My Impressions of the Canadian Historical Association Conference, 2009

30 05 2009

1)    First, I was pleased to see that there were some military history papers on the programme, including one by Tim Cook of the Canadian War Museum. I’m far from being a military  historian, but for many years I’ve been disturbed by the growing distance between Canadian military historians and the rest of the historical profession. The military historians have their own conferences and journals and have become ghettoized. This is good for neither the military historians nor the historical profession at large.
2)    I was also pleased to see that the Political History Group attracted a great deal of interest. Matt Hayday will be the first chair of this group, which is for CHA members who work on political history.
3)    Blake Brown gave an excellent paper on the history of gun control.
4)    I attended the roundtable on the Liberal Order framework. I spoke up to express my frustration with the lack of clear working definition of the word “liberal”. I WILL HAVE MORE COMMENTS ON THIS ROUNDTABLE SOON.
5)    Several younger scholars recorded their presentations on video. They used a Flip video camera , which records in a YouTube compatible MP4 format. This augurs well for the future, for Canadian historians really need to embrace the Web 2.0. Ideally, the CHA should record all presentations and place them online.
6)    I was pleased by the number of graduate students working on 19th century topics. In the last few decades, the focus of historians of Canada (who publish in English, at least) has shifted to the 20th century, especially the post-1945 past, and the earlier periods of Canadian history have been the subject of gross neglect. The number of emerging scholars interested in the pre-1900 and pre-Confederation periods is very, very encouraging to me.