ACSANZ 2021 International Conference

Due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ACSANZ is postponing its proposed 2021 conference. We will provide updates on this page as soon as feasible.

ACSANZ Emerging Scholars in Canadian Studies Symposium


15 March 2019 

Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Thanks to the generosity of the Law Futures Centre at Griffith University, the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand (ACSANZ) invites emerging scholars to a one-day symposium on Canadian Studies.

This symposium seeks to bring together emerging scholars—whether undergraduate or graduate students or early career researchers—to present their work and to engage in larger discussions about the state of global Canadian Studies. No single question will drive the symposium; rather, we hope that participants will use it as an opportunity to speak to how their research engages the study of Canada, and what they see as the futures of the field(s).

Participants will also have opportunities to discuss funding and publishing opportunities, and to develop new networks.

Presentations are invited on any aspect of the study of Canada, including, but not limited to, Indigenous Studies, literature, law, politics, international relations, language, history, Cultural Studies, the creative arts, and sociology. Contributions from across disciplines, including those taking comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, are welcomed.

The generous support of the Law Futures Centre at Griffith University means that attendance at the symposium will be without cost to participants. ACSANZ will also offer three $350 AUD stipends to participants travelling from outside southern Queensland. Stipends will be awarded by the organising committee based on the merit of the accepted abstracts.

Interested scholars are invited to submit abstracts of 300 words for presentations of 20 minutes, along with a short bio stating whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, or date of award of Phd if an early career researcher. Abstracts should be sent to, and will be adjudicated on a rolling basis until 20 December 2018.

ACSANZ Conference: Constituting Canada: Interdisciplinary approaches to an idea

On 13 and 14 July, at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, ACSANZ held a conference marking 150 years since the inception of the Canadian state. “Constituting Canada: Interdisciplinary approaches to an idea” brought together academics from Australia, Canada, and beyond to discuss Canada’s contested history, contemporary challenges, and future possibilities.

While the British North America Act, 1867, marks the politico-legal origin of modern Canada, the papers presented at the conference illustrated the possibilities of thinking interdisciplinarily about Canadian Studies through its various constitutions. Participants spoke from disciplines including law, politics, history, geography, society, and culture, rethinking key events, texts, and ideas and bringing attention to issues and stories otherwise occluded in the Canada 150 celebrations.

We were also privileged to hold a keynote address by Associate Professor Eric Adams, from the University of Alberta, and a roundtable on Indigenous Reconciliation with talks by Associate Professors Sarah Maddison, University of Melbourne, and Karen Drake, York University.

The Roundtable considered the complexities of Indigenous reconciliation from both Canadian and Australian perspectives.

Professor Maddison spoke on ‘Reconciliation, resistance and refusal in settler colonial states’, arguing that the apparent ‘failure’ of reconciliation in settler colonial states is inherent to the logics of liberal settler colonialism. These logics shape reconciliation as primarily an ideational rather than a structural process, to be pursued through education rather than legal or structural change. In this view, reconciliation is driven by a deep desire to restore moral and political legitimacy to settler institutions by drawing the Indigenous population into the wider polity. This drive has meant that, despite arguably good intentions, reconciliation remains a means of justifying colonial sovereignty and domination, which continues to be resisted by Indigenous peoples. Ultimately, Professor Maddison considered an Indigenous right of refusal as a moment of new political possibility.

In her paper, Professor Drake asked whether the logic of liberalism contributes to reconciliation. Resistance to Indigenous rights in Canada, she notes, is routinely grounded in liberal logic, employed both implicitly and explicitly in colloquial discourse and the jurisprudence on Aboriginal rights. The result is a restrictive, frozen rights conception of Aboriginal rights. The response of some liberals has been to attempt to use the premises of liberalism to justify Aboriginal rights. Rather than this, however, Professor Drake asks whether the Canadian state’s assertion of sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and Indigenous territories is legitimate on liberal grounds. Arguing that it is not, she posits that Aboriginal rights have the potential to correct this illegitimacy, which can be exposed using the logic of liberalism.

The roundtable was followed by a reception hosted by the Canadian High Commission in Canberra.

The following morning, Professor Adams’s keynote, titled “Constitutional Stories: Japanese Canadians and the Constitution of Canada”, argued that constitutions exist in stories. In it, he posited that constitutional stories – whether in formal judgments and statutes, media reports, scholarly writing, or cultural products – shape the fundamental understanding of our legal and political institutions, but also of our legal and political selves. In particular, he explored how the constitutional history of Japanese Canadians – in both its well-known and hidden dimensions –revealed the significance of the constitutional stories we tell, and those we leave buried in archives. In doing so, he suggested that we might see the capacity of constitutional history as integral once again to a full understanding of Canadian constitutional law, culture, and politics.

The organising committee (Robyn Morris, Marie-Eve Loiselle, Margaret Stephenson, and Benjamin Authers) would like to thank all the participants for coming, and for their enthusiasm and intellectual generosity over the course of the conference. We would also like to thank the Canadian High Commission in Canberra and the Centre for Canadian-Australian Studies at the University of Wollongong for their financial support: the High Commissioner, His Excellency Vice Admiral Paul Maddison, and his staff, in particular Mary Lou Hayman, Karen May, Chantelle Wiles, and Robin Mulder, as well as Debra Dudek, Director of the Centre for Canadian-Australian Studies, all helped make the event a success.

Papers from the conference will be published in 2018, as part of a special issue of Australasian Canadian Studies.