Category Archives: History and Culture

Boxes of possibility—and frustration

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Laura Peers Museum collections are legacies of imperial and colonial histories. The dynamics of those histories mean that much Indigenous material heritage from what is currently called Canada is not held in Canadian museums. Much of this material resides in overseas museums, especially in Britain. This geographic distance complicates the ability of Indigenous peoples to access ancestral items. As many… Read more »

What Black History Month Can Teach the Rest of the Year

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February is one of my favourite months. Not only do red and pink hearts predominate, but there is a proliferation of events, displays, and articles celebrating the contributions of Black Canadians as part of Black History Month. Growing up in the southern United States and in the Caribbean, I was introduced to the richness of Black history as a young… Read more »

The Mysteries of a Hobo’s Life: Uncovering a Forgotten Revolutionary

Saku Pinta An earlier version of this post appeared on the “Increasing Access to the Finnish Language Archives” project blog. This black and white photograph appears, at first glance, to be quite ordinary. An unidentified man poses in front of a tar paper shack, possibly at a logging camp, hands clasped behind his back. His stony gaze is contemplative, confident…. Read more »

From Salò to Cult: Sadism, Terror, and Fascism in Fiction

Alban Bargain-Villéger Salò. It was this laconic, almost interjective title that first caught my eye. In the stifling Parisian heat of July 2002, somewhere in the Halles neighbourhood, the poster appeared in a surreal haze. A bridal party of dejected youths, the bride and groom dressed for the occasion, the rest stark-naked, advanced, seemingly resigned to their doom. Then the… Read more »

Difficult History, Monuments, and Pedagogy: A Response to Levesque

By Gabriel A. Reich In his two part series, posted on Active History earlier this month, Stéphane Lévesque puts forward a “new approach” to considering the role of historical monuments as an object of study in history education. That approach frames the pedagogy of historical monuments as a historiographical problem that can be best approached using the tools of historical… Read more »

A new approach to debates over Macdonald and other monuments in Canada: Part 2

This is the second part of an essay that ran last Tuesday. Read Part 1 here. By Stéphane Lévesque I believe that every citizen of Canada, from students to adults (including political leaders), would gain from a progression towards more sophisticated forms of historical consciousness that encourage critical distance and informed opinions, and cultivate the capacity to “digest complexity” –… Read more »

Caucasian Complexities: White Ethnicity and the Politics of Ultimate Fighting

Travis Hay & Angie Wong On the 6th of October, the trash-talking Irish superstar and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor was handed a very one-sided loss in his fight with Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov – a white Muslim man raised in the Dagestani mountains of the Caucus region. When the match was stopped in the fourth round to save McGregor… Read more »

Say Cheese? The Dilemma of Photography at Traumatic Heritage Sites

Kaiti Hannah There is an ongoing debate in the field of public history regarding the acceptability of taking photographs in museums. Though history museums seem to be leaning more towards allowing or even actively encouraging photography in their galleries, there are many who object to this phenomenon. Open up any think piece about Millennials and you’re sure to see complaints… Read more »

Memory, History, Monuments, and Mennonites: Or, what Winkler, Manitoba might teach us about dealing with historical and moral complexity in public commemoration

By Matthew Neufeld I am against removing statues of controversial figures from our history.  I think removals are misguided because they amplify rather than diminish the moral charge of public commemoration. Instead of removing monuments that might provoke emotional pain among some members of historically marginalized groups or foster moral unease in the consciences of Canadians with European ancestry, I… Read more »

What’s In a Monument? Part II: The Edward Cornwallis Monument and Reconciliation

“What’s in a Monument?” is based on a public lecture delivered on March 11 in the History Matters Series organized by the University of Calgary History Department and the Calgary Public Library. We recommend that you read yesterday’s post by Jewel Spangler about the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville before Part II because it provides the theoretical framework for… Read more »