CANADA IS ... WHAT?! A crowd-sourced and tactile inquiry into our collective notions of "Canada"

Here’s the thing. I’ve been invited to give a talk at the annual Vienna Lectures in Canadian Studies. While most certainly an honour, the invitation has left me somewhat — well — speechless. Truly. It’s not that I don’t have things to say about Canada. The reason I showed up on the radar of the lecture series organizers is because of my book — Unbecoming Nationalism: From Commemoration to Redress in Canada. But that was different. That was part of a larger conversation within and with this land called Canada. This is a new context, unfamiliar terrain. So, I’m reaching out to you, within Canada and without. Part litmus test, part call and response, I invite you to share your thoughts and impressions, dreams and nightmares, images and memories, your hopes, fears and random musings about this place called Canada. I will engage your responses through tactile and task-based actions as a way to ground my inquiry into our diverse and varied, lived and imagined, relationships to this place/nation/construct called Canada.

Your responses will become part of a performance-based multi-media presentation I will give on June 2, 2021 at this year’s annual Vienna Lectures in Canadian Studies. Everyone is welcome to contribute, whatever your location or point of view. Contributions can be written, or image based.


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About Unbecoming Nationalism: From Commemoration to Redress in Canada

Canada’s recent sesquicentennial celebrations were the latest in a long, steady progression of Canadian cultural memory projects. Unbecoming Nationalism investigates the power of commemorative performances in the production of nationalist narratives. Using “unbecoming” as a theoretical framework to unsettle or decolonize nationalist narratives, Helene Vosters examines an eclectic range of both state-sponsored social memory projects and counter-memorial projects to reveal and unravel the threads connecting reverential military commemoration, celebratory cultural nationalism, and white settler-colonial nationalism.

Vosters brings readings of institutional, aesthetic, and activist performances of Canadian military commemoration, settler-colonial nationalism, and redress into conversation with literature that examines the relationship between memory, violence, and nationalism from the disciplinary arenas of performance studies, Canadian studies, critical race and Indigenous studies, memory studies, and queer and gender studies. In addition to using performance as a theoretical framework, Vosters uses performance to enact a philosophy of praxis and embodied theory.