Queer Youth in the Province of the Severely Normal

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by Gloria Filax

Book Cover: Queer Youth in the Province of the Severely Normal

The government of Alberta in the 1990s actively contested the legal rights of sexual minority citizens. Provincial premier Ralph Klein defended this position by claiming that most Albertans, whom he characterized as "severely normal," were not in favour of recognizing homosexuality as a protected category in the provincial human rights code.

Gloria Filax explores how youth identities have been constructed through dominant and often competing discourses about youth, sexuality, and gender, and how queer youth in the province of Alberta negotiated the contradictions of these discourses. She juxtaposes the voices of queer young people in Alberta with discourses that claim expert knowledge about young people’s lives. She also explores what queer youth have to say about their lives in relation to renditions of homosexuality from the Alberta Report, a weekly magazine published in the 1990s that, despite its fiscal marginality, had significant impact on social values in Alberta.

This book is important because it presents the voices of queer youth, particularly in the context of expert and popular discourses that often overwhelmingly deny the value of their lives. A significant contribution to queer social science scholarship, Queer Youth in the Province of the "Severely Normal" will also be of interest to sociologists, educators, social workers, and counsellors.

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Publisher: UBC Press
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About the Author

Gloria Filax is an assistant professor with the Master of Arts - Integrated Studies Program at Athabasca University. View Gloria's faculty page.


Nikkei Journey

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Japanese Canadians in Southern Alberta

by Rochelle Yamagishi

black and white photo montage of Japanese Canadians

By Rochelle Yamagishi and Naomi Rochelle Sato

This book was written as a follow-up to the museum exhibit, “Nikkei Tapestry: The Story of Japanese Canadians in Southern Alberta,” which was presented at the Sir Alexander Galt Museum in Lethbridge, AB in 2003. Ten stories have been written from first-person perspectives, telling what it was really like for pioneers, evacuees, and their descendants to be Japanese Canadian. In addition, there are stories about the new immigrants who came to work on farms in the 1970s, and the Redress movement, finalized in 1988.

The stories are all true, taken from books, conversations, and interviews, and interwoven to produce composite characters representing different generational groups, each with their own unique experiences and viewpoints.

The Issei, or first generation, came in the early 1900s, either to the west coast of British Columbia, working in fishing, lumbering, and farming, or to the Raymond area in southern Alberta, to work the sugar beets. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the Canadian government ordered the confiscation of property and businesses of all persons of Japanese descent living within a 100-mile geographical area from the coast. In addition, all persons were ordered to evacuate to ghost towns in the interior of B.C. or move as families to sugar beet farms in southern Alberta.

The Nisei, or second generation, followed along with their elders, being docile and cooperative during the evacuation, due to cultural norms that emphasized duty and obligation, conformity and obedience. Such cultural beliefs as, “Shikata-ga-nai,” meaning, “it can’t be helped,” and, ”Gaman,” meaning “patience and perseverance,” helped Japanese Canadians as a group to ultimately survive the events of the evacuation.

These stories are important to bring forward, since the Japanese people as a whole are reluctant to talk about these historical experiences. Although they were shamed and humiliated, they have put their efforts into obtaining occupational and educational attainment in Canadian society.

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Publisher: Trafford Publishing
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About the Author

Rochelle Yamagishi is a tutor with Athabasca University.


Challenging Legitimacy at the Precipice of Energy Calamity

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by Mike Gismondi

book cover

by Debra J. Davidson and Mike Gismondi

Two intersecting moments of the Twenty-first Century define our politics, economies, and future prospects for civilization: the mounting evidence for global climate change, now unequivocally attributed to socio-economic activities, and its de-stabilizing effects on our biosphere, combined with the end of easy oil and the easy wealth it generates. On the energy question, non-conventional fossil fuels have been promoted by political elites as the next most attractive development option. The development of nonconventional fuels, however, does nothing to alleviate either climate change or the falling rate of energy supply, and generates multiple social and environmental consequences. The largest endeavour marking this historic nexus—indeed the largest industrial project in history, is the extraction and processing of the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The social, environmental, and most importantly political outcomes of this grand experiment will reverberate throughout the global polity, and either encourage or caution against increasing our dependence on such non-conventional fuels and assuming the multiple costs such dependence will entail. Planning for reflexive societal change requires that we first ask how such giga-projects are legitimated, and who is challenging this legitimacy? In this book we trace how language and visual representations are used to reinforce or challenge the legitimacy of development of the Athabasca tar sands, and draw on our insights to contemplate likely energy and climate futures.

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Publisher: Springer
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About the Author

Mike Gismondi is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies in the Centre for Social Sciences. View Mike's faculty page.


Alberta Oil and the Decline of Democracy in Canada

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book cover

Edited by Meenal Shrivastava and Lorna Stefanick

Prior to May 2015, the oil-rich jurisdiction of Alberta had, for over four decades, been a one-party state. During that time, the rule of the Progressive Conservatives essentially went unchallenged, with critiques of government policy falling on deaf ears and Alberta ranking behind other provinces in voter turnout. Given the province’s economic reliance on oil revenues, a symbiotic relationship also developed between government and the oil industry. Cross-national studies have detected a correlation between oil-dependent economies and authoritarian rule, a pattern particularly evident in Africa and the Middle East. Alberta Oil and the Decline of Democracy in Canada sets out to test the “oil inhibits democracy” hypothesis in the context of an industrialized nation in the Global North.

In probing the impact of Alberta’s powerful oil lobby on the health of democracy in the province, contributors to the volume engage with an ongoing discussion of the erosion of political liberalism in the West. In addition to examining energy policy and issues of government accountability in Alberta, they explore the ramifications of oil dependence in areas such as Aboriginal rights, environmental policy, labour law, women’s equity, urban social policy, and the arts. If, as they argue, reliance on oil has weakened democratic structures in Alberta, then what of Canada as whole, where the short-term priorities of the oil industry continue to shape federal policy? In Alberta, the New Democratic Party is in a position to reverse the democratic deficit that is presently fuelling political and economic inequality. The findings in this book suggest that, to revitalize democracy, provincial and federal leaders alike must find the courage to curb the influence of the oil industry on governance.

Meenal Shrivastava is associate professor of political economy and global studies at Athabasca University.

Lorna Stefanick is a professor at Athabasca University, where she serves as coordinator for the Governance, Law, and Management program.

Contributors:

Ricardo Acuña, Bob Barnetson, Sara Dorow, Josh Evans, Jason Foster, Joy Fraser, Trevor Harrison, Paul Kellogg, Manijeh Mannani, Gabrielle Slowey, Peter (Jay) Smith, and Karen Wall.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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Game Plan

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A social history of sports in Alberta

by Karen Wall

photo of female athlete smiling

How deep is the importance and influence of organized sports in Alberta? Discover key episodes and players in the history of Alberta's organized sports and read how sport shaped the lives of individuals as well as of communities of indigenous people, settlers, and immigrants. Read new perspectives on well-known sports stories along with tales of lesser-known games that remained on the margins of most histories for reasons of race, class, and gender. Whether a spectator, supporter, scholar, or fan, readers will be informed and delighted by the research contained in this sport history.

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Publisher: The University of Alberta Press
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About the Author

Karen Wall is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies. View Karen's faculty web page.