Americas and Oceania Collections blog

05 April 2011

Team Americas on the Road 2011: news from Birmingham

The British Association for Canadian Studies conference is held each year in one of a number of universities with a reputation in the discipline. This year the conference is in Birmingham and I find myself feeling deeply comfortable wandering around the mill-inspired, red-brick buildings between sessions.

For me the conference is an opportunity to make sure I am up to speed with the currents of research in Canadian studies, make new acquaintances and talk to people about how the British Library can help them with their research. It is also an opportunity to listen to some very interesting papers. The whole session devoted to the shorter works of Margaret Atwood was an enjoyable discussion of the intimate details of her portfolio. It also reminded me how significant our collections of Atwood’s work (which cover her many early pieces and international editions) are to researchers across the U. K. and Europe.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how much attention has been paid to Canada’s borders in the conference so far, especially in light of my recent post for the Americas Blog. There has been a lot of discussion about Canada’s relationship to international law, with a focus on cases involving Canadian nationals committing offences abroad. This, in turn, has led to a lot of interest in the Library’s legal studies materials and official publications, meaning it might be a busy time for Jerry when I get back!

The day’s papers were brought to a close with a lecture sponsored by the British Library Eccles Centre. I have to confess this was my highlight for the day, not because I’m being partisan but because the lecture was on the geopolitics and history of Vancouver Island – an interest of mine over the last few years. Professor Stephen Royle, who researched part of this work as an Eccles Centre Fellow, drew out the fractious peace which existed between the British Government, the United States and the administration of Vancouver Island during the mid-nineteenth century. The papers of James Douglas, governor on the island at the time, are part of the British Library’s collections and if you would like to know more about this part of British colonial history, Royle’s Company Crown and Colony is a good place to start.



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