Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2006/09/27

Transnational Upper Canada

Generally, I try to be patient and understanding when the academic crowd attempts to broaden their horizons in search of new venues for research. Yet there was something that irked me when I saw this announcement on Boderlands that appeared in my inbox the other day from the Michigan Historical Review:




As a prefix, trans often raises interest, if not eyebrows. Transgentic, transcultural, transexual, even trans fat (!)... It is a sexy prefix.

Transnational Upper Canada does have a rather nice ring to it. Images of Indians trading from the Thousand Islands to the Western tip of Lake Superior, voyageurs guiding their canoes through placid waters, and joyful Canadians and Americans happily traversing our shared border danced momentarily through my head.

But, ahem, have things really been like this? Having grown up literally on the shores of Lake Huron, the land tht lay beyond the great blue horizon was largely a unknown to me. I knew it was there but, if anything, the other side could have been Japan or Australia. Indeed, the lake invoked a similar sensation as when I now peer northward out into the Atlantic from my home in the Canaries: a great emptiness extending for thousands of miles. Now, looking at Lake Huron with Google Maps, it now seems like a large moat filled with ice half the year. Myth-torically, a case could be made that the Great Lakes served as a natural defense during the War of 1812. More recently, despite NAFTA and the surge in cross border trade, real transnationalism seems illusory. Impediments such as increased border controls (including hour long waits to cross the border) soon to be imposed passport requirements and new electronic sensors to catch illegal migrants can hardly promote the notion of a Great Lakes Region.

Transnationalism seems, from here at least, like a sad euphamism. Might Transnationalism's failure might be a better title for this particular call for papers?

For those interested in submitting an article, the website is http://clarke.cmich.edu/michhistoricalreview/index.htm. For everyone else wanting to share a few words on this subject, the Upper Canadian is all ears. Posted by Picasa


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