New Paper: Sean Carleton: Rebranding Canada with Comics

ActiveHistory.ca is pleased to announce the publication of Sean Carleton’s Rebranding Canada with Comics: Canada 1812: Forged in Fire and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh:

Canada 1812: Forged in Fire. With permission.

Canada 1812: Forged in Fire. With permission.

In the current age of austerity, the Harper Government allocated over $28 million to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. For many historians this proved to be an unpopular decision. It even drew the ire of the much-maligned Jack Granatstein, who pointed out, “This is also a government that’s slashing the national archives dramatically and killing the national library by cuts. On the one hand they’re good for history and on the other hand they’re bad for history—you sometimes wonder if they really know what they are doing.”[1]

While historians are right to critique the controversial costs of the bicentennial celebrations in light of cuts to crucial public services, it is important to understand the government’s commemorative project as part of a more pernicious strategy of nation-building that historians Ian McKay and Jamie Swift identify as the “rebranding” of Canada as a “warrior nation.”[2] In short, McKay and Swift contend that today there is a concerted right-wing effort to use the power of the state to “change how we think about our country and its history.”[3] More specifically, they argue that “new warriors” are trying to rebrand Canada as a country “created by wars, defended by soldiers, and kept free by patriotic support of military virtues.”[4] Canada’s history wars, then, are far from over.

In the case of the War of 1812’s bicentennial, the Harper Government pulled out all the stops to use the celebration as a rebranding opportunity. The commemorative project included a new national monument, a television commercial, and even a cell phone application, all showcasing the War of 1812 as a “defining moment” in what the Prime Minister called the “Fight for Canada.” Yet, this paper focuses on one aspect of the commemoration that received no critical attention: the representations of Indigenous peoples, and specifically of Tecumseh, in a free comic book called Canada 1812: Forged in Fire. [Read the full paper here]

Editors Note: In addition to our group blog, ActiveHistory.ca strives to provide timely, well-written and researched papers on a variety of history-related topics. If you have a paper that resonates well with our mandate please consider submitting it to us.  Expanded conference papers or short essays that introduce an upcoming book project are great starting points for the type of paper we publish. With a current readership of about 20,000 people per month we can assure that you will find an interested audience through our site.

For more information visit our Papers Section or contact papers@activehistory.ca. All of our papers are peer reviewed to ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date.

Please note: ActiveHistory.ca encourages comment and constructive discussion of our articles. We reserve the right to delete comments submitted under aliases, or that contain spam, harassment, or attacks on an individual.