Public History Prize
1. A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia
Photo credit: Rebecca Blissett
Category: Products and Projects
A co-production: Museum of Vancouver (MOV), University of British Columbia, Chinese Canadian Museum Society of BC
Co-curators: Denise Fong, Viviane Gosselin, Henry Yu
A Seat at the Table is two connected exhibitions exploring Chinese immigration in British Columbia. Located in the community and in a traditional exhibition space, the project explores Chinese migration from multiple viewpoints using voices and artifacts from the public. Based on deep research and extensive community consultation and collaboration, “A Seat at the Table” is accessible and engaging. Food is a key part of the story and provides a through line for both projects, which invites visitors to ‘take a seat’ and engage with home video, personal stories, artifacts and public art projects. The project strikes an effective balance between challenging histories of racism and discrimination, and stories of resilience and vibrant community life. Visitors are also invited to record their personal stories as or with Chinese Canadians, providing a connection to contemporary experiences and creating an oral history archive for future researchers. Combined, the mutli-modal storytelling, community partnerships and compelling 3-D experience make “A Seat at the Table” an exceptional exhibition experience.
A Portrait in Red, 2020. A film by Alexandra Lazarowich. Aerial shot by Andrew Williamson.
Umbereen Inayet and Cheryl Blackman, Awakenings, Toronto History Museums.
Awakenings a multimedia series from the City of Toronto Museums, using music, art and performance to explore under-represented histories. Delivered online, the ambitious project features artists, performers and historians ruminating on the inter-connected histories of Torontonians of different ethnocultural and class backgrounds. It shows how places and stories seemingly connected to White settler colonial histories, have erased the presence of racialized people. “Lanes,” a film by Karimah Zakia Issa” draws a connection between 19th-century publishers William Lyon Mackenzie and Mary Ann Shadd Cary. In the film, a contemporary activist moves through the Mackenzie King House in downtown Toronto, pulling Shadd Cary back into the narrative of rebellion and protest that is located at the historic site. Videos also explore histories of race and racism through explorations of food, identity, Indigeneity, place and culture. Awakenings succeeds as a public outreach project because it connects hidden histories to contemporary debates about race and colonialism, creatively engaging the public in a dialogue about past, present and future.
3. Landscapes of Injustice
Photo Credit: Michael Abe
Jordan Stanger-Ross, lead investigator & Michael Abe, project manager
Landscapes of Injustice is a multifaceted project about the history of displacement and dispossession of Japanese Canadians. The byproduct of an impressive partnership of academic and non-academic organizations and practitioners, Landscapes applies best academic public history research and dissemination practices to bear on the problem, identifying the scope of dispossession in hopes of helping Japanese Canadians recover from these losses. The project presents a series of blog posts and online content that connect archival material to living Canadians, showing how people continue to be touched by dispossession. Other outputs of the project include a museum exhibit, resources for educators, and an academic book. Combined, this is an excellent example of historians expanding the footprint of their research beyond traditional publications to publicly-engaged projects.