Monday, 2 February 2015

Parks Canada and the 60 Acres

A wintry view of the 60 Acres

Today I received my first package of documents from a series of access to information requests I submitted in December.

It turns out that Parks Canada learned about the transfer of the 60 acres of the Farm to build a hospital when Leslie Maitland, president of Heritage Ottawa, emailed them a day after John Baird's November 3rd press conference.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Domains of Literature - Introduction and Context

Every university, every department, has its own practices regarding comprehensive and qualifying examinations. Usually these include "fields" or "domains" of literature which are either standardized across the department or completely open. In my department the individual PhD committee has great leeway in deciding what goes into the domains and my committee challenged me to come up with a base list, which they then commented on and added to.

This is harder than it seems. Sure in being given latitude to decide I had the chance to stack the list, so to speak, with works I was already familiar with. But, as my supervisor said, I should pay attention to my committee and the journals they publish in, who they cite in their work and teach in their courses, who they would put on the list if they were creating it.

Beyond the literature I already knew, my committee's publications, and the every increasing fractal search cross referencing common citations brings, I found online syllabi and lists of departments and other individuals who've completed their exams extremely useful. In that spirit, I have reproduced my lists here for those who may be going down the same rabbit hole as me.

Domains of Literature - Public History and the Geography of Storytelling

 This is part of a series of posts related to the domains of literature I covered in my qualifying exam. I am sharing it in hopes that it helps other students creating their lists. Please see the introductory post in the series for more details.

The final domain, public history and the geography of storytelling, looks at both methodological questions in historical geography research and modes of presenting that research. Public historians are a diverse community of practitioners fundamentally interested in the ways historical knowledge is created and presented to broad and multifaceted publics in various locations such as archives and museums. Geographers of storytelling are concerned with the spatial dimensions of stories, how they’re told and how landscapes become inscribed with meaning and discourses. This domain finds natural linkages between these sub-fields, particularly in the recent work of a group of British geographers under the auspices of ‘anticipatory history’ (see: DeSilvey 2012 and DeSilvey, Naylor and Sackett 2011). As such it provides the basis for exploring the contingent nature of the documents, landscapes and material cultures that form the core of the proposed research as well as addressing concerns regarding the narrative form of this thesis project.  

This post has two main parts:
(1) The domain itself; and,
(2) A syllabus created as a thought experience while studying the list.

Domains of Literature - Geography of Science

This is part of a series of posts related to the domains of literature I covered in my qualifying exam. I am sharing it in hopes that it helps other students creating their lists. Please see the introductory post in the series for more details.

Geographies of science, the second domain, focuses on literature that, following David Livingstone (2003), puts science in its place. The Central Experimental Farm is one of those places, home to both experimental fields and laboratories. The places of science exist across a variety of scales, from small allotment gardens to international and imperial networks. Geographers of science have explored not only the sites of research, but also geographies of the more-than-human world including plants and non-human animals. Building on work in science and technology studies, this domain explores the sites, networks, agents, production, performance and distribution of scientific knowledge.

This post has two main parts:
(1) The domain itself; and,
(2) A syllabus created as a thought experience while studying the list.

Domains of Literature - Historical Geographies of Canada and Agricultural Colonialism

This is part of a series of posts related to the domains of literature I covered in my qualifying exam. I am sharing it in hopes that it helps other students creating their lists. Please see the introductory post in the series for more details.

The first domain, the historical geography of Canada and agricultural settler colonialism, provides the national and international contexts of the Farm. As stated above, the Farm played an important role in the Canadian colonial project within the wider British Empire and with the backdrop of the expansion of the United States to the south. This domain looks beyond historical geographies of Canada to include readings in the growing fields of settler colonial studies, environmental history, and envirotechnical history. Uncovering the connections between agriculture, the environment, science, technology, Aboriginal communities and settlers, these readings provide the basis for a critical understanding of the Farm’s place in Canada as well as Canada’s place in wider imperial and colonial narratives.

This post has two main parts:
(1) The domain itself; and,
(2) A syllabus created as a thought experience while studying the list.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

60 Acres


In early November, John Baird announced the transfer of 60 acres of the Central Experimental Farm from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to the National Capital Commission. The NCC then leased the land for a dollar-a-year to the Ottawa Hospital to build a new Civic Campus. The Ottawa Hospital then mused about paving the site for parking as it has no money to build a new campus. None of the responsible planning authorities at the federal, provincial, or municipal level were consulted.

The Friends of the Central Experimental Farm used to host a list of articles and reactions against the transfer. This page went down sometime in mid-December, 2014. This is my attempt to recreate a list of reactions against Baird's irresponsible decision.

A Walk in the Farm - 60 Acres at Arpents 2014

This post is a modified version of my prepared talk at Arpents 2014. In my actual talk, I wandered widely from the prepared text so this account doesn't accurately represent that version. Such is a Pete Anderson presentation.

Looking north-east towards downtown from near the intersection Baseline and Merivale.

A couple of things happened since I agreed to give this presentation that changed the contours of what I originally planned to speak about. First in preparing for my qualifying exams, my research focus narrowed on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries limiting the methodological thrust of this presentation which was originally to be focused on the use of walking oral history interviews. Second, John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, recently made a direct attack on the geographic integrity of my research site, Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm.

Rather than looking at walking methodologies in historical geography research, then, I first outline the recent announcement by Baird and reactions to them--if you follow me on twitter this will be familiar to you. In the second section I argue that the pace of observation is an important factor in the ways different gazes are directed at the Farm.