Podcast: Ian McKay on the Right-Wing Reconceptualization of Canada

John Buchan, 1st Baron Lord Tweedsmuir

Ian McKay, professor of history at Queen’s University, recently delivered an engaging and provocative talk titled “The Empire Strikes Back: Militarism, Imperial Nostalgia, and the Right-Wing Reconceptualization of Canada”.  McKay’s talk was the keynote address of the 15th annual New Frontiers Graduate History Conference at York University.

The talk is available here for audio download.

McKay is the author numerous books, including The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia (1994) and Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada’s Left History (2005).  He won the Canadian Historical Association’s MacDonald prize for his book Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People’s Enlightenment in Canada (2008). More recently, McKay co-authored In The Province of History: The Making of the Public Past in Twentieth Century Nova Scotia (2010), which was reviewed here on ActiveHistory.ca.

Why “I Used to Love H.E.R,” Why I Still Love H.E.R: Hip Hop THEN, Hip Hop NOW

An impromptu performance held at the Hub (the area around 3rd Avenue and 156th Street) by The Mean Machine. One of the benefits of institutional neglect was that public concerts like this, common to the early days of Hip Hop, allowed artists to express themselves freely without the need for formal compliance.

By Francesca D’Amico

Chicago’s Cominskey Park on July 12th, 1979 was a scene like no other. Disco Demolition Night was a promotional event meant to protest the shift in radio programming from rock to an all-disco format. In exchange for admission, fans were asked to bring an unwanted disco LP. Following the first of a double-header game, a large crate of the collected records was detonated in center field. Against chants of “disco sucks,” 59,000 fans swarmed and vandalized the field. As the scoreboard flashed, “please return to your seats,” police in riot gear cleared the field and eventually cancelled the second game. This was the night Disco died and made way for Hip Hop. Continue reading

Upcoming Events

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Ontario Women’s History Network

The Ontario Women’s History Network Annual Meeting and Conference and Conference will be held April 1-2 in Kingston, Ontario. It is on “Canadian Women & the Second World War” and has an interesting array of speakers. Please download the conference flyer here.  Contact rosefinemeyer@gmail.com for more information.

Calling all History Teachers & Curriculum Leaders, Museum and Historical Site Educators:

Benchmarks of Historical Thinking will provide the methodological core of the institute’s work on curriculum, lesson, and exhibit design and development. The “Benchmarks” approach opens up the interpretive nature of history by making explicit and central such fundamental concepts as “primary source evidence,” “historical significance,” and “continuity and change.”

This summer institute is ideal for educators, whether you’re a History teacher or an educator at a museum, as well as many other applications as well.

July 4-9, 2011 at UBC Campus, Vancouver, BC.

EH-SO: A Symposium of Environmental Historians in Southern Ontario

The Toronto Environmental History Network is hosting the first annual EH-SO, an informal two day workshop Friday March 25 and Saturday March 26 in Toronto.   For more information or to attend contact Jim Clifford at jcliffo9@uwo.ca.

Call for Website reviewers

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As a growing number of historical resources become available online, the internet is increasingly becoming a site of serious historical research, enquiry and education. Yet it is important to approach information on the internet with caution, assessing its value with a critical eye.

ActiveHistory.ca is expanding its review section to include scholarly analyses of websites. It is imperiative in this “digital age” to develop the tools necessary to critically engage with this expanding resource base. Continue reading

Open Source Tools For Heritage Organizations

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Heritage organizations are continuously working to establish a digital presence and integrate digital tools into their collection management practices.  However, budgetary limitations are increasingly frequent in the heritage field and heritage organizations are forced to balance the benefits of using technology and the cost associated with digital tools.  High software costs can make it impossible for institutions to afford proprietary software and often result in limited technology choices.

The most commonly used and most expensive software in heritage organizations  related to photo manipulation, exhibit design, and collection management.  There are many open source alternatives for photo software and exhibit design.  However, complex collection management software which doesn’t require a programming background is currently somewhat rare in the open source world.  Despite this, open source software can be a huge benefit for an organization with a limited technology budget. Continue reading

Performing History, Class and Gender in Billy Elliot: The Musical

Elton John was in Toronto last week for the official opening of Billy Elliot: The Musical, a production I was lucky to recently see.  The musical, which premiered in London in 2005 and won 10 Tony awards in 2009, is a stage adaptation of the popular 2000 coming-of-age film about Billy Elliot, a fictional, 11-year-old, working-class lad who dreams of becoming a professional dancer.  As I watched the musical, I was struck by the ways in which the musical’s overarching historical context – the British mining strike of 1984-1985 – served as the backdrop to examine issues of class and gender through the story of a struggling community and one very talented boy.  Yet I also pondered: what happened to those who lacked the opportunity to leave town like Billy? Continue reading

New paper: What Can “Oral History” Teach Us?

What if the study of the Canadian past was understood as an interdisciplinary field? Steven High’s new paper offers oral history as an example of an interdisciplinary craft that has made such a transition.  High, Canada Research Chair in Public History and Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, examines this and other issues surrounding oral history.

ActiveHistory.ca is always looking for new papers to post on the site.  If you are interested in submitting a paper, please see our editorial guidelines.

Forced Marriage: An under recognized, poorly understood form of enslavement

UK Forced Marriage Unit Handbook

Editors Note: There are two parts to this post.  Part 1 is Karlee Sapoznik’s piece on Forced Marriage.  Part 2 is a summary of the launch and upcoming events for one of our partners, the Alliance Against Modern Slavery.

When we think of slavery, the institution of marriage rarely comes to mind. However, the denial of basic human rights and the enslavement of women and girls continue on a widespread scale, often centering on marriage.

Since the post World War II era, forced marriage has been prohibited under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), forbidden in dozens of international treaties recognizing the right to free and full consent in marriage, and specific forms of forced marriage have been defined as “slavery.” Continue reading

Call for Film Reviewers

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Are you a historical film buff? Can you offer historical analysis to films that explore the past? Then ActiveHistory.ca is the site for you!

We are looking to expand our review section to historically-based films. Film is a popular medium for conveying historical knowledge. It offers great promise in popularizing history, but it is also contained by many limitations. We would like to explore these promises and pitfalls more fully by hosting critical reviews of films dealing with historical themes. Continue reading

Twitter in the Classroom

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Many people use Twitter for personal social/professional pursuits: finding links, having communication with a broad audience, self-promoting your blog on making history relevant (“follow us,” we cry). But you can use twitter in the classroom to create a sense of community, facilitate communication out of class, and hopefully open students’ eyes to the enormity of the world and the role that digital communication plays in ongoing events. As a long-term skeptic about the utility of twitter – and somebody who continues to avoid Facebook – I hope to reach the digital skeptic here.

When I first heard of Twitter in mid-to-late 2006, it sounded inane. 140 characters seemed restrictive for text (SMS) messaging, let alone as a means to communicate over the internet. We have e-mail, I probably snidely dismissed, and then went back to predicting the eminent end of Facebook. It wasn’t really until 2009 that I realized I had been wrong. Continue reading