Category Archives: Does History Matter?

Does the Crowd Matter? The Moral Economy in the Twenty-First Century

By Tom Peace Over the past couple of weeks people around the world have taken to the streets in order to call politicians, business leaders, and civil servants to account. Though similar, no one event was the same. The Women’s March was carefully planned over two months between the US election and Inauguration Day; its purpose was to give voice… Read more »

Trumpism, Fascism, and the Lessons of History

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By Geoff Read, Cheryl Koos, and Samuel Kalman Many articles have appeared in the past year debating whether or not Donald Trump is a fascist.[1] Although some of these pieces are mere exercises in name calling, others offer political, social, and historical analysis. Just prior to the US presidential election, for example, Kevin Passmore, an eminent scholar of the French far right,… Read more »

The Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company or, Thoughts on Failure in History

By Andrew Nurse The creation and failure of Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company (CMTRC) — in effect, a “ship railway” — is usually presented as a unique episode in Maritime and Canadian history. In 2012, the Nova Scotia provincial government moved to commemorate the company (and, perhaps unintendedly, its failure) by purchasing the land on which the project was to… Read more »

Unlearning history to combat racism?

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By Rachel Hatcher [This is the seventh post in the Learning and unlearning history in South Africa’s public spaces series.] South Africans must, declared South African Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Danny Titus, unlearn the names of the Dutch ships that landed in South Africa in the 17th century. He made this declaration during the Free State’s provincial launch of the Anti-Racism Network of South… Read more »

Canadian Historical Association: Open Letter to the Polish Prime Minister

Yesterday, Joan Sangster, the President of the Canadian Historical Association sent the following letter to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo regarding recent legislation criminalizing historical interpretation. For broader context of this issue see Jim Clifford’s post The Polish Government, the Holocaust and Jan Grabowski and Thomas Peace’s Fake News, Global History Wars, and the Importance of Historical Thinking. Ottawa, December… Read more »

Stewarding a Canadian Culture of Comity

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By Elizabeth Mancke The election of Donald Trump as US president raises concerns about the impact on Canada: on trade, energy policy, currency exchanges, pipelines, climate change. Most anxiety inducing is the toxic turn of civic discourse, as the US political process tolerated expressions of racism and sexism, as well as outright lies and intimidation. The contaminating effects, we fear,… Read more »

Listening to History: Correcting the Toronto Metis Land Acknowledgement

By Jesse Thistle One of my friends is a teacher for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). She recently asked me for help regarding their traditional land acknowledgement recognizing the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and the Metis. She told me that the board was facing considerable resistance from the community regarding the acknowledgment of the Metis. The blow back is understandable, and here’s… Read more »

History and the Perils of Inevitability

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By Jonathan McQuarrie Not long after Donald Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton sought to reassure her supporters, and perhaps herself. Echoing President Obama, who in turn drew on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she said “the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” This is a reasonable and comforting thing to assert, and it may well be right…. Read more »

A luta continua: past, present, and future in South Africa’s Constitutional Court  

By Rachel Hatcher [This is the sixth post in the Learning and unlearning history in South Africa’s public spaces series.] Located in the heart of the larger Johannesburg metropolitan area, South Africa’s Constitutional Court is the ingenious and deeply moving physical manifestation of what post-apartheid South Africa was supposed to be like. As renewed student protests demanding that #FeesMustFall and the militarized response to… Read more »

The building of which nation? Conflicting Narratives at the National Women’s Memorial and Anglo-Boer War Museum

By Rachel Hatcher [This is the fifth post in the Learning and unlearning history in South Africa’s public spaces series.] The Garden of Remembrance, renamed the Garden of Misremembrance in the previous post, was explicitly oriented toward “reconciliation and nation building through shared suffering.”  For this reason, the Garden also commemorated the thousands of (unnamed) black South Africans who died in the concentration camps… Read more »