CFP: CHA Active History Working Group 2012 Public Workshop: “1812: Whose War Was It, Anyway?”

June 18, 2012, two hundred years to the day since the United States declared war on Great Britain and her colonies, marks the starting point of a period of commemorations, restorations, re-enactments and monument building which will mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The Government of Canada, under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reiterated its commitment to supporting commemorations across Canada in the most recent Throne Speech. Numerous events planned across the country will serve to “perpetuate the identities of War of 1812 militia units,” as well as to demonstrate, in the words of Heritage Minister James Moore, that “This was the fight for Canada.”

Aside from the military battles and national ramifications of the war, historians and activists are also working to address larger questions around the war and its impact. What were the consequences for aboriginals both during and after the conflict? What about those who refused to fight, on either the British or American side? How did regional, cultural and linguistic differences affect experiences of the war and did they reinforce or conflict with so-called “national” narratives centred on nation building? Can we, in fact, speak of “The War of 1812” or should we instead be considering the many “wars” experienced by those involved or swept up in the tumult of the period? How does a consideration of broader experiences of the conflict affect Canadian communities today? Further, how does considering these questions change the way the history of the conflict is taught, both in schools and in other educational settings such as historic sites and museums? Are these broader questions reflected in these settings and in the broader teaching of history?

In the spirit of these questions, the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) Active History Working Group and its partner,, is organizing a public workshop to be held during this year’s CHA annual meeting which, though affiliated with the meeting, seeks to reach out to the surrounding community hosting the association – Kitchener-Waterloo. It will engage historians, activists, educators and the general public on a topic that is both timely and of local interest. We invite submissions for panels, round tables and workshop participants on the following themes:

  • 1812 in the classroom and beyond. This could include considerations of teaching practices and tools (new media, historic sites, film etc.) as well as discussion on how the teaching of the war might be improved;
  • the politics of inclusion/exclusion/identity in past and current commemorations of 1812;
  • broader implications of the war; beyond the stories of combatants, what was at stake for aboriginal groups on both sides of the conflict? How were local communities and regions affected by the war? Beyond national narratives, what is the legacy of the War of 1812?

Please send a brief, 150-200 word abstract of your proposed topic of discussion/presentation and how it relates to any of the above themes, as well as a brief CV to the Working Group Co-Coordinator at by October 3, 2011.

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