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June 30, 2021

CIH Acting Director's Report

Calgary Institute for the Humanities Newsletter Spring 2021

We come to the end of 2020-21 and the 45th year of the Institute's existence still unable to return to our lovely physical space, but with a year of rich and adaptive programming behind us. It has not been a straightforward year at all in terms of our usual activities and at times we have had to pivot quickly, abandoning, rescheduling, reconfiguring, and rethinking our events. 

The second half of the year is always filled with a lot of work behind the scenes, most important of which is the adjudication of the applications for the coming year's Fellows and Working Groups. We have included the profiles of the 2021-22 Annual Fellows in this newsletter, and are particularly delighted to be announcing our inaugural Applied Ethics Fellow, Shelley Alexander. This new Fellowship was made possible by a transformational gift from Rod and Betty Wade and will be awarded every second year.

Hallway Photo by CIH Scholar-in-Residence Petra Dolata

Photo by CIH Scholar-in-Residence Petra Dolata

Ethics is at the heart of the humanities and we look forward to the new synergies which will emerge from our larger than usual group of Fellows. Indeed the Institute will be packed to the brim next year as we will also be welcoming two postdoctoral fellows who will be working with our Scholar-in-Residence, Petra Dolata, on the multi-million dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant "Deindustrialization and the Politics of Our Time". In addition, we will be joined by two visiting scholars during the year: Peter Busch (King's College London), who will also be working on the Deindustrialisation project, and George Ferzoco (University of Calgary), a medievalist who will be working on a Dante 700 project.

In the coming year we will again support ten Working Groups, and are very pleased to report that one of the two new groups is a graduate student led initiative on Voice and Marginality at the Nexus of Racism and Colonialism. Further, since there was a particularly strong and deep pool of applications this year for our collaborative grant opportunity co-hosted with the Kule Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Alberta, we chose to support two groups. Brief details of all these working groups can be found at the end of the newsletter. 

We introduced our new Public Humanities initiative in the Winter 2021 newsletter, and follow that up here with details about our three inaugural Fellows and their projects. During the winter term we held a series of seminars to help prepare them for their summer work placements, and we look forward to hearing about their experiences at a public event in the fall. In a world that sometimes seems to be fracturing, we see this initiative as vital for deepening and strengthening our connections with the broader community and showcasing how much we can accomplish when we all work together to share our skills for the greater public good.

Two of our key public facing events anchored the second half of the year, providing some sense of normalcy: the Annual Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow Lecture and the Community Forum. The former was held via Zoom webinar on 11 March, and Trevor Stark did a beautiful job of captivating the online audience with his presentation on the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. We were delighted also to have Dr John R. Lacey say some words of introduction at this event. Thanks to the continuing generosity of the Naomi and John Lacey Foundation for the Arts, this Annual Fellowship is now self-sustaining, and we are very honoured to be numbered among the many arts and humanities oriented philanthropic causes supported by this Foundation.

When we cancelled our 40th Annual Community Forum last year, we had held out some hope that it would be able to be held in person in 2021, but this of course proved to be a pipedream. However, in collaboration with our advisory board and the speakers and moderator, we came up with an alternative online format for the event which was held on 7 May. The topic that had been chosen for 2020, The End of Expertise?, proved to have lost none of its relevance and immediacy and we were thrilled to have a record number of more than 140 participants listening to our distinguished panelists, Professors Harry Collins (Cardiff University), Maya Goldenberg (University of Guelph) and Steven Sloman (Brown University), and moderator, Jim Brown. The Zoom breakout rooms provided spaces for the lively discussion that would normally have taken place over the lunch break, and there were so many questions and comments sent back to the panelists that everyone was left wanting more. The recording is available on YouTube.

The launch of the Calgary Atlas Project's First Nations Stampede map was also a highlight of the winter term, and further details on this event and the project overall, which continues to go from strength to strength, can be found below. Numerous other online lectures populated the winter term. Our Working Groups between them put on 18 seminars and two longer workshops/conferences. Reports on their year's activities from three of these groups are included below. Our collaborations with others outside the Institute proved rewarding and very successful, including the Narratives of Colour project organised by SLLLC graduate students, Neha Bhatia and Dušan Nikolić (a report on which also appears below), 

A target, a microscope, and a microscope slide; representing a revolution in medicine leading to the cure of cancer. Gouache by E. Capet, 1938.

A target, a microscope, and a microscope slide; representing a revolution in medicine leading to the cure of cancer. Gouache by E. Capet, 1938.

the Webinar Series on Sephardi Thought and Modernity, co-organised by Dr. Angy Cohen, the inaugural Dr Hy and Jenny Belzberg Israeli Postdoctoral Scholar, which attracted fantastic numbers of participants from around the world (recordings of these webinars may be viewed on the CIH YouTube channel), and, together with the Faculty of Arts' Environmental Media Lab, the public lecture by Professor Jenny Reardon (University of Southern California, Santa Cruz) entitled "Thank god for the absence of hope: asking awkward questions about science, race and truth". The pandemic managed to prevent further collaboration with Sidewalk Citizen on planned Salons with the theme of Solidarity, but we hope to revive this plan when time allows. 

Although we are always very well aware of how fortunate we are in our supporters, during this year's Giving Day campaign at UCalgary our expectations were well surpassed, and we are delighted to announce that (including matching funds) we secured a grand total of $76,547. These donations, which went towards our general endowment fund, our graduate student fellowships and towards building an endowment for our annual LGBTQ2S+ lecture, are crucial for maintaining and increasing our programming. Much of what we do would simply not be possible without the underpinning, both financial and otherwise, of our supportive community and so as always we are so grateful to everyone who contributed.  

As my year as Acting Director ends, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the CIH coordinator, Sean, for his flexibility, hard work and good cheer, to the Executive and Advisory Councils for their deep commitment to supporting the work of the Institute, to Concetta and Shannon in Fund Development for working so hard on our behalf, and most of all to the 2020-21 cohort – Victoria, William, Karen, Trevor, Neil and Petra – who joined Sean and myself nearly every Tuesday over the course of the year for a Zoom 'coffee' session to share their scholarship, weekly highs and lows, and most of all to provide mutual support and cheerleading. It was not the way any of us had ever imagined their fellowships unfolding, but their dedication to creating a scholarly community nonetheless was a privilege to be part of. To everyone that supports the CIH, we are very grateful. Know that your efforts are very much appreciated and bearing much fine fruit.

Sport & Calgary’s LGBTQ+ History

William Bridel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology

Organized sport has been and in many ways remains a complicated social space for LGBTQ+ persons. Participants’ experiences of overt and covert homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny (and intersections with colonialism, racism, ableism, and body shaming) are well documented in academic research as well as popular texts. 

Artistic bubbles

Calgary Institute for the Humanities Newsletter Spring 2021