Amma’s Daughters

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A Memoir

by Meenal Shrivastava

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As a precocious young girl, Surekha knew very little about the details of her mother Amma’s unusual past and that of Babu, her mysterious and sometimes absent father. The tense, uncertain family life created by her parents’ distant and fractious marriage and their separate ambitions informs her every action and emotion. Then one evening, in a moment of uncharacteristic transparency and vulnerability, Amma tells Surekha and her older sister Didi of the family tragedy that changed the course of her life. Finally, the daughters begin to understand the source of their mother’s deep commitment to the Indian nationalist movement and her seemingly unending willingness to sacrifice in the name of that pursuit.

In this re-memory based on the published and unpublished work of Amma and Surekha, Meenal Shrivastava, Surekha’s daughter, uncovers the history of the female foot soldiers of Gandhi’s national movement in the early twentieth century. As Meenal weaves these written accounts together with archival research and family history, she gives voice and honour to the hundreds of thousands of largely forgotten or unacknowledged women who, threatened with imprisonment for treason and sedition, relentlessly and selflessly gave toward the revolution.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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About the Author

Meenal Shrivastava is professor and academic coordinator of political economy and global studies. View Meenal's faculty page.


Public Deliberation on Climate Change

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Lessons from Alberta Climate Dialogue

Book Cover: Public Deliberation on Climate Change

There exists in both academic and political circles a growing interest in public deliberation as an alternative to the sometimes adversarial and polarizing public engagement activities that result in the pitting of experts against lay people. Proponents of public deliberation claim that a more deliberative process can engage a diversity of participants in a more guided process that better balances expert knowledge and citizen inclusion. Such an approach holds particular promise where citizens and governments engage in discussions of the most complex and intractable issues like climate change.

Given the host of challenges climate governance presents and the global consequences of our response to them, the experience and knowledge shared by Hanson and the contributors to Public Deliberation on Climate Change provide an important framework for advancing public conversations and processes on this and other wicked problems. The lessons contained in the volume were gained as a result of a five year multidisciplinary, community-university research project called Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), which drew together scholars, practitioners, citizens, civil society members, and government officials from across Alberta at four public deliberations. By highlighting the value tensions and trade-offs and examining the impact that the design of the deliberations has on policy and the creation of conditions that encourage exchange, the contributors aim to build capacity within our institutions and society to find new ways to discuss and solve complex problems.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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Disabled Mothers

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Stories and Scholarship by and about Mothers With Disabilities

Book Cover: Disabled Mothers

Edited by Gloria Filax and Dena Taylor.

This collection of 18 scholarly works and personal accounts from Canada, the U.S., and Australia explores and analyzes issues of parenting by mothers with a variety of physical and mental disabilities. The book delves into pregnancy, birth, adoption, child custody, discrimination, and disability politics. Noticing dominant ideas, meanings, and narratives about mothering and disability, as the contributors of this book do, exposes how the actual lives and experiences of mothers with disabilities are key to challenging cultural norms and therefore discrimination.

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Publisher: Demeter Press
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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 Assistant Professor in History in the Centre for Humanities. View Eric's faculty page.


The Nature of Capital

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Marx after Foucault

by Richard Marsden

Book Cover: The Nature of Capital

The synthesis of Marx and Foucault has traditionally been seen within the social sciences as deeply problematic. The author overturns this received wisdom by subjecting both thinkers to an original re-reading through the lens of the philosophy of critical realism.

The result is an illuminating synthesis between Marx's social relations of production and Foucault's disciplinary power from which the author constructs a model of the material causes of our capacity to act. The laws of motion of a society and its microphysics are shown to be complementary parts of a theory of capital, society's genetic code. The Nature of Capital overturns traditional interpretations of Marx, presents an accessible and comprehensive account of the development of his model of capital and demonstrates its ability to explain modern societies.

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Publisher: Routledge
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About the Author

Richard Marsden is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Integrated Studies. View Richard's faculty page.


Winning Back the Words

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Confronting Experts in an Environmental Public Hearing

by Mike Gismondi

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By Mary Richardson, Joan Sherman, and Michael Gismondi

Winning Back the Words chronicles the politics of the environmental public hearings on the Alberta-Pacific bleached kraft pulp mill in northern Alberta, and illustrates how the public challenged the authority of experts. Drawing from their own experiences in the hearings, the authors recreate the power struggles among participants over the words and discourses used to debate the impact of the mill on the environment. Controversies about science and values, sustainable development, and local knowledge suggest promising new directions in environmental review.

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Publisher: University of Toronto Press
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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.


Nature’s Revenge

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Reclaiming Sustainability in an Age of Corporate Globalization

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Edited by Josée Johnston, Michael Gismondi, and James Goodman

The social and political contest over the meaning of the term "sustainable development" is vital. Those who win will dictate the agenda and the policies around future environmental issues. This book proposes a radical definition of sustainability, reclaiming the word from the rhetoric typically used by corporations and governments to facilitate unrelenting economic growth and the notion of "business as usual."

The authors base their approach on the classic notion of the "commons." This key concept in environmental circles traditionally refers to commonly held, or shared, rights and property such as water, air, and other resources necessary for human survival. In this book the idea of the commons is also extended to include what the authors call the "social commons," encompassing areas such as community knowledge and culture.

The authors argue that the social commons should be democratically controlled, and at all levels of ecological reality from the local to the global. Here the "commons" are seen as operating in a spatially fluid manner, across not only geographical boundaries, but also human generations and ecological timescapes. The authors stress the complex interrelations that exist at local, regional, national, continental, and global levels of human organization and observe that there can be no simple solution confined to one particular scale of action. They critique advocates of an exclusive concentration on localism just as much as those who argue it is enough simply to write global treaties. This book seeks to reclaim public power against private interests, thus creating an empowered, sustainable ecological community.

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Publisher: University of Toronto Press
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The Three Worlds of Social Democracy

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A Global View

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Edited by Ingo Schmidt

Social democracy is clearly at a dead end, but is it actually dead? The Three Worlds of Social Democracy explores the historical and theoretical path of the social democratic parties from their inception to the present day through a series of essays by high-profile experts in the field.

Looking at the international picture, the book highlights the movement’s spread to the postcolonial and post-communist countries of the Global East and South such as Eastern Europe, Latin America, India, and South Africa at the time it was considered past its prime in the West, a shift which is often ignored by mainstream analyses. However, the authors are not optimistic about its future – despite a rise of popular parties such as Greece’s Syriza, a combination of international economic stagnation combined with an overall weakening of popular left-wing movements and a terrifying rise of extreme rightist parties paints a gloomy picture for the future of social democracy.

This is one of the first truly global explorations of the methods, meanings, and limits of social democracy. This book will be of lasting value to students of politics and will further the ongoing debate about the future of social democratic politics across the modern world.

Ingo Schmidt is academic coordinator of the Labour Studies Program at Athabasca University, Canada. His research focuses on international political economy and labour movements. His recent books include Rosa Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital (VSAVerlag, 2013) and The Three Worlds of Social Democracy (Pluto Press, 2015).

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Publisher: Pluto Press
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Farm Workers in Western Canada

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Injustices and Activism

red barn on Prairie with storm in background

Edited by Shirley A. McDonald and Bob Barnetson

Bill 6, the government of Alberta’s contentious farm workers’ safety legislation, sparked public debate as no other legislation has done in recent years. The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act provides a right to work safely and a compensation system for those killed or injured at work, similar to other provinces.

In nine essays, contributors to Farm Workers in Western Canada place this legislation in context. They look at the origins, work conditions, and precarious lives of farm workers in terms of larger historical forces such as colonialism, land rights, and racism. They also examine how the rights and privileges of farm workers, including seasonal and temporary foreign workers, conflict with those of their employers, and reveal the barriers many face by being excluded from most statutory employment laws, sometimes in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Contributors:

Gianna Argento, Bob Barnetson, Michael J. Broadway, Jill Bucklaschuk, Delna Contractor, Darlene A. Dunlop, Brynna Hambly (Takasugi), Zane Hamm, Paul Kennett, Jennifer Koshan, C.F. Andrew Lau, J. Graham Martinelli, Shirley A. McDonald, Robin C. McIntyre, Nelson Medeiros, Kerry Preibisch, Heidi Rolfe, Patricia Tomic, Ricardo Trumper, and Kay Elizabeth Turner.

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Publisher: The University of Alberta Press
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The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada

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by Bob Barnetson

book cover showing sympathy flowers

Workplace injuries are common, avoidable, and unacceptable. The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada reveals how employers and governments engage in ineffective injury prevention efforts, intervening only when necessary to maintain the standard legitimacy. Dr. Bob Barnetson sheds light on this faulty system, highlighting the way in which employers create dangerous work environments yet pour billions of dollars into compensation and treatment. Examining this dynamic clarifies the way in which production costs are passed on to workers in the form of workplace injuries.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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About the Author

Bob Barnetson is a Professor of Labour Relations and Chair of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies.