Canada Abroad: An Introduction

By Baxter-Moore, Nick; McLean, Scott | British Journal of Canadian Studies, July 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Canada Abroad: An Introduction


Baxter-Moore, Nick, McLean, Scott, British Journal of Canadian Studies


The six articles immediately following this introduction are based on papers presented at the 'Canada Abroad' conference held at the Bader International Study Centre, or BISC, at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, England, in the summer of 2013. For those who don't know about BISC, it's an interna- tional study centre affiliated with Queen's University - not the Belfast institution, but the Canadian one, based in Kingston, Ontario. It offers an opportunit y for Canadian students, mostly from Queen's but also from other Canadian universities, as well as students from a number of other countries (most notably, but not restricted to, China, Japan, Korea and the United States), to spend one or two terms taking university courses at a little piece of Canada nestling in the Sussex countr yside.

At the same time, many of the faculty members are themselves represent- atives of Canada ... abroad. Some are at Herstmonceux more or less permanently - Canadian citizens who have, for var ying reasons, gained employment in more-or-less permanent positions in this educational establishment on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Other Canadians abroad here are temporar y visitors, from Queen's or other associated institutions, who spend a term at BISC as visiting professors or visiting fellows, contributing to the teaching and/or research profile of the Centre.

The Bader International Study Centre is, in other words, a concrete manifestation of the concept of 'Canada Abroad'. It takes Canadian students and faculty, along with students from elsewhere in the world, and sets them down in foreign parts, forcing them to learn at least something about the world outside that in which they have been born, and often comfortably raised, and rarely challenged with respect to their assumptions, their values and their day-to-day behaviours.

Hence, when a number of permanent and visiting faculty members sat down with Bruce Stanley, the new Executive Director of BISC, in the Fall of 2011 to talk about a theme and a title for a conference to be held at Herstmonceux in summer 2013, the notion of 'Canada Abroad', in its multiple manifestations and connotations, was quickly approved. After nearly two years of planning, the conference took place in late July (29 July-1 August) 2013. Over two days of active discussion, plus some necessary and productive social time, 35 papers and two plenar y sessions examined multiple perspectives on the central theme of the conference. Paper presenters and panel participants addressed such issues as Canada's participation in the two World Wars; Canada's changing roles as an actor in international relations; Canadian involvement in international sporting events and the uses of sport in international diplomacy; the changing relationship between foreign policy and the use of Canadian studies as an educational objective supported by the Canadian government; the pedagogical and organisational challenges faced by the faculty and adminis- trators of 'Study Abroad' programmes; Canadian writers or artists whose careers were significantly formed or represented by their time abroad; the role of Canadian arts and culture in forming or changing perceptions of Canada in the outside world.

The idea of 'Canada Abroad' makes little sense historically until there developed a concept of 'Canada' as an autonomous actor, independent of its status as British colony. That, of course, was a product of Canada's extraor- dinary contribution to Britain's war effort in the First World War. …

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