Knowing Canada through people
We do this by amplifying the voices of groups historically marginalized through structural and systemic oppression. We study Canada through the perspectives of groups that have been historically marginalized through structural and systemic forms of oppression and bring these voices to the mainstream study of Canada, each with distinct relationships to Canadian institutions and related structures.
We maintain this focus because our community provides heightened visibility to the lived experiences of such groups, with a strong commitment to legitimating and celebrating these perspectives through various artistic productions, languages, gatherings, events, and publications.
While our Associates examine Canada as a unitary actor, they also question its homogenous depictions and any unspoken assumptions that reproduce a white settler colonial ethos. They advocate for a renewed study of Canada by engaging with learning from and lifting up the perspectives and voices of individuals and groups whose existence make up the various social, economic, and political realities of Canada, including Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians, women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community among others. This approach is key to exploring emerging areas of research interest on collective resilience, historical trauma, climate change, energy and social technologies, and Canadian children and youth.
Canada on the move:
Communities are at the forefront of adjusting, opposing, or contributing to how Canada is defined amid change. Whether we look at the effects of neoliberal restructuring, the ramifications of Supreme Court decisions or the lived consequences of public health guidelines, the Centre facilitates the study of these social, political, and economic transformations through various means, including scientific output, community organizing, and artistic and media representations.
To examine these shifts, we question, confront and bridge conventional assumptions in the field of Canadian Studies with scholarship from various fields including Black Canadian studies, environmental studies, health research, Indigenous studies, Northern studies, and urban studies. The Robarts Centre is taking leadership in redefining what Canadian Studies means and connects scholarship on Canada in innovative ways to examine the current challenges faced by communities.
Situating Canada in its places:
At the Robarts Centre, Associates and Fellows are committed to a critical study of Canada as it relates to the places on which our country is built. This includes a study of settler colonialism and Canada’s relationships with Indigenous Peoples and traditional territories, its responsibility towards livelihoods and ecosystems, and the plurality of social and cultural landscapes from which Canada is experienced.
We have a strong research record in place-based and community-oriented knowledge production. For instance, our Centre supports the training of graduate students with emphasis on environmental research and Northern studies. We put places first through various standpoints, including environmental justice, citizen activism and democracy, and Indigenous perspectives, as well as by shedding light on distinct relationships between land, water, air, fauna, flora, and technology.
Connecting Canada to the world:
We put Canada in perspective through its political, economic, social, and cultural insertion in broader international dynamics. The study of Canada includes its representations abroad, transnational processes like the activities of Canadian corporations, and comparative research situating Canada’s place in the world.
Our Associates and Fellows are committed to bridging the gap between domestic realities and international understandings of the country by questioning collective myths, by sharing stories on what is unique or similar to other contexts, and by documenting what Canada’s complex and varied contributions to the world are. We welcome international, transnational, and comparative perspectives on Canada, notably on urban and transport infrastructure, migration studies, historical trauma and commemoration, and corporate social responsibility.