New Paper: Travel and Access to Abortion

With the Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution Conference beginning tomorrow, ActiveHistory.ca is proud to publish “Travel and Access to Abortion,” a paper written collectively by Nancy Janovicek, Christabelle Sethna, Beth Palmer, and Katrina Ackerman.

nboutline2bOn July 18th, the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton performed its last abortion. Without government funding, and the generous support of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the clinic is no longer sustainable financially. The closure of this clinic is a reminder that although abortion is legal in Canada, there are still significant disparities in timely access to abortion services. The closure of the clinic is part of a long history of the undermining of women’s access to abortion services at the local level before and after the legalization of abortion in 1969 and the decriminalization of abortion in 1988. The lack of access at the local level has a major impact on access to abortion services in much wider contexts because women have tended to travel to other jurisdictions for pregnancy termination. Travel is one of the main barriers to access to abortion. Yet travel is often the only way women can access abortion services. In this essay, we use four responses drawn from an article we published in Labour/Le Travail that examines Canadian women’s transnational travel to access abortion services as well as their attempts to defend access in their home communities. [read more]

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.  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.

Parental Rights, Reproductive Rights, and Youth’s Sexuality in Alberta, Then and Now

The Lethbridge Birth Control and Information Centre Photo

The Lethbridge Birth Control and Information Centre, 1974. 542 7th Street South, Lethbridge, Alberta. Photo courtesy of the Galt Museum and Archives, 19901067001.

By Karissa Patton, MA Student, University of Lethbridge

The struggle for reproductive rights and justice are often associated with women’s activisms of the past, specifically the activism of the late 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s, leading to the 1988 Supreme Court decision that fully decriminalized abortion in Canada.[1] Authors such as Catherine Redfern and Kristine Aune have highlighted a post-feminist argument that claims that feminism does not exist anymore or that feminism is no longer needed. This is based on the premise that we have achieved reproductive justice. With several birth control options widely available, the decriminalization of abortion, and sex education required by provincial curricula, those downplaying the relevance of feminism argue that victory was achieved in the fight for reproductive rights. This argument that we live in a “post feminist society” stems from a lack of understanding, or misunderstanding, of feminism and reproductive rights.[2] The misconception that reproductive rights have been achieved is concerning, as it encourages society to ignore the social barriers and the issues of access that remain prevalent today.

Technological and legal strides have been made since the 1960s and 1970s and yet social, economic and political barriers remain, or are reinvented, based on changing political contexts. Today, we are witnessing important similarities with the 1970s in the social barriers to education about sex, birth control, and abortion. Specifically, with the moral panic around youth’s sexuality, we have seen significant retrenchments in the adult control of sex, birth control, and abortion education.

While I use contemporary examples to illuminate a current need for reproductive rights and justice on a national scale, my research focuses on the history of reproductive rights activism in Southern Alberta during the 1960s and 1970s. Therefore, this essay examines one contemporary and one historical case study of adults’ attempts to control youth’s sexuality via youth’s access to sex education as well as birth control and abortion information. Continue reading

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 Continue reading

New Paper: Veronica Strong-Boag and Tiffany Johnstone: Taking History to the People: Women Suffrage and Beyond

ActiveHistory.ca is pleased to announce the publication of Veronica Strong-Boag and Tiffany Johnstone’s “Taking History to the People: Women Suffrage and Beyond”

History as both “facts” and “meaning” has regularly generated debate and disagreement among citizens, policymakers, and scholars. The nature and prospects of democracy and justice supply a special source of contention. Today’s ubiquitous “history wars,” sometimes termed “culture wars,” that unfold in the context of the ongoing crisis of global capitalism are a case in point. Social media increasingly provide the stage for contests between progressive and conservative interpretations of the past and, particularly, its relationship to the present.

The website womensuffrage.org has joined these debates… [Continue Reading]

womensuff - May 2013

Editors Note: In addition to our group blog, ActiveHistory.ca strives to provide timely, well-written and thoroughly 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 or website are great starting points for the type of paper we publish. With a current readership of about 13,000 people per month we can assure that you will find an interested audience.

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

New Paper by J.R. Miller: Residential Schools and Reconciliation

ActiveHistory.ca is pleased to announce the publication of J.R. Miller’s paper, Residential Schools and Reconciliation

“Reconciliation” is a word that has gained great currency of late. It has been frequently used in discussions surrounding the Idle No More movement during the winter of 2012-13. But the term has a longer history in discussions in Canada concerning Native-newcomer relations. Notably, Chief Justice Antonio Lamer in the Supreme Court of Canada’s rulings in both the Van der Peet and Delgamuukw cases in 1996-97 made the point that the purpose of Section 35 of the constitution adopted in 1982 was “the reconciliation of the pre-existence of aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown.” That conception of the place of reconciliation in Canadian life is also relevant to the topic of residential schools and their legacy.
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Editors Note: In addition to our group blog, ActiveHistory.ca 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 papers@activehistory.ca. All of our papers are peer reviewed to ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date. 

New Paper: The Re-Writing of History: The Misuse of the “Draft Dodger”

ActiveHistory.ca 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?

ActiveHistory.ca 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?

Click here to continue reading

Editors Note: In addition to our group blog, ActiveHistory.ca 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 papers@activehistory.ca. 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.

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

The editors of ActiveHistory.ca 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.

Prologue
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.

Papers:
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.”