Canada is a quintessential Northern nation. The courses in this Focus Area address issues having to do with “the North” as a unique socio-political as well as natural region of our planet, encompassing Canada as well as tensions specific to it within the global context.
The North does not just signify Western industrialized nations counterposed to the global South. One cannot invoke “the North” without also thinking of the Indigenous and First Nations peoples with their own unique cultures and histories. In many ways, the Indigenous peoples of the Canadian North occupy a periphery with reference to the Global North in ways similar to other hinterland peoples in the Global South that were also colonized by Western industrialized economies.
References to the North are also made in the context of Canadian resistance to US hegemony, and the idea of the North is bound up with Canadian identity in ways not necessarily limited to patriotic allegiances. However if Canada the North might have signified the “peaceable kingdom” in the Vietnam era, does this still hold in the 21st century, the century of Afghanistan, Libya and now Iraq?
The North also indicates unique regional ecologies that exist in tension with the forces of global capitalism in ways quite specific to them and to the people who occupy them. The Arctic region is warming two times faster than the global average. The disappearance of sea ice is presenting new opportunities for maritime navigation and mineral exploration while also transforming international relations among circumpolar states. The North is not just limited to the arctic, as it includes the understudied “near-north” regions of the Canadian provinces with their own distinct sets of issues and struggles.
In short, the intention of this Focus Area is to explore the North in all of its productive ambiguity and unique specificity, and to do so in such a way that brings what was formerly called “Canadian Studies” into the 21st century, thereby making it relevant to the global context of today’s learner.
Updated February 03 2016 by Student & Academic Services