E.A. Heaman and Alex Gagnon have won the 2018 Canada Prizes in the Humanities and Social Sciences, for their books, Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917, and La communauté du dehors. Imaginaire social et crimes célèbres au Québec (XIXe-XXe siècle). The Canada Prizes are awarded each year by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences in recognition of two scholarly books, one in English and one in French, that “make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.” Each of the 10 finalists received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, or ASPP, administered by the Federation. The two winners will be honoured at a ceremony at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences, held this year in Regina from May 26 to June 1. Read about the finalists in English below.
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Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 600 pages)
By E.A. Heaman, associate professor in the department of history and classical studies at McGill University.
In Tax, Order and Good Government, E.A. Heaman looks at the development of Canadian society since the Constitution Act of 1867 by tracing the history of the nation’s taxes. Admittedly, it’s not the most alluring of vantages: “Tax historians work with the most boring documents imaginable, and they focus on the kind of evidence that makes other historians’ eyes glaze over,” Dr. Heaman writes. Nevertheless, taxation provides a measure of political agency and domination, she writes. The jury notes that, “with wonderfully detailed examples and stories, she shows how battles over taxation were embroiled in broader struggles over poverty and the inequitable distribution of wealth. … All Canadians interested in the history and growth of the nation will want to read this meticulously researched and captivating analysis.”
Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 352 pages)
By Christopher Dummitt, professor of history in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University.
It wasn’t until 25 years after his death, in 1950, that William Lyon Mackenzie King became known for his private eccentricities. In Unbuttoned, Trent University professor Christopher Dummitt offers a compelling narrative history of how Canadians came to discover stories of the former prime minister’s secret escapades, and the cultural climate in which they discussed those scandalous details in public. In the preface of the book, Dr. Dummitt writes that, “in some academic circles, narrative history has come to seem old-fashioned.” Yet, he finds value in this form: “It seems to me that the role of history is to make an earlier era come alive again in the minds of our contemporaries.”
The Invisible Injured: Psychological Trauma in the Canadian Military from the First World War to Afghanistan (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 352 pages)
By Adam Montgomery, an independent scholar and freelance writer specializing in military and medical history.
Adam Montgomery presents an extensively researched and at times journalistic account of the factors which shaped psychological trauma in the military, from 1914 to 2014, including its perception in politics, media and the public. Through interviews with veterans and examinations of documents from the two world wars and post-Cold War peacekeeping missions, Dr. Montgomery demonstrates that Canadians’ views of trauma have developed in parallel to the nation’s shifting role on the world stage, from warrior nation to peacekeeper. McGill-Queen’s University Press heralds The Invisible Injured as the first book-length history of trauma in the Canadian military over the past century, calling it a “timely and provocative study that points to past mistakes and outlines new ideas of courage and determination.”
Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law (University of Toronto Press, 208 pages)
By Cheryl Suzack, associate professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Batchewana First Nation.
Cheryl Suzack explores Indigenous women’s writing in the post-civil rights period with close readings of major texts by Leslie Marmon Silko, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Louise Erdrich, and Winona LaDuke. Each chapter pairing a court case with a literary text to tie literature to struggles for self-determination, Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law “crafts an Indigenous-feminist literary model in order to demonstrate how Indigenous women respond to the narrow vision of law by recuperating other relationships–to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation,” according to the University of Toronto Press.
Wildlife, Land, and People: A Century of Change in Prairie Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 640 pages)
By Donald G. Wetherell, professor emeritus of heritage resources management at Athabasca University.
Taking encounters with wild animals as its broad subject, Wildlife, Land, and People presents a history of human interactions with wildlife in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan between 1870 and 1960. “Since historians are inevitably shaped by their times, I have grappled with writing this history with the spirit of my own age,” Dr. Wetherell writes. He draws upon a wide array of historical sources and photographs as well as current approaches to environmental history, to discuss diverse and changing attitudes toward the relationships between humans and nature.