AU’s Master of Arts – Integrated Studies (MA-IS) is pleased to announce the opening of a brand new focus area called “Canada, the North, and the Globe,” which examines the north and the near-north as it pertains to indigenous peoples, northern ecologies, and Canada.
Canada is, quintessentially, a northern nation, and this focus area has to do with the north as a unique socio-political and natural region of our planet, encompassing Canada and related tensions within the global context.
The north does not just signify western industrialized nations counterposed to the global south. One cannot mention “the north” without also thinking of indigenous and First Nations peoples, and their own unique cultures and histories. In many ways, the indigenous peoples of the Canadian north occupy a periphery with reference to the global north in ways similar to other hinterland peoples in the global south that were colonized by western industrialized economies.
References to the north are also made in the context of Canadian resistance to U.S. hegemony. In particular, the idea that the north is tied into Canadian identity in ways not necessarily limited to patriotic allegiances. However, something to think about: if Canada the north may have signified the “peaceable kingdom” in the Vietnam War-era, does this still hold true in the 21st century, the century of Afghanistan, Libya, and now Iraq?
The north also indicates unique regional ecologies that exist in tension with the forces of global capitalism in ways quite specific to them and to the people who occupy them. The Arctic region is warming two times faster than the global average. The disappearance of sea ice is presenting new opportunities for maritime navigation and mineral exploration, while transforming international relations among circumpolar states. The north is not just limited to the Arctic, as it includes the understudied “near-north” regions of the Canadian provinces with their own distinct sets of issues and struggles.
A foundational course
In short, the intention of this focus area is to explore the north in all of its productive ambiguity and unique specificity. In collaboration with the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research we hope to further develop this focus area with new courses, as well as a newly defined foundational course in the coming months.
So stay tuned!