2006 Konferencja w Grainau
Report from Grainau Conference
The 27th annual conference of German-speaking countries was held between 17th and 19th February 2006 in Grainau, in the heart of the German Alps. It is one of the most prestigious Canadianist conferences held in Europe, which gathers scholars, mainly from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. There are always guest lecturers from Canada. Among established researchers organizers also invite representatives of a younger generation of academics from different parts of Europe. Thanks to the PACS conference grant I was able to go to Grainau.
This year’s main topic of the conference was “Canada in the Americas”, which was particularly interesting for me. The theme was concurrent with my main field of interest in Canadian Studies – relations between Canada and the United States of America. It was an excellent opportunity to participate in the interesting lectures and exchange ideas with other scholars.
At the beginning of the conference, on Friday, the Assistant Deputy Minister, Peter M. Boehm, from the Foreign Affairs Canada presented a historical sketch on the developing relations between Canada and the U.S. and the “rest of Americas”. This was particularly attractive, because it was the official outlook of the relations, which was not always consistent with my own research. Apart of the topic of the lecture, during the ‘question and answer’ part of it, Peter Boehm, had to deal with many questions concerning recent election in Canada, and the shift from Liberals to Conservatives.
Next day, there was a very interesting plenary session with one of the special guests – Patrick Imbert from the University of Ottawa Research Chair: Canada: Social and Cultural Challenges in a Knowledge-Based Society. He gave a lecture based on a book he edited: “Consensual Disagreement: Canada and the Americas”. It was an opportunity to get acquainted with the new way of looking at the role of Canada in the North and South American continents. The main thesis was that Canada, with its cultural dynamism, plays important role in the Americas: “Canada, within an increasingly global context, is […] able to keep the social protections of the Welfare-State while implementing policies rooted in an economic liberalism open to free markets”. In the opinion of prof. Imbert, Canadian capacity of putting together such contradictions, is very attractive to researchers, because it is “contributing to the reflection on the future of the continent”.
I was also participating in a session dedicated to history. I found very interesting lectures delivered by Steven High on the economic changes in the North America, and by Gerald Freisen on the geography of the West.
The following day there was also a panel on the Canadian election. Since I am teaching Canadian political system, it was a great occasion for me to discuss the consequences of the shift in power in Ottawa. I am sure it will result in better and more interesting classes for students.
During the conference there was an opportunity to see new books from Canadian publishers. There was also an exhibition of Inuit art. On Saturday organizers arranged a poetry evening with Danny Laferriere and Guillermo Verdecchia. On the last day, I took advantage of closeness of the Alps, and I went by cable car at the top of the highest mountain in Germany – Zugspitze.
I think that it was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.
27th Annual Canadianists Conference of German-speaking Countries, Grainau, 17-19 Feb 2006.
• Peter M. Boehm, Assistant Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs Canada
• Prof. Patrick Imbert, Université d’Ottawa
• Prof. Gerald Friesen, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
• Assist. Prof. Christian Leuprecht, Royal Military College, Kingston
• Assist. Prof. Steven High, Concordia University, Montreal
• Prof. Patricia Duff, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Guests of honor:
• Marie Gervais-Vidricaire, Ambassador of Canada to Austria
• François Laberge, Consul of Canada to Switzerland
• S.E. Paul Dubois, Ambassador of Canada to Germany
• Danny Laferriere - poet, writer
• Guillermo Verdecchia -poet, writer