Towards an Active History

By Thomas Peace

Over the past couple of weeks, the Active History editorial collective has begun the initial planning for a stand-alone conference to be held in late 2015 or 2016. Agreed that there was a need for a conference, we set about to determine the conference’s overall purpose and goals. What quickly became apparent was that we had slightly divergent views about the meaning and practice of Active History. As our conversation continued (and moved toward fruitful resolution), it occurred to me that these varied perspectives might be of interest to the broader readership of ActiveHistory.ca and, through the comments section, provide a good opportunity to hear about your thoughts: What is Active History? Continue reading

Celebrating Three Years

By Jim Clifford

Three  years ago, in the lead up to the Canadian Historical Association meeting, Christine McLaughlin, Ian Milligan, Thomas Peace, Jay Young and I founded ActiveHistory.ca.  At the time we were all graduate students in the history department at York University. The website emerged out of the Active History symposium held in September 2008. Having budgeted to disseminate the conference proceedings, we considered publishing an academic book or a special issue of a journal. But these options, we thought, seemed counter to the public outreach goals of the symposium. Instead we decided to launch a website that embodied the Active History mission, instead of simply publishing some of the essays presented at the workshop (though, Ian Milligan also worked with Left History to publish a special issue). Continue reading

Refreshing the Site

We’re happy to announce that ActiveHistory.ca is getting a new look! Over the next few days, we will be implementing some major changes to our website. This process should take about a week or so, so things may be in some flux.

If you have any comments about our new site, such as any features that may have been moved during our migration, or things you’d love to see, please let us know below.

May 12th Public Lecture: “Understanding Slavery Past and Present”

A reminder to our readers that you are all invited to the final lecture in the Mississauga Library System’s ‘History Minds’ series, co-hosted with ActiveHistory.ca. This talk will be on Thursday, May 12th at 7:30PM in Classroom 3 at the Mississauga Central Library (see below the cut for directions).

“Understanding Slavery Past and Present”
With Karlee Sapoznik, Co-Founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery.

Interest in contemporary slavery and human trafficking have increased dramatically over the last two decades. Ms. Karlee Sapoznik has expertise in slavery in all of its forms. Her research integrates the study of historical and contemporary slavery. Although slavery is now illegal around the world it is still widely practiced. Experts place the number of living modern slaves at 27 million, twice as many as the number of Africans enslaved during the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. As Sapoznik argues, if we can better understand both the successes and the failures of past abolitionist movements, we may better understand this paradox. We might hope to change it. Continue reading

New Paper: Geoffrey Reaume on Psychiatric Patient Built Wall Tours at Toronto’s CAMH

Professor Geoffrey Reaume of York University’s piece on the successful wall tours he has been running at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) appears on ActiveHistory.ca today. Professor Reaume’s piece previously appeared in the Active History theme issue of Left History and we are very happy to cross-publish it here.

The purpose of the wall tours described in this article is to remember the men and women asylum patients who built, lived, worked and died behind the last remaining structures that still exist on the grounds of the former Asylum for the Insane, Toronto. The tours first started with a conversation. In spring 2000, Heinz Klein, one of the organizers for the Psychiatric Survivor Pride Week events, and an activist whom I have known since 1993, asked me to give a talk about the history of people who lived in the Toronto Asylum for the upcoming annual event organized to celebrate the contributions of psychiatric survivors/consumers in our community.1 I was skeptical and said a lot of people had recently seen a play based on my research which did a better job than I could of speaking about patients’ lives. Heinz then suggested I could give a talk outside by the 19th century patient built wall at the present day Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), not far from where the play had been performed in April, 2000. As we continued to talk the idea of a wall tour came up, though I can’t remember who suggested it first. Instead of a stationary talk by the wall, the idea was to give talks all along the wall about patients’ lives where they lived. The wall would be the central site of multiple talks woven together by the common theme of describing a history of patients’ life and labour on this site. And so began the wall tours with the first one held on July 14, 2000, Mad Pride Day as it is now called. To my amazement and delight, about fifty people showed up for the first wall tour, a harbinger of things to come in the following years. [READ MORE]

Left History Theme Issue on ‘Active History,’ Launching a New Paper

ActiveHistory.ca and Left History are delighted to announce the launch of Left History‘s theme issue on Active Histories. We are also delighted to launch our sixth short paper on our website, “Disappointment, Nihilism, and Engagement: Some Thoughts on Active History” by York University SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow Stuart Henderson.

The table of contents for the full issue are below the cut. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the Active History theme issue, we are distributing FREE copies to our readership (quantities are limited, so we will be generally operating on a first-come-first-serve basis). Please e-mail info@activehistory.ca with your name, mailing address, and a brief two sentence rationale for why you’d like to receive the issue. We would then be happy to send it to you free of charge. For information on Left History or to express interest in subscribing, please e-mail lefthist@yorku.ca. Continue reading

March 10th Public Lecture: “A Brief History of Canadian Utopias: Is There a Canadian Utopian Tradition?”

A reminder to our readers that you are all invited to the inaugural lecture in the Mississauga Library System’s ‘History Minds’ series, co-hosted with ActiveHistory.ca. The first talk will be on Thursday, March 10th at 7:30PM in Classroom 3 at the Mississauga Central Library (see below the cut for directions).

“A Brief History of Canadian Utopias:  Is There a Canadian Utopian Tradition?”
With Professor Colin M. Coates.

Since the arrival of European settlers, various ethnic, religious and political groups have attempted to establish self-consciously utopian communities in different parts of the country.  This talk examines some examples of these utopian communities as well as some of the literary expressions of utopian literature related to Canada.  It assesses the range and coherence of utopian thought in Canada from the 17th century to the late 20th century. Continue reading

Want to Write With Us? We’re Looking for More Bloggers!

The ActiveHistory.ca team is looking for more contributors for our collaborative blog on how history and historians actively engage communities and contribute to current debates.  This blog has a growing readership – last month we had nearly 4,000 distinct visitors – and it provides potential contributors the opportunity to reach a wider audience. If you’re interested in contributing, please read more to find out what we’re looking for! Continue reading

New Book Review: Gord Barnes on Ken Leyton-Brown’s The Practice of Execution in Canada

Today, we feature our sixth book review by somebody from outside of academia of a book written by a professional historian. Amnesty International volunteer, activist and fieldworker Gord Barnes, from Regina, SK, reviews Ken Leyton-Brown’s The Practice of Execution in Canada. Please read the full review HERE.

As always, if you’re interested in reviewing a book for ActiveHistory.ca please send us an email at info (at) activehistory.ca.

New Book Review: Kurt Heinrich on John English’s Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau: 1968-2000

Today we are publishing our fifth review by someone outside of academia of a book written by a professional historian. Public relations consultant and blogger, Kurt Heinrich, reviews English’s second bibliography of Trudeau. Read the full review HERE.

If you would like to review a book for ActiveHistory.ca please send us an email: info (at) activehistory.ca