Active History Annoucements: July 18-24

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The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1)  CFP: We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada – deadline: 30 Sept 2010

2) ActiveHistory.ca is looking for a co-book review editor

3) Responses to the end of the mandatory long-form census

4) Digest of this week’s blog posts

Newspaper article of note: Washington Post: Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded

If you have an announcement that you would like included in this weekly dispatch, please e-mail info@activehistory.ca. Continue reading

Protect Your Copyright

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By Adam Crymble

Keep it, sell it or release it to everyone?

Copyright isn’t a topic of which many young academics have a strong understanding. But, as a writer, it’s something to which you should pay attention. And you shouldn’t be afraid to assert your rights when it comes to assigning copyright when you publish.

Your copyright is your ownership over the fruits of your labour. You did the research and the writing, so you have a right to benefit from that writing. Copyright is the only thing that legally protects you from people who want to steal your work and make money from it.

The catch is, it only works if you don’t give it away carelessly.

When you publish something, the editor of the publication has to obtain your permission, and you can count on each publication having a set of rights that they require you to sign over in return for publishing your work. There are thousands of combinations of rights publishers can and will ask for. Here I’ve put together the four most common types: Publication Rights, Grant of Rights in Exchange for Compensation, Pressure to Relinquish Rights, and Releasing Rights. Continue reading

Dr. Georgina Feldberg, 1956-2010

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The history community lost a great teacher, scholar and active historian this week.  I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Feldberg during my first year at York.  She was one of the professors in a graduate course on the history of science, health and the environment.  I learned a lot from her as a teacher and from her book, Disease and Class: Tuberculosis and the Shaping of Modern North American Society.  A few weeks after I last met with her, I heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. This came as a big shock to all of us in the history of medicine field and particularly to a number of my friends who Feldberg supervised.  Sadly, she finally lost her  four year long battle with this disease, leaving behind her husband and daughter.

In reading about her death and listening to the kind words said about her at the funeral, it occurred to me that Dr. Feldberg’s work provides a model for active history. Continue reading

Community Service-Learning and Active Historians on Campus

By Jamie Trepanier, co-chair Canadian Historical Association’s Active History group

“One way of making education more holistic is to get outside the classroom and off the campus. It interrupts the programming that twelve years of classroom conditioning automatically call up; the change in environment changes everything. The class becomes a social unit; students become more fully rounded human beings not just people who either know the answer or don’t know it. Inside the classroom, it’s one kind of student that dominates; outside, it’s another. Tying course content to the world outside offers a real-world site for asking theoretical questions; it answers students’ need to feel that their education is good for something other than a grade point average.  And it begins to address the problem of the student who has no conception of what is possible after graduation…” – From A Life in School by Jane Tompkins, Duke University, Addison Wesley Longman, 1996 (from Service Learning website at St. Francis Xavier University)

Since joining the Active History CHA group a year ago I have been wrestling with the concept of what it means to be an “active historian”. While the teaching of history is an evident tool of engagement for the historian, and has been the subject here of some wonderful posts about the many diverse and fascinating projects currently on the go, I am still left with a familiar question I have had since my days as an idealistic undergraduate history student; how to mesh our sense of civic engagement/political activism/social responsibility with our interests and skills as aspiring/professional historians and, for those of us who want and actually get teaching positions, future educators? Continue reading

Active History Announcements: July 11-17

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AH_LOGO_WEB

The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1)  CFP: We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada – deadline: 30 Sept 2010

2) ActiveHistory.ca is looking for a co-book review editor

3) Blogs of note: Christopher Moore and Andrew Smith on academic disengagement

4)) Digest of this week’s blog posts

If you have an announcement that you would like included in this weekly dispatch, please e-mail info@activehistory.ca. Continue reading

The Queen Among the Mohawks

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RE Mohawk bells

Photo by James Cullingham

On July 4, American Independence Day, the Queen of Canada, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper called her throughout her recent visit, attended a Sunday morning service at St. James Cathedral in downtown Toronto. Four days after Canada Day, the choice of a service at St. James, one of the most visible manifestations of Toronto’s increasingly atavistic ‘English connection’, was a reminder of the living presence of history.  This was poignantly apparent in Queen Elizabeth’s personal decision (according to Kevin S. MacLeod, Canadian Secretary to the Queen) to present two peals of hand bells to the Chapels Royal of the Mohawks. Continue reading

Contextualizing G20 Policing in Toronto

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As Sean Kheraj noted last week, many commentators seemed surprised about the police violence that gripped Toronto through the G20 weekend. Many of my contemporaries were surprised that Mayor David Miller and most of his counterparts (except for some subsequent rumblings from the provincial NDP and mayoral candidates) expressed their firm and complete support of police actions. “Figures,” many resignedly noted, “politicians always have to support the police.” (To be fair, it was a bit less surprising when the polling numbers were released) Well, no, they don’t, and a brief trip through Toronto’s 20th century past can show us two things: firstly, that police violence and arbitrary use of power has a long history in Toronto. More importantly, however, we see that citizen action can spur meaningful regulatory change. We can do something.
So with that, let me begin with a humble call to action. Let’s help make history. During the G20 Summit and protests, I was witness to both the strange moments of seeing no police whatsoever (such as on Yonge street, hours after windows had been smashed) but also the over-policing of Sunday and Monday: random police ‘checkpoints’ (read: gaggles of police officers) set up at my local subway station as well as at Queen’s Park before a protest at police headquarters. Young men and women were zip-tied, searched, IDed and released without any charges evidently being leveled. What happened was inexcusable, and let this be one more voice adding to the calls for a public inquiry. Please consider donating to the Legal Defence Fund (set up through OPIRG York), affixing your name to a range of petitions, attend any local protests in your community, or by writing your MP or MPP (postage is free for the former). Even if you don’t believe in the specifics of G20 protests, it is my firm belief that we need to show that our rights of assembly and to be free from arbitrary detention need to be vigilantly defended at every turn. Again, as Torontonians in the past have demonstrated, we can make a difference – and we must.
Let me preface this by noting that much of this is dedicated towards policing structures and some of their senior leadership. While there are certainly abuses by rank-and-file officers, many others are hard working, decent men and women – which I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with firsthand in my personal and professional life.
Sean Kheraj has documented some instances of police violence up until the turn of the 20th century; let’s add a few more vignettes to this tale. Through the First World War, Toronto police were noted for their vigorous prosecution of individuals who held contradictory political views. In 1917, Toronto newspaper editor Isaac Bainbridge was raided by the Toronto police for possessing anti-conscription literature that dared suggest that the war was fought for territory rather than liberty, and that the ruling classes were responsible for the war as opposed to the working people of all countries. Through the 1930s, the Toronto police under former Brigadier General Draper deployed its “Red Squad” to brutally suppress dissent and break up any public demonstrations that threatened the public order. Indeed, English would be the only allowed language at any radical public gathering (to ease police surveillance). Violators were arrested. Indeed, in a fascinating paper, Robert Oliver has argued that through the 1930s, “Spadina, Soho, Queen, Albert and Yonge streets became the new battlegrounds between the police and the Communists. While public meetings may have been crucial sites for party building, the suppression of them presented a greater propaganda opportunity.” The more times change, the more they stay the same.
It was not until the 1970s that serious calls would appear to challenge the power of Toronto’s police. At the 1973 Artistic Woodwork strike in North York, the Metropolitan Toronto police would end up arresting 108 picketers during an especially lengthy strike by an immigrant workforce supported by the broad Toronto New Left milieux. This saw widespread violence: police were brutally assaulting young men and women, removing their identification numbers, fabricating charges (most notably accusing 78-year-old temperance crusader and former CCF MPP William Temple of assaulting a police officer and of being publicly drunk, which stretched all credibility), and essentially rioting against a large picket line. Once a video of the violence became available to Toronto City Council, several councilors – including future mayor Art Eggleton, and backed by folks such as John Sewell, Dan Hap, and Dorothy Thomas – actually called for the Metropolitan police to be recalled from the police line. Indeed, the police chief stormed out of one meeting after refusing to provide his surveillance tapes to the council. Not that things weren’t polarized even then, of course: North York City Council voted their support of the police just as Toronto Council voted their non-confidence.
Through the mid and late 1970s, attention increased towards police brutality. In October 1974, after a series of stories in the Globe and Mail, the province carried out a Royal Commission (the Morand Commission) on police brutality, which subsequently called for a complaints commissioner. On 26 August 1979, 35-year-old Jamiacan immigrant Albert Johnson was shot dead by police. Conflicting police accounts and a coroners finding that the man was either crouching or kneeling when killed led some to speculate – as advanced by Johnson’s 9 year old daughter – that police had forced him to kneel and shot him execution-style. Two constables were charged with manslaughter and acquitted, leading to mass protests, formation of a defense committee, and Nathan Phillips Square became the site of many protests. This, as well as several other incidents, at least led to the creation of the Office of the Public Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) in 1981 and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in 1990; however flawed these institutions continue to be due to the use of former police investigators. (http://www.basicsnews.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4034:a-short-history-of-police-brutality-in-t-o&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=69)
Police brutality in Toronto is nothing new, nor is the use of police to suppress particular political messages. However, if there is any consolation, my impression is that many of the police excesses on the Sunday/Monday were motivated more by confusion and lack of effective leadership than any deliberate strategy of suppressing a particular message in favour of another (the case of the young Quebecer arrested on spurious ‘breach of the peace’ charges because she had an anarchist book and black clothing!). Let’s hope that we can all learn from the recent and not-so-recent past, and help us all move forward as citizens.  Only a small minority of police officers abuse their power  – I’ve noticed that several have gone out of their way to be extremely polite lately – but let’s make sure they have the structures to enable them to do their jobs effectively, fairly, and constitutionally.
DSC07373

South of Queen Street During CLC Protest (Picture by Author)

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post by Christine McLaughlin, which looked at the moral economy of the G20 crowds.

As Sean Kheraj noted last week, many commentators seemed surprised about the police violence that gripped Toronto through the G20 weekend. Many of my contemporaries were surprised that Mayor David Miller and most of his counterparts (except for some subsequent rumblings from the provincial NDP and mayoral candidates) expressed their firm and complete support of police actions. “Figures,” many resignedly noted, “politicians always have to support the police.” (To be fair, it was a bit less surprising when the polling numbers were released) Well, no, they don’t, and a brief trip through Toronto’s 20th century past can show us two things: firstly, that police violence and arbitrary use of power has a long history in Toronto. More importantly, however, we see that citizen action can spur meaningful regulatory change. We can do something (for some hopefully helpful suggestions, along with a personal account of the G20, please scroll to the bottom of the post).

Continue reading

The Moral Economy of the 2010 Toronto G20 Crowd?

These images were captured on 26 June 2010 at the G8 & G20 public rally and march.  My thanks are due to Ed Dwyer of the Retirees' Chapter of CAW Local 222 and Ian Milligan for sharing photos with me.

These images were captured on 26 June 2010 at the G8 & G20 public rally and march. My thanks are due to Ed Dwyer of the Retirees' Chapter of CAW Local 222 and Ian Milligan for sharing photos with me.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, a group of historians sought to rescue terms like “crowd,” “mob” and “riot” from the “condescension of posterity,” illustrating that crowd actions of the past were often more than the thoughtless acts of thugs and criminals.

The late British historian E.P. Thompson has undoubtedly made the greatest contribution here.  His 1971 “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century” explores food riots in eighteenth-century England, suggesting there was indeed a well-thought purpose inspiring rioting English crowds.  Agitating against the free market ideology propagated in Adam Smith’s 1776 Wealth of Nations, rioting crowds sought to protect their “moral economy,” rooted in a tradition of paternalism, protection of the poor, and a just price, from the turn to a profit-driven economic system underway in England at the time. Continue reading

An environmental 9/11

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by Jeff Slack

The oil slick as seen from space, June 22 2010 (wikipedia.com)

The oil slick as seen from space, June 22 2010 (wikipedia.com)

Public outrage mounts with every successive failure to mend the gaping wound in the Gulf of Mexico seabed. Struggling to affirm his leadership in the spill’s wake, President Obama recently described the disaster as “an environmental 9/11,” underscoring the need for a bold new energy-environment policy.

Through reference to the still-poignant memory of 9/11, the president seems to be cultivating an atmosphere conducive to a sweeping energy security agenda. “Beyond the risks inherent in drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth,” President Obama recently asserted, “… our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardise our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.” Continue reading

Remembering Oka

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July 11 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the Oka Crisis.  The Quebec crisis pitted the Mohawk community of Kanesatake against the Francophone community of Oka over the expansion of a municipal golf course onto Mohawk burial grounds.

After a year of unsuccessful attempts at reaching resolution through the courts, the Mohawk set up barricades and occupied the burial grounds.  The conflict that arose resulted in a 78 day stand-off between the Mohawk, the Sûreté du Québec and the Canadian military.  On July 11th riot police stormed the occupation, resulting in the death of police officer Marcel Lemay.

Remembering this event provides an important opportunity to reflect on how Canada, Canadians and Aboriginal people engage with each other and each other’s past. Continue reading