New Paper: The Re-Writing of History: The Misuse of the “Draft Dodger” is pleased to announce the publication of Luke Stewart’s paper “The re-writing of history:  The misuse of the draft “dodger” myth against  Iraq war resisters in Canada.” Here’s an except from the introduction:

On Thursday September 20, 2012, U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera voluntarily returned to the United States in compliance with her removal notice from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). Upon turning herself in, Kim was arrested and detained at the border. Four days earlier, Rivera’s lawyer was in Federal court seeking a stay of removal. At the hearing, the Government’s lawyer argued it was “speculative” that Rivera would be detained and arrested at the border. The judge hearing the appeal concurred and repeated in his decision that it was “speculative” that Rivera would be detained and arrested and denied the stay of removal.  At the time of this writing, Kim is at Fort Carson, Colorado awaiting a decision from the Army on whether she will be court-martialed for desertion.

We historians with the privilege to know the history of Vietnam War resistance in Canada remained silent when we could have used our expertise to counter the misinformation that the Government of Canada and its supporters were peddling to justify the removal of this soldier of conscience from Canada. As intellectuals and academics we failed Kim Rivera by remaining silent. As historians it is not enough to simply study the past if we see the same historical processes playing themselves out in the present with real life consequences for people in the here and now. In the words of the late radical historian Howard Zinn, “We publish while others perish.” Continue Reading…


New Paper: Jason Ellis: The History of Education As “Active History”: A Cautionary Tale? is pleased to announce the publication of Jason Ellis’s paper The History of Education As “Active History”: A Cautionary Tale?

This paper looks at the long tradition of “active history” within the history of education field. It traces the active history of education’s influence on teacher preparation programs, on educational policymaking and reform, and on activism in education, from approximately 1890 to the present. The paper also examines some of the consequences of the active history of education. In the history of education field, right wing school reformers in the 1980s and 1990s used active histories written by New Left historians in the 1960s and 1970s to draw up and justify blueprints for market-based school reform and privatization. In 2012, some people see these reforms as imperilling the continued existence of the American public school system. Is the “active history” of education therefore a cautionary tale? What happens when active histories are used to further political goals that the authors of those histories may not have foreseen or intended?

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Editors Note: In addition to our group blog, strives to provide timely, well-written and thoroughly researched papers on a variety of history-related topics. This is an area of our website that we would like to develop further. If you have a paper that you think resonates well with our mandate please consider submitting a paper 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 10,000 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 All of our papers are peer reviewed to ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date. 

New Paper: Alan MacEachern’s “A Polyphony of Synthesizers: Why Every Historian of Canada Should Write a History of Canada”

Canadian history section of Chapters bookstore, North London, Ontario, May 2010. is happy to announce its first paper of 2012: “A Polyphony of Synthesizers: Why Every Historian of Canada Should Write a History of Canada,” by Alan MacEachern.

Here is Alan’s introductory blurb:

The following was my contribution to a 2010 Canadian Historical Association roundtable, So What IS the Story? Exploring Fragmentation and Synthesis in Current Canadian Historiography.” In it, I tried to a) graphically illustrate the marginalization of Canadian historical scholarship, b) argue why demography is likely only to make this problem worse, and c) suggest a response. All in under 1400 words. As far as I know, only one person was at all convinced, let alone inspired, by my presentation: me. It got me thinking about how one might go about writing a history of Canada that would necessarily cover the entire country from the beginning to the 21st century, that would treat Canada in global terms, and that would be relevant. Last month, I published a very, very early outline of such a history, “A Little Essay on Big.” In an uncharacteristic fit of confidence, I’ve dusted off my presentation and asked if they’d like it, largely unchanged. I welcome your thoughts.

You can read Alan’s paper here.

Education for Sale: The Culture Industry and the Crisis in University Education

By Christine Grandy

The latest white paper on education coming out of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is one that threatens to “name and shame” “dead-end courses” in British Universities.[1] This endeavor promises to give students more value for their money and justify skyrocketing tuitions in Britain. Yet, naming and shaming neglects to do just that, as it places responsibility for the current crisis in education in both Britain and Canada on university training, rather than on other forces at work on the labour market. What needs to be named and shamed in the current crisis is the complex relationship between university education, myths of social mobility, and a capitalist economy.

Britain is undergoing a fundamental change to its university structure, one that will radically alter a system that has been in place, in the scope of British history, for a relatively short period of time but has profoundly influenced the population that benefited from that system. Britain’s investment in post-secondary education was, not unlike Canada’s, a post-war phenomenon that saw university education entrenched firmly within the public sector as part of the new welfare state.  In the heady days of post-war ‘affluence’ and a commitment by the Labour Party in 1945 to cradle-to-grave care for its citizens, and largely funded by US money through the Marshall plan, Britain was able to offer comprehensive education to members of the working and middle classes. Since then, we’ve seen Britain move from largely free university education after World War II to the imposition of moderate tuition fees in 1998 and then to the current tripling of that figure to 9,000£ (roughly 14,000$ CDN) a year for tuition that roughly two thirds of British universities are hoping to impose next year. This leap in tuition fees is to make up shortfalls resulting from deep cuts to university funding by Cameron’s government. These cuts are part of the current ‘austerity measures’ in place in Britain and include these moves towards the privatization of the university sector, a process that began with Thatcher. The recent condensed changes within the British system make its progress both horrifying and fascinating to watch, as Britain accelerates what has been happening at a much slower, protracted pace for years in North America.

New Papers: So What Is the Story? Exploring Fragmentation and Synthesis in Current Canadian Historiography

The editors of are proud to present a round table on the current state of Canadian History writing and teaching by Ruth Sandwell, Lyle Dick, Peter Baskerville and Adele Perry. The round table includes an introduction by Sandwell and Dick and four short papers from the authors.

The idea for this forum arose from a discussion between Ruth Sandwell and Lyle Dick during the Canadian Historical Association Annual General Meeting in 2009, at which time we observed that historians tended to attend conference sessions relating only to their own sub-specialties, with the result (we complained) that environmental historians often only talked to environmental historians, gender historians to gender historians, military historians to military historians, and so on. We hatched a plan to bring Canadian historians of different kinds together in a single roundtable session in the next 2010 CHA meeting, inviting them to discuss the relations, if any, amongst their various kinds of historical work. After some discussion, we decided that we would follow along with the CHA conference theme of Storytelling and ask panelists to approach this question by focusing their comments in a session entitled “So What IS the Story? Exploring Fragmentation and Synthesis in Current Canadian Historiography.”

Session organizers Lyle Dick (speaking about critical studies in history) and Ruth Sandwell (history as taught to undergraduates) succeeded in persuading four other Canadian historians to participate: Peter Baskerville speaking on quantitative history, Steven High on oral history, Alan MacEachern on environmental history, and Adele Perry on gender and colonial history. The Roundtable proposal we submitted was accepted for the 2010 CHA conference. After what turned out to be the lively and well attended session in Montreal, four panellists agreed to publish contribute their comments with Active History, and Steven High’s paper appeared separately on the Active History website.What follows is a short introduction, followed by four panellists’ essays, only slightly revised in most cases from the presentations they gave at our CHA roundtable.

Lyle Dick and Ruth Sandwell, “Introduction: So What Is the Story? Exploring Fragmentation and Synthesis in Current Canadian Historiography.”
Peter Baskerville, “Undetermined by Borders: The Commonality of Counting.”
Lyle Dick, “Fragmentation and Synthesis from the Standpoint of Critical History.”
Adele Perry, “Synthesizing or Fragmenting What? Nation, Race, and the Writing of Canadian History in English.”
Ruth Sandwell, “Synthesis and Fragmentation: the Case of Historians as Undergraduate Teachers.”

New paper: What Can “Oral History” Teach Us?

What if the study of the Canadian past was understood as an interdisciplinary field? Steven High’s new paper offers oral history as an example of an interdisciplinary craft that has made such a transition.  High, Canada Research Chair in Public History and Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, examines this and other issues surrounding oral history. is always looking for new papers to post on the site.  If you are interested in submitting a paper, please see our editorial guidelines.

New Paper – Cancun Summit: The True Reasons for the ‘Failure’ of the Green Movement by Jean-François Mouhot

As the 2010 UN Climate summit in Cancun seems unlikely to make any significant advances, the green movement has been blamed for failing to convince the public that action on climate change is both urgent and necessary, in particular because of its refusal of technologies such as nuclear energy and geo-engineering. However, looking at a previous period of “boom and bust” in environmental awareness in the late 1980s, the paper shows that the recent decline in concern over global warming in the West is due both to the economic recession and to people’s reluctance to accept self-restraint. Then, it argues that our reticence to act on climate change is best understood by way of an analogy with slavery, an analogy further developed in an article published in the journal Climatic Change. Finally, it reminds technology enthusiasts that the solutions of the past have often been the problems of the future: CFCs, for example, were considered a great invention until their ozone-depleting effect was discovered.

Link to the full paper

New Active History Paper: Citizenship Literacy and National Self-identity by Larry A. Glassford


WrongThe content of history textbooks and curriculum is an important factor in the political socialization of succeeding generations of students. This study of representative classroom textbooks authorized for use in Ontario at three distinct eras of the 20th century shows how the main lines of interpretation have shifted over time. During the pre-World War II era, the persistent underlying tone was one of reverence for Canada’s connection to Britain. By mid-century, the main theme was Canada’s bilingual dualism within North America. As the end of the 20th century loomed, the textbook authors were focusing much more on previously marginalised groups within the Canadian multicultural mosaic. Each era produces its own historical narrative, but within the school context, an authorized interpretation impacts the beliefs of the generation to follow. The ultimate goal must be to nurture democratic citizens of the global future with a sure understanding of their own national identity.

Link to full paper

CFP: Left History Theme Issue on Active History

Left History is currently seeking submissions from new and established scholars for a special theme issue on the emerging field of Active History.

Working in collaboration with the editors of and drawing on the discussions that were initiated at the Active History: History for the Future Conference held at Glendon College in September 2008, Left History is looking for original articles, theoretical pieces, document analyses, and reviews that question and challenge the public responsibility of the historian. The issue will include a peer-reviewed article section, as well as a roundtable focusing on less conventional displays, examples, and short thought pieces. Continue reading

Translated Paper: “Why is Vietnam Recovering, while Cuba is Sinking?”

Today we published a translated English version of the first paper “Why is Vietnam Recovering, while Cuba is Sinking?” written by Yves Montenay, and translated by Michael Poplyansky.  Here is the abstract:


Before going their separate ways, Vietnam and Cuba followed similar political and economic paths, making the impact of economic freedom on each country’s development very clear, both directly and comparatively. This paper will not discuss full employment, because in Communist Vietnam, as in today’s Cuba, everyone theoretically had an assigned job—even if it was not the job that one hoped for, or at the location that one preferred, much less at the salary that one wanted. Nor will I evaluate the progress of “liberalism”, since the term implies political freedom; I will simply examine the consequences of legalizing formerly banned economic activities.  Click here to read full paper. Click here to read the original French version.