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Research Activity 2019-2020

The IHRC supported a wide range of events and research activities in 2019, its first year of activity, which extended through spring 2020.

To learn more about what we did, please see our Annual Report through the link below, and see the list below of academic workshops that were supported. Covid-19 delayed the initiation of new activity in 2020 so that the Cluster could allow Members the opportunity to respond to the evolving environment and plan in accordance with circumstances as they unfolded.

IHRC Annual Report 2019-2020

Workshops Supported By the Cluster in 2019-2020

Intersections: Historical Practice and Creative Arts (led by Cluster Lead Anne Murphy) – 21-23 August 2019

This workshop was organized to develop a project that will draw together a range of cultural historical work and contemporary creative practice across institutions and individual artists and scholars in Canada, the UK, Europe, India and Pakistan. The workshop was extremely fruitful in developing the approach, methods, and the application for the project. The event featured artists Ratika Singh (India), Nicholas Grandi (Argentina), and Jason Baerg (Toronto, Canada) and local Vancouver artists and scholars.

Research Through Collaboration and Practice (led by Cluster Steering Committee Member Hallie Marshall) – 28-29 September 2019

In September 2019, we brought in British artist and scholar Dr. Helen Eastman to lead a workshop on ways to merge traditional research with the creative arts to create public-facing scholarship. The workshop encouraged UBC faculty members and graduate students to think about how they could engage with creative artists to find new ways of pursuing their own research and making it accessible to public audiences.  

Mapping the City: Public Histories and the Shifting Landscape of Vancouver (led by UBC faculty member Caitlin Gordon Walker) – 1 October 2019

This workshop brought the many researchers at UBC who work on themes related to museums, heritage, public art, and urban social space together to spark initiatives that will tie these broader academic interests to the living heritage landscape and social (or potentially social) space of Vancouver. The workshop produced valuable dialogue and connections between researchers at UBC and others involved in shaping and/or challenging representations of Vancouver’s histories, including those working in museums, galleries and arts organizations, artists, City planners, community organizations, and First Nations. 

Lineages of the Present in Early Modern South Asia (led by faculty in the Department of Asian Studies, Hasan Siddiqui and Naveena Naqvi) – 11-12 October 2019

In October 2019, we organized the inaugural event of a bi-annual workshop to be held at UBC for the discussion and development of scholarship on early modern South Asia.

On October 11th, Dr. Shahzad Bashir, the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities at Brown University, delivered a public lecture entitled "Imagining Time in India: Persian Chroniclers and their Interpreters." Dr. Bashir's lecture offered a fresh and stimulating look at the large corpus of Persian-language historical chronicles that were written in many parts of South Asia during the second millennium CE. He pointed out that within this corpus one encounters many different ways of conceiving the unfolding of historical time. Some chroniclers, for instance, chose to begin their historical narratives in Indian antiquity before Persianate courtly culture had arrived in the subcontinent. In colonial times, however, historians ignored the diverse ways of imagining time present in these chronicles and instead used them to construct a narrative of Muslim India that unfolded along a narrowly conceived Islamic chronology.

Dr. Bashir's lecture was followed on October 12th by a workshop entitled "Lineages of the Present in Early Modern South Asia" that brought together a group of scholars from UBC and other universities to discuss their own research on related themes. 

After the Protest: A Vancouver Archive of the Umbrella Movement (led by Cluster Steering Committee Member Leo Shin) – 30 November 2019

The 79-day Umbrella Movement of 2014—which in many ways foreshadowed the current struggles of Hong Kong—was a watershed moment in the history of the city. Not only has the protest movement transformed the political and social dynamics of this former British colony, it has also deeply affected overseas Hong Kong/Chinese communities. This research project created a publicly accessible oral history archive, both as a means to learn about the impacts of the Umbrella Movement in general, and as a way to better understand the Hong Kong community in Vancouver in particular.

On November 30, we launched this public oral history archive and an exhibition of the original paintings and illustrations of Tammy Flynn Seybold, an artist who was living and working in Hong Kong during the 2014 pro-democracy protests, and the recent work of UBC student Aaron Tong, whose piece also addresses this critical time in the history of Hong Kong.

Student Workshops on Paul Wong's "Occupy Chinatown" (led by Cluster Steering Committee Member Chris Lee) – 7 and 14 December 2019

These two workshops enabled UBC and SFU students in Asian Canadian Studies to engage creatively and critically with multimedia artist Paul Wong’s ongoing project “Occupy Chinatown.” Wong recently completed a year-long residency at the Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden that revolved around some 700 letters written to his mother from 90 writers spanning the years from 1956-2016. (For more information on “Occupying Chinatown,” see https://occupyingchinatown.com).

Participants worked collaboratively to examine and interpret a small selection of these letters  and reflect on the process through discussions with the artist and individual written reflections. The broader goal of the workshops was to examine how family histories enable us to critically consider broader issues such as memory, migration, community archives, and so on. Participants reflected on the ethical challenges of working with family documents as well as the cultural politics of recovering and representing minority histories in the present day. The findings of the workshop will inform forthcoming publications about the “Occupy Chinatown” project.

Mapping Hong Kong—A History Workshop (led by Cluster Steering Committee Member Leo Shin) – 28-30 May 2020

2020 has not been kind to Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protests, a public health epidemic, and the perceived breakdown of ‘one country, two systems’ dominated international headlines. But these events also underscore the need and urgency for Hong Kong studies as a discipline. Recently, the Hong Kong Studies Initiative at the University of British Columbia hosted a three-day workshop titled: “Mapping Hong Kong—A History Workshop.” Across 16 time zones, 12 presenters and 6 commentators from Japan, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Switzerland, Poland, and Hong Kong were joined by dozens of participants from the world.

The theme “Mapping Hong Kong” invites reflections on how Hong Kong’s past could be mapped onto a wide range of historical scales or contexts. Whether it has to do with the lived experiences of particular individuals at certain (critical) moments or the transnational movements of goods, ideas, and people over time and space, a common challenge for historians (of Hong Kong or not) is to place their subject in a proper frame of analysis. But what makes a frame “proper”? And how do we as historians attend to the politics of framing? Where and how should historians situate Hong Kong’s past? And through what frame does one understand Hong Kong’s history? These themes resonated among the 11 presentations that spoke of Hong Kong in different spaces and temporalities. These presentations showcased a small portion of the new and innovative research currently conducted by historians and scholars of Hong Kong. It energized the organizers in doing their part to further the repository of knowledge about Hong Kong. It gives hope for the future and longevity of Hong Kong studies.