The History Department at the University of Manitoba has substantial teaching, research, and community expertise in the history of: human rights, aboriginal rights, self-determination and rights-based struggles; social justice and social movements. The Department offers varied geographic perspectives on human rights issues for many different groups of people at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
Dr. Baader is an Associate Professor of History. His teaching and research activity focuses on the history of the Jewish people who have been for some two thousand years a vulnerable minority population in a large range of historical settings. His work focuses on Jewish life worlds in Germany in the first half of the nineteenth century, a time when Jewish men and women fought for emancipation and struggled to achieve integration into German society. Accordingly, he has extensive expertise on the dynamics of human rights discourses in Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Europe, and is an expert on the process in which Western societies negotiated the rights of individuals and communities in a formative period of modernity. Moreover, gender is an important analytical category in all of his publications and in his ongoing research. His book Gender, Judaism, and Bourgeois Culture has contributed greatly to understanding of how the gender order of pre-modern Jewish culture gave way to modern modes of gender organization. He is an expert on how hierarchies between men and women played out and were transformed in the transition to Western modernity and he possesses expertise on how culturally specific mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion have determined and limited the rights of women in various historical settings.
Dr. Brownlie is engaged in research, teaching, and community work that all relates broadly to human rights, social justice, and rights-based struggles. As a scholar of Aboriginal history, Prof. Brownlie is constantly presented with concerns relating to all these issues, and also pursues them by choice. Brownlie has published a journal article that discusses the ways that Anishinabe activists spoke about human rights and Aboriginal rights during the inter-war period (“‘Nothing left for me or any other Indian’: the Georgian Bay Anishinabek and Inter-War Articulations of Aboriginal Rights,” Ontario History, vol. XCVI, no. 2 (Autumn 2004), 116-42). In Brownlie’s research on Aboriginal-government relations questions of rights and social justice arise frequently, and they are discussed in several places in A Fatherly Eye: Indian Agents, Government Power, and Aboriginal Resistance in Ontario, 1918-1939 (Oxford University Press, 2003). Brownlie is currently engaged in a research project concerning the ways that oral history is handled when it is advanced in Aboriginal legal cases pertaining to treaty and Aboriginal rights and is also a co-investigator for a SSHRC-funded research project on the oral history of northern Manitoba treaties. Brownlie teaches an upper-level seminar entitled “The History of Aboriginal Rights” and maintains an active reading practice relating to these issues. Finally, Brownlie is engaged in community work that relates to social justice and rights-based struggles. This includes, most recently, being a co-investigator in an oral history pilot project that was conducted at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre in Winnipeg’s North End. In this project Aboriginal speakers were brought in to speak to young Aboriginal women about resistance, a topic that evoked considerable discussion about social justice and questions of human rights.
Dr. Chadya is an Assistant Professor of African History. Her research work focus on a number of areas that are related to social justice and rights issues. In one study she explored why and how women and children fled from the war-torn Zimbabwean countryside to Harare during the liberation struggle and settled in an open public space as refugee-squatters for the duration of the liberation war. Thus, she looks at how men and women experienced the war differently as well as peasants’ right to peace and security so as to have a normal life in the countryside. Once they reached the urban centres it becomes an issue of their right to shelter in a colonial town where white interests were paramount. This was in the context of an anti-colonial struggle as Africans were fighting for majority rule. In another study she examines why there has been a surge in child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe between 2000 and the present. She argued that many children especially from poor backgrounds have become vulnerable to sexual abuse as their right to safety and childhood has been compromised at a time when the country is experiencing political, social and economic turmoil. In a different study she investigated how women joined the anti-colonial nationalist struggles as appendages of men and how their incorporation into guerilla armies was just symbolic. This study demonstrates that the participation of women in liberation struggles is no guarantee for the better treatment of women – socially and economically – in the post-colonial period. While during the anti-colonial struggles African women were advised (by nationalists) to put their women’s issues aside and focus on the common enemy, the colonialist, in the post-colonial period they were told to become “proper” African women who did not challenge the patriarchy and who were not influenced by western imperialist feminists. In yet another study she examined the impact of the economic meltdown, in particular fuel shortages, on the right to one of the most fundamental human practices – mourning and interning the dead. Focusing on Harare and Chtungwiza, she came to the conclusion that the fuel shortages, among other problems affecting Zimbabwe in the new millennium generated cultural shifts on the Zimbabwean deathscape. These shifts in funerary practices exhibit the fluidity of culture as traditions were reshaped by the economic the economic changes the country was experiencing. The shift in these practices evinces one of the principal motifs of culture – that culture is fluid especially when the material world is factored in.
Dr. Chatterley is a historian of Modern Europe and Modern Jewish history, with particular expertise in the history of the Holocaust and the millennial phenomenon of Antisemitism. She teaches these subjects for the history department at the University of Manitoba, where she is also a Research Affiliate. In 2010, she founded the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) and is its director. She is currently completing a second book entitled The Antisemitic Imagination, and is also developing an interview series with leading scholars in Holocaust and Antisemitism Studies to determine the future of these fields as they come under increasing political pressure from a variety of sources. Her future research plans include a study on the relationships that may or may not exist between the Holocaust, Antisemitism, and human rights.
Dr. Chen is Associate Professor of History and Co-coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Research Circle on Globalization and Cosmopolitanism. She is a specialist in Modern Chinese history, with a specific research interest in the social, political, and cultural norms that structure people’s engagement with society, nation-states, and international organizations and movements. Her research addresses how rights of people have been part of socialist and post-socialist struggles in China, and the promises and limitations of particular rights frameworks and alliances across the twentieth century. She is internationally recognized for her work on gender and women’s emancipation in Maoist China; Sino-Soviet cultural exchange and its relationship to global anti-colonial struggles; and historical cultural studies committed to interrogating how inequalities are produced, reinforced, and challenged through the global circulation of cultural products. Most recently, she has undertaken a SSHRC-funded research project on the Chinese diaspora in Burma, with a focus on migration experiences and citizenship rights as related to wartime occupation of Burma by the Japanese. This project considers how notions of patriotism, loyalty, ethnicity, and race were mobilized during and after WWII as part of the articulation of key categories and policies of the Post-War Human Rights regime, namely understandings of refugees, displaced persons, and modern national citizenship.
Dr. Chen’s teaching also foregrounds critical engagement with alternative conceptualization of rights, the everyday manifestations of rights struggles, and the benefits and costs of programs initiated by nation-states and international organizations that seek to address particular forms of oppression and inequality over others. She teaches courses in the fields of Modern World History; Culture, Rights, and International Relations in Post-1939 World History; History of Modern China; and Chinese Revolutionary Theory. She is also an active member of the Winnipeg Chinese Community and an advocate for diversity and equity at the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Churchill is a historian of the United States and a historian of sexuality. He is principally interested in the ways that different marginalized groups, such as homosexuals, have sought to secure Human Rights protections through political activism and organizing. Over the last five decades lesbians and gay men have sought to utilize Rights Talk to secure privacy protection, anti-discrimination legislation as well a full citizenship rights in terms of marriage, adoption, military service and immigration (to name just a few). This specialized research expertise is connected to a broader interest in the history of Human Rights during the 20th Century – both in the United States but also within a global context. In 2004-2004 he was a Rockefeller Humanities Research Fellow in the Gender, Sexuality, Health and Human Rights Program at Columbia University. His relevant Publications include: “Transnationalism and Homophile Political Culture in the Postwar Decades,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies - Volume 15, Number 1, 2009, pp. 31-65; Tina M. Chen and David Churchill, “Neoliberal Civilization and the Economic Disciplining of Human Rights: Converging Models in the United States and China,” Rhizomes issue 10 (Spring 2005); and "Mother Goose's Map: Tabloid Geographies and Gay Male Experience in 1950s Toronto", Journal of Urban History 30.6 (September 2004): 826-852.
Terry Cook is a professor of Archival Studies, and previously worked as an archivist and senior manager at the National Archives of Canada. He has long developed an expertise in the vital connection between the protection of human rights and the preservation of archival records. Archives offer evidence of human rights abuses so that justice may prevail and archives provide means of reconciliation for the abused by having their stories recorded and preserved. He has studied this relationship closely in South Africa with its TRC as well as in Canada, where he testified before the Royal Commission on Nazi War Criminals, directed a program to preserve evidence of Aboriginal/First Nations’ treatment by government and churches, and testified before parliament for better access, privacy, and information policy legislation. He has supervised a thesis completed this year on human rights and archives, and situated archives theoretically to better preserve records relating to human rights. Some sample relevant publications include: "‘A Monumental Blunder’: The Destruction of Records on Nazi War Criminals in Canada," in Richard Cox and David Wallace, eds., Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society (Westport CN and London, 2002), 37-65; and "Indian Legacy, Aboriginal Future," The Archivist 112 (1996): 2-6; and Archives, Records, and Power, published as two double-length special thematic issues of Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information, 2.1/2 and 2.3/4 (2002), co-guest co-editor (with Joan M. Schwartz).
Roisin Cossar is a specialist in Medieval History, with a geographic focus on Italy. As part of her research in the society and culture of medieval Italy, she analyzes the status and lived experience of underprivileged people, especially the poor inhabitants of Italian cities in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. For instance, in published work she has examined how paupers in medieval Italian cities organized themselves into associations to demand charitable assistance. She has also investigated the changing face of charitable associations in medieval Italy, and has argued that over the course of the later Middle Ages the poor and women were gradually cut out of the groups that purported to assist them in an earlier age. The status of marginal groups and their efforts to shape their own lives is also the subject of some of her teaching. In a third-year course, The Margins of the Middle Ages, she introduces students to some of the groups considered to be on the periphery of medieval society, and through critical readings of key texts the class discusses perceptions of these so-called "marginal" groups throughout medieval society.
Chris Frank is Associate Professor of History and Co-coordinator of the Law and Society Research Cluster. His research focuses on the relationship between labour and popular movements to the state and the legal system in nineteenth century Britain. He considers the ways in which articulating grievances in legal discourses shape these movements and the way in which ordinary people understand themselves and their relationship to those who govern them. He teaches British, Irish, and European history and has taught the History of Working Peoples and the Labour Movement, 1700-present. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph Master and Servant Law: Chartists, Trade Unions, Radical Lawyers and the Magistracy, 1840-1865 (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2010).
Gerald Friesen, Distinguished Professor, is an historian of Canada whose writings have addressed political claims in the Canadian community concerning human rights. Friesen’s books include The Canadian Prairies: A History (UTP, 1984), The West (Penguin, 1999), River Road (essays on Métis history and on labour, culture, and religion, U of M Press 1996), and Rural Life (adult education, U of M Press 2004). His latest book, Immigrants in Prairie Cities: Ethnic Diversity in Twentieth Century Canada, co-written with Royden Loewen, addresses the issue of immigrant integration in a polyethnic society (UToronto Press 2009). He also served as chair and general editor for the book series, Manitoba Studies in Native History. Between 1982 and 2002, the series published fifteen volumes, including Ila Bussidor’s Night Spirits and John Milloy’s award-winning study of Aboriginal residential schools, A National Crime.
Friesen has worked with many community organizations in the field of historical education, including the Canadian Historical Association (president, 2003 to 2005), executive member of the Manitoba Historical Society and the Société Historique de Saint-Boniface, treasurer of the Manitoba Federation of Labour’s Education Centre, board member with Canada’s Visual History / L’Histoire Visuelle du Canada (National Museum of Canada and the National Film Board -- eighty slide sets), advisor for Timelinks (a Manitoba educational website), committee member for the Canadian history curriculum(Grade Eleven, Manitoba), and advisor to the CBC’s Canada: A People’s History film project. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002.
Dr. Friesen specializes in Aboriginal history, treaties and rights. Dr. Friesen has published many works, including Magnificent Gifts: The Treaties of Canada with Indians of the Northwest, 1869-76, and was a member of the legislative assembly from 1990-2003. In that capacity, she was appointed deputy premier and minister of inter-government affairs in 1999, also receiving ministerial responsibility for co-operative development in 2002. She continues to work closely with governmental and community organizations on issues of Aboriginal history and governance. Friesen is also part of the speakers' bureau for the Treaty Commission of Manitoba.
Mark Gabbert is an Associate Professor of History and a specialist in Modern World History in the Twentieth Century. In both his teaching and research, he is preoccupied with questions of democracy and social justice and with the impact of political-economic developments on prospects for human emancipation. He is particularly interested in the relationship between socialism and democracy, in the way in which popular radical movements of the twentieth century led to the construction of authoritarian Stalinist regimes, in the fate of those regimes, and in the possible democratic alternatives to both Stalinism and the prevailing capitalist socio-economic order. His current project is an historical materialist account of the collapse of Stalinism that situates it against the background of earlier historical crises and argues for socialist democracy as a post-Stalinist alternative to capitalism. He is a founding member of the Global Political Economy program and represents the History Department on the GPE steering committee. Professor Gabbert also has a long standing interest in academic freedom and is currently a member of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
Julie Gibbings is an assistant professor in the Department of History. She is a specialist in modern Latin America, with a specific research interest in nineteenth and twentieth century Guatemala, a country that emerged from genocidal civil war in 1996 with a strong indigenous revitalization movement. Dr. Gibbings is currently completing a book length project on struggles over the meaning and limitations of early concepts of human rights such as the universal ideals of citizenship and freedom. She examines how these struggles were waged through discourses on history and race in Guatemala. Her work helps us to understand why international development and human rights discourses would later be so powerful for so many marginalized and excluded peoples.
In both her research and teaching, Dr. Gibbings foregrounds the struggles of indigenous peoples in Latin America for autonomy, rights, and restitution and how contemporary Latin American nations, even those with the most progressive and populist reforms, continued to be plagued by traces of colonial practices.
Esyllt Jones researches and writes about the relationship between social inequality, disease and social movements. Her first book, Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle, discussed the impact of poverty and social hierarchy on individual, family and collective experiences of the pandemic, while emphasizing the capacity of marginalized citizens to mobilize for mutual support. Her work has also argued that involuntary public health measures (such as compulsory vaccination and quarantine) are historically contested practices that violate the rights of the modern citizen body. She is now working on a second monograph entitled Red Medicine: Transnational Lives and the Birth of Medicare in Canada, which situates the emergence of one of Canada’s most critical social programs in the context of transnational debates about health, medicine, and social equality in the 1930s and 1940s.
She teaches first and second year Canadian history from the point of view of the long (unfinished) struggle for human rights and democracy, and the importance of dissent and oppositional thought to the development of democratic institutions and practices. Her classes challenge students to think through the limits of equality, by exploring the historical experiences of women, workers, ethnic and racial minorities, and Aboriginal peoples. “The History of Winnipeg” (3890) studies the Winnipeg General Strike, anti-poverty movements, and the Aboriginal activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Honours and graduate teaching in the history of medicine – dealing with topics such as Aboriginal health, the treatment of those with mental illness, the medicalization of normative (hetero)sexuality, and the relationship between gender inequality and notions of female embodiment -- reveals that health equality and human rights are inseparable. Prof. Jones’s graduate students are currently writing theses on issues such as the history of polio, family and disability; grassroots political activism for medicare in Saskatchewan in the 1940s; and the history of nursing unionism.
Dr. Kinnear introduced in 1969 the first courses on history of minority rights offered by the Department of History. He was also chairman of the Manitoba Mosaic Congress, a federal-provincial group that examined minority rights in this province in the Trudeau-Schreyer period.
Jorge Nallim is Assistant Professor of History, specializing in Latin American history. His teaching and area interests are closely informed by a concern with human rights and social justice. In both graduate and undergraduate courses on Latin American history, he focuses on human rights violations that characterized different Latin American countries in the second half of the twentieth century, from Guatemala and El Salvador to the countries in the Southern Cone. Given this history, Latin America has been at the forefront of human rights struggles and debates, both at theoretical and more concrete, real levels. A native from Argentina, which witnessed one of the most brutal military regime in Latin America, he is interested in issues intrinsically linked to human rights such as those related to state power, popular protest and resistance, justice, memory, and social and political healing.
Tom Nesmith is the founder and director of the master's program in Archival Studies in the Department of History. His interest in the growing public affairs and human rights roles of archives goes back to his first archival position at the then Public Archives of Canada, which involved acquiring and making available records related to the women's movement. He wrote a short article on this work in *Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme* vol 3, no.1 (1981) entitled "Sources for the History of Women at the Public Archives of Canada". He was on the team of archivists that researched and mounted the major 1982-83 PAC exhibit of documents on the history of women in Canada (1870-1940), which toured the country for many years. Since joining the history department, he has introduced students to the roles archives play in public affairs, human rights, and social justice. Several Archival students have completed MA theses on these themes -- from Aboriginal peoples' archives to child abuse survivors' archives. He has also published on these topics and delivered keynote addresses on them at archival conferences in Scotland and New Zealand and at the National Archives of Australia.
Adele Perry holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Western Canadian Social History. She is a historian of women's and gender history, colonial history, and the histories of migration and immigration. She teaches women's history, Canadian history, and western Canadian history. Geographically and temporally Perry's research focuses on north-western North America from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century with interests in comparative analyses of the Caribbean, the Antipodes, and the United Kingdom. Perry is completing a book length-project on intimacy, kinship, and identity in the nineteenth-century British empire, and is beginning new work on liberal humanitarian critiques of British imperialism in the fur-trade territories of mid nineteenth century British North America, and will make connections between indigenous dispossession, settler colonialism, and abolitionism and between the fur-trade colonies and their metropoles. This project will offer a new vantage point on the intellectual lineages of the discourse of modern human rights and its power and limitations to address the complicated histories of Indigenous peoples and imperialism. Her publications include: the award-winning On the Edge of Empire: Gender, Race, and the Making of British Columbia, 1849-71 (2001); co-editor, Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History (4, 5th, and 6th edition); and numerous articles in Canadian and international journals.
Greg Smith teaches and researches on the historical dimensions of human rights, particularly in the 1700s and 1800s. He is interested in the intellectual origins of Western rights discourse in the Age of the Enlightenment, and works on the history of criminality, poverty, punishment and the accessibility of justice in early modern England. He has written about violence and the law, punishment and rights, and about the access to justice for disadvantaged groups. He is also the co-coordinator of the Institute for the Humanities Law & Society Research Cluster, whose 2009-10 program theme was "Law and Human Rights".
Erik Thomson is an Assistant Professor of History. His research and teaching addresses the considers concepts of “human rights” from a skeptical and Tacitean view of the manner in which political power complicates and misappropriates rights-based arguments. One thread in his work has been investigating the manner in which early modern European authors and statesmen made claims to “natural” and “personal” rights in the realm of commerce, while simultaneously using these claims to support their own visions of Empire. He teaches a course that focuses on texts which examine how uncomfortably commerce, rights, empire and citizenship come together in European thought, and he has published a number of articles that examine the complexity of these interrelations in the ideas of Hugo Grotius and other theoreticians and statesmen. The publications include: “The Dutch Miracle, Modified. Hugo Grotius’s Mare Liberum, Commercial Governance and Imperial War in the early-seventeenth Century,” forthcoming in Grotiana 30 (2009): 107-130.) He has also scrutinized the diplomatic process that attempted to restore and justify rights in the wake of the Reformation. In a moment where many have advanced “human rights” as an antidote to evil, his research plays an important role in reminding students that the most cunning leviathans often clothe themselves in a vision of righteousness.
Ravi Vaitheespara is Associate Professor of History. His research and teaching interest are in the areas of modern South Asian history and World history. His focus on nationalism, ethnicity, caste and religion, as well as language based struggles in South Asia (particularly in India and Sri Lanka) often intersects with questions of human rights in South Asia and beyond. He engages with the complexities of human rights issues in Asia and beyond through his scholarly engagement with Postcolonial Studies as well as his involvement with the research cluster on Postcolonial South Asian and African Studies where the most recent and significant scholarly literature on such identity based struggles and rights issues are often discussed. In the senior joint undergraduate/graduate seminar on ‘Imperialism, Decolonization and Neocolonialism’ as well as other courses on modern South Asian history, Asian history and world history he often addresses questions of human rights. His recent work on Sri Lanka which explores the subject of the violent struggle for self determination by the Tamil minority and the various perspectives toward the resolution of the conflict in Sri Lanka is perhaps the best example of his recent research work that directly relates to questions of identity based politics, violence, state repression and human rights in South Asia.