[This post was originally published in the “Word from the President” column in Intersections 1.3.]
By Adele Perry
The CHA|SHC is one of the organizations involved with The|La Collaborative, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC] of Canada-funded network dedicated to fostering Social Sciences and Humanities knowledge and skills in society at large. In part, this involves discussing and promoting a range of different ways of being a social science or humanities scholar outside of the formal academy: in elementary and secondary classrooms, in media both new and old, and wherever we might find opportunity and cause to demonstrate the capacity of scholarly practice.
What historians can contribute to this is a long and I think notable history of practicing our scholarship in public. In 2010, Joy Parr explained that historical practice “attentive to contemporary concerns, engaged in policy and with an engaged citizenry has existed as long as historical scholarship has existed in Canada.” The causes, communities, and issues that historians engage with have changed, as have the tools and technologies that historians use to engage and communicate. But the basic fact of historians’ willingness to connect their research to the present and to speak to communities beyond the archive and classroom is longstanding.
In the last decade, Canada’s historical community have seen a number of new initiatives that mobilize historical knowledge and expertise to contribute to wider discussions. These are notable and worth discussing in a forum like Intersections unto themselves. That these initiatives are significantly organized and maintained by junior scholars, many of whom who have done so without the resources of tenure-track or tenured appointments, should give us all additional pause. As a profession, our capacity to engage robustly with wider conversations and publics is not threatened by scholarly disinterest as much as it is by a precarious condition that a generation of historians are compelled to navigate. Continue reading