16 April 2010
Gilmour Hall 111, McMaster University
In conjunction with the York Centre for International and Security
Studies, the Political Science Department at McMaster University,
will be hosting a one day symposium entitled 'A Canadian (Critical)
Security Studies?'. The focus and purpose of this event is to discuss
whether it makes sense to speak of a distinctively Canadian approach
to the study of security and defence. Please find the agenda below.
To register for the event please click the following link:
Department of Political Science, McMaster University
Centre for International and Security Studies, York University
A Canadian (Critical) Security Studies?
16 April 2010
Gilmour Hall 111
Over the past few years, scholars across Canada have begun to discuss
whether it makes sense to speak of a distinctively Canadian approach to
the study of security and defence. Is there indeed a Canadian corollary to
the CASE collective, the Copenhagen school, or the Welsh school? Whether
one speaks of a ?Canadian School?, a ?Crimson School?, or simply ?Canadian
(Critical) Security Studies?, some contributors have argued that the
demarcation of a specifically ?Canadian? approach would help to draw
positive attention to a relatively coherent set of ideas shared by a
growing community. For them, there is indeed something special about the
work and ideas that have been shared amongst Canadian scholars ? and this
deserves recognition and greater consideration by peers around the world.
Others have contended that trying to pin down a coherent school of thought
is not an especially helpful or productive exercise. The ongoing
conversation has led to interesting questions about the general
significance of defined scholarly communities, the importance of
disciplinary recognition, and the pressures of the academy in the
contemporary Canadian context.
10:15-10:30 Welcome and Introduction
10:30-12:00 Session I: Canadian?
A part of the challenge in identifying a distinctively Canadian approach
to the study of security and defence that is that one must find a common
thread that links and distinguishes a group of scholars and their work.
What might be seen to link a distinct community of scholarship? Is it a
theoretical lens or commitment? An ethico-political stance? An emphasis on
particular substantive issue areas in global politics? Similar reading
lists? Further, there is room for discussion about the degree to which
such an emergent school of thought is exclusive to Canadian scholars,
whether it is inclusive of an adequately broad spectrum of Canadian
scholars, and whether it is somehow linked to familiar tropes or themes of
1:00-2:30 Session II: Security?
The scholarly understanding of the term ?security? has shifted enough
times over the years to reinforce the oft-repeated claim that it is an
?essentially contested concept?. The attempt to identify a distinctively
Canadian approach to the study of security therefore raises important
questions about the scope and limits of security studies. A further
question is worth consideration: if there is a distinctly Canadian
approach to the study of world politics, is it limited to the domain of
?security?? Or is there reason to broaden, adjust or switch the focus of
2:45-4:15 Session III: Critical?
Part of the ongoing discussion about a Canadian perspective has centred on
the question of what exactly it means to participate in ?critical?
scholarship. For some, it remains to be seen whether criticality is indeed
a defining component of a Canadian approach ? and even if so, they
question what sense of the term ?critical? applies in this instance.
Others have wondered whether it might be more appropriate to speak in
terms of ?radical? approaches that carry our theoretical discussions
forward in new directions. What sorts of sensibilities and engagements are
(or ought to be) characteristic of ?Canadian? scholarship on security?