Two humanities professors publish very different articles on their work
Two professors from the humanities sector in the Faculty of Arts and Science have recently published new articles, and the topics couldn’t be any more different.
Recognizing Canada’s history of Indigenous genocide
Steven High, a professor in the Department of History and a founding member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, focused on how Indigenous genocide in Canada is or is not recognized by the historical community.
Contesting Clio's Craft: Activists, True Professionals and the Debate over Genocide Recognition in Canada, in Canadian Issues, looks at how genocide recognition can be a divisive topic, especially amongst his peers.
As President of the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), High was invited to contribute an article to this special edition, reflecting on a statement issued by its governing council on July 1, 2021, recognizing the genocide perpetrated against Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The statement argued it was crucial to better understand how Indigenous people have been affected by genocidal systems, and the importance of acknowledging how settler Canadians have benefitted from colonial policies.
In response, 53 historians and political scientists (many of whom were retired, and most of whom were not members of the CHA) wrote an open letter of protest that was picked up by right-wing media outlets. The crux of their argument was that ‘wokeism’ in academia was out of control.
High says there’s a lot at stake in how Canadian history is framed, and it’s a complex issue. He hopes his article will provoke further discussion on the topic.
“Historians have an obligation to speak truth to power. Reckoning with this history was never going to be easy but it is a necessary first step if reconciliation is to truly occur.”
The ubiquity of walking in literature
Andre Furlani, a professor in the Department of English and a fellow in the School of Irish Studies, has recently published the aptly named These Books Were Made for Walking, for The European Legacy.
The piece, by the self-described ‘bipedalism jukebox’, examines the subject of walking in literature, something Furlani has covered in a myriad of forms, from women walking in the wilderness to walking with animals.
“I am interested in the ubiquity, topicality, environmental character and political implications of this topic,” Furlani says.
“Walking so pervades literature that it is easily overlooked. It has taken North American urban and regional planning a century to catch up with the pedestrian, but literature was traipsing alongside all along.”
Furlani says his research was influenced during the pandemic when government restrictions extended to pedestrian movements.
“Restrictions on mobility, assembly, and access to the commons, as well as reinforced surveillance, lend poignant relevance to pedestrian literature, which underscores both the precedence of walking, even to a transport and virtualized society, and the precariousness, even in liberal polities, of what had seemed to be an inalienable right.”
Find out more about the Faculty of Arts and Science’s humanities departments.