Transnationalism: Canada-United States History into the Twenty-First Century

By Brushett, Kevin | British Journal of Canadian Studies, July 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Transnationalism: Canada-United States History into the Twenty-First Century


Brushett, Kevin, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Michael D. Behiels and Reginald C. Stuart (eds), Transnationalism: Canada-United States History into the Twenty-first Century (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), 320 pp. Cased. $95. ISBN 978-0-7735-3762-0. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0- 7735-3763-7.

When it comes to discussing the people next door, most Canadians would agree with the old proverb that 'good fences make good neighbours', especially given the current anxieties over 'deeper integration' with the United States. Perhaps then it is prescient that the authors of Transnationalism ask us to consider if and when the border has actually affected Canadian- American relations. Much like the speaker in Robert Frost's poem 'Mending Wall', Transnationalism's authors not only question what the border has been 'walling in or walling out' but how social, economic, geographic and cultural forces - those 'something[s] that doesn't love a wall' - have breached the divide between the two peoples.

The collection of fifteen essays covers a wide range of issues from First Nations history, to popular culture, to the perennial issues of trade and security. What unites them is the way they de-emphasise the differences between Canadians and Americans. For example, the essays by Robin Fisher and Roger Nichols on First Nations peoples note that even though Canadians and Americans adopted different approaches to the 'Indian problem', the policy goals and outcomes resulted in the social, economic, political and geographical marginalisation of Native peoples on either side of the Medicine Line. Similarly, both Ruth Compton Brouwer's and Tammy Nemeth's essays on missionaries and oil and gas policy respectively emphasise the 'general convergence of values and goals' (p. 103) as well as the 'pragmatic commitment to continentalism' (p. 150) by both peoples.

The other common theme to these essays is the rejection of the complicity and dependency theories of Canadian-American relations, thus adding to the growing body of scholarship that disputes that Canada is a victim of American imperialism. …

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