The Clio Prizes
Jeffers Lennox, Homelands and Empires: Indigenous Spaces, Imperial Fictions, and Competition for Territory in Northeastern North America, 1690-1763. University of Toronto Press, 2017.
Homelands and Empires offers a richly detailed and methodologically innovative account of the struggle to define and control the territory we now envision as “Atlantic Canada.” Exploring the power inherent to both space and the mapping of it, the book engages with the long-term environmental and political consequences of European imperial rivalries. Significantly, Lennox explores, with insight and balance, how those rivalries clashed with Indigenous understandings of space, movement, history and homeland.
Matthew Barlow. Griffintown. Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017.
This very unique book focuses not only on the history of Montreal’s Griffintown working-class neighborhood – from its birth in the mid-19th century to its reconfiguration at the dawn of the 21st century, to its virtual disappearance after the Second World War world, but especially to the memory that was built by the Irish people who inhabited it. While using a wide variety of sources, both written and oral, and using several levels of analysis, Matthew Barlow shows that the close association of the Irish with this neighborhood, in spite of the fact that they have always been a minority there, illustrates a memory work that has been undertaken since the beginning of the twentieth century and has continued to this day and even intensified over time, according to the events that have marked the sociopolitical history of Ireland, but also that of Quebec. This fascinating study allows us to see how this memory emerged, how it has survived and how and why this memory continues to feed Griffintown’s almost mythical vision. In doing so, Barlow’s work offers a truly unique portrait of the life of this neighborhood and of its long-term residents, and in many respects reintroduces the history of the working class and it will certainly make its mark.
Susan M. Hill, The Clay We are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River. University of Manitoba Press, 2017.
Susan Hill’s The Clay We Are Made Of is an innovative and complex history of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Confederacy and its relationship to the land it continues to call home on both sides of the Canadian-American border. Grounded in the key epics at the roots of Haudenosaunee history, Hill weaves a retelling of their story from its origins, through European contact, to present-day land claims disputes by deftly employing a wide array of Indigenous and settler sources and approaches. Hill’s clear and compelling narrative tells a story not just of dispossession but also of community resilience. As such, Hill’s study has resonance not only for the current climate of reconciliation, but it will be a model for community-based Indigenous histories for years to come.
Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton. Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2017.
In this innovative history of psychiatric care, Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton trace the story of the Weyburn Mental Hospital, from its genesis as a showcase ‘total institution’ through to its decline and closure as treatment of the mentally ill shifted to community-based care. Their study provides a rich and nuanced analysis of the Saskatchewan context, while also connecting the province to broader national and international developments in psychiatric care. The authors demonstrate the influence of the hospital’s leaders well beyond the province’s borders in mental health research and in shaping government policy, while always paying close attention to the voices of the patients themselves. Documenting Saskatchewan’s early commitment to deinstitutionalization, Dyck and Deighton also document a legacy of struggle and unrealized promise in mental health reform. Deftly integrating a range of methods, sources and collaborative scholarship, Dyck and Deighton write with passion, commitment, and respect for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness.
Lynne Marks. Infidels and the Damn Churches: Irreligion and Religion in Settler British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017.
Lynne Marks’ strikingly original study addresses a major gap in British Columbia’s historiography in her exploration of the contours of religious belief and participation—but more centrally, its relative absence—in the province. The term “irreligion” captures a range of beliefs and practices, from mere indifference to religion to avowed atheism. British Columbia is now, as it has been throughout its settler history, exceptional in its rates of irreligion. Marks offers a thorough analysis of the conditions for this cultural distinctiveness, rooted in its class, race and gender peculiarities. She thus helps us to understand a previously unexplored dimension of “the west beyond the west.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
The BC Clio Prize committee is pleased to honour Cole Harris (Professor Emeritus, Geography, UBC) with a lifetime achievement award. A member of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Harris authored a series of award-winning articles and books on colonialism and geographical change (most notably, The Resettlement of British Columbia  and Making Native Space ) that set the historiography of the Pacific Northwest on a new path. A central theme that runs through all of Harris’s work is the displacement of Indigenous peoples (and land) that occurred with the colonial “resettlement” project. His forthcoming book, Ranch in the Slocan (a history of homesteading in BC’s Slocan Valley), is due to appear in the spring of 2018.
Joan Sangster. The Iconic North: Cultural Constructs of Aboriginal Life in Postwar Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017.
In The Iconic North, Joan Sangster directs the reader toward marginalised experiences of the Arctic, chiefly those of Indigenous and settler women. In doing so, she engages the “Idea of North” in fresh and necessary ways. Revisiting the well-known archives of Canadiana, Sangster concentrates on the postwar period to contrast colonial constructions of Northern peoples with an Arctic modernity that is actively shaped by women. Crisscrossed by racism and inequality, the affirmation of this modernity is by no means harmonious. But there are alliances and mutual empowerment between Indigenous and settler women, as well as between women and men. Placing gender at the forefront of historical scholarship, The Iconic North shows its tremendous potential for filling gaps in Arctic history. Given the key strategic importance of the region – for geopolitical reasons and for Indigenous resurgence – this book makes an impressive contribution.