- New Generation
This issue of the IJCS marks the return of thematic sections. Some themes will encompass a whole issue, as with this one; other issues will combine a thematic section with general articles. I find it particularly appropriate, and exciting, that our return to this format should focus on the work of a new generation of Canadianists.
The past two decades have not been easy for Canadian Studies, internationally as well as in Canada, as the perennial challenges of recruiting new scholars to the field has been compounded by the end of the Canadian government’s support for Canadian Studies abroad. Domestically, programs and academic units have also suffered. It is partly with this in mind that we launched the hopeful call for papers for a New Generation issue. The idea was, in part, to encourage younger scholars to think of framing their work in terms of international Canadian Studies, and in part to probe whether such a new generation of Canadianists actually exists—and if so, to get a sense of what it is doing.
The outcome, as you are about to see, is both exciting and a bit worrisome. Exciting, because of the character and quality of the works submitted—more on this presently. Worrisome, because very few submissions and none of the articles that we are publishing here came from outside Canada. There are surely many reasons for this, and we must redouble efforts to attract young international Canadianists. (The better news on this front is that we do have articles in the previous issue and in forthcoming ones, by international authors.)
It was almost sixty years ago when Thomas Kuhn demonstrated that new perspectives in science come from new generations of scholars—you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. So, in inviting the work of a new generation, we might hope for not only new people but also new perspectives. The articles in this issue do not disappoint: this is a diverse group of young authors, who innovate methodologically and topically.
Rachel Lobo studies Black history in Canada through the constitution of a “counterarchive” of Black photography, aiming at “the reconstruction of historically marginalized groups.” While historians have been key players from the beginning in Canadian Studies, the centering of visual materials in historical analysis has been less than prominent. Combining this approach with the study of Black history in Canada is doubly innovative. The photograph [End Page 1] on this issue’s cover is taken from Lobo’s article, and encapsulates much of the promise that we are pursuing here: it is an old photo of a young Black girl, anchoring an issue that showcases some of the perspectives of a new and diverse generation of scholars.
In this sense, Hasheem Hakeem’s article on the Montreal performance artist 2Fik—self-described queer, francophone, Québécer, immigrant, ex-Muslim.—is surely the first to highlight this kind of artistic practice in IJCS. By situating our understanding of 2Fik in the context of Québec’s debates on identity, laïcité and immigration, Hakeem anchors this very contemporary kind of performance art in time-honored Québécois and Canadian concerns.
Thirstan Falconer, Do Minh and Daisy Raphael give us three articles on more established IJCS themes, each with a considerable twist. Falconer focusses on the tensions in the mid-twentieth century between business interests favouring robust immigration targets and government perspectives more attuned to conservative fears about immigration. Considering that the Liberal Party was in power at the time, Falconer scrambles our understanding of postwar politics, and of how Canada approached the transformative 1960s: if today’s Liberal Party of Canada is robustly pro-immigration, this was not always the case—while the often conservative-leaning business community could be more forward-looking.
Meanwhile, Do Minh writes on one the knottiest questions in contemporary Canada: the obligations of government regarding reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, given their rights affirmed in Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982, and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The layers of complexity here, involving multiple actors and jurisdictions, and intricate articulations of political and legal philosophy, are daunting. Do untangles the issues with...