Proposals for scholarly papers concerning the U.S-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican borders are solicited for a symposium co-sponsored by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the Department of History at Simon Fraser University (SFU). A workshop for participants and initial public presentations will be held at SFU in greater Vancouver in Fall 2006, to be followed in Spring 2007 by a conference at SMU in Dallas, Texas. Ultimately a university press will publish the papers as a volume edited by conference organizers Andrew Graybill and Benjamin Johnson.
These two meetings will bring together scholars of both of North America’s borders. Long ignored or given little attention by historians, borders have recently become the sites of deep scholarly interest. Today both the Canadian-U.S. and Mexican-U.S. borderlands are burgeoning economically and demographically, and the movements of goods and people through them are important subjects of political debate and agitation. For historians, the physical edges of nations may reveal the most about the contingency of national histories and provide the best prospects for creating accounts of the past that transcend both the geographic and conceptual limits imposed by international boundaries. Nevertheless, students of the Canadian-U.S. and Mexican-U.S. border regions generally work in isolation from one another. Indeed, “borderlands” is generally used as shorthand to refer to the present-day U.S. southwest and Mexican north, with little thought to the border that divides Canada and the United States.
The goal of the symposium is to explore what scholars of the Canadian-U.S. and Mexican-U.S. borders might learn from one another. To what extent is there a shared history of North America’s borders? How, for example, did Indian peoples/First Nations respond to the bisection of their traditional homelands in the nineteenth century? How did borders hinder and foster labor migrations? How have “vice” industries developed in similar ways along both borders? What were the environmental implications of border-making, such as the impact upon migratory animal populations or trans-border ranching and farming industries? To what extent did disparate groups such as U.S. policy makers, Chinese labor contractors, drug smugglers, and commercial fishermen apply the knowledge gained in one borderlands to the other? Although there is no pre-set list of topics or chapters, our hope is to assemble a volume that demonstrates how joining the history of both of North America’s borders might further the agenda of borderlands history.
We welcome submissions focusing on any time period from the creation of national borders to the present from scholars of any rank, from graduate student to full professor. Papers may compare a common dynamic on both borders, or, alternatively, may analyze one border in a way that invites direct comparison or pairing with another essay concerning the other border. Please send a CV and description of an original, ongoing project to Andrew Graybill by September 15. The description, of up to five pages, should both describe the research and explain how it serves the goals of the conferences and resulting book. Approximately eight papers will be chosen for the conferences and resulting volume. Queries can be directed either to Graybill or Johnson.
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