Conversation, Contradiction and Conflict in ‘The Historical Present’

A couple of days ago Christopher Moore posted British historian Richard Overy’sThe Historical Present” from The Times Higher Education on his blog.  This short reflection captured my attention because of the dichotomy that Overy makes between academic, policy-oriented and popular histories.   Splitting history up into these categories misrepresents the value and purpose of practicing history and fails to acknowledge many of the contributions that shape the discipline as a whole. Continue reading

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

First posted on April 16th, 2010.

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 over 2,000 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

Active History Announcements: May 16-22

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

1)  Approaching the Past: A series connecting people teaching history – Ruth Sandwell keynote speaker

2) Active History lunch at the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association – Montreal, May 30

3) Sean Mills, Karen Dubinsky, and David Austin book launch – Montreal, May 31

4) Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre (CIHC): Afternoon of History and Heritage in Brantford – June 12th

5) Digest of this week’s blog posts

If you have something to announce to the Active History community please contact info (at) activehistory.ca. Continue reading

Bill C-268, Human Trafficking and Slavery in Canada Past and Present

By Karlee Sapoznik

DOJ Human TraffickingAs a former British colony, Canada abolished the slave trade over 200 years ago. However, slavery was certainly not eradicated with the legal abolition of the slave trade. Canadians still buy and sell human beings. In fact, Canada is currently a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. According to the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report on Canada: Continue reading

History Variations

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by Lani Russwurm

The internet has the potential to enrich and increase our interactions with the past simply through making historical sources widely available and by making the tools to produce and disseminate history accessible to anyone. This means the historian’s role is becoming less that of a gatekeeper of the past as traditional print-based published histories increasingly co-exist with historical interpretations, narratives, memories, and source material posted by the likes of bloggers and artists.

Screen capture of Roy Arden's blog

Screen capture of Roy Arden's blog

One example is artist Roy Arden’s blog, Under the Sun, a seemingly random collection of images and YouTube videos. I discovered Arden’s blog after he linked images I used in posts on my own history blog about a 1972 riot at a Rolling Stones concert and from the Battle of Ballantyne Pier, a riot during the 1935 waterfront strike in Vancouver. For me, providing context for the images is what drives many of my blog posts, so I was struck by Arden’s use of the same images with a complete absence of context, giving the viewer a relatively unmediated view of the same history. Scrolling through the rest of his blog, I found a lot of provocative historical photographs and ephemera that make it easier to appreciate just how potent such images can be on their own terms. Continue reading

A Class Project for the People

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Atlas it's time for your bathAs an undergraduate history student, I wrote a lot of essays and exams meant only for my professor’s eyes. Despite the tremendous effort that went into crafting these works, they now exist only as PDFs on my personal computer where I secretly hope some future historian will find them and be fascinated by my analysis of the Chanak Affair or Red Clydeside. The whole concept of creating something useful was foreign to me.

While working with NiCHE this past year, I was fortunate enough to be involved with a group of students working towards a useful endeavour in the name of history. The group project involved the students of the UWO M.A. Public History program, who created three environmental history lesson plans based on the Ontario curriculum for grades 3, 4 and 6. Unlike my undergraduate essays, these students had to come up with innovative ways to engage elementary school students with history while also making sure the package was attractive for teachers. Continue reading

Walking History: Jane’s Walk in Toronto and Vancouver

68 cities recently took part in Jane’s Walk, an annual weekend of free walking tours honouring the vision of urbanist Jane Jacobs.  Ordinary people, Jacobs argued, can learn about and improve their surroundings by observing their daily environments at street level.  These walks also bring out the histories of place through members of the local community – walk leaders and participants.  Two members of ActiveHistory.ca partook in walks in different Canadian locales and have reflected on their experiences.  Jay Young followed a buried creek in one of Toronto’s vibrant neighbourhoods, while Ian Milligan walked through Vancouver’s Lower East Side.

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Active History Announcements: May 9-15

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

1)  Approaching the Past: A series connecting people teaching history – Ruth Sandwell keynote speaker

2) Active History lunch at the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association – Montreal, May 30

3) Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre (CIHC): Afternoon of History and Heritage in Brantford – June 12th

4) Digest of this week’s blog posts

If you have something to announce to the Active History community please contact info (at) activehistory.ca.

Continue reading

A Glance at Cuba, April 2010

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Just back from Cuba where the sun was shining and temperatures ranged from 25-30 degrees. Very nice, thanks.

More than two years following the retirement of Fidel Castro, some change is apparent in Cuba.

To begin with, Fidel’s successor, his brother Raoul Castro, has overseen a mild lessening of consumer constraints in the Cuban socialist system. Mobile phones are ubiquitous. Markets for crafts and garden produce are increasingly evident in the cities.

Darker aspects of Cuban life also appear more transparent than in earlier visits. Prostitution is much more visible.  Based on my non-scientific observation, it would seem that a certain class of European, often German, tourist now freely considers Communist Cuba a sex destination. This must gall survivors of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary generation which took aim at the infamous flesh trade of the 1950s as a primary target for social reform. Continue reading

How far have we come? From Yellow Peril to the “Colour of Canada”

by Laura Madokoro

CBC radio recently announced that “the face of Canada is changing colour.” With all the news about global warming and melting ice cap, such a headline might make you think that something horrific had happened to the Canadian environment. You would be mistaken. Au contraire, the news was about the latest Canadian census results that reveal a greater number of “inter-racial’ marriages in Canada than ever before; up by 33.1% since the 2001 census.

As a product of an inter-racial relationship (what a clinical term!) myself, I was disturbed that colour was the manner in which Canada’s national news network chose to describe the latest census results. I remember far too easily the painful playground taunts of “banana, banana” because I was “yellow” on the outside and “white” on the outside. Continue reading