Written by guest blogger, Victoria Vasilenko.

Interest in federalist concepts by thinkers and politicians from the former Soviet bloc has grown following the biggest expansion of the European Union in 2004. Although Western Europe paved the way for the formation of the EU, recent scholarship proved that at times Eastern European concepts were more advanced than federalist theory in the West. In addition, former Eastern Europeans contributed to the development of federalist ideas, as demonstrated by the example of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795), once an important a federalist polity in the region. Considering this context, I decided to examine a more recent attempt to implement federalist concepts. There were many plans that employed federalist thinking, but few were put into practice and even fewer were also non-violent.

I focused on the Polish-Czechoslovak confederation project from 1939 to 1943, which was seen by its proponents as a potential nucleus of a broader organization of states in the region. If realized, it would have provided a completely different settlement of East Central Europe after World War II. The project originated in the difficult conditions of WWII exile when the future of the occupied countries was uncertain. Conflicting political viewpoints and policy emerged, and interwar grievances between Poland and Czechoslovakia were still fresh.

The confederation project might well have gone unnoticed in the international arena like the many similar schemes that had preceded it. But as other scholars and I have noted, the project elicited unprecedented cooperation between the nations of the region; besides, it was of interest to the British government and its Foreign Office. These factors made the confederation project more likely to be ratified. To my surprise, my research on the project helped expose the complexity of British planning for Central and South-Eastern Europe in late 1943, only a small part of which was realized in the actual postwar settlement.

With the privilege of hindsight, one might say that this difficult experience in cooperation contributed to the formation of a sense of regional identity. Following the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia (after 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia) cooperated to form the Visegrad Group, which facilitated their entry into the EU. After a decade of membership in the EU this pattern of cooperation is proving its importance, as these countries position themselves as “Central Europeans” whose experience and expertise makes them ideally suited to guide reform in post-Soviet nations.

Victoria Vasilenko’s article, “The Polish-Czechoslovak Confederation Project in British Policy, 1939-43: A Federalist Alternative to Postwar Settlement in East Central Europe” appears in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadienne d’histoire. Read it today by clicking here: http://utpjournalsreview.com/index.php/CJOH/article/view/13001

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Guest post by: Lesley A. Tarasoff

In the most recent issue of the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (IJFAB) you will find an article critiquing the view that social egg freezing is the solution to “having it all,” that is, a thriving career and a family (children) at the same time. This is one of many arguments made in the article entitled “Breaking the Ice: Young Feminist Scholars of Reproductive Politics Reflect on Egg Freezing.” As one of the co-authors of this article, in this blog post I reflect on some of the things that inspired my contribution and why social egg freezing as a solution to “having it all” is a lot more complicated than most people think.

I’m a bisexual, feminist PhD candidate interested in perinatal health and reproductive politics, among other things. I love the independence that academia has afforded me thus far and I’m very invested in my career. Some days I’m not sure if I want to have children. Really, some days I almost forget to feed my fish.

A few weeks ago I stopped by my best friend’s place as I was finishing up a run—a much-needed run. I needed to clear my head of the many writing projects I have on the go and bubbling feelings of a failed a long-term, same-sex relationship that at times I had thought would be “the one.” My friend and I got to talking about work and future family lives. Central to this conversation—and to many of the conversations I have had with my female friends over the past year—was the theme of time. My friend said, “I’m 28 and I want to have 2 kids by the time I am 34 so I need to have my first kid by 32 at the latest,” said my friend, who is in a long-term, opposite-sex relationship, not yet engaged (but I suspect it will happen any day now), holds a Master’s degree and works in policy. She continued, “But I still want to move up in my job.” This friend is conflicted about the idea of putting her career on hold to start a family, yet increasingly aware that her “biological clock” is ticking.*

Our conversation reminded me of an email exchange I had with another good friend about a year ago. This friend is doing her PhD abroad, holds a very prestigious scholarship and is well-traveled. At the time of this email exchange she, 30, had just gone through the break-up of a long-term, opposite-sex relationship and I was questioning the future of my own long-term, same-sex relationship. She wrote:

Ugh the trials and tribulations of being in a relationship.… It seems like so, so many of us women in our late twenties/early thirties are going through this right now… I have a whole philosophy on it like how we are truly the first generation of women post-feminist revolution to actually have options and possibilities that really weren’t available to our grandmothers, and still fairly inaccessible to our mothers, and so it is a bit scary for those of us forging new paths. [Be]cause we really don’t have to ‘settle down and get hitched and pop out babies’ if we don’t want to. And not having this as our only option, and being educated and privileged and traveled etc etc to set us up for success just opens up a whole can of worms! So it is exciting and terrifying. I swear that ¾ of the conversations I have here [at graduate school] are related to this at the moment. We could probably host a conference on it…

Part of my inspiration for the piece I co-authored in the IJFAB comes from these and other conversations I have had with my female friends. My thoughts on the idea/l of “having it all” and social egg freezing also come from my experience working as part of a Toronto-based team of LGBTQ and ally researchers who explore how LGBTQ people experience health and access health services, including services that enable them to become parents (www.lgbtqhealth.ca). For me, as a bisexual woman, the questions are not only do I want to have kids and when might I have them, but should I be in a same-sex relationship when these decisions are made, who will carry the child (me or my partner?) and will we be able to afford assisted human reproduction services should we need them to have a biologically-related child? Would we use a known or unknown sperm donor?

From our article on social egg freezing and my narrative above, it is clear that the idea/l of “having it all” is very complicated. “Having it all” may not be desired by everyone and it may not be attainable for many (or anyone?). Indeed, social egg freezing as the solution to “having it all” is not an accessible option for many. We need to think about what it means to “have it all,” not only at the individual level but also the macro level. “Having it all” and the solution of social egg freezing to attain it must not be thought of and decorated with the rhetoric of “empowerment” for women. We need to think about who is excluded from “having it all” if social egg freezing is the solution, as well as the social, political, and economic conditions that produce the need for such a solution. We need to think about who really has access to social egg freezing, and, more importantly, who benefits from it (i.e., do women themselves really benefit in the long-run from social egg freezing?). We really do need a conference addressing all of these questions, but in the meantime, I hope our article and the narratives and reflections it includes will help to answer some of these questions, or at least, get people talking and asking more questions.

*In a follow-up conversation, swayed by in the idea of biological determinism or bio-essentialism, she suggested that it may be impossible for women to participate in the labour market in the same way that men can. Though in reality it is inequitable socio-economic structures that keep the argument that women are biologically predetermined not to succeed in the public sphere alive, it is hard not to feel discouraged when women continue to make less than men and the competence of successful (white, upper-class, heterosexual) women who have families, such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Hillary Clinton continue to be questioned or is overshadowed by focusing on what they are wearing. In other words, even if you can “have it all,” whatever that means, you will not be free from criticism.

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Photo Credit, Heather Wagner

Written by guest blogger, Michael Wagner.

Like most Canadians, I grew up with a sense that the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) played an important role in the exploration and development of the country.   My impression was that the really interesting period of the company’s history started when it began to compete with the Northwest Company in the late eighteenth century and expanded its operations in western Canada. The earlier part of the company’s history, when it appeared to be dominated by an extremely conservative and out of touch management in London, frankly seemed a bit boring. It was only when I began to study the history of British chartered trading companies at the University of Oxford that my view of the company’s early history began to change.

In the course of my research, I was struck by the connections between the HBC and other chartered companies. The governor of the HBC during the period 1712-43, Sir Bibye Lake, also effectively ran the Royal African Company for most of that period. Major customers of the HBC were members of the Russia Company, who exported much of their fur to European markets. The main defender of the HBC in the House of Commons in 1749, Sir John Barnard, had earlier defended the Levant Company. Finally, the HBC invested in a substantial portfolio of bonds of the East India Company. Looking at the historiography of the HBC, it appeared to me that, despite a huge body of work on the company, the vast majority of that work had taken the perspective of the company’s operations in Canada. This led me to question whether the unflattering view of the company typified by the phrase ‘asleep by a frozen sea’ would change if the company was viewed from the perspective of its British managers.

My approach to analyzing the HBC’s revenues, costs and cash flow owes a large debt to my earlier academic training (MBA from Concordia) and career in business. Based on my business experience, the way in which the HBC was managed in the first half of the eighteenth century seemed to be more recognizable and more modern than other chartered companies of the period. Several of the older chartered companies still resembled medieval guilds in some respects. The HBC was much smaller than the other companies but it was very much part of a dynamic commercial environment in Britain. In particular, I believe the way in which the HBC managed its finances was innovative and gave it a greater ability to withstand French competition in the fur trade than many have realized.

Michael Wagner’s article, “Asleep by a Frozen Sea or a Financial Innovator? The Hudson’s Bay Company, 1714-63″ appears in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadienne d’histoire. Read it today by clicking here: http://utpjournalsreview.com/index.php/CJOH/article/view/13000

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michael-brown-ferguson-missouri-2014-billboard-650Tensions have remained high in Ferguson, Missouri since Officer Darren Wilson shot 18 year-old Michael BrownCBC reported on Monday that Brown’s autopsy revealed that Officer Wilson had shot the teen six times, including one fatal shot to the head. According to Officer Wilson, Brown reached for his gun during  a struggle with police. However, Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former medical examiner for N.Y.C, performed the autopsy and said there was no sign of a struggle and that Brown “could have survived all of [his gunshot wounds], except for the one to the top of the brain.” Witnesses that were at the scene reported that Brown was surrendering, with his hands held above his head, when he was shot. His death has recently heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and the mostly white police department. In an effort to relieve the violence in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard last week.

In volume 46 of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, author Thomas Gabor explores the controversy surrounding “racial profiling” and the debate that has ignited due to its varied connotations in “Inflammatory Rhetoric on Racial Profiling Can Undermine Police Services“. The article delves into the details of this tactic without focusing on specific instances, and discusses how its inflammatory nature can lead police departments to fall victim to an extreme and sometimes violent level of scrutiny, like what has occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.

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can.95.2_frontOn August 4, 2014 Canadians marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The centennial has not only given Canadians an opportunity to commemorate the anniversary and honour our fallen soldiers, but to discuss the war and the ways it has been studied, remembered, and forgotten over the past century. This conversation has brought together historians, the general public interested in the past, and the broader heritage community.

Over the past century, the Canadian Historical Review has constantly ignited scholarly discussion of the First World War. Since its first issue in 1920, numerous articles have been published directly related to the war, which reflect an impressive range of topics and methodologies as well as general trends in Canadian and international historiography. The history of the war and how historians have studied and taught it is, in no small measure, also the history of the CHR.

In honour of the 100th anniversary, the Canadian Historical Review has published a collection of scholarship on the war. All of the articles listed in this bibliography are available open access to the general public. You will find the bibliography complete with hyperlinks to each article on our website at http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/chr.95.1.97. We invite you to explore these articles and look forward to seeing how commemoration and new trends in scholarship will inspire future work in the Canadian Historical Review. Happy reading!

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Throwback Thursday: Maps of 17th-Century Newfoundland

August 7, 2014

Twenty First Century maps depict an accurate representation of the province of New-foundland. However, it took many years of exploration and the work of many cartographers to reach this outcome. In the 17th-century, the illustrations cartographers developed reflect the his-tory of Newfoundland’s exploration and societal development. In “The Seventeenth Century Cartography of Newfoundland”, from the […]

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Irving Louis Horowitz Remembered by John Taylor

July 29, 2014

The new issue of the Journal of Scholarly Publishing includes a very special tribute to Irving Louis Horowitz. Often regarded by his colleagues as a force of nature, Horowitz was constantly making advances in American scholarship while simultaneously managing institutions and an academic career. His colleague, John Taylor, remembers Irving Louis Horowitz: “I suspect that […]

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Canadian Journal of History author, Dr. Ian Germani, discusses the centenary of World War I

July 28, 2014

Written by guest blogger, Dr. Ian Germani. The First World War did much to shape the contours of the twentieth century and the world in which we now live. Many writers and historians have seen it as the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century. Indeed, we can see its imprint upon the Middle Eastern wars […]

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Throwback Thursday: Juvenile Delinquent Courts for Disobedient Women

July 17, 2014

Women in today’s society may not realize how far women’s rights and independence has progressed over the past century. Working women in the early 1900s were often expected to work low paying jobs, obey parental authority, and contribute to the family income and house-work. However, many acts of rebellion during this time hinted that social […]

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Journal of Scholarly Publishing Pays Tribute to Irving Louis Horowitz

July 11, 2014

The new issue of the Journal of Scholarly Publishing includes a very special tribute to Irving Louis Horowitz. Irving Louis Horowitz was a distinguished professor of Sociology and Political Science, a prolific author, and Chairman of the Board as well as Editorial Director of Transaction Publishers. Often regarded by his colleagues as a force of […]

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