Celebrating Women and Non-Binary Historians

Celebrating Women and Non-Binary Historians on yellow background

Check out my latest post over on Unwritten Histories.  This post, written in collaboration with Andrea Eidinger, looks at Celebrating Women and Non-Binary Historians. We share the submissions from our December 2018 call to celebrate folks and talk about why promoting and acknowledging the accomplishments of women and non-binary folks matters.

Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women and Non-Binary Historians in 2018

Celebrating Women and Non-Binary Historians on yellow background

In 2017, archaeologist Steph Halmhofer issued a call for submission for the first “Celebration of Women and Non-Binary Archaeologists.” The call was a response to the lack of women and non-binary representation in year-end archaeology roundups, as well as problems with representation in the media and public discourse. We have noticed many of the same problems in the field of History.

Inspired by Halmhofer, we invite all women and non-binary folk who consider themselves to be historians to celebrate their personal and professional accomplishments from 2018. To so do, please fill out the Google questionnaire by December 31st.  We welcome submissions from all forms of historians and your accomplishment can be anything you want to celebrate in your personal or professional life from 2018.  Blog posts, articles, podcasts, interviews, self-care, etc. all count as accomplishments!

Accomplishments will be shared on Unwritten Histories in a special blog post in early January. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on Twitter at @andreaeidinger or @kristamccracken, or by emailing us at unwrittenhistories [at] gmail [dot] com.

You folks are awesome, and congratulations!

– Andrea Eidinger and Krista McCracken

* Special thanks to Steph Halmhofer for her support for this project. To find out about her celebration of women and non-binary archaeologists, go here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc9mZqzJEcmbyvK_Ryg5kt_5cQrsyWYksD6lqj93JTp7MW09g/viewform

Hacking History 2.0: Wikipedia As Education And Public Engagement

Woman yelling Edit.

Jessica Knapp and I are pleased to announce that we will be holding the second annual Canada Wide Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for Canadian history on October 24, 2018.  We’ve written about the logistics of the event, how you can become involved, and how classrooms can participate over at the Unwritten Histories blog.  Many thanks to Andrea Eidinger for her support and for sharing her virtual space with us.

Know you want to participate? Check out the Hacking History Facebook event or signup using the Wikipedia Outreach Dashboard.

OER and Exploring Pressbooks

Cover of the Healing and Reconciliation Through Education Pressbook.
Cover of the draft Healing and Reconciliation Through Education Pressbook.

I recently starting working with Pressbooks as a way to develop an Open Educational Resource (OER) about residential schools and the history of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

For folks not familiar will Pressbooks, it is a publishing platform that you easily create ebook and print-ready files for printing physical books.  In Ontario, eCampus Ontario has a dedicated Pressbooks instance for folks at universities in the province who are looking to develop OER and open textbooks.   The platform is extremely user friendly, and if you’ve used WordPress you’ll find the navigation and content entry system very similar.  I love the idea of using digital tools to create accessible, open access material for students to use in the classroom.  I also think there is a ton of potential for archives to work with historians to provide primary source material for this type of project.

We’re still very much in the content development phase of this project; but it has been really interesting to think about ways to illustrate the unique history of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School site in connection to the larger residential school system.  This is a history that the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre have been collecting and discussing for decades. It’s also a history that has become past of my daily work for the past eight years, either through archival practice or educational outreach programming. The development of OER content has the potential to deliver this history in new ways and to expand the reach of this important work.

I’m also really seeing the benefit of using a platform which supports collaboration.  I’ve been able to bring in a number of conspirators  co-authors to this project and we have been able to jointly develop content and design. I also like the flexibility a digital platform provides – hyperlinks, embedded audio-visual, and photographs are some of the obvious advantages.  In the case of our project we’re also embedding primary source material held by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  It is allowing us to directly connect learns will archival records, archival photographs, and documents which are central to telling the history of the Shingwauk site.

I would love to hear what other public history and Canadian history folks are doing with Pressbooks, OER software, and open textbook development. What are you working on? What resources do you wish existed to support your students? 

Project Funding News

Five people doing fist bumps.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of a number of projects that have recently received funding news.  I am very excited about all of this work, much of which involves community, engagement, and cross-cultural learning methods.

  • The TRC-TF was recently awarded at SSHRC Insight Grant for “Establishing a framework for reconciliation action and awareness within the Canadian archival system”  this funding will allow the TRC-TF to expand our outreach to Indigenous communities, Indigenous archivists, and Indigenous knowledge holders across Canada.
  • Skylee-Storm Hogan and I were recently the recipients of of an Inspirit Foundation ChangeUp Grant.  These grants are focused on building opportunities for people aged 18-34 to develop programming designed to shift attitudes within their communities.  Our project is focused on building space for dialogue about reconciliation, issues of inter-generational trauma, and residential schools.  We’ll be sharing lots of this work on social media as the project progresses.
  • The “Documenting early residential schools” project led by Thomas Peace in partnership with the Woodland Cultural Centre, Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, and the Anglican Diocese of Huron recently received funding through the SSHRC partnership engage grant program.  I’m thrilled to be a co-applicant on this project which will allow for the digitization, transcription, and discovery of records related to the early history of the Mohawk Institute and the Shingwauk Indian Residential School.  This project also has a significant education component, involving a group of students from Huron University College working with materials from the Shingwauk and Mohawk Schools.
  • Activehistory.ca was one of the supporting partners of Carolyn Podruchny’s “Aandse: Anishinaabe Ways of Knowing and the Transformation of University-based Knowledge Creation and Transfer.”  partnership development grant, which received $200,000 from SSHRC.

None of the above projects would have been possible without the fantastic colleagues and collaborators I’ve met through Active History and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  I am constantly grateful for the numerous meaningful collaborations that I get to participate in.

Photo credit: rawpixel on Unsplash

CHA and Regina Extras

First Nations University Exterior

When I attend conferences I typically try to engage in a couple of activities outside of the conference programming.  This usually means scoping out local museums, heritage sites, and art galleries. While in Regina I was able to squeeze in a few local sights and engage in some more general Congress programming in addition to the sessions offered by the CHA.

On Sunday May 27th I had the chance to attend a Secret Feminist Agenda Podcast meetup at Malty International Brewing.  For folks who haven’t heard of the Secret Feminist Agenda, I highly recommend you download a few episodes and listen.  Hosted by academic Hannah McGregor, this podcast is a great example of digital scholarship.  McGregor has partnered with Wilfred Laurier University Press to develop a platform for the peer-review and critical discussion of the podcast. The meetup was a fantastic opportunity to be in a space with other feminist folks who are pushing boundaries and engaged in exciting scholarship. It was also a chance to connect with some folks from the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities.

I also had the opportunity to check out the Stonecuts and sealskins: Inuit work on paper exhibition at the Fifth Parallel Gallery which featured works from the President’s Art Collection, Shumiatcher donation. Though a relatively small gallery space and a relatively small exhibition Stonecuts and Sealskins included a number of impressive examples of early and contemporary Inuit print making styles.  The show included a couple of Kenojuak Ashevak prints, which I had seen before – but are breathtaking every time I see them.  I am glad I carved out some time during a break to check out this gallery space.

I also stopped by the beaded blanket collage by Katelyn Ironstar.  I loved the participatory art project aspect of this work and the idea of taking up space at an academic conference to reclaim traditional beading styles.  Essentially Ironstar was inviting folks to sit with her, learn about traditional beading, and contribute to a collaborative art piece. The space Ironstar carved out was both mindful and reflective. I think we need more of this within academic spaces.

There were definitely local spaces that I wish I had more time to visit during CHA.  But I am very glad I had the opportunity to step a bit outside the main conference stream and explore.  If nothing else, I now have a few things I want to see in Regina if I ever make my way back through that area.

Photo: Exterior of First Nations University in Regina.

CHA Reads 2018

It is that time of year again! The Unwritten Histories blog is hosting the second annual edition of CHA Reads. Over the course of this week, five scholars will argue why their book should win the coveted CHA book prize.

This year, I’m participating by ‘defending’ Susan M. Hill’s The Clay We Are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River.  I highly recommend Hill’s book for anyone engaged in working with Indigenous communities and the history of land relationships. I would also recommend Hill’s work to folks looking to deepen their understanding of Haudenosaunee worldviews.

Follow the #CHAReads2018 posts on Unwritten Histories and on social media throughout the week to learn more about all of the books nominated for the CHA book prize. The week is being wrapped up in a Twitter discussion on Friday at 2pm ET which is open to all.  I’m really looking forward to hearing what other people thought about all of this year’s books.

Image source: Unwritten Histories Blog.

Building Bridges and Reading Across Disciplines

black and white Drone view of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.

During one of my recent writing projects I started thinking about the implications of disciplinary silos and the value to reading across disciplines. A lot of my work is grounded in archival theory and public history practice, however it often intersects with the Canadian academic history profession.  From an outsider differentiating these three disciplines may seem like splitting hairs, but they really are proudly different in their approaches and literature.

A lot of my recent work has been thinking about archival silences and the power relationships entrenched in colonial archival spaces. This power dynamic and the challenge of doing research about historically marginalized communities is something that intersects across archival practice, public history, and academic history.  I started diving into this topic by examining archival theory and literature written by archivists. I then expanded to look at community based perspectives and a more public history take on archival voices.  Lastly, after consulting with a couple of colleagues I added a stack of Canadian history books and articles to my to read pile.

This exercise in reading across disciplines was enriching and helped broaden my understanding of the topic it hand.  It also highlighted how fields can approach the same topic from very different angles.  Many of the archival based works I was reading focused on the role of the archivist in creating or mitigating silence within the historical process.  The more public history leaning works focused on communities challenging silence, the right to internal community memory, and ways to build bridges across shared pasts.  Conversely, the more academic history reads were really focused on subverting archival silences – reading against the grain, using non-traditional archival sources to expand historical narratives, and how to overcome lack of records.  All of these areas of interest had overlapping points and areas of commonality.

These areas of similarity struck me as so important. Archivists and historians need to talk more.  Understanding how archives work and the intellectual/emotional/physical labour that goes into making archival records accessible is so important. Historians and media indicating that something was ‘discovered in the archives’ erases the archival labour that went into arranging and describing that material.  The archivist knew it was there and did a lot of work so a historian could access that material as part of their research.  Historians and archivists have definite overlapping interests and we would be better served by increasing the amount of work we did collaboratively.

What are your strategies for reading across disciplines? 

Photo credit: Jared Erondu on Unsplash

Intensive Learning Opportunities

Group of Kings students standing in front of Shingwauk Hall, Algoma University.

Photo: Kings students standing in front of Shingwauk Hall, Algoma University.

Earlier this month I had the privilege of hosting over 40 students from King’s University College (Western University) during their visit to Algoma University.  The students spent a really long time on a bus traveled to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to spend a couple of days immersed in learning about residential schools and Indigenous communities.

This visit was somewhat unique in that it was completely organized by students. The trip was framed as a unique educational opportunity and as enrichment but not tied to one specific course.  The students were from a mixture of undergraduate disciplines and were at varying points in their respective programs. The organizing group approached me in October of 2017 with the idea for their trip and after months of correspondence and planning it was fantastic to see this experience come together.

The students had two full days of intensive programming on campus. The agenda included a historic our of the Shingwauk/AlgomaU site, discussion with a residential school survivor, an Indigenous youth panel, workshops facilitated by local Indigenous community partners, attending the Gathering at the Rapids Pow Wow, and lots of time for discussion and reflection.  It was a heavy couple of days with a lot of deep learning and with an emphasis on experiencing things first hand.  For many students it was their first time being on the site of a former residential school and it was the first time they had interacted with a residential school survivor in person.

Opportunities For Success
One of the byproducts of intensive learning is the sense of team building and community feeling that grows out of engagement in a transformative educational opportunity.  For me, the creation of a safe space and the generating of a community feeling were an essential part of developing the King’s programming.  Our opening activities, breakout sessions, and discussions were designed with inclusive and safe space practices in mind.  We also attempted to take a decolonized approach to debriefs by using sharing circles instead of Western classroom style engagement tools.

One of the benefits of intensive learning is the ability to incorporate experiential elements. This could looks like visiting local heritage sites, speaking with community members, or engaging in local events. I think the best intensive learning models look beyond the walls of the classroom and engage students in activities that they would not be able to experience as part of their regular coursework.

Space For Growth
One of the obvious challenges of intensive learning opportunities is the limited amount of time.  Facilitators are often trying to make the most out of a short time period by combining a range of learning opportunities and reflection techniques.  Inevitably, something isn’t going to make it into the final agenda.  This can be mitigated in part by providing resources for students to engage with prior to and following the intensive period.  This might take the form of required reading or viewing before the event, a list of take home resources, or a discussion forum organized to occur after the intensive.

In the case of the King’s visit one of the challenges was building in enough processing and reflection time. Dealing with historical trauma and first hands accounts of violence, systemic racism, and abuse can be challenging. We wanted to make sure that students left each day with tools to process the new information they were presented with and to ensure that they left knowing what support resources were available to them. Considering we only had two days together we spent a lot of that time in discussion and we engaged in a number of debrief and summary discussions.

As a facilitator I find intensive learning really rewarding, it is wonderful to be part of a group that is on an educational journey and to see them progressing in their understanding of a complex historical topic. Acting as a facilitator to this type of event is also really draining. Being on point for over eight hours each day is exhausting.  I would recommend building in co-facilitators or guest workshop leaders to any intensive learning program.  A collaborative approach to delivery means that the burden of instruction isn’t falling on one or two people – who will definitely be exhausted by the end of the experience.

Balance
Come up with experiential learning opportunities and developing schedules for intensive learning events can be challenging.  Come up with engaging programming that covers a range of topics and fitting it in a two or three days is tricky.  For folks engaged in this type of work I would suggest building in evaluation time, that way staff and participants can provide feedback on what worked and didn’t work.  One of the things I would consider going forward is making sure there is more ‘active’ time build into each day — even just doing activities which require participants to move around the room can help breakup long periods of sitting, which can be hard on attention spans and physical bodies.

Have you participated in any intensive learning programs? Do you like this style of education opportunities?