For Immediate Release
June 1, 2020
Over 70 scholarly associations converge every year at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, each group holding their annual meeting under one umbrella. “The cancellation of Congress 2020 due to COVID-19 is a lost professional opportunity for all of our authors,” says Jane Kelly, Director, Sales & Marketing at University of Toronto Press. “I’m especially disappointed for rosalind hampton, author of the eagerly awaited new book, Black Racialization and Resistance at an Elite University.”
The theme of Congress 2020 was “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism,” with an emphasis on recovering lost voices and confronting the intersections of colonialism and anti-Black racism. In her book, hampton shows how these sociopolitical pressures ultimately conspired to erase black students and scholars from the institutional history of McGill and other leading schools. Encouraged by the fortuitous parallels between hampton’s groundbreaking work and the theme of this year’s conference, Congress organizers set up a launch, panel discussions, and a breakfast session based on Black Racialization and Resistance at an Elite University.
“Events were also in the works for a number of the other titles we were planning to showcase at this year’s Congress,” says Kelly. Wounded Feelings by Eric Reiter, for instance, is the first legal history of emotions in Canada. Drawing on newspapers, legal writings, and archival case files from the Quebec civil courts from 1870 to 1950, Reiter provides vivid accounts of how people litigated emotional injuries like dishonour, humiliation, grief, and betrayal. Reiter’s book is shortlisted for the Canadian Historical Association’s 2020 Prize for Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History. In lieu of an awards ceremony at Congress, the winner will be announced later this week on the CHA’s website.
Other notable titles from UTP’s Congress 2020 line-up include Canada at a Crossroads by Jeffrey S. Denis, which provides a nuanced portrait of the sociopsychological differences between and within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Rainy River. The “bridges” and “boundaries” to communication that Denis discovers in this Ontario town can be applied to the ongoing national conversation about Indigenous-settler reconciliation.
In Carbon Province, Hydro Province, Douglas MacDonald offers the first-ever comparative analysis of Canada’s five attempts to date to put in place coordinated national policy in the fields of energy and climate change. MacDonald’s findings point to a new way to get all the provinces moving in the same direction of decreasing emissions and thereby enable the country to finally achieve its climate-change target.
At the Ocean’s Edge by Margaret Conrad is a vibrant account of Nova Scotia’s colonial history, situating it in a dramatic, early chapter in the expansion of Europe. Drawing on recent research on Indigenous and settler societies under French and British imperial regimes, Conrad highlights the unequal accommodation made among Mi’kmaq, Acadian, African, and British peoples in the eighteenth century and explores the forces leading to Confederation in 1867.
In Partisan Odysseys, Nelson Wiseman reveals Canada’s political history to be a series of strategic improvisations. Uncovering distinctive motifs and events in Canadian party politics from pre-Confederation to the present, Wiseman vividly shows how parties have adjusted, adapted, and reinvented themselves in response to significant social and economic changes as well as how parties have, in turn, shaped or reinforced these social forces.
“All of our Congress 2020 books speak in some way to this moment in history,” says Kelly. “But it’s fair to say that none of them are as timely, in the most literal sense of the term, as Mitchell Hammond’s Epidemics and the Modern World.” Hammond presents “biographies” of epidemics such as plague, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS to explore the impact of disease on the development of modern societies. Our institutions, colonial structures, relationships to animals, and perceptions of suffering, sexuality, race, and disability have all shaped – and been shaped by – these significant medical events.
Congress organizers have planned a series of virtual sessions. While they can’t match the scope of the annual gathering, these online events will give these authors a chance to connect and compare notes with their academic colleagues. “Some contact is plainly better than none at all,” says Kelly. “Still, we look forward to seeing everyone next year in Edmonton.”
Chris Reed, Publicist, University of Toronto Press
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