Unmooring the Komagata Maru

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Charting Colonial Trajectories

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Edited by Rita Dhamoon, Davina Bhandar, Renisa Mawani, and Satwinder Kaur Bains.

In 1914, the SS Komagata Maru crossed oceans and jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, Japan, and West Bengal – to arrive on the west coast of Canada. Citing regulations designed to limit the immigration of Indians, Canadian officials refused the ship and its passengers entry and detained them for two months in Vancouver Harbour. Most of the 376 passengers were then forcibly returned to India.

Unmooring the Komagata Maru challenges conventional Canadian historical accounts of the incident by drawing from multiple disciplines and fields to consider the international and colonial dimensions within the context of political resistance, migration, cultural memory, and nation-building. Drawing from various disciplines, the collection situates the history of South Asians in Canada within a larger global-imperial history, emphasizing the ways in which the Komagata Maru incident is related to issues of colonialism.

The contributors offer not only nuanced interpretations of the ship’s journey but also a critical reading of Canadian multiculturalism through past events and their commemoration. Ultimately, they caution against narratives that present the ship’s journey as a dark moment in the history of an otherwise redeemed nation. Unmooring the Komagata Maru demonstrates that, more than a hundred years later, the voyage of the Komagata Maru has yet to reach its conclusion.

Scholars and students of postcolonial studies, transnational studies, Canadian studies, South Asian studies, Canadian history, politics, sociology, and critical ethnic studies will find much to interest them in this book. It will also find an audience within the South Asian diaspora.

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Publisher: UBC Press
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Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica

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Operational, Cognitive, and Experiential Approaches

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Edited by Shawn G. Morton and Meaghan M. Peuramaki-Brown

Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica focuses on the conflicts of the ancient Maya, providing a holistic history of Maya hostilities and comparing them with those of neighboring Mesoamerican villages and towns. Contributors to the volume explore the varied stories of past Maya conflicts through artifacts, architecture, texts, and images left to posterity.

Many studies have focused on the degree to which the prevalence, nature, and conduct of conflict has varied across time and space. This volume focuses not only on such operational considerations but on cognitive and experiential issues, analyzing how the Maya understood and explained conflict, what they recognized as conflict, how conflict was experienced by various groups, and the circumstances surrounding conflict. By offering an emic (internal and subjective) understanding alongside the more commonly researched etic (external and objective) perspective, contributors clarify insufficiencies and address lapses in data and analysis. They explore how the Maya defined themselves within the realm of warfare and examine the root causes and effects of intergroup conflict.

Using case studies from a wide range of time periods, Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica provides a basis for understanding hostilities and broadens the archaeological record for the “seeking” of conflict in a way that has been largely untouched by previous scholars. With broad theoretical reach beyond Mesoamerican archaeology, the book will have wide interdisciplinary appeal and will be important to ethnohistorians, art historians, ethnographers, epigraphers, and those interested in human conflict more broadly.

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Publisher: University Press of Colorado
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Acts of Modernity

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The Historical Novel and Effective Communication, 1814-1901

by David Buchanan

Book Cover: Acts of Modernity

In Acts of Modernity, David Buchanan reads nineteenth-century historical novels from Scotland, America, France, and Canada as instances of modern discourse reflective of community concerns and methods that were transatlantic in scope. Following on revolutionary events at home and abroad, the unique combination of history and romance initiated by Walter Scott’s Waverley (1814) furthered interest in the transition to and depiction of the nation-state. Established and lesser-known novelists reinterpreted the genre to describe the impact of modernization and to propose coping mechanisms, according to interests and circumstances. Besides analysis of the chronotopic representation of modernity within and between national contexts, Buchanan considers how remediation enabled diverse communities to encounter popular historical novels in upmarket and downmarket forms over the course of the century. He pays attention to the way communication practices are embedded within and constitutive of the social lives of readers, and more specifically, to how cultural producers adapted the historical novel to dynamic communication situations. In these ways, Acts of Modernity investigates how the historical novel was repeatedly reinvented to effectively communicate the consequences of modernity as problem-solutions of relevance to people on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Publisher: Routledge
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About the Author

David Buchanan is a course tutor in the Centre for Humanities. Visit David's faculty page.


Japanese Canadian Journey

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The Nakagama Story

by Rochelle Yamagishi

Japanese grocer carrying a bag of rice

The general history of Japanese Canadian immigration in the early 1900s, and subsequent forced removal of Japanese Canadians from the west coast of Canada to southern Alberta during World War II to work on sugar beet farms, is interwoven with the personalized story of a particular entrepreneur, Ryutaro Nakagama, who established the first Albertan Japanese food store in Lethbridge, Alberta. Young and single at the time, the author’s father, Ryutaro, viewed his move to Canada as a new adventure, a chance to break away from existing conditions in his homeland. On April 16, 1924, eighteen-year-old Ryutaro arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, on the S.S. McKinley. His older sister, Miye, and her husband, Chosaburo Nakagama, had emigrated earlier, and sponsored Ryutaro to work in Steveston, British Columbia. Chosaburo had his own fishing boat and fishing license under which the two men could fish, so Ryutaro worked with his brother-in-law in the fishing industry for three years, from 1924 to 1927. Typically, Japanese immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century came to Canada only temporarily, but he seemed intent on staying in Canada to make his future. The decision was confirmed when he became a naturalized Canadian citizen on October 2, 1926.

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Publisher: Trafford Publishing
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About the Author

Rochelle Yamagishi is a tutor with Athabasca University.


The Wages of Relief

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Cities and the Unemployed in Prairie Canada, 1929–39

by Eric Strikwerda

scaffolding in a building site

In the early part of the Dirty Thirties, the Canadian prairie city was a relatively safe haven. Having faced recession before the Great War and then again in the early 1920s, municipalities already had relief apparatuses in place to deal with poverty and unemployment. Until 1933, responsibility for the care of the urban poor remained with local governments, but when the farms failed that year, and the Depression deepened, western Canadian cities suffered tremendously. Recognizing the severity of the crisis, the national government intervened. Evolving federal programs and policies took over responsibility for the delivery of relief to the single unemployed, while the government simultaneously withdrew financing for all public works projects.

Setting municipal relief administrations of the 1930s within a wider literature on welfare and urban poor relief, Strikwerda highlights the legacy on which relief policymakers relied in determining policy directions, as well as the experiences of the individuals and families who depended on relief for their survival. Focusing on three prairie cities—Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg—Strikwerda argues that municipal officials used their power to set policy to address what they perceived to be the most serious threats to the social order stemming from the economic crisis. By analyzing the differing ways in which local relief programs treated married and single men, he also explores important gendered dynamics at work in the response of city administrators to the social and economic upheaval of the Depression. Probing the mindset of local elites struggling in extraordinary circumstances, The Wages of Relief describes the enduring impact of the policy changes made in the 1930s in the direction of a broad, national approach to unemployment—an approach that ushered in Canada’s modern welfare system.

About the Author

Eric Strikwerda is an Associate Professor in History in the Centre for Humanities. View Eric's faculty page.


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: 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.