Funded Research Projects

Sarah Carter (PI), Who Owns the Prairies: A History of the Land and Its Custodians, 1870s-2021
SSHRC Insight Grant (2022-2025)

This study will uncover and analyze who has owned the farmlands of the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta from the 1870s treaties to today. It will dissect the objectives, attitudes, politics, and logics of the laws and policies that shaped land ownership and consequently the society, culture, and economy of the prairies. Certain peoples and sectors were nurtured and they prospered, while others were discouraged and hindered. Many generations of settlers to the prairies insisted that Indigenous people were not worthy owners of such a valuable commodity as land, considered to be the "rightful heritage" of the settlers. Filling up the "empty lands," "free lands," "cheap lands," "homestead lands," and "rich lands" of the prairies with settlers was critical to the nation-building project. Settlers permitted to claim land were to be white and male; deliberate steps were taken to prevent settler women, Indigenous people, and African Americans from acquiring land. The treaties of the 1870s promised that the land would be shared, but this promise was shattered in a landscape altered by settler dominance.

Heather Coleman (PI), Translation and Dissemination of Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution
KIAS Dialogue Grant (2021-2023)

Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution won Honourable Mention for the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize of the Canadian Historical Association in 2006. It argues that religion played a crucial role in the formation and contestation of new social identities in revolutionary Russia, in the emergence of a public sphere and civic culture, and in debates on the nature of nationality, citizenship, and politics. It demonstrates that not just class, on which historians have traditionally focused, but also religious affiliation played a significant role in organizing public identities and transforming attitudes about power in modern Russian society. The publisher, Indiana University Press, is a major international university press, with one of the largest and most influential lists in Russian history in English. The book received positive reviews in the major journals in my field in the US, Canada, the UK, and Germany and is widely cited. Indeed, one reviewer wrote, “[a]fter Coleman's book, it will be impossible to discuss the role of religion in modern Russia without referring to the Baptists.” However, although Russians and Ukrainians working in the narrow field of Baptist studies regularly cite it, access is limited and the book has not come to the attention of the broader community of historians in Russia. Publication of a translation into Russian would be the crucial final step in completing the knowledge mobilization of my prize-winning work. The publication of Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution, 1905-1929, will be translated into Russian to be part of the Academic Studies Press's series "Contemporary Western Russian Studies."

Crystal Fraser (PI), How I Survived
SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant (2021-2023)

Dr. Fraser and NWTRPA staff member and historian, Dr. Jessica Dunkin (settler Canadian), have co-developed this project guided by an advisory committee of residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors. This project centres the experiences and voices of the children and youth who attended Indian Residential Schools. As Fraser (2019: 73) argues, "We continue to hear too little from those most affected by Indian Residential Schools," the students. In addition to interviewing 10-12 former students, we are also reviewing historical documents including photographs, reports, correspondence, yearbooks, and newspaper articles related to schools across the territory. Together, the interviews and historical research will help us to understand how recreation was a part of the residential school experience, as well as the significance of recreation for former students.

Crystal Fraser (PI), Dinjii Zhuh Perspectives of Epidemics: Contemporary Indigenous Concepts of Survival Community and Strength in the NWT
SSHRC COVIDSI (2020-2024); 2020-2021 Cameron Seed Fund Award and UANorth Support (2020-2022)

Non-Indigenous newcomers, such as fur traders, explorers, and missionaries carried foreign diseases and illness with them and these had profound consequences for Indigenous northerners. Indeed, as transportation networks and interest in northern resources grew the in first half of the twentieth century, so too did diseases (such as influenza, smallpox, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis), illness, and death due to systemic inequalities in health care provision and social services. Survivors have documented some of these accounts, by working with academics, decades after they took place. Unfortunately, the fullness and nuances of these experiences were not captured. Today, the pandemic of COVID-19 is affecting almost every community around the world, including the Dinjii Zhuh communities not only in the Northwest Territories, but also those who live outside the Gwich'in Settlement Area (specifically Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Saskatoon). This project seeks to better understand Dinjii Zhuh reactions, lifestyles, struggles, and concerns about living through yet another epidemic. Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser, the Primary Investigator and a Gwichyà Gwich'in historian, is partnering with the Department of Cultural Heritage (DCH) of the Gwich'in Tribal Council to address this gap by recording the stories, experiences, and conversations of Dinjii Zhuh communities using a combination of historical, anthropological, and Indigenous methodologies. Sharon Snowshoe (Teetł'it Gwich'in), Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage, will hire and train Dinjii Zhuh Community Assistants in Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, and Edmonton to use novel, COVID19-safe research techniques to gather relevant ethnographic recordings from a range of Dinjii Zhuh.

Jairan Gahan (PI), Morality on Trial: Prostitution in Tehran, 1911-1955
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2020-2023)

This project titled “Morality on Trial: Prostitution in Tehran, 1911-1955” is the first historiographical study of prostitution in Iran, which addresses broader questions about the relation between Islam and modern statecraft through the prism of law. Spanning the 20th century modern Middle East with a focus on Iran, this work addresses how marginal subjects and sites, served as laboratories for the nascent constitutional Iranian state to test, shape, and perpetuate modern regimes of governance, and the evershifting and vexed relationship between Islam and modern rule. In particular, this project aims to offer a historiographical intervention as it (re)periodizes Iran in the 20th century and traces the politicization of Islam as a force pertinent to the moral project of the state—a development that is by and large associated with the post Islamic Revolution (1979) era—to a much earlier period in the 20th century, and to the quasi secular postconstitution state formations (1911). This revisionist history complicates the larger linear historical narrative of failed secularization and subsequent radical Islamization of the modern Middle East in the 20th century as it disturbs the foundations of the historiography of Islam in the region, including dichotomous conceptions of religious/secular, sovereignty/governmentality; theocracy/democracy, ethical/political, and ultimately tradition/modernity. Bringing together anthropology of Islam, legal history, and women and gender studies, this work will be grounded in theories of state sovereignty, secularism, and governmentality.

Margriet Haagsma (PI), Mapping Marginality: Landscape as Biography in Central Achaia Phthiotis, Greece
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2019-2023)

This IDG project aims at developing an inclusive approach to landscape by studying it through the lens of 'biography' and using cutting edge methods of archaeological prospection. I have selected a test area of 600 hectares of forested countryside in Achaia Phthiotis, a boundary region between three provinces in Central Greece, which harbours a wealth of unexplored archaeological data, such as tombs, fountain houses and settlements. Using a multiscalar perspective, I plan to map, survey and analyze this perceived 'marginal' area to find patterns of connectivity, continuity and discontinuity in humanlandscape interaction in this region’s wider history of the longue durée.

Beverly Lemire (PI), Fashioning the Imperial Atlantic: Race, Gender and Material Culture, c. 1660-1820
SSHRC Insight Grant (2022-2027)

Project outputs will disseminate our original findings among diverse publics and, just like my planned monograph, will make an impact internationally. Outcomes will unveil previously opaque histories, including the promotion of normative patterns of White beauty and fashion over generations; and the resistant self-defining garb of self-emancipated Black men that upset imperial norms. Prints of such Black men, circulating in the early 19th century, worked against the racial stereotypes that engulfed them. Laundresses (Black and White) also negotiated normative challenges. Jamaican-born cultural theorist, Stuart Hall, advocated change through a critical engagement that we anticipate will come from this project: to "turn the stereotypes in a sense against such a way that they become uninhabitable" (Hall 1997, 21). Outcomes will "intervene in exactly that powerful exchange between the image [and material culture] and its psychic expose and deconstruct" (21).

Ann McDougall (PI), Freed-Slave Wrokers in the "Mountain of Iron"
SSHRC Insight Grant (2018-2023)

The project draws on already exploited materials from French Colonial Archives and earlier (SSHRC funded) interviews; one of my two collaborators also has valuable MIFERMA documents to contribute. It seeks funding to support fieldwork in Mauritania --some archival work with SNIM and a local newspaper but overwhelmingly oral interviews with MIFERMA/SNIM haratine workers and political activists living in Nouakchott, Atar, Zouerate and Nouadhibou. In addition, support is needed for two conferences (one in the UK, one in Canada), one Workshop at the Amsterdam institute where my second collaborator is located, and two public 'events' in Nouakchott where the project's research will be shared with academic and public audiences. Graduate Student assistance (a total of two full-time PhD assistantships) will facilitate successful publication and dissemination 'outcomes'. The project speaks to two main academic audiences: African Labour Historians who have not engaged in conversation with African 'Slave' Historians (most work on Mauritanian haratine falls into the latter category); and Global Labour Historians who address directly the relations between various forms of pre-capitalist labour and capitalist wage labour and who lament the paucity of African case studies. To this end, the case study straddles a 'traditional' African social hierarchy and a modern international industry as it traces the making of a 20th c. haratine working class.

Kenneth Moure (PI), J'ai faim! Food and Politics in France in World War II
SSHRC Insight Grant (2021-2025)

My project will reconstruct French food policy from 1939 to 1950, analyze the locations and logic for protests, and assess the political repercussions of popular discontent. It will include comparative analysis for rural/urban and regional differences in food supply, changes in food consumption and culture, and the management of French crises in the context of a world war. France, as a country of abundant agricultural output and rich culinary history, offers a fertile case for the study of administrative and popular responses to food crises. Archival research is essential to reconstruct food policy and changes in food output, consumption, and culture. I will gather evidence for state policy development in national archives; in departmental archives, I will seek evidence of regional impact and resistance. My research integrates quantitative data and qualitative sources, and explores the reflexive relationship between national policies, regional and local improvisation, and popular resistance. Together, these can explain the disorder in the food supply in France and the frequent protests. I will also gather evidence from national and international sources for detail on the European and global food crises, which will provide context for my work on France, and provide valuable training opportunities for three graduate students.

Sarah Nickel (PI) in collaboration with Margaret Little (Queen's University), Alternative Visions: The Politics of Motherhood and Family Among Indigenous, Immigrant, Racialized, and Low-Income Activist Women's Groups in Canada, 1960s-1980s
SSHRC through Queen's University (2020-2023)

In May 1974 the Mother Led Union (MLU), an Ontario welfare rights group, presented a brief claiming that "the whole system of deprivation for women seems to be designed by our self-glorified male legislators to 'KEEP WOMEN IN THEIR PLACE'." They attacked provincial government efforts to force mothers on welfare into the workforce and argued that: "It has been the Mother-Led Union's position all along that women who choose to remain at home to raise their children are making a useful contribution to society, that we are already working." This combination of brazen feminism and spirited defense of stay-at-home motherhood does not fit current images of 1970s feminism. This project seeks to understand positions taken by the MLU and other often forgotten women's activist groups whose activism remains understudied and whose political visions are not fully understood, particularly when they diverged from mainstream feminist discourses. Specifically, we will explore how low-income, Indigenous, immigrant and racialized activists articulated the place of motherhood and family in their politics and visions of social change from the 1960s to 1980s.

Sarah Nickel (PI), Auxiliary Organizations and Indigenous "Mother of the Nation:" Gender, Politics, and Place in Canada's West
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2020-2023)

The goal of this research is to produce a comprehensive narrative of 20th century Indigenous women’s politics in the west by synthesizing Indigenous women’s numerous, overlapping, and multi-spatial sociopolitical engagements according to five themes of: arts and performance, health, child welfare, legal issues, and Indigenous sovereignty and nationalism.

Liza Piper (Co-PI) with Memorial Univeristy of Newfoundland's Arn Keeling (PI) Northern Exposures: Science, Indigenous Peoples, and Northern Contaminants
SSHRC Insight Grant (2014-2023)

This project will investigate the environmental history and cultural politics of pollution and toxicity in Canada's northern regions, offering an opportunity to examine the historic and ongoing impacts of contaminants on northern Aboriginal communities. Despite the popular image of northern Canada as a pristine environment, pollution from industrial and military activities present one of the most significant environmental challenges within the region. Northern contaminants also include synthetic chemicals, particularly persistent organic pollutants, and other toxic hazards like mercury and radioactive elements, that have spread throughout the region via long-range atmospheric transport from southern industrial regions.

Liza Piper (PI), Mining, Clearing, and Reclaiming the Rocky Mountains and Foothills, 1950-2018
SSHRC Insight Grant (2019-2024)

The project is looking at industrial resource operations (mining and forestry especially) in the Rocky Mountains and foothills after 1945 from the perspective of environmental and energy histories. The project asks questions about the choices made in recent decades to exploit or protect resources in the Rockies and foothills and the environmental consequences of these decisions. It examines the shifting contexts in which value was assigned to coal deposits, forests, water, or tourism and the trade-offs necessary to permit or prohibit industrial activities.

David Quinter (PI), Devotional Cults and Medieval Nara Buddhism: Explorations in Lived Religion
SSHRC Insight Grant (2021-2026)

This project aims to illuminate the significance of pluralistic devotional cults to medieval Nara Buddhism and, in doing so, enrich the theorizing of “lived religion” within and beyond humanities and social science fields. For my specific field of Japanese religions, the project will further efforts to reconstruct portraits of medieval Japanese Buddhism through closer examination of innovative movements among the Nara schools, which have only recently begun receiving sustained attention in Western-language scholarship. Simultaneously, the focus on cultic activities will highlight the synthesis of textual, material, visual, and ritual culture in medieval Buddhism and devotional practices. Such syntheses are integral to the lived religion of the time, but have often been obscured by divisions between academic fields. This research thus aims to enhance the recent revisioning of medieval Japanese culture across disciplines, including in religious studies, history, literature, and art history.

Jane Samson (PI), Te Ngara's Voyage: From the Melanesian Mission to Ministry in Aotearoa/New Zealand c. 1820-1919
SSHRC Insight Grant (2021-2027)

While doing New Zealand archival research for my previous SSHRC-funded project on George Sarawia, the Melanesian Mission's first Indigenous priest, I discovered a previously unknown, handwritten journal by Eruera Karaka Te Ngara, a Maori member of the mission and later an Anglican priest in New Zealand. Written in te reo Maori, the journal describes Te Ngara's voyage through Melanesia on the missions's 1862 island cruise. This document is an extremely rare and unusually early example of a Maori view of Melanesian islanders in situ, and of an Indigenous perspective on mission work among members of other Indigenous Peoples. During a preliminary research trip, I found two letters by Te Ngara, sections of a later journal kept by him on a visit to the war-torn Waikato region following the land wars of the 1860s, and indications of a wealth of information about Te Ngara's school connections, the extent to which the Melanesian Mission employed Maori teachers and missionaries like himself, and Te Ngara's role in the rebuilding of Anglicanism in New Zealand as an ordained priest serving in both the North and South islands.

Dagmar Wujastyk (PI), Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia
ERC Starting Grant-Horizon 2020 (2015-2020)

The project examined the histories of yoga, ayurveda and rasaśāstra (Indian alchemy and iatrochemistry) from the tenth century to the present, focussing on the disciplines' health, rejuvenation and longevity practices. The goals of the project were to reveal the entanglements of these historical traditions, and to trace the trajectories of their evolution as components of today's global healthcare and personal development industries.

Dominik Wujastyk (PI), A Critical Edition of the Good Fortune of the King of Mercury
Kule Institute for Advanced Study -- Dialogue Grant (2022-2023)

The Rasendramaṅgala is an early Sanskrit work on alchemy probably composed before the twelfth century, and possibly as early as 900 CE. It has never been critically edited. I have identified eleven manuscripts of the work, and over the last three years I have hired transcribers to transcribe key sections of the work from the different manuscripts. The transcription is done using TEI XML encoding and the results are stored in Github. The editorial work is taking place using, a specialized platform for collating and editing Sanskrit works.

Dominik Wujastyk (PI), The Textual and Cultural History of Medicine in South Asia based on Newly-Discovered Manuscript Evidence
SSHRC Insight Grant (2020-2025)

The present project will undertake detailed work reading and transcribing the new manuscripts, evaluating their relationships and translating their content. The newly-discovered manuscript of The Compendium of Sushruta will be put into historical relationship with each other and with previously-known manuscripts using traditional historical and philological methods coupled with the methods of computerized cladistic analysis. The latter methods will allow fine control over the expected large volume of differential data between the manuscripts. The goal is to develop a fresh understanding of ancient South Asian medicine based on the new evidence. We will be especially focussed on highlighting the textual and doctrinal differences between The Compendium as it existed in 878 CE and its received versions today. Project outcomes will include critical editions and translations of the Nepalese manuscripts, studies of the transmission of scientific ideas within South Asia as well as to China and South East Asia, and outreach to contemporary consumers of indigenous medicine.

Dominik Wujastyk (PI), Symposium on Greater Magadha - Evaluation and Restrospective
SSHRC Connection Grant (2020-2022 - will be extended)

In the thirteen years since Greater Magadha was published, a strange situation has developed. Apart from a few thoughtful book reviews, nobody has offered an extended academic engagement with Bronkhorst’s theory. An increasing number of scholars take the theory for granted, while others offer “academic grumbling” about the theory but without strong engagement. The present symposium aims to bring together leading historians with a wide range of skills in order to debate with each other and with Prof. Bronkhorst himself about the foundations of the theory. The invitees are selected because at some point they have all written seriously about Bronkhorst’s theory. The goal of this encounter is that a new expert response to the Greater Magadha theory will be created that will be of crucial importance for historians more widely who need to rely on a paradigmatic accord established by specialists.

Lorne Zelyck - St. Joseph's College (PI), The British Papyrus Syndicate
SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2021-2024)

Little is known about the acquisition history (i.e. provenance) of famous papyrus collections in North America and Europe. Although they were acquired ‘legally’ (since foreign powers influenced Egyptian laws), the lack of transparency from these institutions has hindered research in manuscript studies, the history of the antiquities market, and our ability to rejoin separated fragments of the same manuscript. This research project will address these problems by examining the provenance of papyrus manuscripts that were purchased by the British Museum and disseminated to North American and European collections in the early 1900s. The objective will be accomplished through examining the departmental archives of these institutions involved in the British Papyrus Syndicate, which contain detailed letters between curators, scholars, and antiquities dealers, as well as acquisition lists of the manuscripts purchased.