Beaton Report European Seminar 2011
Meaghan Beaton November 24, 2011
RE: Report on the 20th European Seminar for Graduate Students in Canadian Studies, November 10-13, 2011, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
On November 10-13, 2011, I attended the 20th European Seminar for Graduate Students in Canadian Studies held at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. I was selected by the Canadian Studies Network-Réseau d'études canadiennes (CSN-REC) as one of the two sponsored graduate students to attend and present at this conference. This annual conference brings together graduate students from all over the world who are working on various aspects of Canadian Studies. This year the conference hosted students from numerous European countries, Canada, Australia and Argentina. It was hosted and sponsored by the Association for Canadian Studies in the Netherlands, and was also sponsored by the European network for Canadian Studies, the University of Groningen's Canadian Studies Centre, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. For your information I have included with this report a copy of the conference program.
The conference opened on November 10 with a reception with James Lambert, the Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands. After the reception we were invited to a public debate, hosted by the University of Groningen's Student Platform of the Canadian Studies Centre which was well attended by conference participants and students from the university. Conference presentations took place November 11-12, and covered a wide range of Canadian Studies topics. Although I do not have the space to examine each in detail, I will outline some of the more interesting papers presented over the two days.
Kelly Black, a first year PhD student in Canadian Studies at Carleton University, examined the coloniality of property in southern Vancouver Island, and how concepts of "property" formed part of a tightly controlled regulatory regime in British Columbia. Lucia-Mihaela Groso, a doctoral student in Rumania, examined issues of patriarchal terrorism and the language of violence in her presentation on the writings of Uma Parameswaran. The concept of the "duty to consult" in Canada's and Australia's legal systems was explored in Ashley Sisco's paper. A doctoral student from the University of Wallongong in Australia, Ashley is exploring ways to foster and improve consultation with Aboriginal groups in both countries. The construction of the Franco-Ontarien identity was examined in Floret Hofer's papers. Florent examined the ways in which Franco-Ontarien identity has been constructed since the 1960s, and he looked at important social, cultural and political moments in the construction of this identity. Natalie Robinson's presentation examined how Vancouver's "Hope and Shadow Project" has constructed a photographic archival history of the city's Downtown Eastside, and has worked to socially and culturally construct very particular images of that community.
On November 10, I presented my conference paper, "A Call to Arms: The Community Improvement Program and Canada's 1967 Centennial." Briefly, the paper examined the discourse used by Community Improvement Program organizers to promote citizen participation in centennial activities, raise awareness about the country's environmental state, and encourage civic beautification projects across the country. Branded as the "Centennial cure," it was broadly framed as a vehicle to beautify the country, tackle urban and rural blight, encourage civic improvements and promote ecological stewardship. The Centennial Commission used a carefully crafted discourse that encouraged individuals and businesses to participate in the program. This discourse drew upon notions of citizenship, as well as militaristic language that implored Canadians to become active "citizen soldiers" and "launch a massive offensive" on ugliness that, according to organizers, threatened to engulf the country. The paper examined how the program sought to create productive citizens whose civic improvement and beautification activities benefitted the Canadian state.
Prior to my talk I was given 5 minutes to address conference attendees and organizers. I spoke about the CSN-REC, its mandate and brief overview of our activities to date. I also spoke about the 2011-2012 Trent-Carleton Graduate Conference, "Canada and the New World Order: The National Contexts of Global Change." I told conference attendees that the CSN-REC had a new international graduate students funding policy for those studying outside of Canada who wished to attend this conference. I directed them to our website so they could find out more (about our network in general!) and about this new policy which could help fund travel to the Trent-Carleton conference.
I am also pleased to report that I spoke individually with several students at the conference who are interested in pursuing graduate work in Canadian Studies in Canada. I was able to pass on information about various programs and universities and directed them to resources that they would find helpful, including the CSN-REC website.
It is worth noting that conference organizers were delighted that two Canadian CSN-REC sponsored students from Canada had attended the conference. Dr. Cornelius Remie mentioned our presence on several occasions throughout the conference, including during the opening reception with James Lambert, the Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands, and during his opening remarks at the first day of the conference. Other organizers, including Dr. Jeanette den Toonder, Director for the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Groningen, and Dr. Conny Steenman-Marcusse, asked about the CSN-REC and our activities. Drs. Remie, den Toonder and Steenman-Marcusse, in particular, expressed their delight that about the CSN-REC's founding and were happy that two Canadian students were being sponsored by the organization. I would strongly recommend that we continue to heavily promote this conference and try to ensure that each year we have strong graduate student representation. Dr. Remie informed me that the European Association for Canadian Studies would be meeting in February, at which time a decision would be made as to when and where the next European Seminar for Graduate Studies in Canadian Studies would be held. He expected that, as with this year, the seminar will reserve two spots for those graduate students nominated by the CSN-REC to attend the European Seminar.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful reception we received from the University of Groningen's Student Platform of the Canadian Studies Centre. On Friday, November 11, after the day's plenary sessions, members of the Student Platform hosted a supper for all the conference attendees. The students prepared a traditional Dutch supper, which included lovely homemade waffles for dessert.
In conclusion, I believe that this experience certainly allowed me to share my research with a wider graduate student audience and to help build bridges with other students working in Canadian Studies. Just as important, however, the conference allowed Kelly and I to be very visible representatives of the CSN-REC community, and it allowed us to promote the organization's goals, mandate and interests at an international event, and we made important international connections with a wider community of graduate students.
Graduate Student Activities in other Countries
Unfortunately, none of the conference attendees sat as executive members of their home Canadian Studies Association organizations, and none were actively involved on any student caucuses or otherwise. However, I was able to glean some information from most conference attendees about what work their home Canadian Studies Association organization does for them. In addition, I have taken a look at a number of these associations online to see what resources are available for students.
Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand (ACSANZ)
Currently there is no student representative at ACSANZ. Although ACSANZ advertises opportunities for students on their website, such as various postgraduate opportunities, an undergraduate essay prize in Canadian Studies, and a postgraduate travel award, there is no active graduate student caucus or dedicated activities supported by the association. Here is a link to the ACSANZ Undergraduate Essay award is here:
Ashley Sisco, a Canadian currently undertaking her PhD in Australia at the University of Wollongong, will keep in touch with me about the group's activities and specifically those opportunities that become available for students through this group.
Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries (GKS)
Of all the European Canadian Studies associations I heard about, it seemed that the Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries is by far the most active when it comes to student activities. In particular, it offers "Virtual Canadian Studies," which are a variety of online Canadian Studies courses that students may take which could go towards their degrees at their home university. Courses are offered in a wide range of fields including History, English, Geography, and Native Studies, through instructors at various German universities. Credits earned are for both undergraduate and masters level programs. Information about these virtual studies are found here: http://www.kanada-studien.org/angebote-fur-studierende/virtual-canadian-studies/
In addition, the association promoted international summer schools that take place at various universities in Europe in the field of Canadian Studies. The courses appear to be at the undergraduate level. This past year summer schools took place at universities in Austria and Lithuania that included instruction in fields of conflict resolution in civil society, and a course about the Americas. A link to the summer schools is found here: http://www.kanada-studien.org/angebote-fur-studierende/summer-schools/
The association also has a Young Scholar's Forum which offers a website forum that includes call for papers, news, information and a discussion forum. This Forum sponsors an annual graduate student conference. Next year's conference is titled "Border – Borderlands – Borderline: Spaces of Encounters in Canadian Studies," and will be held in Berlin June 28-30. In addition, at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries (GKS), the Forum hosted a Young Scholar's Panel.
The Forum also sponsors an open forum (www.nachwuchsforum.net) intended to be a space for young Canadian Studies scholars for discussions and to exchanges ideas and news. It is interesting to note that their mandate for the forum is as follows:
It is designed as a platform where you may exchange ideas with other young scholars and find information about current Canadianist activities and events – both in German-speaking countries and internationally. With nachwuchsforum.net, we hope to strengthen existing networks between young Canadianist scholars and to give young scholars around the world an opportunity to easily access these networks, to start new ones, and to cooperate with other scholars working in similar fields or on similar projects.
The site receives support from Foreign Affairs Canada, and it is maintained by two members of the Young Scholars Forum. The site also features a list of members' current research projects. Here is a like to the research list site:
It appears that the Forum also runs a separate newsletter just for students. I have sent an email asking that I be put on this list, and will report back about the newsletter content when I hear back from them.
I have contacted the students in charge of the site, hoping that I can become a member of this listserve to see what kind of activities they do with the Forum, and am hoping to hear back from them soon. I told them a bit about the CSN-REC, and that I was hoping to establish some links with their association.
French Association for Canadian Studies www.afec33.asso.fr
Although the French Association for Canadian Studies is quite active there appears to be no active student forum with this association, and there appears to be very little, if anything, done specifically targeted to students, and it appears from a perusal of their website that this is correct. The Association's website features many links, including calls for papers (including one for their 2012 annual meeting), various publications, and conference and travel bursaries. In 2010 the Association established out an annual prize for the best Canadian Studies thesis. Other than this, however, there appears to be no student forum or other activities specifically designed for students. I have signed up for the Association's newsletter, and once I have received a copy of it, I will report as to whether or not there are more activities specifically geared towards students.
Polish Association for Canadian Studies (PACS)
The Polish Association for Canadian Studies is based at Department of Canadian Studies, Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora at Jagiellonian University. There is no position on their executive council for a student representative, and there are no provisions in the Association's constitution for such a representative on their Board.
The Association offers several opportunities specifically geared towards students. This includes a "Library Grant" which funds travel and accommodation expenses for eligible Association members. The terms of the grant specifically note that the Association members, including BA and MA students are eligible. Although it does not specifically list that PhD students are eligible for this fund, there does not appear to be anything barring them from applying. The grant funds research in "any library that holds Canadian publications among its book collections." Applicants for the Library Grant have to include a profile and a description of their planned research, reasons for choosing their specific library, and the purpose of their research. Those who receive grants must then report back to the Association about their research and how the funds were used. The link for Library Grant is: www.ptbk.org.pl/Library_Grant,61.html
The Association also offers a prize for the best MA thesis. Unfortunately, the website information on this award is only in Polish. However, by the power of Google translator it appears that students studying a Canadian Studies topic in Poland are eligible for this annual award. The thesis can be written in English, French or Polish. The link for this prize is: www.ptbk.org.pl/PACS_Best_MA,62.html
The Association also offers a "Conference Grant" that covers travel expenses for Canadianists who attend conferences outside of Poland or to do research in libraries. Is appears that students are eligible to apply for this grant. The link for the Conference Grant is: www.ptbk.org.pl/conference_grant,60.html
I have also signed up for the Association's newsletter and will update you as to its contents, and whether there are specific activities for students reported in there. There has not been a newsletter posted to the website since 2009, and I am hoping that there has been a more recent one that has not made it on to the website. Unfortunately, the last yearly report posted to the Association's website was in 2006.
Finally, the Association features space on its website where "outstanding student essays on Canadian topics" are published. These papers are put on the website on the recommendation by course instructors. The link is: www.ptbk.org.pl/Students_essays,47.html
Association for Canadian Studies in Ireland (ACSI)
Other than links to graduate awards, bursaries and opportunities listed on the ICCS website, there is very little here geared specifically towards students. From a perusal of the Executive Committee, it appears that there is no student representation on this relatively large executive committee.
British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS)
BACS features various specialist groups within the association, but there are none specifically for students.
The Association offers "Travel Awards" which are open to full-time academic staff as well as postgraduate students. Applicants are required to demonstrate "that their visit is directly related to their actual or proposed teaching and/or research in Canadian Studies and that the Canadian content of this teaching or research is clearly identifiable."
The Association also awards the "Prix du Québec," which is two awards of £1,000 each, offered by the Québec Government Office in London and administered by BACS. One award is reserved for masters and doctoral students, and the second is awarded to researchers, academic staff, and postdoctoral researchers. The award is given to researchers based in the United Kingdom who are research issues about Quebce. The award provides funds to assist these researchers in travelling to Quebec to conduct research.
Although I was disappointed not to have made direct contact at the conference with student representatives of other Canadian Studies organizations, I feel that I was able to glean solid information about various activities from speaking with students and by a looking at what is offered on various Canadian Studies associations' websites. Based on what I have learned through speaking with conference delegates and pursuing various Canadian Studies Association websites, I am making the following recommendations to the CSN-REC:
1. List of Current Research by Students: We invite student members to send in a description of the research and include it on a list on our website. This will help inform members and the public about the different work that is currently being undertaken at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Good examples of these are found on the various university sites. NICHE has also developed a good template for current research (http://niche-canada.org/nichememberdir )
2. Graduate Student Conference Panel: We consider having a separate session at our next annual general meeting for graduate students to present their work. Although we do have many graduate students presenting at conferences without being pegged into a panel session purely devoted to just graduate students, this may be something to consider for the UBC and the UPEI conference.
3. Library/Archival Find for Students: We consider instituting a library/archive fund to assist students in carrying out their research. Although we are still a relatively young association, a fund such as this one could go a long way in assisting students carrying out their research. We could start the fund off with a relatively small amount, say $500, and increase it from there, or perhaps consider giving out several grants in any given year.
4. Undergraduate Paper Award: To help involve our undergraduates more in our association, we establish a prize for the best undergraduate essay in any given year. We could publish the best essay on our website, and even have a small monetary award to accompany the prize. Acadiensis (and I'm sure other journals) do this every year.
5. Graduate Thesis Award: As some Canadian Studies associations have their own awards for the best thesis, we could consider a similar prize as well. This, however, may involve a lot of time and energy devoted to giving out an award.