Theorising the Canada-US Border


parisposterminiRegistration is now open for Theorising the Canada-US Border, a two day CCUSB symposium taking place 15-16 May, 2015, in Paris, France.

The symposium is the last of a three-year series of CCUSB events, which have taken place in London, Algoma, Niagara Falls, Nottingham and Calgary.

To find out more information and to register for the symposium, please visit the website, here:

The event is free to attend and refreshments will be provided. The deadline for registration is Friday April 17th.


Call for Papers | Theorising the Canada-US Border

CCUSB SYMPOSIUM: Theorising the Canada-US Border
University of Kent at Paris, 15-16 May, 2015

Border theory tends to be associated with the multiple strands of mestizo/a lived experience in the Mexico-US borderlands. But how far can site-specific border theory travel, even within North America? To what extent do the insights of Mexico-US border theory—including notions of hybridity and the accommodating spaces of los intersticios in the borderlands—offer a useful theoretical framework for discussing cultural manifestations of the Canada-US border? How does the 49th parallel’s oft-proclaimed status as ‘the longest undefended border in the world,’ its particular colonial histories and neo-colonial present, its scarring of Indigenous territories, and its simultaneous division and linking of two G8 nation-states inflect the border theories of such key texts as Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), Renato Rosaldo’s Culture and Truth (1989), Emily Hicks’s Border Writing (1991), and Héctor Calderón & José David Saldívar, Criticism in the Borderlands (1991)?

These texts cross a range of disciplinary developments, which include interventions in feminist theory, queer theory, race and ethnicity studies, and wider applications to geographical borders elsewhere in the world, as well as a “crossing” into the older borderlands studies pursued in the social sciences. That these four texts largely pertain to lived experience in the South American and Mexico-US borderlands, and that the concepts derived from them often extrapolate universal qualities from local concerns, present both a challenge and a problem. If the problem—of generalization and loose abstraction—is obvious, the challenge to scholars of border theory surely lies in rendering site-specificity to borders/borderlands, while theorizing those sites in ways that contribute generally to understandings of borderlands experience.

This two-day symposium seeks to cultivate Canada-US border theory. We invite proposals for papers that consider border theory at the 49th parallel, that theorise the border, and that explore the potential of theory to illuminate the cultural implications of the Canada-US border’s functions . Whether applying and testing border theory in its present iterations, or seeking to theorise the Canada-US border more specifically, work that considers the cultural contexts of the Canada-US border is in short supply in border theory. This symposium aims to address that deficiency by exploring the specific issues and challenges, and the potential interventions into border theory, presented by the Canada-US border/borderlands, and questions of border crossing, border culture, the ‘undefended’ border, etc.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, papers that consider any of the following in relation to the Canada-US border, as well as papers that seek to apply border theory to specific cultural texts:

The discursive limits of border theory
Indigenizing border theory at the Canada-US border
Indigenous sovereignty and the politics of recognition/refusal at the border
Theorising resistance and activism at the border
Canada-US border metaphors
Metaphor vs lived experience (theoretical vs. empiricist approaches)
Application of cultural theory from other paradigms (eg. postcolonialism, regionalism, critical regionalism, etc) to the Canada-US border
The political implications of theoretical work
Canada-Mexico “borderlands”
Comparative Mexico-US and Canada-US border theory
Unsettling the nation/state

Please send 250 word proposals plus a brief CV to by Monday December 1st 2014.

Workshop Report | Aesthetics and the Canada-US Border


3rd Culture and the Canada-US Border Workshop | Calgary, 19th and 20th September 2014



loft112Loft 112 sits in a liminal space in Calgary, on the edge of downtown, in the East Village, currently in the midst of gentrification. As a space dedicated to literary and artistic practice, it provided the perfect venue for the third workshop of the Leverhulme Trust-funded Culture and the Canada-US Border research network, focusing on aesthetics and the Canada-US border. Over two days, CCUSB network members and workshop participants were treated to four presentations of aesthetic sensitivity, constructive energy, and searing intellect. Continue reading

Aesthetics and the Canada-US Border


cropped-ccusblogo23.jpgThe third Culture and the Canada-US Border workshop will take place on Friday September 19th and the morning of September 20th, 2014, at Loft 112, a new creative space in Calgary’s East Village, with speakers Marcello Di Cintio, Aritha van Herk, Dylan Miner and Audra Simpson.

The workshop is held as part of a series of events organised by the Culture and the Canada-US Border research network. You can read more about our past events here.

If you are interested in attending the workshop, or would like any further information, please contact the local organiser, Dr Kelly Hewson:


Marcello Di Cintio is a Canadian writer. He won the 2012 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book Walls: Travels Along the Barricades

Aritha van Herk is an award-winning Canadian writer and public intellectual, and a Professor of Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.

Dylan A. T. Miner is an artist, activist, and art historian who focuses on Indigenous and anti-colonial issues. He is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University, where he coordinates a new Indigenous Contemporary Art Initiative.

Audra Simpson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, and the author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States

A small number of travel assistance bursaries are available to assist postgraduate students to attend the workshop. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply, please contact Catherine Barter, the CCUSB network administrator:

Workshop Report | Security, Immigration, and the Cultures of the Canada-US Border


Workshop Audience


…nowhere is my natural anarchism more aroused than at national borders where patient and efficient public servants carry out their duties in matters on immigration and customs. I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)

Niagara Falls. So good they built it twice, once in Upper New York State, once in Ontario. In many respects it sums the border region up: both cities share the same natural resource, not just a thundering source of light and power, but a tourist attraction to boot. And yet the Falls are apprehended so very differently on each side, just as each city, though united in their appreciation for kitsch[1], has fared palpably differently. It is also, of course, the iconic site of oh-so-many cultural events and representations, which range from the heroic (cue Superman II) to the downright mad (tightrope walkers and barrel riders galore). Continue reading

Cultural Crossings: Registration Open

Cultural Crossings: Production, Consumption, and Reception Across the Canada-US Border


University of Nottingham, June 20-22 2014.

Keynote Speakers: Charles Acland, Danielle Fuller, and DeNel Rehberg Sedo.

“Cultural Crossings” is the second international Culture and the Canada-US Border conference. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, CCUSB is an international, interdisciplinary research network dedicated to studying cultural representation, production and exchange on and around the Canada-US border.

The 49th parallel has been considered by many Canadian nationalists to symbolize Canada’s cultural independence from the United States, with attendant anxieties about how an “undefended” border might fail to safeguard Canadian culture adequately.

This conference seeks to probe the implications for the production, consumption, and reception of literature, film, television, music, theatre, and visual art in relation to the Canada-US border. The conference will encourage analysis of cultural texts, phenomena, and industries both in terms of how they might operate differently in Canada and the United States and the ways in which they might straddle, or ignore, the border altogether.

Book Online Now:

For more information, visit

With any queries, contact

Registration Open | Security, Immigration, and the Cultures of the Canada-US Border

Plane flying over Niagara Falls

The “Culture and the Canada-US Border” (CCUSB) research network are pleased to announce a second one-day workshop, on the theme of border security and immigration, to take place on Saturday May 31st 2014, at the Sheraton at the Falls Hotel, Niagara Falls, NY.

The event, hosted in conjunction with the University of Buffalo, will feature presentations from Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (University of Victoria), Emily Gilbert (University of Toronto), Geoffrey Hale (University of Lethbridge), and Christopher Sands (Hudson Institute).

The workshop is free to attend, and if you require accommodation, you can book a room at the Sheraton at the Falls Hotel, with group rates available until April 23rd. Please see our website for full details, and to register for the event:

Note: a small amount of travel assistance funding, awarded on a first-come first-served basis, is available for graduate students wishing to attend the event. Please contact Catherine Barter for more information (

This event is part of a series of workshops and conferences organised by CCUSB, and will be followed in June by an international conference at the University of Nottingham. CCUSB is a Leverhulme Trust funded network, bringing together scholars in Europe and North America with research interests in cultural issues around the Canada-US Border. To learn more about the network and its activities, visit:

With any further queries, contact We look forward to seeing you there!