North American Studies Program
Another Successful Year for the North American Studies Interdisciplinary Lecture Series
Once again, the North American Studies Program (NASP) organized its annual interdisciplinary lecture series in 2012-13, bringing a varied and impressive group of scholars to Laurier to address the wider university community on issues as varied as the Cuban Missile Crisis to the experience of North American ‘travellers’ as they transit borders on the continent.
The year began with a September talk by Dr. David Lublin (Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University), who provided his audience with a compelling analysis of key states and races in the lead up to the 2012 US elections. Dr. Lublin has published extensively on issues related to elections in the United States, with current research funded by a German Marshall Fund Fellowship. It was an excellent opportunity for students and faculty alike to hear insights on the potential results of the looming Presidential race. This particular talk was also supported by, and presented in cooperation with, the Consulate of the United States in Toronto – a partnership NASP has enjoyed for several years now.
The following month, practically on the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dr. Walter Dorn (Department of Defence Studies, Canadian Forces College and Royal Military College of Canada), delivered the Annual Laurier Lecture in Canadian Studies; his talk was entitled “The Cuban Missile Crisis a Half Century Later: The Untold Story.” Dr. Dorn’s compelling presentation reminded those in attendance of just how close the world came to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. We learned from Dr. Dorn’s recent, exhaustive research in United Nations archives that the UN Secretary-General at the time, U Thant, played a much greater role in resolving the Crisis than previously supposed. Dr. Dorn is a noted and widely published expert on Canadian peacekeeping, with far-ranging research interests in the general field of international and human security. This talk was co-sponsored by the Academic Council on the United Nations System and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
In the winter term, Dr. Marianne Marchand (University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico) spoke on “Mexican State Governmentality/ies, Borders and Stories by ‘Ordinary’ Travelers.” Dr. Marchand is professor of international relations and coordinates the PhD program in International Relations at University of the Americas. Her research examines the politics of changes and (global) restructuring. In particular, she looks to feminist and postcolonial theory and engages in critical explorations of the narratives of practices of development, globalization and regionalization/regionalism. All of these interests were brought to the fore in her discussion of how we conceive ‘borders’ in North America. This was a truly engaging presentation on how security shapes and transforms the experiences of ordinary North Americans as they cross borders on the continent. Dr. Marchand’s talk provided important insights into the interactions between bodies, policies, and securitization
Finally, we ended the year with Dr. Philip Resnick (University of British Columbia). Dr. Resnick’s lecture was the perfect end to a year that had explored themes, issues, and events important to North America. Discussion of his recent book, The Labyrinth of North American Identities, provided a helpful and thoughtful context to many of the more particular questions examined earlier in the year. He provoked us to consider both the convergences and divergences in the nature of North American identities. What brings North Americans together? What prevents shared experiences on the one hand from leading to further political integration on the other? As an expert on identities and how they have shaped the Canadian experience, Dr. Resnick was able to explain the ‘meaning’ of Canada’s shared continental existence here in North America, with reflections on politics, society, and culture. Yet again, students and faculty benefited from hearing this widely published and highly respected scholar – his many other books include Toward a Canada-Québec Union and The European Roots of Canadian Identity.
The Marchand and Resnick lectures were presented in conjunction with the Department of Political Science and were also made possible thanks to funding from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, through the International Academic Mobility funding NASP has received to exchange faculty and students throughout North America. Their talks will help us to develop curricular resources related to directed studies courses our exchange students take while studying at partner universities in Georgia, Vermont, Veracruz, and Mexico City.
In the five short years since NASP began in 2008, we have been able to organize and present more than 30 public talks as part of the North American Studies Interdisciplinary Lecture Series. The Office of the Dean of Arts has generously contributed funding each year to this event, and we acknowledge and appreciate the financial support that has made this continuing initiative possible.