and Education Service (FNCARES)
Anne-Marie Fortier, Chair, ASPP Academic Council - Professor, Département des littératures, Université Laval
Tim Goddard, Director, Teaching and Learning - Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island
Sandra Lapointe*, Director, Associations - Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, McMaster University
Claudia Malacrida*, Director, Research Policy - Associate Vice-President Research, Professor of Sociology, University of Lethbridge
Michael E. Sinatra, Director, Research Dissemination - Professor, English Department, Université de Montréal
David Sylvester*, Director, Institutions - Principal, Associate Professor, Department of History, King’s University College at Western University
Julia Wright, Director, Associations - Professor, Department of English, Dalhousie University
Lisa Young, Director, Institutions - Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary

*Indicates new members to the Board

-30-

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit www.ideas-idees.ca.

Media inquiries
Nicola Katz
Manager of Communications
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
C: 613-282-3489
nkatz@ideas-idees.ca
Follow us @ideas­_idees

Congress 2017 in the news - June 1

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Print Coverage

What we really mean when we say 'I dunno': An investigation into Canada's multipurpose conversation tool (National Post (Online))
Date: Jun 01, 2017
Thousands of academics have gathered in Toronto this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from whether poutine is a form of cultural appropriation to Canada's uncomfortable relationship with nakedness.

Online coverage

Cornel West sounds off (Ryerson Today)
Date: Jun 01, 2017
Superstar philosopher talks Trump, capitalism and loving the sinner at Congress 2017

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Asking the hard questions on the nature of care in social work

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Professor Christina Sharpe (Tufts University) opened the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) conference at Congress on Monday night by asking some very tough questions about the nature of social work as it relates to people of colour. Professor Sharpe spoke passionately about social work’s dark legacy as an extension of the anti-Black, White settler project of nation building and social work still being diagnostic, still a product of nineteenth century racialized values of social Darwinism, and still an extension of state-sponsored violence.

According to Professor Sharpe, the term “care” itself is deeply problematic. She linked it back to the name of a seventeenth century Dutch slaving ship and to acts of modern violence such as the removal of Black children from their homes and the force-feeding of hunger strikers carried out under the rubric of care by the state. She drew a direct line between the triaging of a young black girl injured in the 2010 Haitian earthquake, marked by US military personnel with the word “ship” on her forehead, and the division and placement of African slaves into ships bound for the Americas during the slave trade.

She spoke about the wake of trauma: unlike the wake of a boat, which is always lessened by a well-made ship, the wake of trauma is always maximal, always larger and far reaching than the trauma itself. For Professor Sharpe, we need to understand that since its inception, social work has been used to systematically violate Black people under the guise of helping them, whether consciously or unconsciously, and we need to remake social work and reformulate our idea of care to become an antidote for that violence.

In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, delivered by Professor Christina Sharp (Tufts University), was hosted by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) 

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Creating safe spaces for language, culture and life

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Kevin Lamoureux, Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs and a doctoral candidate at University of Winnipeg, kicked off the “Remembering our past, rethinking the next 150 years and beyond” session with a bang. He disarmed the audience with his warm and self-deprecating sense of humour before dropping a proverbial emotional bombshell in recounting the circumstances and suicide of a young Indigenous woman named Kathleen.

This story provided grave context to Lamoureux’s definition of Indigenization, which he devised after seeking the advice of elders and knowledge keepers within the Indigenous community: for Lamoureux, Indiginization is all about safety. It is the need to establish safe spaces for the most marginalized members of our society who may not have safe spaces at home. He pointed out the responsibility of the academy to guarantee a place of physical and cultural safety for Indigenous students and scholars in a postcolonial society. He pointed out that establishing these spaces requires a lot of hard work and will be difficult to achieve, but he was buoyed by seeing so many allies packed into the standing room only event.

Professor Judy Iseke (University of Alberta) spoke passionately about the need to conserve Indigenous languages and her concerns at the current emphasis on the superficial in Inidiginization processes in the academy. For Professor Iseke, preserving Indigenous languages means preserving their accompanying knowledge systems, and retaining a people’s stories is the key step in retaining respect for them. Her own work in preserving language and stories began very personally, with the recording of her own family’s stories as recounted by her aunt, but quickly expanded beyond her personal context.

Both panelists also spoke passionately about opening space for Indigenous scholars and Indigenous languages in the academy. Lamoureux pointed out that language is synonymous with culture, and that culture is whatever seems normal to you. Language is also synonymous with power: language can be a material asset, one that can open doors or shut them just as quickly, and native speakers of dominant languages often take for granted the privileged position their circumstances provide. Professor Iseke pointed out that universities here in Canada still operate in the colonial languages of English or French, and that it is now time to push the boundaries that suppress Indigenous languages by opening space for students to write and present their work in their native Indigenous languages.

The panel closed with an Indigenous graduate student and member of the audience thanking the panelists for modelling how to be an Indigenous academic and showing the way forward for future Indigenous scholars.

Kevin Lamoureux and Judy Iseke together made up a panel discussion entitled Remembering our past, rethinking the next 150 years and beyond at Congress 2017 at Ryerson University. This cross-disciplinary session was co-hosted by: Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE), Canadian Historical Association (CHA), Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) and Canadian Sociological Association (CSA). 

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Concrete Change Begins with Empathy, but It Doesn’t End there

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

According to the panelists at a Congress session called “On Indigenous lands: Empathy and social justice,” the formation and findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada constitute just the first and very incomplete step in addressing the injustices that plague Canada both past and present. 

For Professor Joanna Quinn (Western University), reconciliation is the intersection of empathy and justice and the discovery or rediscovery of facts surrounding gross abuses of human rights. However, past examples show that societies emerging from such trauma aren’t immediately open to truth commissions, but are usually reticent if not openly hostile to such processes. How then can people be made to care about uncovering these truths and about what others have suffered? According to Quinn, the “soil” of post-conflict society needs to be “amended” for reconciliation and transitional justice through what she terms “thin sympathy” for the other: a basic understanding of how the other lives, what happened to them, and a simple acknowledgment of their humanity. However, thin sympathy is just the leading edge of understanding, the initial move toward generating “thick sympathy” and eventual empathy.  The reconciliation process requires at least thin sympathy among outsiders and bystanders, and without a combination of empathetic champions and at least thin sympathy at a critical mass in the general population, reconciliation cannot succeed.

As an Indigenous academic and a constitutional scholar, Professor Kiera Ladner (University of Manitoba) brought unique and deep insight to the panel. She pointed out that reconciliation needs to move beyond empathy to concrete action. While current reconciliation programs in countries like Canada and Australia—where Ladner has worked for the last seven years on constitutional reform—focus on relatively narrow elements of endemic injustice, these efforts need to be refocused on the issues that really matter to Indigenous peoples: land, sovereignty and self-determination. According to Ladner, Indigenous peoples don’t want “one big hug” as part of a nation building process. Instead, the very notion of the “Aboriginal problem” needs to be flipped on its head: it is not an issue of Indigenous peoples needing to reconcile with Canada, but an issue of non-Indigenous Canadians needing to learn our nation’s true history and find out what it means to live on Indigenous lands. All Canadians need a greater understanding of Indigenous law and what it means to live under treaty law and as a treaty people.

Sociologist that he is, Professor Fuyuki Kurasawa (York University) proposed a taxonomy of three tasks in reconciliation: remembrance and commemoration, acceptance and assuming responsibility, and justice as a process of decolonization. He also pointed out that the process of reconciliation here in Canada is collectively asymmetrical. Non-Indigenous Canadians cannot determine if reconciliation has been achieved or demand that Indigenous peoples accept it: this right must be ceded to the victims of systemic injustice and violence. He pointed out that reconciliation is a relational, ongoing process that always has the potential to fail, and that there are no shortcuts or half-measures.

All three panelists pointed out that understanding and education are important first steps in the path to reconciliation and reform, but they remain first steps only. Real change can only take place when justice is brought forth through concrete measures.

Professors Joanna Quinn, Kiera Ladner and Fuyuki Kurasawa participated in a panel discussion entitled On Indigenous lands: Empathy and social justice at Congress 2017 at Ryerson University, and hosted by the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists at the Royal Society of Canada.

 

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How we treat our land Now will determine our country’s future

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

According to the incomparable Wade Davis, it is the role of anthropology to show us that every culture has something to say and each deserves to be heard. And that the people of the Sacred Headwaters have something spectacular to share with us — something that needs to be protected and preserved. For Davis, the story of the Sacred Headwaters is deeply personal, because this region, one of the last places on earth to receive sustained contact with Europeans and their North American descendants, is where he chooses to call home.

Speaking with his customary eloquence and humour, and accompanied by his own stunning photographs of the region, Davis described a unique landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers under threat from unscrupulous venture capitalists and self-centred politicians looking forward to the next election, not the next generation. Various mining and natural gas extraction programs have fallen to their own short-sightedness, but the provincial government of British Columbia needed to justify huge spending at taxpayer expense and so allowed Imperial Metals to set up gold and copper mining operations in the area that have contaminated the land, water and air.

To Davis, this is not a question of mines or no mines, but where to build those mines, at what cost, and to whose benefit. Imperial Metals has removed billions of dollars worth of gold from Northwestern BC, and none of that money has gone to infrastructure for the people living there. Davis pointed out that this is not just a local issue: it is about our future as a society and a country. It is about whether we are going to continue to allow people with no connection to the land to exploit it and leave scars on the physical and human infrastructure in the name of development and profit at any cost. He called for a regeneration of hope for real democracy, and for a return to accountability and transparency.

The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass was part of the Big Thinking lecture series at Congress 2017. 

Canada and Hungary are both celebrating their 150th birthdays: What can each learn from the other’s example?

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest blog by Caleb Snider, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

Do the nation-states of Canada and Hungary share anything beyond their modern founding in the year 1867? This was the topic up for discussion at “Nation and Narrative: Challenges Moving Forward,” a panel and roundtable discussion hosted by the Hungarian Studies Association of Canada (HSAC) on May 27. Panelists Gregor Kranjc, Steve Jobbitt, Eva Kovacs, and Derakhshan Qurban-Ali presented a diverse selection of papers on subjects including the history of post-Hapsburg Hungary, the rise of Catholic Nationalism in neighbouring post-Soviet Slovenia, and contemporary Hungarian attitudes toward refugees in the current European refugee crisis.

After their presentations, the panelists opened up the discussion to include the audience, which generated some very lively discussion. When one audience member expressed sincere doubt that Canada and Hungary share anything of substance beyond the year 1867, Professor Jobbitt (Lakehead University) pointed out that the foundation (or re-foundation) of both nations have to be put into the global context of nineteenth-century imperialism: both were junior partners in a larger imperial project, and both Canada and Hungary were the subjects of nation building as a “colonial process.” A detailed discussion of these similarities is missing from the literature, but it is precisely to further explore these comparisons that the panel was held.

Of special interest were the historic and contemporary attitudes toward refugees in Canada and Hungary. While Ms. Qurban-Ali (McGill University) described the dominant narrative in Hungary today that represents refugees as a threat to Hungarian national identity, the other panelists touched on the history of Hungarian refugees following the failed revolution of 1956. In response, one audience member brought up the notion that in 1956, the Canadian popular media celebrated the influx of Hungarian refugees, stating that they would “ennoble a young nation,” and audience and panel alike wondered where sentiments like these are in a contemporary Canada that is supposedly so welcoming to refugees. In a popular discourse where accepting refugees is so often portrayed as an act of humanitarian charity, highlighting the good done by the host country for the refugees, where is the discussion of the good that refugees bring to their host country?

TheNation and narrative: Challenges moving forward” panel discussion was part of the Hungarian Studies Association of Canada (HSAC) program at Congress 2017.  

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Congress 2017 in the news - May 31

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Print coverage

The forgotten nudes of Canada (National Post)
Date: May 31, 2017
Thousands of academics have gathered in Toronto this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from whether poutine is a form of cultural appropriation to the ampersand as a symbol of gentrification. 

 

Also appears in the following outlets: 

  • Saskatoon StarPhoenix
  • Vancouver Sun
  • Calgary Herald
  • Ottawa Citizen
  • Edmonton Journal
  • Windsor Star
  • Montreal Gazette
  • Regina Leader-Post

Online coverage

Canada's forgotten nudes: Prudishness wasn't only reason genre was lost in Group of Seven's shadow (National Post (Online))
Date: May 31, 2017
Story on a paper presented to the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences on Wednesday at Ryerson University. *Also ran in the print edition of multiple newspapers.

City and colour (Ryerson University (Online))
Date: May 30, 2017
You are now in the main content area City hall is lit up in Ryerson's colours in recognition of the university hosting Congress 2017 May 30, 2017 Photo: Toronto city hall is lit up in blue and gold in honour of Ryerson hosting this year's... 

​Broadcast coverage

CityNewsTonight (Citytv Toronto (CITY-TV))
Date: May 30, 2017
Airtime: 23:03
greaves adventist academy are committed to providing quality education and enriching learning experiences to its students. while we work through the concerns stated by parents and other stakeholders, we welcome those associated with the school to contact the quebec conference office of education.

CityNewsTonight (Citytv Toronto (CITY-TV))
Date: May 30, 2017
Airtime: 23:07
down and speak with them. meanwhile the landlord tenant board hearing is set for ne