Canadian Historical Review - Volume 100, No. 4, December 2019

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Canadian Historical Review - Volume 100, No. 4, December 2019
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The Hidden Face of Consumption: Extending Credit to the Urban Masses in Montreal (1920s–40s) Sylvie Taschereau, Yvan Rousseau

According to many historians and sociologists, mass consumption did not arrive in Canada until the 1950s or even the 1960s. However, this article shows that consumption by low-wage earners in the Canadian metropolis of Montreal was already beginning to transform and expand during the interwar period. As much as consumers, government helped drive these changes by relaxing the legal framework regulating credit practices as well as relations between small debtors and their creditors. The growing use of consumer credit by working-class families was at the heart of these transformations. In this article, the files of depositors placed under the protection of the Lacombe Act provide a unique window on this phenomenon and associated consumer behaviours. An analysis of public debates on the consumer habits of urban workers offers additional insight and context. We advocate for a broad understanding of consumer credit, while rejecting the familiar dichotomy between the consumption of durable goods and the purchase of basic necessities. Necessities and luxuries are constructs that have evolved over time, and the Lacombe files highlight how low-income households combined different sources of credit to incorporate and balance these two types of expenses within their tight budgets. Read at CHR Online >>>


The Trouble with Teamwork: Doukhobor Women’s Plow Pulling in Western Canada, 1899 Ashleigh Androsoff

Pictures of Doukhobor women cooperating to pull plows in 1899 in Western Canada served at the time and since as evidence of immigrant homesteaders’ work ethic and of their cultural differences. The Doukhobor women’s agricultural initiative offered an unusual and powerful demonstration of women’s capacity to complete farm work normally assigned to men or draft animals at a time when first-wave feminists were arguing for improvements to women’s rights in Canada. This article argues that images of Doukhobor women pulling plows resonated so deeply because they challenged four assumptions concerning agricultural development in Canada’s Northwest: that it should be led by men rather than women; that farmers should work independently rather than cooperatively; that white settlers should prove to be culturally superior to Indigenous and racialized people who were excluded from the homesteading project; and that animals, and not women, should perform draft labour. The Doukhobor women’s hard work and resourcefulness proved that they were good agriculturalists. Whether they were a good cultural fit or not was another question entirely. Read at CHR Online >>>

Historical Perspectives / Perspectives Historiques

From Politics to the Political: Historical Perspectives on the New Canadian Political History / De la politique au politique : Perspectives historiques sur la nouvelle histoire politique canadienne Matthew Hayday, Mary-Ellen Kelm, Tina Loo

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Rethinking the Quiet Revolution: The Renewal of Political History through the Expansion of the “Political Field” Stéphane Savard

This article outlines the transformations that have occurred in political history over the last thirty years, moving from a “factual” national history to a political history that extends beyond the national perspective. Although these transitions have been obscured by certain researchers who continue to connect national history to political history, this paradigm shift has allowed new fields of study to emerge, including the history of political culture. Advocating for the importance of conceptualizing a wider “political field” that places more emphasis on political culture, the article uses the example of the history of the Quiet Revolution to illustrate the new approaches taken in Canadian and Quebec political history and the possible directions it could take. Read at CHR Online >>>

Foxes, Hedgehogs, and the Changing Shape of English-Canadian Political History P. E. Bryden

This article examines the changes that have occurred in the structure of Canadian political history over the last century. With a focus on English-Canadian writers, and, in particular, those that have appeared in the pages of the Canadian Historical Review, the author contends that the shape, as much as the content, of political history has transformed over the last century. Recent political history is now more multi-dimensional in its structure than it was in the past when a more linear framework shaped most of the narratives. Read at CHR Online >>>

Greater Expectations: Politics, the New Political History, and the Structuring of (Canadian) Society Colin Grittner

Drawing widely on political historiography, political science, and political theory, this article seeks to push current understandings of the new political history through a newer, broader definition of politics. By conceptualizing politics as the activity of structuring, directing, and contesting social relations through the exercise of human agency or power, and by focusing on historical contingency, this article proposes that new political historians might take as their goal to reveal and explain how societies actively structured and restructured themselves in the past. Such an approach, this article contends, might allow new political historians to more fully explore the messiness of past politics both within and beyond government walls and to offer perhaps unexpected explanations as to how social relationships and inequalities found themselves constructed and reconstituted in the past. Read at CHR Online >>>

The Age of Constitutionalism and the New Political History Elizabeth Mancke

Over the long eighteenth century (1689–1848), participatory government and imperialism expanded rapidly throughout the world, often accompanied by revolutionary upheaval and always accompanied by constitutional debates and reforms. This article argues for calling the era the Age of Constitutionalism, an Atlantic, indeed global, phenomenon that includes revolutions as one response to a constitutional crisis but does not marginalize non-violent movements for constitutional change and reform. This framing shifts the epistemological emphasis and meta-narrative to an object of change – namely, constitutional reform – and away from an extreme tool of constitutional change – revolution. It is especially critical for the political history of early Canada, which had no revolutions but underwent significant and contentious constitutional changes that were shaped by Indigenous peoples, settlers, and imperial officials. By shifting the focus away from the din of revolutions to constitutional debates, the sense of the range of political actors during these decades of global upheaval expands dramatically. Read at CHR Online >>>

Writing Rights into the “New” Political History Stephanie Bangarth, Jennifer Tunnicliffe

The “new political history” can be enhanced and expanded with a focus on human rights. While the “old political history” was often politics abstracted from other elements of the historical experience, as Steven Pincus and William Novak describe, the “new political history” emphasizes structures of power and the use of a broader range of sources. A focus on human rights has the potential to alter how we understand Canadian history. In particular, the study of human rights broadens whom we consider “political actors” and enriches and develops our understanding of the expansion of politics through law, the history of liberalism and its relationship to Canada’s rights revolution, and the influence of human rights principles on foreign policy. Read at CHR Online >>>


For a full list of book reviews, please visit CHR Online:

In January 1919, the Review of Historical Publications Relating to Canada continued as the Canadian Historical Review. Offering a comprehensive analysis on the events that have shaped Canada into its current state, the Canadian Historical Review is a benchmark in the exploration of Canadian society and its institutions. Each issue contains a series of insightful articles that examine Canadian history from both a multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective, along with in-depth reviews of books that are of importance to all those interested in Canadian history. CHR is available in print and online.

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