About the 2013 Conference
Race and Identity, Interests, and Interactions in Canada's International History
Over the last twenty years, the field of diplomatic history has undergone an intellectual overhaul and a methodological transformation. Diplomatic history is no longer defined by studies of the pursuit of power by great men in hegemonic states in the 20th century. Transnational, global, and international approaches have reconfigured the shape, constituencies and flow of international relations. Focusing on culture, gender, the environment and religion has broadened our understanding of the elements of international contact. The questions that drive historical inquiry are changing; the answers bring new understanding. This workshop will focus on one critical element of the new diplomatic history—the role of race—and examine how it has affected the ways in which Canada and Canadians have interacted with other countries and peoples. The purpose of the workshop is to define and explore ideas of race in Canada and to contextualize and explain their impact on Canada’s international policies, practices, norms, and relations in the 20th century. This workshop will open up Canada’s international history, generating new questions and articulating narratives that challenge and complement the prevailing interest of historians in Canada’s influence and independence in international affairs.
About the Canada Program
The Canada Program, made possible by the William Lyon Mackenzie King endowment, presents rich intellectual opportunities for Canadian studies at Harvard: graduate and undergraduate courses offered by distinguished visiting Canadian scholars across the social sciences and professional schools, dissertation research grants for Harvard graduate students, thesis research and travel funding for Harvard undergraduates, a vibrant seminar series of esteemed Canadian guest speakers, and an annual faculty-led conference.
The endowment was established in 1967 following a campaign spearheaded by David Rockefeller, who wished to honor William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950), a great friend of his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A Harvard graduate, Mackenzie King was deputy minister of labour in Canada when, in 1914, he was recruited as an industrial consultant tasked with brokering an agreement between management and labor workers at the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. According to Harvard's Directory of Named Chairs, a dispute between management and labor had resulted in “a long, bitter and bloody strike against the company.” And, “[w]hile Rockefeller hoped King would help extricate his company from a labor dilemma which he believed had been badly handled, he had a larger purpose in urging the Rockefeller Foundation to use the Colorado situation as a means of recommending a plan of broad application to industrial relations generally.” King managed the situation, helped amend public perception of Rockefeller, and produced a book for the Foundation, Industry and Humanity (1918). After a time as industrial adviser to a number of American utility and extraction firms, King returned to Canadian politics, took leadership of the Liberal Party, and went on to serve Canada as prime minister for a collective 22 years.
In 1967, the president of the University of Toronto, Professor Claude T. Bissell, was named the first William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Bissell’s research assistant at the time was Michael Bliss, a distinguished Canadian historian, author, and former University of Toronto professor. Their time at Harvard was, Bliss recently noted, “one of the happiest years of our lives.”
Francine McKenzie, associate professor in the Department of History at Western University, Ontario, is the 2012–2013 William Lyon Mackenzie King Chair. Professor McKenzie is appointed through the Harvard University Department of History and will teach two courses: Planning for Peace during the Second World War (fall 2012) and The Decolonization of Canada 1867–1967 (spring 2013).
Ben Herzog, formerly the Pierre Keller Post-Doctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, is the 2012–2013 William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow. Dr. Herzog received his PhD in sociology from Yale University. While here, Dr. Herzog will offer two undergraduate courses, Nationalism and Society (fall 2012) and Democratic Citizenship in the Modern World (spring 2013).