Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

We’re all in this canoe called Canada together


Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

Referencing the famous statue “Spirit of Haida Gwaii” by Indigenous artist Bill Reid, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada) addressed the issue of accommodation in her Big Thinking lecture The Rule of Law in a Multicultural Society, hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences on May 30th.

The Chief Justice argued that accommodation is not a state to be achieved or a destination to be reached; it is an ongoing process, an ideal for which we must ever strive.

She spoke passionately about how to deal with diversity in modern society, how to deal with the “other,” which she sees as the most challenging issue facing the world today. She argued that Canada was founded as a nation that constitutionally recognized diversity (of various indigenous and European peoples under an umbrella of federalism that recognized differences in...

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HSS grads in the workplace: Better than Baristas


Peter Severinson, Policy Analyst, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

If you work in the humanities and social sciences (HSS), there is likely one myth you are tired of hearing: that their graduates will not be able to find good jobs, that they’ll all be working as overeducated baristas. Well, thanks to an enlightening presentation entitled Barista or better? Where will a university or college degree take you? on the opening day of Congress 2016 by Dr. Ross Finnie, we now know this isn’t true.

Finnie, whose background is in economics, is the Director of the Education Policy Research Initiative at the University of Ottawa. His group is studying the labour market outcomes of students who graduated from 14 universities and colleges between 2005 and 2012. The final report is not available yet, but Finnie was able to share an enlightening sneak peek to his Congress audience.

Finnie’s current project is a...

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Margaret Atwood: Compassion under contemporary conditions


Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

How can you describe a talk by Canadian literary icon and living legend Margaret Atwood? To do it true justice would take the literary chops of Ms. Atwood herself, something I will never claim to have. What I can say is that she is an intellectual iron gauntlet under a velvet glove of quiet dignity and razor-sharp wit.

As part of her keynote address today for the University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing’s Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions Interdisciplinary Symposium, Atwood dared to ask the question, “compassion: how much is too much?” Those of us who see compassion as a universal good might bridle at this inquiry; but in laying out a popular history of the nurse in Western culture (wives and mothers kept locked out of public life because of their “natural compassion,” near-angelic Florence Nightingale carbon copies, passive and sexually available objects)...

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The Power to Change: Leadership, community and resiliency


Zahura Ahmed, Congress 2016 student blogger

“Aho Mitayyuke Oyasin.” Mayor Naheed Nenshi greeted a full auditorium of Congress attendees with a traditional Indigenous greeting: “greetings to all of my relations.” This phrase, taken from the Lakota language, emphasizes the oneness and entwinement of society. Nenshi used the importance of this concept to deliver a gripping lecture on creating prosperous, resilient and functioning communities. He emphasized the necessity of people from all walks of life to work together in order to make good ideas a reality within their communities.

As arguably the most well-liked mayor in Canada, Nenshi was in a good position to speak on this matter. Recounting a tough moment in Calgary’s history, Nenshi told of his experience in responding to the 2013 floods in the city. A few facts that highlight the severity of this include: the Elbow River usually flows 30-40 cubic metres per second and at the time of the...

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Vaudeville as a form of indigenous self-expression


Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

What do you think of when you hear or read Vaudeville? Nostalgia for a simpler time of gas-lamp lit stage productions? A smile at the thought of the slapstick, episodic comedies that gave rise to early cinema and classic cartoons? Or maybe more problematic images such as the racialized minstrel shows?

I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have thought of Vaudeville as a space where indigenous performers could practice greater autonomy, self-determination and identity building than in any other venue available at the time. But this was one of the central points of Christine Bold’s fascinating lecture, “Indigenous Modernities: From Wild West to Vaudeville.”

Professor Bold (University of Guelph) described some of the results of her ongoing project to recover a hidden history in which native performers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used the Vaudeville stage to construct modern indigiocity....

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'The Container' theatre performance at Congress is innovative and fresh


Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2016 is about more than groundbreaking academic panels and innovative keynote speakers; it’s also about showcasing cultural events organized by the University of Calgary School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The first of these performances is an excerpt of the play The Container by Clare Bayley, directed and designed by University of Calgary MFA graduate students Azri Ali and Michael Sinnott.

Mr. Sinnott’s stage design features a wood and plexiglass replica of a standard shipping container wherein three female refugees, desperate to reach safety in Britain, must contend with an antagonistic agent working to smuggle them across the border—for a price. Placed on either side of the container, in a format that Mr. Sinnott describes as a “parliamentary stage” (political implication definitely intended), the audience is forced to contend not...

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Congress in the news - May 28


Congress 2016: Pseudolus


This weekend you've got a chance to see an ancient Roman play -- first performed way back in 191 B.C -- at a baseball diamond at Foothills Stadium. Clem Martini is the Chair of the U of C's drama department...

University of Calgary to host an inside scoop on Canadian politics

The Globe and Mail

It is often described as the academic Olympics, but the upcoming Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences that runs for the next week at the University of Calgary is...

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