Category Archives: Does History Matter?

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 [Editors note: This post was revised on March 1, 2017. 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… Read more »

Modern Treaties in Canada: A Call for Engaged, Collaborative Historical Research

By Andrew Stuhl, Bruce Uviluq, Anna Logie, and Derek Rasmussen Modern treaties are reshaping Canada. Since 1975, the federal government and Indigenous communities have entered into 26 of these comprehensive land claim agreements, covering parts of all three territories and four provinces. Modern treaties have provided Indigenous ownership over 600,000 km2 of land and capital transfers of over $3.2 billion,… Read more »

The Morality of Mergers

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By Jonathan McQuarrie Recently, Monsanto received a $66 billion purchase offer from the even mightier German pharmaceutical company Bayer. It would be hard to find a more disliked firm than Monsanto, and the fact that a major pharmaceutical company is the potential buyer has created even more alarm. But should we disentangle our moral concerns from our economic understanding? The… Read more »

Memorial Dissonance in the Garden of Remembrance

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By Rachel Hatcher [Editors note: this post was revised on March 1, 2017. This is the fourth post in the Learning and unlearning history in South Africa’s public spaces series.] The Garden of Remembrance at the National Women’s Memorial and Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein was inaugurated at the end of November 2015.  It is located in the the Free State (former independent Boer,… Read more »