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Ideas Beyond Borders

What to do you get when you throw together several thousand academics and deep thinkers? At the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, you get profound presentations, innovative ideas and lots of great new research in a host of disciplines.
            This year, Congress is being held at Brock University just outside St. Catharines, Ontario.
            It takes place annually and is a both showcase event for experienced academics and also, an opportunity for young scholars to kick start their careers.
            Every Congress has a theme, and this year, it’s “Borders Without Boundaries.” This, of course, has multiple meanings that cross many disciplines of academic study and interest.
            Ultimately, though, Congress is about breaking down the borders that divide academics from different regions and different disciplines, as well as the barriers that exist between academia and the wider world.
            As Brock University President Jack Lightstone said in his welcoming address, “Research is about discovery, creativity, innovation. It is about building a better society using what we have generated in our studies.”
            I’m here covering the Canadian Historical Association’s annual gathering. For Canada’s History Society, it’s a great chance to network, discover great new history writers, and also, to promote the fantastic research being conducted every day at campuses across the country.
            Highlights of my first day included attending sessions on the way churches of different denominations reacted to the Great War, and in particular, conscription; and a fascinating look at “The Great Naked, Rowdy, Drunken Outdoors: Exploring Canada’s Vernacular Culture of Nation Through ‘Bad Behaviour.’”
            I also listened with interest as Queen's University historian Ian McKay delivered the opening keynote address. McKay is a polarizing figure, a historian of left-wing and labour histories and a vocal critic of the current Conservative federal government. His address focused on lower-case liberalism, and the road it needs to follow into the future.
            The biggest challenge for a history buff attending Congress is deciding which sessions to attend. You can’t be everywhere at once, and alas, I missed several great presentations that occurred simultaneously today, including “War Beyond Warriors: Impacts on Health Policy, Childhood and Families during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960; Competing Canadas: Empire, Nation and Country; and First Nations and Social Policies.
            On Tuesday, I’ll be back at it. Follow along on Twitter at: @markreideditor.
            Later Tuesday night, I’ll be heading off to cover the annual CHA awards gala. I’ll be tweeting all the winners, including the winner of the Sir John A. Macdonald prize for best academic history book. Immediately following the event, we will post a full list of nominees and winners at
Posted: 26/05/2014 7:58:58 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Filed under: Canadian Historical Association, CHA Congress, history awards, history conferences, Mark Reid

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