Tag Archives: politics

The Right Side of History: The Political Urgency Needed in Addressing Climate Change

Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, written by Peter Stoett with Shane Mulligan, is a comprehensive and accessibly written introduction to the policymakers and the structuring bodies involved in creating global environmental policies. The book provides a panoramic view of the issues, agents, and structures that make up the fabric of global environmental governance.

In this post, author Peter Stoett writes about his time spent at the Planetary Security Conference in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year and why these conferences reflect the political urgency currently attached to climate change.


Back in February, I attended the 4th Hague Planetary Security Conference in the Netherlands, where over 350 international experts, practitioners, military and government representatives gathered to discuss the threats posed to the world by climate change and other threats to planetary ecology. Mixing all these people together would have been unthinkable a mere three decades ago; now it is commonly accepted that the only way we can promote resilience and adaptation to climate change is by inter-sectoral collaboration that includes some unlikely alliances.

Representatives from the Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East all say the same thing: climate change is not only real and happening, but is exacerbating the threat of violence in these regions where mass migration and displacement, and civil conflict are already in strong motion. Water, in particular, comes up again and again as the resource scarcity issue of our time.

In Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, I discuss water scarcity as not only a source of conflict, but of collaborative opportunity – most transborder water disputes have been dealt with diplomatically and many in fact have led to institutional developments. But there are clear indications that climate change-induced water scarcity is heightening extant tensions and it is fairly widely accepted that the horrible civil war in Syria was to some extent prompted by a severe drought that led to political instability. One theme that has emerged is that, despite the Security Council having dealt specifically with climate security, the UN needs to step up further and establish an early-warning system for climate-related conflict, so that we can see it coming and strive to take preventive measures.

Effects of Hurricane Irma

I was in the Netherlands to speak at an event focused on the question of moving to a post-carbon based energy infrastructure in the Caribbean region. The threats posed by climate change in the Caribbean are existential: this is life or death stuff. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, coral reef bleaching, fisheries affected by temperature changes, freshwater scarcity; the list goes on for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). I cover SIDS at various points in the text, as well as the gradual (some would say painfully slow) transition toward renewable energy production and consumption. Clearly, it is the way forward.

But the transition will not be painless, and as always it may leave some people behind. While we often think of the Caribbean region as a tourist destination or a hurricane zone, the reality is that most of the population and predominant industries are located near its beautiful coasts. In many ways Caribbean citizens are on the front-line of climate change threats, much like the Inuit in northern Canada and other circumpolar communities. These communities can benefit enormously from the adoption of renewable power sources that lessen dependence on the global oil economy, providing the technological capacity and public policy is conducive.

The shift to renewable energy will certainly affect the geopolitical structure of global ecopolitics. China is emerging as a renewable energy superpower, and will have increasing influence in areas such as the Caribbean beyond its usual economic presence. Human security is again rising as a viable concept to deal with the ravages that natural disasters inflict on civilian populations. Responsible tourism has become a genuine national security issue in the region since long-term economic development is so dependent on this sector.

We cannot base a global security strategy on constant disaster relief. Back in water-soaked Holland, there are famous stories about the futility of trying to stop floods with stopgap measures. One of the overarching questions of our time is how relatively impoverished and highly vulnerable regions can be integrated into global strategies. Conferences like this reflect the political urgency currently attached to the climate change-security nexus, despite its denial by a few powerful actors who are, as the saying goes, on the wrong side of history.


If you want to find out more about Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, click here to view the table of contents and read an exclusive excerpt from the book.


Peter J. Stoett is Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University of Ontario Institute Of Technology.

Beneath the Surface: Finding Common Ground in Canada’s Most Distinctive Province

To the outside world, Quebec is Canada’s most distinctive province. To many Canadians, it has sometimes seemed the most troublesome. But, over the last quarter century, quietly but steadily, it has wrestled successfully with two of the West’s most daunting challenges: protecting national values in the face of mass immigration and striking a proper balance between economic efficiency and a sound social safety net.

In this post, Robert Calderisi, author of Quebec in a Global Light, and former director of The World Bank, discusses some of the issues that face Quebec, and why these challenges should be analysed in a wider, global context. 


Books about politics and society can be timely and revealing, but they can also be complicated, as current affairs do not always stay current. Quebec in a Global Light discusses trends and challenges that transcend the day-to-day, but – like all findings – they need to sifted through the sands of new developments. A good example is the remarkable progress made since the 1970s in protecting the French language. Some would prefer that an extra half percentage point of people be fluent in French, but 94.5 percent of Quebeckers can already conduct a conversation in the language. Diehards can worry more about decimals than decades. How will the next census affect their thinking?

Since the book was first written, some details – including the political party in power – have changed but the most important conclusions remain intact. Even under a conservative government, Quebec is the only social democracy in North America. Employment, growth, and investment are still strong. The province continues to reduce its notorious debt burden; in fact, Quebec now has a better credit rating than Ontario. The gap between rich and poor is the lowest on the planet – except for Scandinavia, which is an admirable set of countries to be lagging behind. And Quebec has set a very positive example in flighting climate change.

But one big thing has changed. Apparently out of the blue, Quebec has once again puzzled outsiders by its decision to ban the wearing of religious symbols by certain government employees. Even under a highly divisive US President, none of the other fifty-nine jurisdictions in North America has talked about doing that. And the hospitality and common sense of Quebeckers is being seriously questioned.

Yet Quebeckers have evolved profoundly over the last thirty years. In 1982, a number of Haitian taxi drivers in Montreal were fired because some white clients refused to ride with them. As a result, the Quebec Human Rights Commission held its first-ever public hearings. Many people today – including many Quebeckers – will find that hard to believe, not because racism has been magically exorcised from their society but rather because Quebec has become so diverse that differences of one kind or another – especially in Montreal – have become almost the norm. A third of Montreal’s taxi drivers are now Haitian and the city has the highest proportion of immigrants in that job (84 percent) in all of Canada.

In a society which some regard as under siege, most people are comfortable with diversity. According to a 2015 Quebec Human Rights Commission survey, Quebeckers had positive attitudes to the handicapped (92 percent), people of colour (88 percent), homosexuals (84 percent), citizens of other ethnic origins (76 percent), and followers of other religions (68 percent). This openness to others is sometimes attributed to the dominant role of women and feminine values in the society. Others see centuries of intermarriage and contact with Quebec’s First Peoples as the source of such community and consensus.

On the surface, other provinces have an even greater challenge making newcomers feel at home. While almost 40 percent of Montreal’s population were born in another country or to parents who immigrated to Canada, that number is much higher in Toronto (76 percent) and Vancouver (68 percent). But absorbing such a large number of people in Quebec, which is so determined to protect its language and culture, is particularly difficult.

Despite the proposed law, the common sense and humanity of Quebeckers remain obvious. In Montreal, teachers and students have surrounded schools in human chains promising to disobey the law. The city council has passed a rare unanimous resolution opposing the legislation. The two authors of the original idea that such symbols should be banned – the philosopher Charles Taylor and the sociologist Gérard Bouchard – have both come out against the bill. Behind closed doors, the governing party itself was highly divided on the subject. And the second largest opposition party (Québec Solidaire) has revised its own policy in the opposite direction. Instead of backing a compromise, they have now decided that any legislation on personal dress is a violation of individual freedom and an invitation to more general discrimination against minorities. It is just possible that the legislation will collapse under its own contradictions. No one has been able to explain how it will be enforced and no penalties are proposed under the law. In the meantime, the history of the issue – set out in Quebec in a Global Light – remains as relevant as ever.


If you want to find out more about Quebec in a Global Light, click here to view the table of contents and read an exclusive excerpt from the book.


Robert Calderisi was a Quebec Rhodes Scholar and is a former director of The World Bank. He is the author of The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working (2006) and Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development (2013). He splits the year between Montreal, New York, and Paris.

#BalanceforBetter: Our Top Titles for International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, who will you celebrate? From radical housewives to the future of work, from violence to trafficking to politics and law, this week we’re highlighting top titles that celebrate women’s achievements, participate in a larger conversation, and reflect diverse and global voices.

On March 8, we’re joining groups worldwide in the call for a more gender-balanced world.

Let’s turn the page.


Disrupting Breast Cancer Narratives: Stories of Rage and Repair

Resisting the optimism of pink ribbon culture, these stories use anger as a starting place to reframe cancer as a collective rather than an individual problem. Emilia Nielsen looks at documentaries, television, and social media, arguing that personal narratives have the power to shift public discourse.

Female Doctors in Canada: Experience and Culture

The face of medicine is changing. Though women increasingly dominate the profession, they still must navigate a system that has been designed for and by men. Looking at education, health systems, and expectations, this important new collection from experienced physicians and researchers opens a much-needed conversation.

Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal

Since around 2000, a growing number of women in Dakar have come to act openly as spiritual leaders for both men and women. Learn how, rather than contesting conventional roles, these women are making them integral parts of their leadership. These female leaders present spiritual guidance as a form of nurturing motherhood, yet like Sufi mystical discourse, their self-presentations are profoundly ambiguous.

Women and Gendered Violence in Canada: An Intersectional Approach

A significant expansion on the conversation on gendered violence, this new book from Chris Bruckert and Tuulia Law draws on a range of theoretical traditions emerging from feminism, criminology, and sociology. Find compelling first-person narratives, suggested activities, and discussions on everything from campus violence to online violence to victim blaming.

The Talent Revolution: Longevity and the Future of Work

This book is a first. Two women from different generations debunk commonly held myths about older workers, showing how the future of work requires engaging employees across all life stages. Work-life longevity is the most influential driver transforming today’s workplace – learn how to make it a competitive advantage.

Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law

How do Indigenous women recuperate their relationships to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation? Through a close analysis of major texts written in the post-civil rights period, Cheryl Suzack sheds light on how these writers use storytelling to engage in activism.

Responding to Human Trafficking: Dispossession, Colonial Violence, and Resistance among Indigenous and Racialized Women

In the first book to critically examine responses to the growing issue of human trafficking in Canada, Julie Kay reveals how some anti-trafficking measures create additional harms for the very individuals they’re trying to protect – particularly migrant and Indigenous women. An important new framework for the critical analysis of rights-based and anti-violence interventions.

Becoming Strong: Impoverished Women and the Struggle to Overcome Violence

What role can trauma play in shaping homeless women’s lives? Drawing on more than 150 in-depth interviews, Laura Huey and Ryan Broll explore the diverse effects of trauma in the lives of homeless female victims of violence. This essential read offers not only a comprehensive examination of trauma, but also explores how women may recover and develop strategies for coping with traumatic experiences.

Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution

Two young girls in Cairo strike up an unlikely friendship that crosses class, cultural, and religious divides. The first in a new series, Lissa brings anthropological research comes to life in comic form, combining scholarly insights and rich storytelling to foster greater understanding of global politics, inequalities, and solidarity.

Ms. Prime Minister: Gender, Media, and Leadership

News about female leaders gives undue attention to their gender identities, bodies, and family lives – but some media accounts also expose sexism and authenticate women’s performances of leadership. Offering both solace and words of caution for women politicians, Linda Trimble provides important insight into the news frameworks that work to deny or confer political legitimacy.

A New History of Iberian Feminisms

Both a chronological history and an analytical discussion of feminist thought from the eighteenth century onward, this history of the Iberian Peninsula addresses lost texts of feminist thought, and reveals the struggles of women to achieve full citizenship. Learn what helped launch a new feminist wave in the second half of the century.

Radical Housewives: Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada

This history of Canada’s Housewives Consumers Association recovers a history of women’s social justice activism in an era often considered dormant – and reinterprets the view of postwar Canada as economically prosperous. Discover how these radical activists fought to protect consumers’ interests in the postwar years.


Want to keep learning? Visit International Women’s Day for more details about this year’s #BalanceforBetter Campaign.

The Heritage Book Project: Selected Politics Books to Stand the Test of Time

In this contribution to the University Press Week Blog Tour (November 12-17), Harriet Kim provides a selection of interesting politics titles that she recently brought back into print as part of UTP’s Heritage Book Project. For today’s theme of #TurnItUP: Politics, Harriet provides some useful historical perspective. 

By Harriet Kim

University of Toronto Press carries a rich history in the breadth and depth of scholarly, reference, and general interest books published since our founding in 1901. Expanding on our tradition of advancing knowledge, the Heritage Book Project aims to increase access to our books by bringing out-of-print titles back into circulation as ebooks and as print-on-demand paperbacks. Titles date from 1928 to 2011 and range in categories from health sciences and medicine to philosophy, anthropology, politics, mathematics, and literature. We are making these important heritage resources available for a new generation of readers and learners to discover and to continue outreach to academic communities in their engagement of critical and innovative scholarship.

With all the different titles that have gone through the Heritage Book Project process, working on this series has been a unique learning process for me. As I try to put into words the scope of the Heritage Book Project, I reflect about what it means to bring back books that matter. Many of the books themselves are old (again, some are as old as 1928!) and/or the subject matter studies a time period that feels removed or irrelevant to us today. However, it is notable that some of the titles feel like they could have been written in today’s political climate, which tells me how necessary it is to learn from what has happened in the past to inform us of what is happening now and of how to move forward.

If you are interested in reading some politics books that seem to stand the test of time, here is a round-up of titles that might be of interest:

Is God a Racist?: The Right Wing in Canada (1989), by Stanley Barrett, examines the rise of right-wing extremism in Canada.

Who Owns Domestic Abuse?: The Local Politics of a Social Problem (2000), by Ruth M. Mann, “is a case study of community activism around domestic violence against women and children in a small-town Southern Ontario municipality… and is relevant to social theory and social policy.”

Not This Time: Canadians, Public Policy, and the Marijuana Question, 1961-1975 (2006),
by Marcel Martel, “explores recreational use of marijuana in the 1960s and its emergence as a topic of social debate.”

In Saturday’s Child: Memoirs of Canada’s First Female Cabinet Minister (1995), Ellen Louks Fairclough, the first woman in Canada to become a federal cabinet minister, tells her story.

Canadian Family Policies: Cross-National Comparisons (1995), by Maureen Baker, explores Canada’s family policies in an international context.

The Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Rights (1985), edited by Menno Boldt and J. Anthony Long, is a “collection of many voices from representatives of the aboriginal people’s organizations, of governments, and of a variety of academic disciplines. The issues of aboriginal rights and of what these rights mean in terms of land and sovereignty has become increasingly important on the Canadian political agenda.”

The magnitude of such a project is not lost on me – from the figurative weight of UTP’s history represented in this series to the literal weight of all the books that are sent for scanning! Since 2014, we have brought nearly 1,000 titles back into circulation and over 1,600 titles will end up in the Heritage Project. It has been and continues to be a tremendous effort subject to continuously changing and improving scanning and printing technology. More importantly, it has been an effort supported by many people at University of Toronto Press, University of Toronto libraries, and the Toronto Reference Library.

Politics can be a challenging conversation to broach and it can be hard to know where to start. Thoughtful and interesting books can be a start to engage in conversations with peers, academics, librarians, and many others. I hope these heritage titles will be a helpful resource for you, too.

To continue on Day Two of the University Press Week Blog Tour, check out posts by these other fine university presses:

University of Chicago Press
Blog: http://pressblog.uchicago.edu
Twitter: @UChicagoPress

Georgetown University Press
Blog: georgetownuniversitypress.tumblr.com
Twitter: @GUPress

Teachers College Press
Blog: https://www.tcpress.com/blog/
Twitter: @TCPress

University of Wisconsin Press
Blog: https://uwpress.wisc.edu/blog/
Twitter: @UWiscPress

University of Virginia Press
Blog: https://www.upress.virginia.edu/blog
Twitter: @uvapress

Rutgers University Press
Blog: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/category/news/
Twitter: @RutgersUPress

UBC Press
Blog: ubcpress.ca/news
Twitter: @UBCPress

LSU Press
Blog: https://blog.lsupress.org/
Twitter: @lsupress

University Press of Kansas
Blog: kansaspress.ku.edu/
Twitter: @Kansas_Press

University of Georgia Press
Blog: ugapress.wordpress.com
Twitter: @UGAPress

Witches, Charms & Rituals: Top Titles With Spirit For Your Halloween List

Trick or treat? That depends on your reading list…

This week, we’re counting down to Halloween with spirited titles on everything from ghosts to witchcraft to Canadian horror films. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites – just in case you want a couple of treats for your shelf.

Ghostly Landscapes: Film, Photography, and the Aesthetics of Haunting in Contemporary Spanish Culture

“To speak of ghosts is to always speak of a loss that returns. Loss can tell us something not only about the distant past but also how we live in the present and imagine the future.”

Revisit twentieth-century Spanish history through the camera lens. Ghostly Landscapes reveals how haunting serves to mourn loss, redefine space and history, and confirm the significance of lives and stories previously hidden or erased. A significant re-evaluation of fascist and post-fascist Spanish visual culture from Patricia Keller.

The Canadian Horror Film: Terrors of the Soul

Welcome to a wasteland of docile damnation and prosaic pestilence where savage beasts and mad scientists rub elbows with pasty suburbanites, grumpy seamen, and baby-faced porn stars.

Highlighting more than a century of Canadian horror filmmaking, The Canadian Horror Film offers a series of thought-provoking reflections that promises to guide both scholars and enthusiasts alike. Unearth the terrors hidden in the recesses of the Canadian psyche from editors Gina Freitag and André Loiselle.

Magic in Medieval Manuscripts

Exploring the place of magic in the medieval world through an exploration of images and texts in British Library manuscripts, Sophie Page reveals a fascination with the points of contact between this and the celestial and infernal realms. Find magicians, wisewomen, witches, charms, and rituals in Magic in Medieval Manuscripts.

Ghostly Paradoxes: Modern Spiritualism and Russian Culture in the Age of Realism

“The spiritualist trend played a significant role in the ideological and social life of the realist age. The reality of the soul was a major issue of the time. Physicists, physiologists, theologians, mystics, and, of course, writers all took part in this debate.”

Surprisingly, nineteenth-century Russia was consumed with a passion for activities such as séances and summoning the spirits. Ghostly Paradoxes examines the relationship between spiritualist beliefs and the mindset of the Russian Age of Realism. Newly released in paperback – now that’s a treat!

Awful Parenthesis: Suspension and the Sublime in Romantic and Victorian Poetry

“Suspension rejects the impulse to cling to the known and the knowable.”

Whether the rapt trances of Romanticism or the corpse-like figures that confounded Victorian science and religion, Awful Parenthesis reveals that depictions of bodies in suspended animation are a response to an expanding, incoherent world in crisis. Examining various aesthetics of suspension in the works of poets such as Coleridge, Shelley, Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti, Anne McCarthy shares important insights into the nineteenth-century fascination with the sublime.

European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader

“Those who have picked up this book are about to fly through a mirror, back through time, and look down upon an unfamiliar terrain.”

What’s really behind our fascination with magic and witchcraft? Editor Martha Rampton demonstrates how understandings of magic changed over time, and how these were influenced by factors such as religion, science, and law. By engaging with a full spectrum of source types, learn how magic was understood through the medieval and early modern eras.

Astrology in Medieval Manuscripts 

Medieval astrologers, though sometimes feared to be magicians in league with demons, were usually revered by scholars whose ideas and practices were widely respected. Explore the dazzling complexity of western astrology and its place in society, as revealed by a wealth of illustrated manuscripts from the British Library’s rich medieval collections.