2021 CHA Annual Meeting – University of Alberta

Published on 28 Jul 2020

Mobility and Exchange

A Note Regarding the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association | Société historique du Canada

In 2021, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (convened by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences) will be organized in Edmonton at the University of Alberta. The University of Alberta is located on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway| Saulteaux|Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community.

The annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association|Société historique du Canada [CHA|SHC] is typically held in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. James Muir and Shannon Stunden Bower are lead organizers for the 2021 CHA|SHC annual meeting.

Typically, organizers of the following year’s annual meeting issue a call for papers in mid-July.  COVID-19 has complicated our planning efforts. Rather than a formal call for papers, we (the lead organizers of the 2021 annual meeting) offer some updates.


It is yet not clear what sort of conferencing will be possible or appropriate in spring 2021.

Considering prevailing uncertainty, and in consultation with both CHA | SHC Executive and the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, we have decided to delay detailed announcement of the format for next year’s CHA|SHC annual meeting. But we can share that, following a decision taken by CHA|SHC Executive and considering the likelihood of continued disruptions related to COVID-19, we will not plan a typical, large-scale, in-person gathering in Edmonton.

While there are many desirable aspects of in-person conferencing, there are also some significant disadvantages not limited to concerns derived from COVID-19, including disadvantages related to accessibility and climate effects. We aim to design the 2021 annual meeting using digital technologies and|or new approaches in order to accommodate public health circumstances, to address pressing concerns about climate change, and to acknowledge demographic, economic, and social circumstances limiting many who might like to participate in CHA|SHC annual meetings.

As announced in spring 2020, organizers of the 2021 conference will honour acceptances from the 2020 conference. Should presenters wish to deliver in 2021 papers accepted for 2020 presentation, they are invited to do so without further adjudication. Information on how 2020 presenters might signal their 2021 intentions will be available in fall 2020, either in or before the call for papers. 


Congress 2020 was cancelled because of COVID-19. The theme would have been “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.” The CHA|SHC recognizes the significance of considering how academic and other institutions perpetuate systemic racism that disadvantages Indigenous and Black communities. The 2020 theme is of clear and pressing importance locally, nationally and internationally, and will remain one of the themes for the 2021 CHA|SHC meeting.

In January 2020, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences announced the theme for Congress 2021 will be “Northern Relations.” This theme is appropriate to Edmonton’s geographical location and historical interconnections, as well as crucial to ongoing processes of reckoning with settler colonialism and climate change.

Considering the urgency of these two themes, local organizers of the 2021 CHA|SHC annual meeting will adopt the over-arching theme of “mobility and exchange” in the aim of featuring scholarship on Black and Indigenous peoples and communities, on colonialism, and on the north. We also invite submissions that approach “mobility and exchange” from other perspectives or that address other topics and themes of interest to historians and allied scholars and practitioners.

In engaging the over-arching theme, prospective participants are encouraged to conceptualize mobility and exchange in broad terms, exploring the varied ways communities, people, beings, ideas, and things move across time and through space. Participants are particularly invited to engage with the barriers, inequities, and asymmetries that often characterize processes of mobility and exchange, especially insofar as these have affected Black communities, Indigenous peoples, and others disadvantaged through ongoing colonial processes. The over-arching theme of “mobility and exchange” also underlines the distinctive format of the 2021 annual meeting, which may involve participants in exploring new ways of exchanging ideas and mobilizing knowledge.

Our spring 2021 event will be the 100th annual meeting of the CHA|SHC and it will open a year of centenary activities for the CHA|SHC’s 100th anniversary in 2022. In recognition of the ongoing work required to ensure we study the past in a manner engaged with the challenges and opportunities of the present, we encourage all CHA|SHC members to prepare for the 2021 annual meeting by cultivating a spirit of curiosity in the midst of uncertainty that characterizes the most creative historical work.

As noted previously, more information about the 2021 CHA|SHC annual meeting, including the call for papers, will be forthcoming in fall 2020. Anyone with pressing questions or concerns should feel free to contact local organizers James Muir and Shannon Stunden Bower at chashc21@ualberta.ca

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