The Canadian Studies Program was pleased to have a robust group in attendance at this year's 26th biennial conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS), held from November 16-19 in Washington, DC. Over the course of four days, the conference brought together dozens of academics, scholars, and students from across the United States and Canada. It also officially celebrated ACSUS' 50th anniversary, and the organization's work in facilitating academic discussion around Canada and its place in the world.
The theme of this year's conference was "Canada: Near and Far". The concept of "Canadian identity" is regularly questioned both domestically and internationally, and the conference convened speakers who brought diverse viewpoints to address this conundrum. In over 80 talks and panels spread across 11 sessions, speakers addressed topics ranging from diplomacy, the arts, Indigenous cultures, history, politics, and education (with one even dedicated to Canadian curling culture!)
After a hiatus of several years due to COVID, we at Berkeley were pleased to reintroduce our program to the broader Canadian Studies community. The conference provides an opportunity for scholars across the country to meet with other Canadianists, and learn about the latest research being conducted in the field. The program was officially represented at the conference by program coordinator Tomás Lane. However, other affiliates also presented independently during several sessions, showcasing the quality and variety of work that our program underwrites.
The conference opened Thursday with a reception and interview with deputy ambassador Arun Alexander hosted by Christopher Sands, director of the Wilson Center's Canada Institute and an advisory board member of Berkeley's Canadian Studies Program. Dr. Sands also participated in other sessions as a panelist on US-Canadian security cooperation, and as a contributor to the book Canada and the United States: Differences that Count.
On Saturday, David Stewart, Advisory Board chair at Berkeley Canadian Studies and an ACSUS Executive Board member, gave a presentation titled "Cross-border Perspectives on Canada: Expat Memoirs". Stewart's talk examined the complexity of Canadian identity as seen through the eyes of Canadians outside the country. Through a close reading of several memoirs, he explored the ways that expats are forced to define (and refine) their Canadian identity when living abroad, and revealed common themes he found woven throughout the books.
Haikun Liu, a Berkeley undergraduate who has received funding from Canadian Studies, gave a presentation titled "Altruism of Aid: Analysis of Canadian Official Development Assistance (ODA)". The presentation, based on original research which won our 2023 Ross Prize, sought to quantify the extent to which Canada's foreign aid is based on self-interest or genuine altruism. Haikun's research was also awarded ACSUS' 2023 Martin Lubin Prize at the organization's award luncheon on Friday, a highlight for the Program.
With the conference now ended, we feel that we succeed creating valuable new connections with our colleagues across North America. These will help us not only advance our Program's recognition across North America, but connect more effectively with a network of scholars that can help us generate more dynamic research. We look forward to partnering further with ACSUS, to advance our shared goal of generating knowledge of and interest in Canada.