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Selves and Subjectivities

Mannani, ManijehThompson, Veronica (Hrsg.) | Athabasca University Press


Long a topic of intricate political and social debate, Canadian identity has come to be understood as fragmented, amorphous, and unstable, a multifaceted and contested space only tenuously linked to traditional concepts of the nation. As Canadians, we are endlessly defining ourselves, seeking to locate our sense of self in relation to some Other. By examining how writers and performers have conceptualized and negotiated issues of personal identity in their work, the essays collected in Selves and Subjectivities investigate emerging representations of self and other in contemporary Canadian arts and culture. Included are essays on iconic poet and musician Leonard Cohen, Governor General award–winning playwright Colleen Wagner, feminist poet and novelist Daphne Marlatt, film director David Cronenberg, poet and writer Hédi Bouraoui, author and media scholar Marusya Bociurkiw, puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, and the Aboriginal rap group War Party.

As critic Diana Brydon has argued, contemporary Canadian writers are "not transcending nation but resituating it." Drawing together themes of gender and sexuality, trauma and displacement, performati­vity, and linguistic diversity, Selves and Subjectivities offers an exciting new contribution to the multivocal dialogue surrounding the Canadian sense of identity.

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Manijeh Mannani is associate professor of English and comparative literature at Athabasca University and adjunct professor of comparative literature at the University of Alberta.

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Veronica Thompson is the Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Athabasca University.

 
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Familiar and Foreign

Mannani, ManijehThompson, Veronica (Hrsg.) | Athabasca University Press


The current political climate of confrontation between Islamist regimes and Western governments has resulted in the proliferation of essentialist perceptions of Iran and Iranians in the West. Such perceptions do not reflect the complex evolution of Iranian identity that occurred in the years following the Constitutional Revolution (1906–11) and the anti-imperialist Islamic Revolution of 1979. Despite the Iranian government’s determined pursuance of anti-Western policies and strict conformity to religious principles, the film and literature of Iran reflect the clash between a nostalgic pride in Persian tradition and an apparent infatuation with a more Eurocentric modernity. In Familiar and Foreign, Mannani and Thompson set out to explore the tensions surrounding the ongoing formulation of Iranian identity by bringing together essays on poetry, novels, memoir, and films. These include both canonical and less widely theorized texts, as well as works of literature written in English by authors living in diaspora.

Challenging neocolonialist stereotypes, these critical excursions into Iranian literature and film reveal the limitations of collective identity as it has been configured within and outside of Iran. Through the examination of works by, among others, the iconic female poet Forugh Farrokhzad, the expatriate author Goli Taraqqi, the controversial memoirist Azar Nafisi, and the graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis, this volume engages with the complex and contested discourses of religion, patriarchy, and politics that are the contemporary product of Iran’s long and revolutionary history.

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Manijeh Mannani is chair of the Centre for Humanities and associate professor of English and comparative literature at Athabasca University, as well as adjunct professor of comparative literature at the University of Alberta. She specializes in the poetry of Rumi and is the author of Divine Deviants: The Dialectics of Devotion in the Poetry of Donne and Rumi. She is also the co-editor of Selves and Subjectivities: Reflections on Canadian Arts and Culture.

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Veronica Thompson is associate professor of English and dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Athabasca University. Her research interests include Canadian and Australian literatures, postcolonial literatures and theories, and women’s literature and feminist theory. She is currently researching representations of terrorism in postcolonial literature. She is also the co-editor of Selves and Subjectivities: Reflections on Canadian Arts and Culture.

 
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Alberta Oil and the Decline of Democracy in Canada

Shrivastava, MeenalStefanick, Lorna (Hrsg.) | Athabasca University Press


Prior to May 2015, the oil-rich jurisdiction of Alberta had, for over four decades, been a one-party state. During that time, the rule of the Progressive Conservatives essentially went unchallenged, with critiques of government policy falling on deaf ears and Alberta ranking behind other provinces in voter turnout. Given the province’s economic reliance on oil revenues, a symbiotic relationship also developed between government and the oil industry. Cross-national studies have detected a correlation between oil-dependent economies and authoritarian rule, a pattern particularly evident in Africa and the Middle East. Alberta Oil and the Decline of Democracy in Canada sets out to test the “oil inhibits democracy” hypothesis in the context of an industrialized nation in the Global North.

In probing the impact of Alberta’s powerful oil lobby on the health of democracy in the province, contributors to the volume engage with an ongoing discussion of the erosion of political liberalism in the West. In addition to examining energy policy and issues of government accountability in Alberta, they explore the ramifications of oil dependence in areas such as Aboriginal rights, environmental policy, labour law, women’s equity, urban social policy, and the arts. If, as they argue, reliance on oil has weakened democratic structures in Alberta, then what of Canada as whole, where the short-term priorities of the oil industry continue to shape federal policy? The findings in this book suggest that, to revitalize democracy, provincial and federal leaders alike must find the courage to curb the influence of the oil industry on governance.

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“This book is a clarion warning of an unacceptable shift in the public sphere towards service of particular economic interests and away from democracy and the legitimate role of the government. […] The book also reveals the ceaseless dispute between business and public interests, or considered from another standpoint, between liberty and justice.”

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Meenal Shrivastava is associate professor of political economy and global studies at Athabasca University.

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Lorna Stefanick is a professor at Athabasca University, where she serves as coordinator for the Governance, Law, and Management program.

 
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