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Abstracts, 5 April




By Judy Haiven, Saint Mary’s University

Race & Retail in Halifax, Nova Scotia

African-Nova Scotians are more than 4% of the population in Nova Scotia’s capital city, Halifax but little more than 2% are working in the “front of the shop”  retail sales at hundreds of establishments in the Halifax area. In fact, they are under-represented by 42.5 per cent.  Why is this? The literature suggests that despite the fact that retail sales jobs form the bulk of entry-level positions; these jobs are not available to African Nova Scotians in Halifax. In more than 300 shops and kiosks in the food courts, the malls and on the street, there were 965 employees working in sales at the front of shops, or at the counter in food services.  Of them, only 23 or 2.3% were African Nova Scotian. As noted above, 4% of residents of Metro Halifax identified on the Census 2006 as African Nova Scotian (Statistics Canada). 

This paper is about findings of a study conducted in the summer of 2010.  The study concerned who worked in retail shops in two large shopping malls and a street of shops in Halifax.  While on the face of it, who works in retail may elicit a big yawn.  However, this particular study looks at who, in terms of African Nova Scotians and other visible minorities, gets jobs in the front of shops, at the counter, serving customers – in other words who is (and is not) the public face of shops, services and even food court eateries in Metro Halifax. 

Gianluca Gentili, University of Siena

A “Worldwide Rights’ Culture:” Decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada as a Model to Address Identity-challenging Issues in Modern Societies

The “migration of constitutional ideas” represents one of the most interesting features of contemporary constitutionalism: constitutional systems increasingly influence each other, and national institutions refer to foreign legal experiences searching for solutions to common legal problems arising domestically. An example is the practice of courts to refer to foreign case law in the adjudication of domestic cases, a practice linked to the need of courts worldwide to “close ranks” and refer to each other’s decisions in dealing with new and unprecedented issues which challenge traditional views on identity-defining aspects of our lives.

Since the enactment of the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has established itself as one of the most respected and progressive Courts worldwide in the area of fundamental rights protection. Decisions of the SCC have become an important point of reference for foreign courts in deciding controversial cases which challenge traditional views of marriage and dignity in life and generate social anxiety, and their rhetoric, reasoning and texts circulate and influence foreign jurisdictions.

The paper will focus on the influence exerted on other foreign Courts by SCC’s decisions on two controversial issues: same-sex marriage and assisted suicide. The 1994 Rodriguez v. British Columbia decision on the constitutionality of assisted suicide has been cited and followed by the Supreme Courts of United States and India and the European Court of Human Rights in upholding the bans against assisted suicide existing in their respective jurisdictions. On the other hand, the 2004 Canadian Same-Sex Marriage Reference declaring the constitutionality of same-sex marriage has been cited by the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Portuguese Constitutional Tribunal in their decisions to recognize the right of same-sex couples to access one of the most fundamental forms of union in our societies. 

Amy Hinterberger, University of London

Securing the Nation’s Health? Exploring New Genetic Technologies and Multicultural Politics in Canada

In 2000, the Canadian government launched a concerted funding effort to establish Genome Canada. Dedicated to developing and implementing a national scientific strategy, Genome Canada invests and manages large-scale human genetics projects. However, these political and economic commitments also require investing in particular forms of human difference, consequently excavating histories of race, ethnicity and populations, as well as debates over the nature of human difference. As the first nation to declare itself officially multicultural, there has been little attempt to examine how Canada’s genetics research strategy intersects with political aspects of cultural and ethnic difference in Canada.

In this paper, I explore how processes of human classification, relating to concepts of population, race, origin and ancestry, are gaining salience in the large-scale study of human DNA for health and disease in Canada. Over the last ten years there has been increasing investment and acceleration of population and biomedical genomics research for health in Canada. When combined with the future promises of genomic medicine, national support for large-scale human DNA research forms a powerful narrative: by curing the ills of certain populations, genomic research will also cure the ills of an unjust society. Biomedical genomics is thus a pivotal arena where vexed questions of how group differences come to matter are negotiated. Drawing on interviews with Canadian scientists and bioethicists, along with participant observation at conferences and workshops, my paper explores how genetic research intersects with national histories, cultural belonging and imagined futures.


Literature 4

Britta Olinder, Gothenburg University

War and Conflict in Janice Kulyk Keefer's Work

It is particularly two works by Keefer that deal with war and the conflicts of war: The novel entitled The Green Library and the poetic sequence "Etty Hillesum".

In The Green Library we get the picture of Ukraine as a fertile plain without natural defense against conquering armies from all quarters throughout history but especially plagued by the repeated aggression from Russia, in the last century reciprocated by the German Nazi power. The effect of this on the Canadian main character and even more, of course, on her family as representatives of a large group of immigrants makes it a Canadian background history.

In the other work of seventy-three poems Keefer sums up the more than seven hundred pages of diaries and letters left by a Jewish woman in Amsterdam who died in Auschwitz. Etty Hillesum's experience and view of the Second World War sets large-scale action in the perspective of the trivialities of daily life and the intimate circle of family and friends. 

Whether a character is confronted by destruction, cynicism or just petty selfishness what matters, Keefer seems to say, is what the individual makes of the situation: trying to escape or meeting danger and death head-on. I do not think Keefer had a didactic purpose but she makes us reflect on what life is about and what conflicts and wars are worth fighting. 

Sarah Galletly, University of Strathclyde

 ‘The cream of our womanhood’: Representations of wartime nursing in Canadian fiction (1890s-1920s)

This paper will explore the impact the Boer War and the First World War had on the fictional representation of women’s work at the turn of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on depictions of wartime nursing and the figure of the VAD nurse.  Margaret and Patrice Higonnet’s “Double Helix” model will be central to these discussions of women’s work during the war.  In their study, Higonnet and Higonnet argue that women were only able to take on more masculine roles on the home-front because men were involved in the hyper-masculine environment of war.  This ensured that overall gender norms remained unchanged.  But what happened when women also began to appear on the front-lines? And how were these women represented in the fiction of the period?

Drawing from short stories by authors such as J. G. Sime, Nellie McClung and Kit Coleman, this paper will discuss whether female wartime workers were portrayed as liberated (both socially and economically) by these new opportunities, or if they were instead merely fulfilling a duty until they could return to their ‘natural’ duties back in the home.  It will also uncover whether the depiction of wartime nurses differed from traditional fictional representations of nursing, and if these figures were given more potential for agency within the unsettling and insecure context of wartime.

Katrin Urschel

Choreographing the ‘Peaceable Kingdom’: The Representation of Dance in Canadian Historical Fiction

Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion (1987) and Jane Urquhart’s Away (1993) reimagine violent encounters in Canadian history. Curiously, both novels feature dancers whose performances are choreographed in such a way that they inspire audience members – the protagonists in the novels – to become involved in acts of violence. Although the dances are non-violent acts, they draw attention to the body as a site and a source of violence. As a form of non-verbal expression within a literary structure, they also draw attention to the pervasiveness and the implications of miscommunication in society. The dances in Ondaatje’s and Urquhart’s novels are essentially metaphors for the myth of the ‘peaceable kingdom’. Concerned with the aesthetic potential of dance, my paper analyses the dancers’ attempts at communicating through movements and compares them to the depicted audiences’ interpretation of the dances and their resulting actions. I use performance theory to look at the dancer as an embodiment of politics and a vehicle for the promotion of social change.

Canadian Multiculturalism is often derided as a policy that reduces ethnic minorities to ‘song and dance’ culture. Whereas song has been traditionally associated with poetry and examined as part of national discourses, dance has received scant attention as a literary motif. Who dances, and why? Is dance a means of representing cultural distinctness or does it transcend ethnic boundaries? Focusing on dance within a literary discourse of violence and peace, my paper illustrates the extent to which dance and choreography bear the potential for intercultural dialogue and integration.


Security 3: Securing Canada in Europe: The Example of West Germany

Frauke Brammer, JFK Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Engagement from Below: Canadian Military Personnel in West Germany

Dr Petra Dolata-Kreutzkamp, Department of War Studies, King's College London

Engagement from Above: NATO and Canada's relationship with West Germany

Using the case study of Canadian military presence in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s both papers address how specific understandings of security were used to justify Canada's role in Europe but also how these understandings were reinterpreted and adapted on the ground. They also aim to shed light on the existence (or not) of a security community. How did ideas of security converge? To answer this, we ask first of all how soldiers and their family stationed in West Germany interpret their role? Frauke Brammer will investigate in how far daily practices and encounters with Germans were part of a larger security discourse. While this paper will look at practices bottom up, the paper by Petra Dolata-Kreutzkamp will use the concept of security communities in a foreign policy analysis of Canada's European and German policy under Trudeau. It asks whether the existence of such a community helped weather the storm after Trudeau's announcement in the late 1960s of withdrawing Canadian troops from Europe/Germany.



Panel 1:  Canadian ‘Insecurities’: American Imperialism and Canadian Nationalism in the Long Sixties

Stephen Azzi, Laurentian University

An American Invasion in English-Canadian Popular Novels of the 1970s

In the early 1970s, an American military invasion of Canada became a common theme in Canadian popular novels.  It figured prominently in The Trudeau Papers, by Ian Adams; Ultimatum and Exxoneration, both by Richard Rohmer; and The Killing Ground: The Canadian Civil War by Ellis Portal (pseudonym for Bruce Powe), works that are as much a part of Canada’s intellectual history as the novels of Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, and other prominent writers of the era.  Angrily dismissed at the time as foolish potboilers, the novels of Adams, Rohmer, and Powe have been largely ignored by later scholars.  Yet popular culture often accurately reflects the public mood and is thus worthy of study.  Long since consigned to obscurity, these novels might not have broken any artistic ground, but they provide one measure of the English Canadian mindset in the second half of the Long Sixties. 

Sales figures indicate the degree to which these novels tapped into the English-Canadian mindset.  The bestselling Canadian novel of 1973, Ultimatum sold 250,000 copies worldwide and was on the Toronto Star’s national bestseller list for 36 weeks; Exxoneration sold 100,000 copies, putting it on the bestseller list for 21 weeks.  These sales figures reflect not the literary merit of these works, but their ability to speak to Canadian anxieties about the United States and the basic tensions at the heart of English Canada’s New Nationalism.  Resonating with paranoia, these popular novels reveal much about the state of the English Canadian psyche in the early 1970s, including the extent to which Canadians lacked confidence in their country’s future and the way that the American war in Vietnam, the racial conflict in the United States, and the Watergate scandal fostered distrust toward the United States. 

Kevin Brushett, Royal Military College of Canada

 “Don’t Give Me No Hand Me Down Peace Corps”:  The Company of Canadians and the New Nationalism, 1965-1975.

The 1960s and 1970s are remembered in Canadian history as the great flowering of national sentiment, if not national independence.  Launched in 1965 as part of the Pearson government's War on Poverty, the Company of Young Canadians was a critical part of that exercise of nation building.  Widely hailed as Canada's answer to John F Kennedy's Peace Corps, the CYC was intended to put the idealism of young Canadians to work in helping communities solve the stubborn social, political and economic problems which plagued them.  In this sense the CYC drew heavily on the growing nationalism of young Canadians to make the nation a more “Just Society” in contrast to the Great Society of the United States.  But as much as Canadians drew upon examples (Peace Corps, War on Poverty, Great/Just Society) from their southern neighbours, they were also worried that their own programs and institutions would be at best a pale reflection of them, or at worst yet another example of the influences of American imperialism on Canadian culture, politics and society.  In this sense the CYC represents in microcosm the ways in which Canadians grappled with the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of American culture on Canada’s national development during this decade.

Lara Campbell, Simon Fraser University

‘Our Own Merchants of Death’:  Canadian Activism and Nationalism during the Vietnam War

As tens of thousands of Americans left the United States to avoid the Vietnam draft, the transnational movement of bodies across borders had an impact on Canada itself. The permeability of the border, which allowed for the immigration of war resisters, existed within a growing anti-American sentiment, which ranged from a critique of American dominance in Canadian institutions to conservative concerns that draft dodgers were cowards and traitors.

This paper focuses on two examples of how various strands of nationalist critique merged in antiwar discourse in Canada. First, antiwar critiques of American foreign policy in Vietnam were situated within two simultaneous discourses, which the left attempted to reconcile. Vietnam was understood as an example of the rotten American soul, and an outgrowth of U.S. imperialism? But Vietnam was also “Canada’s war,” due to complicity in arms and chemical warfare production. Emphasizing complicity was a way for the Canadian New Left to make resistance to the Vietnam war a Canadian issue, but tensions over this strategy grew as some activists emphasized the colonization of Canada and the impossibility of a an independent economy or foreign policy.

Second, the narrative of the heroic draft dodger countered portrayals of antiwar protestors as cowards and traitors. If dodging was a revolutionary rejection of America, the draft dodger was placed within a long lineage of “idealistic” freedom seekers who had left the United States. Both the UEL and former slaves were refigured as heroes who had resisted the scourge of American exploitation in the face of the power of the American state. This mythologizing served the longing of Americans for a Canada that was a “haven from militarism,” and the desire of Canadian nationalists to imagine Canada as a historical haven for resisters to American exploitation. 


Literature 5

Mei-Chuen Wang, Fo Guang University

Home and Away, Home and Abroad: Jane Urquhart’s Away and Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees

While Away dramatizes the emergence of settler nationalism as an act of postcolonial reassertion of Canadian history, Fall on Your Knees retrieves a gloomy past from oblivion because the specter of miscegenation conjured up by that past challenges the underlying assumptions about race and ethnicity in the master-narrative of Canada. At first glance, it seems that the two novels have little in common. In terms of genre, however, both are family sagas, each following generations of a family in their struggle for the establishment of home in a different territory. What the Irish immigrants in Away have to cope with is not just a tension between nostalgia for the homeland left behind and desire to identify with the new land they emigrate to. Since this new land is seized from Native populations by the same regime that has oppressed them, and since a call for a new national consciousness is being promoted for this land, their search for home is caught in a tangled relationship between the British colonizer, the Native colonized and the advocate of Canadian Confederation. In Fall on Your Knees, the search for home is motivated by New World myth and characterized by a struggle between English Canadians and groups of new immigrants of other ethnic or racial origins. Though the colonial encounter with Natives is not presented in the novel, MacDonald complicates the search for home with issues of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and religion. This paper aims to explore how the alien land of Canada is transformed into home by settlers and immigrants through the dialectic between nostalgia and historical amnesia in these two novels. Particular attention will be drawn to the destabilization of the connection between home and safety and to the dialogic relationship between what is home and what is away or abroad in the mental space of these characters. By juxtaposing the different ways of envisioning home in the two novels, this paper also hopes to illustrate the ways in which New World myth is undermined.

Andreea Raluca Topor (Constantin), University of Bucharest/Romanian-American University 

Margaret Laurence’s Manawaka: the promise of a ‘peaceable kingdom’?

Margaret Laurence’s Manawaka cycle (1964-1974) is considered to set an example of what “Canadian-based and gender-inclusive material” should mean (J.A. Wainwright).

To these exceptional qualities of her writing, I would like to add another one: the inclusion of the “other” into her fiction. Laurence’s Manawaka is not only set in the Canadian prairie and populated by strong female characters, but it is also represented by racial and ethnic minorities, generally considered “the most neglected and forgotten among us” (K. Gunnars). Although Laurence’s work has been broadly researched, few studies focus on how her fiction portrays the encounters between the white and the Metis people or the Scots, Irish, Ukrainians, Germans and Icelandic settlers, all these heroes and heroines being not commonly analysed according to the community within which they are inscribed.

I consider that Laurence’s work can be considered avant la lettre from many perspectives but this paper aims to demonstrate that the Manawaka cycle is at least “multivoiced” (C.A. Howells) in including the perspective of the marginalized. Same as in Edward Hicks’s paintings, which inspired my title, nobody seems to have been left out of the picture. By means of her fiction, the author mirrors the interactions between the prairie people of her native town Neepawa during the 1960 and ‘70s. The author reconsiders these racial and ethnic identities in the imaginary Manawaka, constructing a stable, secure and peaceful microcosm, where conflicts and crises between the various communities, although overlooked from time to time, are kept under control.

To have a complete picture of Margaret Laurence’s literary credos, I suggest that her fictional works be analysed in the wider context of all her writings (articles, essays, interviews, memoirs and letters).

Ewa Bodal, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland

"The world so sweet." Community tensions and otherness in selected short stories by Alice Munro

Ever since the publication of her first short story collection in 1968, Alice Munro has devoted the majority of her texts to exploring contemporary Canadian realities and problems. The primary locus of a Munro story becomes a small Canadian town, which can be seen as a prototypical Canadian location, or even a miniature model of the state itself. However, bearing in mind that relation, it may appear puzzling that rather than reflect the multicultural make up of Canadian society, a typical Munro community seems ethnically homogeneous. Conversely, the typical markers of otherness in Munro’s stories turn out to be disability, chronic illness - such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease - and old age.

While the Canadian communities in Alice Munro's stories might at first glance appear peaceful, or even idyllic, they are quickly revealed to be just the opposite: unstable, buzzing with tension, or even torn by conflicts. The herein proposed paper would focus on this theme of community tensions in Munro's short stories. I would begin by reflecting on the composition of a prototypical town / community in Munro's fictions, as well as on the widespread occurrence of conflicts within these assemblages of people. I would then go on to theorize the reasons behind community tensions in Munro's short stories, attempting to make a case for the aforementioned markers of otherness as constituting a major cause of uneasiness and a source of conflict for the inhabitants of Munro's Canadian towns. Finally, time allowing, I would try to relate these fictional tensions to the reality of the Canadian state.


Aboriginal Studies

Jessica Woodman, Carleton University

Rita Joe and Radical Ambivalence in Atlantic Canadian Literature 

Rita Joe's poetry is part of a growing body of literature among Indigenous people around the world that is concerned with rewriting and recovering their history.  In unique ways, Rita Joe displays a radical political view about Canada that juxtaposes a “national illusion” with the suppressed voices of lived experience (Bhabha 309).  The effect of this juxtaposition creates a counter narrative to the “imagined community” of the nation (Bhabha 315).  Her writing subverts the homogenizing positive rhetoric of national discourse by discussing controversial issues such as cultural genocide and the systemic racism of the Residential School and using a style that, at least on one level seems like conservative English poetry.  Joe’s “misperformance” of this  conventional poetic apparatus should be considered subversive because it effectively interrupts the mythology of multicultural discourse and replaces that narrative with the actual lived experience of an Aboriginal Canadian. The experiences of the First Nations people who suffered through the discrimination and the assimilation tactics in the Residential Schools have often been treated as an “invisible” part of the Canadian historical narrative.   By countering this situation and creating visibility for the often violent way that Canada established and maintains its hegemonic authority, Joe’s voice provides a powerful alternative to the widely held North American myths of social, economic, and political progress. The cultural genocide of First Nations people is a shocking counter narrative to the widely held progressive ideology of Canadian experience and Rita Joe's poetry has fascinating   ambivalent qualities that form a unique resistance to the political status quo in Canada.

David Stirrup, University of Kent

Art, Borders, Citizenship: Containment and Flux in selected works by Eric Gansworth and Thomas King

“…I leave the air-conditioned building and head out into the west Texas sun, and the fact that I can now slide my license back in my wallet, and become someone I am not—a citizen of New York State, and thus, a citizen of the United States of America, as well—is no great comfort.”

Eric Gansworth, ‘Identification Pleas’

This paper will consider questions of cultural/historical reclamation, nationhood, and citizenship in, and in relation to, selected poetry and prose by Onondaga artist and author Eric Gansworth and Thomas King’s novel Truth & Bright Water. Focusing particularly on the role of art and the artist this paper will examine the traversal of borders and boundaries—both real and apparent, hard and ‘fluid’—between image and text, mythic and ‘real’, between individuals, and individuals and communities, and between nations. Probing the way both writers use art and the figure of the artist/art critic to examine an array of cultural assumptions, the elision of Native peoples from the national ‘landscape’, and the specific territorial, or ‘landed’ concerns of indigenous sovereignty, I will argue that both writers are engaged in the redefining of the arbitrary national border in favour of more complex, nuanced, and above all self-defining notions of citizenship. In parallel to this textual analysis, then, I will also look at King’s decision to leave the United States and take up Canadian citizenship, alongside Gansworth’s eschewal of US citizenship and his refusal to obtain a passport on the grounds that that in itself would deny him his status as citizen of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. These personal matters of belonging are intricately tied up in the broader cultural and political questions their work raises, and in their own roles as indigenous writers/artists in the USA and Canada.



Panel 2: State of (In)Security: Constructing and contesting Canadian national identity

Whilst the state codifies the legal contours of nationhood, other discourses offer sites where such strictures may be unsettled, questioned and expressed afresh. Through literary, cinematic, philosophical and theoretical approaches, this panel critically rethinks notions of Canadian national identity and citizenship. As such, it considers 'security' and 'insecurity' as states of subjective wellbeing, which are nevertheless wedded to the state's ability to account for the dynamic complexity of identities for whom it acts as a guarantor of protection.

This panel thus seeks to ask: Can citizenship be untethered from national boundaries and notions of the nation state? How do questions of cultural sovereignty negotiate and expose tensions inherent to formulations of national identity? To what extent can queer and indigenous theory reformulate these questions away from traditional frameworks? Does multiple citizenship fracture identity beyond repair, or help reveal the multifaceted and constructed nature of nationhood? Can citizenship be reconceived as an ongoing process of negotiation, or is it stuck as a static concept? Furthermore, can the cultural provide a language and space open to novel and fluid constructions of national identity?

Submitted by 49th Parallel journal

Zalfa Feghali

Queer citizenship and the poetry of Erín Moure

According to Edward Said, a theory’s initial power and intensity becomes quite tame once time has passed and it has been incorporated into mainstream academia. In this paper I investigate the plausibility of the concept of queer citizenship. Here, the term ‘queer’ is used as a verb to denote the way the concept and structure(s) of citizenship become unsettled, troubled, and critiqued when confronted with identities and/or subjectivities they cannot account for.  Thus, the question becomes: how far can queer theory and theories of citizenship travel? Is it possible for citizenship to be queered? Must the concept of the citizen always be tied to the notion of the “nation-state” (and therefore national boundaries)? Or can we conceive of citizenship that has at its core principles of fluidity, self-reflexivity, and critique?

Using Erín Moure’s O Cidadán, my paper works to uncover this different kind of citizenship. Moure’s citizen, or cidadán, is constituted in and through language as an enactment across boundaries; the citizen and citizenship are here seen as ongoing processes rather than static concepts. In this context, Moure’s writing not only exposes the contradictions of citizenship, but also re-imagines notions of borders, community, and nationhood.

Maureen Kincaid Speller

Crossing the 49th Parallel: Canadian perspectives on cultural sovereignty

Maureen Speller explores the tensions between political and philosophical identities that surface in discussions about cultural sovereignty. Placing particular emphasis on Canadian indigenous perceptions, she takes the work of Taiaike Alfred as a starting point to examine differing responses to notions of cultural sovereignty.


Security 4

A. L. McCready, McMaster University (to be read by Judy Haiven)

The Yellow Ribbon Campaign

The yellow ribbons that have become so ubiquitous in Canada as the emblem of the national “Support or Troops” campaign are highly charged semiotic tools in a battle for public discourse, marking the growing militarization of Canadian society in an age of empire. I read the Yellow Ribbon here as neoliberal cultural pedagogy, an everyday means by which individuals learn and teach specific cultural values and tropes, both explicitly and implicitly. As a symbol and commodity and perhaps more importantly an everyday social and cultural practice, the yellow ribbon offers a glimpse into the dense cultural and political forces involved in the re-scripting of Canadian national mythologies in the present, according to a logic of militarized neoliberalism.

Within a global social and political context marked by the triumph of the market over social values, the career of the yellow ribbon in Canada facilitates a shift away from “peacekeeping” as a dominant legitimating narrative, a shift supposedly necessary given the harsh realities of our  “post-9/11 world.” Rather than suggesting that peacekeeping was once an untroubled manifestation of the national character, however, I examine the discursive and political ramifications of the declining power of a peacekeeping narrative as an ideal and an organizing logic, and the growth in other modes of understanding military engagement-- a shift that I argue has occurred largely in the absence of broad public support and democratic debate. With a symbolic history quite specific to the United States, I am interested in how the iconography and language associated with the yellow ribbon came to have such a profound influence over the cultural politics of Canada’s participation in the War on Terror. Indeed, the yellow ribbon has been an instrumental cultural and material artifact by which Canada’s role in the world has shifted.

Smaro Kamboureli, University of Guelph

Narrating Humanitarianism: Its Tropes, Affective Instrumentality, and Politics

This paper relies on the premise that humanitarianism is inextricably related to narration, and that the tropes and representational politics of the narrativization of humanitarianism operate as registers of its ambivalent moral economy. Narrating humanitarianism has a long and complicated history (Laqueur, Haskell, Norris, Slaughter), as does Canada’s national imaginary that is constructed around notions of peacekeeping and, more recently, discourses of in/security (Härting and Kamboureli).  Rather than offering a reading of a single text, I theorize (based on my work in progress about the topic) Canadian humanitarian narratives (e.g., Bush, Connelly, Courtmanche, Dallaire) as a distinct yet hybrid genre that belongs to the technology of humanitarian action. Narration, in this instance, is not only an instrument that represents humanitarian crises; it is also designed to produce affect, incite humanitarian action that, more often than not, involves capitalist charity, and serve the interests of sovereign nation-states that undertake humanitarian missions. By analyzing the tropes characterizing this “genre”—e.g., what I call distant close reading and documenting the undocumentable—I argue that humanitarian narration does not merely stand for different modes of producing storied constructions of the “other,” but also constitutes the discursive zones within which humanitarianism, be it conceived as that of the "old" or "new" kind (Campbell, Greenaway, Nederveen Pieterse), operates. Because humanitarian narratives engage both with the conditions and politics of naked or bare life (Arendt, Agamben), their study has the capacity to bring into relief the techne of the human condition (Foucault).  Through their "purposive shaping" (Cheah) of readers, humanitarian narratives actualize their instrumentality by inspiriting readers with the norms of what constitutes the (Western / Canadian) notions of the human and the anti-human, while also moving beyond mere instrumentality by becoming themselves normative and producing “compassion fatigue” (Berlant, Moeller). Thus, far from attaching a macabre naturalness to the preoccupation with “others” that have died violently or need rescuing, the concern and fascination with the suffering, dehumanized, or dead body gestures toward the “necropolitics” (Mmembe) of humanitarian intervention and of the exercise of sovereignty, conditions inextricably related with discourses of peacekeeping and in/security.


History 2

Lucille H. Campey

Security by Stealth: why English parishes sent their paupers to Upper Canada during the early 19th century 

The growing economic and social turmoil in Britain during the early decades of the 19th century led many English parishes to use their poor rates to subsidise emigration. The removal of paupers was justified on the grounds that such action would release them from the miseries of the workhouse and give them the prospect of a new and better life abroad. And by means of a one-off payment, local ratepayers were spared the burden of funding spiralling poor relief costs. Such schemes brought large numbers of English paupers to Upper Canada, with the numbers peaking  during the 1830s. Yet, if their aim was solely economic, why were most paupers sent to an expensive-to-reach destination like Upper Canada? If they had been directed to the Maritime colonies, costs would have been halved. This paper will argue that Upper Canada was selected preferentially because of the British government’s concerns over the colony’s vulnerability to attack from the United States. Although their numbers were relatively small, English paupers were at least a welcome supplement to Upper Canada’s population, especially that part of it which was loyal to British interests.

Using newspaper reports, immigrant letters, contemporary reports and official sources the paper will assess how parish-aided emigration schemes operated. Did English paupers have the background and experience to readily adapt to pioneer life? What impact did they have on Upper Canada’s early development? Did people who came in groups settle together or did they disperse? Was the generous funding given to paupers a sign that inducements had been needed to persuade them to emigrate?

Magdalena Marczuk-Karbownik, University of Łódź, Poland

Problem of Canada at the British-American Peace Talks in Ghent in 1814

After the War of 1812 the Canadians became more united what was a consequence of the successful defense of their territory during the American attack. The attempt of conquering Canada by its neighbors caused the rise of anti-American ideology in the 19th century among the British speaking and the inhabitants of Quebec as well. Once again the Canadians showed the loyalty to the British Crown. But the Canadian people felt disappointed with the conditions of the peace treaty which terminated the war. The treaty of Ghent, signed December 24th, 1814 was the last peace treaty between the United States and Great Britain.

This paper examines the run of the peace talks in Ghent concerning the Canadian question. Among the British demands at the beginning of the negotiations there was a question of the safety of the boundary between the USA and Canadian territory by keeping the British fleet on the Great Lakes and creating an Indian buffer state. As the Treaty of Ghent finally established the order of status quo ante bellum, the standing boundary issue was resolved 3 years after by the Convention of 1818 while Rush-Bagot Agreement provided for a demilitarization of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Those treaties, followed by Webster-Ashburton treaty of 1842, not only established the borderline, but also guaranteed the peaceful relations between the United States and Canada.

James Stephen Krysiek, Mount St. Mary’s University

How Spending Less Increased Peace & Security: The Rush-Bagot Agreement of 1817

The Rush-Bagot Agreement of 1817 has been a cornerstone of Canadian-American relations since its ratification, but it was not rooted in an altruistic bilateral determination to promote lasting peace.  It originated in post-war financial contingencies.  For nearly a decade Britain had waged war in Europe, foiling Napoleon, and North America, defending its colonies.  The fledging American republic, at war with Britain from 1812 to 1814, had invaded Canada by land and lake and navigated between French and British maritime prohibitions in Atlantic waters.  With peace restored, demilitarizing the Great Lakes made economic sense for both signatories.  The dividends of cost cutting were security and peace.  Initially Canadians and Americans gained greater security by neutralizing a potential adversary on the waters the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  Over the long term, peace between Canada and the United States has been the true dividend of Rush-Bagot.  The accord has remained in force with since its inception, with bilateral adjustments to prevent smuggling, for example, and to strengthen border security since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 2001.

Jodie Robson,
Mar 17, 2011, 9:16 AM