Category Archives: Research

Slavery and Sources

Teaching history from a global perspective calls for decisions about what to focus on, what to minimize, and what to ignore.  Slavery in the Atlantic world definitely falls into the “focus on” category.  Its history is integral to the history of capitalism and European colonialism, and for understanding the nature of early democracy and social justice movements.  It is also integral to understanding contemporary debate about commemoration, for understanding wealth inequality in the Americas, and ideas about race.  It’s no wonder that slavery is an important topic in LABR 2P93, the global labour history course I am teaching for Brock University’s Department of Labour Studies.

 

When lecturing about slavery in the Atlantic world I raise the issue of source material. Much of the primary source material for this history was created by individuals and institutions involved in the slave trade, and in maintaining slaves as an oppressed underclass of workers. There is an abundance of anti-slavery source material too, including the publications and records of the transnational abolitionist movement that emerged in the eighteenth-century. My point of emphasis is that records from both of these perspectives offer insight into the past, and must be read critically.

 

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Work and Class: Tim Hortons and the Minimum Wage

The second week in LABR 2P93, the global labour history course I am teaching for the Labour Studies program at Brock University, addressed some key theoretical and methodological aspects of historical inquiry and the study of labour in a global framework. Posing questions to students, and a little light commentary about Karl Marx’s crazy beard and penchant for tucking his hand into his jacket for photos, helped keep us engaged. Part of our discussion moved from the question of studying work towards the study of class, and using class analysis.

Karl Marx caught searching for his reading glasses. Image from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx.

 

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On board Canada 150 with YMCA Canada

Back in the Fall of 2016 I worked on a project for YMCA Canada.  I researched the topic of “railway YMCAs” in support of YMCA Canada’s “LocalMOTION” program commemorating Canada 150.  Railway Ys were YMCA buildings located in remote railway towns and near large railway yards.  They served railway workers and the local community from the late nineteenth-century to the late-twentieth-century.

 

  • YMCA Canada, “The Canadian Railway YMCA Story,” 5:09min YouTube video, published 9 June 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDsIyyW1iJY

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