Call for Papers

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Restorying Canada:

Reconsidering Religion and Public Memory
A Conference and Public Event

University of Ottawa
Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies
18–20 May 2017

Submissions deadline: 3 March 2017

The 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, coming as it does in the aftermath of the landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is an ideal moment to re-examine the stories told of Canada’s past. Restorying Canada will inspire bold challenges to historiographic conventions of how we remember, invite critique as well as celebration, and explore multiple media and genres for evoking and interrogating the past, privileging artistic creativity along with academic rigour.

Religion has played a crucial, if understudied role in Canadian history: serving as the engine of residential schools, forming the still-extant “two solitudes,” inspiring collective visions of state responsibility for health care, and shaping a multicultural identity. In keeping with the urgency of the TRC’s “Calls for Action,” the conference will also highlight contemporary explorations of the troubled relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, including the legacies of religious, cultural, and linguistic imposition and resistance. Restorying Canada asks a few fundamental questions: How does our understanding of our past impact our present? What aspects of our nation’s history have gone un-told, been forgotten, or been systematically repressed? How have the complex interrelationships among Canada’s religious communities changed? Perhaps more troublingly, how have they remained the same?

Conference keynote speakers include novelist Margaret Atwood, Poet Laureate of Canada George Elliott Clarke, and filmmaker Zarqa Nawaz. Each speaker’s ground-breaking work in their diverse fields of endeavor has encouraged creative and critical re-imagination of  Canada’s collective past and its ambiguous legacy; they have participated in “restorying” Canada.

We invite proposals for individual papers and full panels from scholars, graduate students, artists, writers, filmmakers, educators, journalists, public policy professionals, community activists and others. The Conference will bring together people from multiple fields of expertise who are working on projects broadly related to the theme of religion and public memory in Canada that consider the multiple nations that brought this country into being. We welcome proposals in areas such as the study of religion, history, anthropology, Indigenous studies, law, museum studies, political theory, literature, art, media studies, environmental studies, and archaeology. Since we consider Restorying Canada to include diverse modes of storytelling, we encourage proposals for both traditional and innovative forms of presentation.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Creative and ritual practices of memorialization, reconciliation, and storytelling
  • Indigenous/settler relations, 1600 to the present
  • Religion as inspiration for utopian and dystopian visions
  • Museums, collectors, and material culture as agents of religion and public memory
  • “Secularism,” “multiculturalism,” and “religion” as contested categories
  • Environmental, geographic, and ecological aspects of religious engagement
  • Religion, immigration, and the “values” of Canadians
  • Acculturation, appropriation, and the politics of “majority” and “minority” religions
  • Religion and changing economic practices/ideals