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  Deconstructing Empire II: Race, Migration & Resistance to Empire

On 7 September 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the local white population targeted Asian immigrants in a violent, racist protest, which later resulted in systematic federal restrictions against Asian immigration. The riot's roots lay deep in anti-Asian sentiment among white migrants fanned by media accounts of an "Asian Invasion" in BC. Around the same time in other parts of the British Empire and the United States, similar race-inspired "race riots" ensued. Faced with anti-imperial and anti-racist resistance at home and abroad, the Empires of the 20th century grew more repressive until the end of the Second World War, when despite the continuation of imperialist practices around the world, decolonization and anti-discrimination struggles finally led to important changes. In Canada, for example, the 1947 Citizenship Act and changes to immigration laws in 1967 were significant milestones in the quest for justice. What has the legacy of colonialism and imperialism taught us about the pursuit of justice and equality?

Much has changed in the past 100 years, yet today we face a global climate of fear and a "war on terror" that feeds off racial and religious profiling. Indigenous and minority peoples around the world continue to live the reality of colonialism, foreign occupation and ethnic discrimination, not to mention the conceptual, spatial and geo-political barriers set in place against migrant workers and refugees. New forms of territorial belonging and identification have arisen in the form of "displaced communities". On the one hand these diasporas offer the potential to transcend boundaries, while on the other they re-affirm and re-legitimize notions of "boundaries" and "borders." Furthermore, gender inequality and discrimination based on sexual orientation still pervade societies at all levels. How do we evaluate our contemporary, modern era of Empire and imperialism? Can we achieve a world without prejudice and without Empire(s)?

On 15-16 June 2007, graduate students from across Canada will come together to grapple with these questions at the University of Victoria, BC. This symposium will highlight the diverse work of students who examine "local" and "global" issues and topics such as racism, segregation and ethnocentrism, integral elements to the continuation of imperialism and Empire. This symposium builds on the success of the June 2006 Deconstructing Empire gathering, which focused on World Peace.

We invite graduate researchers from all disciplines to submit paper and poster proposals for this two-day symposium. We also hope to have a selection of papers published in a faculty-reviewed e-journal. Examples of related research topics include: global migration patterns; historical and legal dimensions of war and peace; reform, revolution, and conflict resolution; analyses of government, institutional and academic policy; examples of alternate economies; global education and social movements; and the interconnectedness of racism with heterosexism, ablism, anthropocentrism, sexism and so on.

First-time presenters are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please send a maximum 200 word abstract to deconemp@uvic.ca by 28 February 2007. You will be notified of your confirmation no later than 1 April 2007. We look forward to discussing these issues, and working collaboratively to deconstruct the imperialist Empires of our time.

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    © 2007 Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Black Canadian Studies. Last modified: 2007-02-27