A Few Thoughts on Canadian International History

Susan Colbourn, University of Toronto |

The idea of Canadian international history has made a bit of a splash in recent years. David Meren lamented the “tragedies of Canadian international history,” sparking a lively roundtable with John English, Adam Chapnick, and Dominique Marshall in the Canadian Historical Review in late 2015. Elsewhere, Asa McKercher and Petra Dolata have both called for a broader understanding of the field, what they have dubbed Canada and/in the world. All of this soul-searching has highlighted the importance of global connections in understanding Canada’s history. And rightly so.

But it has all left me with another question: what about the other piece of the equation? What about the international––‘the world,’ if one prefers that phrasing?

Conceptualizing the field’s future need not be limited to Canadian historians and/or historians of Canada. Contrary to what many self-effacing Canadians believe, there are other scholars out there interested in Canada. Really.

Two points matter here. The first should be obvious, but is often overlooked: not all historians of Canada are themselves Canadian or based in Canada. The second is that there are many more scholars working on Canada than we think. Their research interests might not be defined in Canadian terms, but their work certainly engages with it. These historians—imperial, international, transnational, and many other such monikers—can bring much-needed perspective to the study of Canada’s place in the world.

In part, that is what I hope Canadian Eyes Only can offer: a hub for historians approaching Canada from a wide range of angles to share their work. A glimpse into the Canadian dimensions of international stories, be it global nuclear non-proliferation efforts or the exchange of ideas in the British Empire.

2 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on Canadian International History

  1. I applaud this effort and enterprise. Of my 7 books, two have directly addressed Canada and the world , first Blood and Daring and second Cold Fire. My current work will take another stab. We’ll done on this initiative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The ‘Imperial Turn’ in Canadian History – CIH/HIC

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