News and Events

Inaugural event

March 1st, 2010

2 PM, 509 O’Brian at UB

Professor Don Hubert, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

"The International Politics of Civilian Protection"

The talk will trace the evolution and convergence of two century long trends seeking to address intentional attacks on civilian populations: the nascent doctrine of humanitarian
intervention first articulated in the late 19th century has been
transformed over the last decade into the doctrine of the Responsibility
to Protect; the legal norm of civilian immunity in war also first
codified in the late 19th century has been complemented since the mid
1990s to the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict
with emphasis on practical measures to provide for the physical security
of populations at risk. The talk will conclude with an assessment of
where these two converging agendas now stand and their future prospects.

March 17th, 2010

2-4 PM, 830 Clemens at UB

Cecil Foster, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

“Canada and the United States: Counterfactual histories of blackness and reconciliation in multiculturalism”


Cecil and Sharon Foster

As dominant liberal democracies in North America, the United States and Canada from their inceptions deliberately followed different, and often conflicting, paths to their development as liberal spaces. And whether the goal was the pursuit of happiness or peace, order, and good government these nation-states have been tied in a dialectical struggle for recognition as Self and Other. The liberal self was idealized over time as the abstract citizen clothed in whiteness and the Other was perceived as all that was not. One of the key moments in this identity struggle was the American Civil War and the attendant issue of whether the North American self can also be black officially. The U.S. through Reconstruction found in its social order a place and position for blacks/African Americans as liberal citizens in what can be described as a brief liberal moment after the Civil War. This was also when not without coincidence the provinces that make up Canada came together as a confederation expressly to prevent a similar reconstruction moment. In so doing, Canada chose to be the Other American with a counterfactual history of what would have followed if the outcome of the Civil War had been different and North America had remained pure to the ideals of whiteness. Even when in a move to assert universal whiteness Jim Crow snuffed out the sparks of liberal reconstruction, Canada still marched on in its mind as officially the only genuine White Man’s country. I argue the ideologies of official segregation and of a White Man’s country eventually fell victims to the democratic forces of modernism and liberalism. The soldiers or mercenaries in these struggles were embodied blackness. In their demands for full citizenship they were invoking the ideals of the Haitian Revolution and its radical argument that the ideal liberal citizen or self in the Americas is ontologically black. Many in this vanguard were participants in the Great Migration from as far south as the Caribbean and they helped to modernize the concept of the North American nation-state as a site of blackness. The result of the forward movement in liberal democracy is today’s multiculturalism, epitomized by the official recognition of all blacks including those of African descent as full liberal citizens. I argue multiculturalism—whether recognized as the official identity of self as in Canada, or as its unofficial counterfactual other as in the United States—attempts to recapture fully the potentials Reconstruction initially offered for the development of the liberal self in North America and beyond.