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Transnationalizing North American History
Robert MacDougall

Towards a Transnational Political History of North America: The View from Canada

[26/03/2010]

Résumés

Désenclaver l’histoire politique du Canada pour la situer dans une perspective transnationale et la faire dialoguer avec l’histoire nord-américaine suppose d’assumer la fécondité historiographique d’au moins trois « hérésies » opposées aux dogmes du nationalisme canadien: l’histoire canadienne est une histoire américaine, comme le montre notamment l’exemple de ses idées politiques; la formation de la nation canadienne ne date pas de l’instauration de la Confédération de 1867, qui n’était que la juxtaposition de deux nations distinctes; et enfin, le fédéralisme constitue une forme de gouvernement remarquablent flexible et adaptée à la géograpahie et à la diversité culturelle du Canada. L’approche transnationale pousse à rejeter le « narcissisme des petites différences » et le « solipsisme de l’exceptionnalisme », au profit de l’écriture d’une histoire commune nord-américaine.

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  • 1  I would like to thank Richard Bensel, Richard John, Annick Lemperiere, and Robert Wardhaugh for th (...)
  • 2  On the return of political history in the United States, see Meg Jacobs, William J. Novak, and Jul (...)
  • 3  J.L. Granatstein, Who Killed Canadian History ? (Toronto : Harper Collins, 1989) ; Bryan D. Palmer (...)

1The renaissance that political history is enjoying in the United States does not seem to have fully arrived yet in Canada.1 When I started looking for and asking my colleagues about equivalents in Canada to the United States’ newly rejuvenated political history, I was told fairly firmly that I would not find them. A protracted and largely unproductive version of the “history wars” familiar elsewhere has obscured and postponed their arrival. In English Canada, the historiographical revolutions of a generation ago that saw the decline of traditional political history and the rise of social and cultural approaches came later, and were more fiercely resisted, than in some other spots.2 To this day, the quarreling historiographical camps remain more divided. The social and cultural historians that now dominate Canada’s major journals and conferences remain suspicious of anything resembling the old nationalist political history, while defenders of the toppled national-political tradition blame their successors for “killing” Canadian history and perhaps the nation itself.3

2To understand how strident the history wars were on the Canadian front, how panic-stricken and polemical on all sides, we must remember that the decades which saw the eclipse of English Canada’s traditional national-political narrative were also decades of constitutional crisis and deep pessimism about the future of Canadian federalism. To the traditional historians who had always seen themselves as active participants in the construction and defense of English Canada’s national identity, there was no coincidence in the timing of this historiographical shift and the alleged crisis in Canadian federalism. Much more than in the United States, there has been a sense in arguments over Canada’s national historical narrative that the country’s very survival was at stake. Perhaps for these reasons, some scholars I talked to were skeptical and even suspicious when asked about a renaissance in Canadian political history.

3While Canadian, I am not a Canadianist by training. I am instead a historian of the United States who left both Canada and Canadian history for nearly a decade and have now returned, trained in the history of the United States but deeply interested in what the Canadian story might have to say to an American and an international audience. I am keenly aware that in this paper I am generalizing about, and at times criticizing, a literature which others know much better than I. So the old saw is even more true of this paper than most: for anything that is right about this paper, I am indebted to colleagues and teachers; the errors are my own. Still, after only a little digging, I started to find exciting, innovative work on political topics, particularly on the history of nineteenth century Canada. Much of this work has been written outside of history departments, by political scientists and sociologists, but that too is starting to change. And so it seems to me that all the ingredients are in place for a new history of politics that transcends the old history wars, and makes a real contribution to a transnational history of the North American continent.

  • 4  Ian McKay, “The Liberal Order Framework : A Prospectus for a Reconnaissance of Canadian History,” (...)

4To describe this new political history in very broad strokes, we might identify three major streams, two of which were detailed in a very useful article by Ian McKay in the Canadian Historical Review.4 One should not overstate the “new-ness” of this work—some of the books and articles described below date from the 1990s or late 1980s if not before. But as McKay points out, these works have for all their strengths been cautious about generalizing beyond tightly-defined localities and cases, and any sense of this literature as a coherent school or movement has been slow to emerge.

  • 5  Jane Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada : A Developing Colonial Ideology (Montreal : (...)
  • 6  Allan Greer and Ian Radforth, eds., Colonial Leviathan : State Formation in Mid-Nineteenth-Century (...)
  • 7  Wallace Clement and Glen Williams, eds. The New Canadian Political Economy (Montreal : McGill-Quee (...)

5First, there is a new history of Canadian political thought, which rejects the old canard that Canadian politics in the nineteenth Century were non-ideological, or that Canadians were pragmatists or compromisers, not really driven by philosophies or ideas. Scholars in this vein—among them Jane Errington, Gordon Stewart, and Robert Vipond—have rediscovered the radicalism and the civic republicanism of nineteenth-century Canada, and situated Canadian republicanism at the heart of a transnational, transatlantic dialogue of ideas.5 Second, there is a new history of state formationin nineteenth century Canada. The subject is not “nation building,” that old standby of nationalist historiography, but “state formation,” the name indicating a kind of Gramscian focus on the cultural process of state formation and legitimation rather than parliaments and political parties. Works like Allan Greer and Ian Radforth’s Colonial Leviathantrack the administrative, cultural, economic, and legal practices by which citizens and civic life came under the control of government, and they offer a serious challenge to what might be called the liberal myth of the weak or laissez-faire nineteenth century state.6 Third, I would also highlight the no-longer new Canadian political economy. The “new Canadian political economy” of the 1970s has matured out of a sometimes one-dimensional application of Latin American dependency theory to the Canadian context and become a sophisticated interdisciplinary body of scholarship that has much to offer a broader transnational scholarship.7

6That is a fast survey of a diverse and still quite diffuse literature. This article can hardly give the literature’s contributions and complexities all the discussion they deserve. Instead, I will simply highlight three ways in which this scholarship revises and opens up traditional English-Canadian historiography. It speaks three heresies against the old nationalist, centralist, and anti-American biases of political history in Canada, and in so doing opens the possibility of a more transnational understanding of both the Canadian and the North American past.

7The first heresy is, for many Canadians, the greatest: Canadian history is American history, and vice-versa. By this I mean that the histories of the United States and Canada are not merely comparable; they are not even simply “entangled.” They are, in important ways, separate cases or instances of the same history. In the early nineteenth century, Americans and English Canadians were, in almost every way that mattered, the same people. If Canadian historians give up the search for some essential difference between Canadians and Americans, and begin with this sameness as our starting point, the differences that have undoubtedly developed over the years will become far more interesting and illuminating.

8The second heresy against English-Canadian historiography is that French-Canadian historians have had it right all along: Canada’s Confederation in 1867 was not an act of national unification, as it is so often portrayed, but a compact between two nations. In fact, it was understood by many at the time as an act of decentralization, granting the English and French provinces of Upper and Lower Canada greater autonomy from each other.

9The third heresy against conventional historical wisdom in Canada is that Canadian federalism is not fragile, not in crisis, and not clinging to life in defiance of geography and culture.In fact, Canada’s political history demonstrates that decentralized federalism can be a flexible and remarkably resilient form of government. We ought not to be surprised that more and more nations are experimenting with federated forms of government closely resembling the Canadian model.

10Once Canadian historians speak these heresies, Canadian political history may become far more interesting and relevant to outsiders than it has seemed of late. Reoriented in these ways, Canadian political historiography may be better able to enter transnational conversations between Canadian, U.S., and Latin American historians, and not incidentally, between English-Canadian and French-Canadian historians too.

Canadian History as American History

  • 8  Janet Ajzenstat, “Canada’s Political Culture Today,” in Canada’s Origins : Liberal, Tory, or Repub (...)

11The history of Upper Canada—modern day Ontario—was long told in Canada as the triumph of hardy British loyalists over both the howling wilderness and the destructive influence of American republicanism. The loyalists came to Canada, it was argued, determined to build a counterrevolutionary society, rejecting all things American while embracing the conservative values of 18th century Britain. Over time, a synthesis of 18th century Tory notions of collectivity and the common good with nineteenth century British liberalism gave rise to 20th century Canadian socialism, or at least the social welfare state. The great virtue of this “Tory touch” hypothesis was its affirmation that Canada was, from the beginning, essentially and irrevocably different from the United States—that it owed its existence to people who had opted out of being Americans. “It’s no wonder that the ‘Tory touch’ model has been so popular,” writes Janet Ajzenstat. “I think Canadians would sell their soul for an academic theory that says that Canada is not like the United States.”8

  • 9  Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada.

12But scholars like Ajzenstat, along with Gordon Stewart, Jane Errington, and others, have dismantled the mythology surrounding the Loyalists and their influence on Canada’s development. The Americans who moved from the United States to Canada during and after the Revolution came for a variety of reasons—cheap land chief among them—and brought with them a variety of political ideas. They were not, as a group, measurably more conservative, more aristocratic, or more given to using state power for communal ends than the society they joined or the society they left behind. They took for granted a continuing connection to both the United States and Britain, and they talked frankly about which elements of the American system to emulate and which to avoid. They recognized, to quote Jane Errington’s words, “that the new province and its people were, in the broadest sense of the word, American.”9

13A key strength of the new socio-cultural history of political thought is its insistence that people are the carriers of ideas, and that people are always embedded in transnational communities, networks, and conversations. The new history of Canadian political thought offers us a Canada whose people and whose ideas were always inescapably in dialogue with both British and American political forms. Keep in mind that in the early nineteenth century, nearly all of Upper Canada’s links with the outside world ran through the United States. Keep in mind that the French in Lower Canada seemed far more alien to English Canadians than their American cousins to the south. And keep in mind that until the late 1820s, American citizens were still officially regarded as subjects of the British crown. So even during the War of 1812, Americans could and did cross the border freely, hold property in Canada, and even political office. (This is not to say that French-Canadians were isolated from the United States either. French Canadians have insisted for centuries that they were North Americans, not Frenchmen or Canadians. It’s worth noting that in the late nineteenth century, just about as many French Canadians lived in the United States as within the province of Quebec.)

14The new history of Canadian political thought has rediscovered the significance of American-style civic republicanism in Canada. It emphasizes the radicalness of nineteenth-century reformers and agitators like William Mackenzie and Louis Papineau, and their debt to American political ideas. The implications of this rediscovery are profound. They suggest that the most significant rival to classical liberalism in nineteenth century Canada came not from the British right, as Canadian historians and political scientists have long maintained, but rather from an American left. This conclusion is not only of interest to Canadians. If Canadian socialism grew out of republican political traditions imported from the United States, if Canada’s social welfare state is the continuation and completion of the American Revolution, not its abnegation, that radically destabilizes entrenched ideas about the political culture of both nations. Canada thus becomes one of history’s best arguments against American exceptionalism—and vice versa.

  • 10  Tony Judt, “A New Master Narrative ? Reflections on Contemporary Anti-Americanism.” in With Us or (...)

15Making this case in Canada remains an uphill battle. As anti-Americanism has become, in Tony Judt’s words, “a new master narrative” around the globe, and a bedrock position of the Canadian left, it has become very difficult to convince anyone of the once-radical potential of American political thought, much less argue that progressive politics in Canada owe any historical debt to American inspirations or ideas.10 John Ralston Saul’s recent book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, illustrates the size of the Canadian blind spot regarding the American left. Arguing that Canada’s political culture and institutions have been heavily shaped by Aboriginal ideas, A Fair Country offers a compelling and beautifully-written challenge to traditional Canadian mythologies. But Saul must go through some contortions to deny or ignore the influence of American inspirations on the very movements for diversity and equality he celebrates. For example, Saul approvingly quotes the draft constitution of William Lyon Mackenzie’s failed rebellion in 1837. (The italics and parenthetical additions are his.)

  • 11  John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country : Telling Truths about Canada (Toronto : Viking Canada, 2008), 1 (...)

They denounced Britain’s breaking of its “covenant with the people of Upper and Lower Canada” and proposed a new covenant in order “to make choice of our form of Government and in order to establish justice [i.e., good government], ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence [i.e., two aspects of peace], promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of civil and religious liberty…”11

  • 12  The preamble to the U.S. Constitution, surely familiar to Mackenzie, reads, “We the People of the (...)

16Saul’s aim here is to portray Mackenzie’s rebellion as an outgrowth of Aboriginal ideas about peace, welfare, and good government. He makes absolutely no mention of the far more obvious inspiration for the passage quoted, the preamble of the United States Constitution.12 Mackenzie was a friend to, and student of, American democracy. He first fell afoul of Upper Canada’s British elites when he argued that American-born settlers in Canada should have the same rights as British subjects. But little room has been made for American influence in either the traditional lineage of the Canadian left or Saul’s revised portrait.

  • 13  Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada.

17It was not only Canada’s republican radicals that were connected to the United States. Jane Errington’s The Lion, The Eagle, and Upper Canada demonstrates that Upper Canada’s most conservative, pro-British elites had close social, ideological, and economic ties to American Federalists. These elites considered themselves part of a single conservative community which spanned the Canada-U.S. border, and their ideology was directly informed by, and in dialogue with, the American scene.13 Canada’s Tory elites deplored the War of 1812 as a Republican war, and saw themselves as fighting in defense of their American Federalist friends. Many negative stereotypes of the United States that took hold in Canada as the nineteenth century wore on—the unruly mob, the pernicious effects of factions, the fanaticism of American religious faiths—actually came from the American Federalists’ views of their Jeffersonian opponents, and later Whig views of the Jacksonians. How is that for an illustration of political interdependence: even Canada’s anti-Americanism was imported from the United States!

The Lost Tradition of Decentralized Federalism

18Another theme of the new Canadian political history is that Canada’s Confederation in 1867 is best understood not as an act of national unification, which is how many English-Canadian historians have seen it for decades, but rather as a compact between two autonomous nations, which is of course what French-Canadian historians have maintained all along.

  • 14  Paul Romney, Getting It Wrong : How Canadians Forgot Their Past and Imperilled Confederation (Toro (...)

19This is the argument of Paul Romney, in a recent book called Getting It Wrong: How Canadians Forgot Their Past and Imperiled Confederation. Alas, Romney’s title indulges in a common Canadian practice of whipping up fears about the future in order to sell books about the past. But his argument is compelling and potentially transformative. Romney and others like him are recovering a lost tradition in English-Canadian politics and political history, one that is far more compatible with French-Canadian historiography, and with the realities of Canadian federalism, than the centralist mythology constructed by English Canadian historians since the 1930s.14

20Both English and French Canadians, Romney argues, embraced federalism in 1867 not to forge a centralized nation-state called Canada but to establish a true federation of autonomous provinces. For a substantial constituency of Upper and Lower Canadians, the real intent of Confederation was to undo the hated Union Act of 1841, when the British responded to the rebellions of 1837 by forcing Upper and Lower Canada into one administrative unit. When nineteenth-century Canadians campaigned for “responsible government,” Romney demonstrates, most meant provincial government. So the Dominion of Canada was a decentralized federation by design.

21Why is this conclusion interesting from a transnational point of view? For one thing, it offers a basis for much-needed dialogue between French and English Canadians and their historians. As Romney points out, Quebecois nationalism and English-Canadian nationalism now rest on mutually incompatible histories of Confederation. But this was not always so; the designs of 1867 accommodated English- and French-Canadian aspirations without contradiction.

  • 15  Janine Brodie, “The Political Economy of Regionalism,” in The New Canadian Political Economy, ed. (...)

22More broadly, a political history of Canadian federalism that accepts the legitimacy of provincial autonomy can stop denying or lamenting what is one of the most interesting things about Canada from an international point of view: the persistent importance of regions and regionalism to Canada’s collective political experience. Unlike the United States and many other developed Western countries, and contrary to conventional wisdom in the mid-twentieth century, the modernization and industrialization of Canada did not lead to political centralization or to the economic or social homogenization of provinces and regions. Western Canada, Atlantic Canada, Northern Canada, Ontario, and Quebec remain profoundly and fundamentally distinct. Economic development is highly uneven and regional differences are powerful and real.15

  • 16  Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, “‘Impossible Conditions of Inequality’ : John W. Dafoe, the R (...)

23Yet this heterogeneity does not mean that Canadian federalism has failed or is falling apart. Outsiders are often impressed by the achievements of Canadian federalism and bemused by Canadians’ sense of perennial crisis. Canadian federalism is only “failing” if the sole definition of success is a monolithic national identity coterminous with the borders of a centralized state. “For more than a quarter-century, the federation has been wracked by crisis and by worried scholarly commentary,” observe Robert Wardhaugh and Barry Ferguson. They do not themselves share in the panic. Somehow, they point out, the federation abides. Though not without its shortcomings, Canada has been remarkably successful in managing diversity and heterogeneity.16 A history written to respect and explain those successes would be more useful and accessible to non-Canadian audiences than our traditional narrative of English-Canadian nation-building and its failures.

  • 17  Herbert E. Bolton, “The Epic of Greater America,” American Historical Review 38 (1933) : 448-474 ; (...)

24Today we are becoming increasingly aware of the persistence or reassertion of region in other countries around the world. Regional and transnational approaches to history and political economy are in fact quite congenial, as both de-center the nation state as the sole actor or container of history and political life. Canadian history and Canadian historians can make a vital contribution to that project. As we do, we will actually be restoring an earlier tradition of transnational scholarly exchange. In the early 20th century, before the World War II-era shift towards a more activist central government in Canada, and before the centralist leanings of English-Canadian historians like Donald Creighton and others were entrenched into myth, one could find lively exchange between English- and French-Canadian historians, and real interest in the distinctive features of Canadian federalism from an international scholarly community. Historians like Herbert Bolton and John Brebner, and political scientists like Arthur MacMahon, hailed early 20th century Canada as a “laboratory” or “guinea-pig” of federalism, worthy of study for just this reason. The best French-Canadian historians continue to find readers in France. But as English Canadians forgot or repudiated the old understanding of Confederation as a compact between autonomous peoples, international interest faded away.17

Canada and the Americas

  • 18  Albert Braz, “North of America : Racial Hybridity and Canada’s (Non)Place in Inter-American Discou (...)
  • 19  Rachel Adams and Sarah Phillips Casteel, “Canada and the Americas,” Comparative American Studies 3 (...)

25It is hard to see Latin America from Canada, and vice versa. The immense fact of the United States blocks vision in both directions. So while scholars from the United States and Latin America have begun to explore more transnational approaches to the history of the American hemisphere, Canadians have remained nearly absent from these conversations. Albert Braz writes, quoting Jorges Luis Borges, “for Latin Americans, Canada is so distant both culturally and geographically, that ‘it almost doesn’t exist.’”18 But the neglect is mutual. Canadian scholarship has had little to say about Latin America or the Caribbean, and Canadians seem to have absented themselves from many continental or hemispheric discussions. Some Canadian scholars voice a fear that transnational study organized along continental or hemispheric lines will simply marginalize Canada and reify the cultural and political dominance of the United States.19

  • 20  Clement and Williams, The New Canadian Political Economy.

26There is one field, however, in which Canadians have engaged seriously with Latin American scholarship for many years. It also happens to be a field in which there exists a fairly established Canadian theoretical paradigm. This is political economy. The 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s have been called the “classic period” of Canadian political economy, marked by the pioneering work of Harold Innis on staples production and the regional and international significance of place. This tradition fell into decline in the 1950s and 1960s, but the 1970s saw the rise of a new school of Canadian political economy. Inspired by Latin American dependency theories and preoccupied with questions of Canadian “underdevelopment,” the new political economy literature of the 1970s was avowedly socialist and Canadian nationalist. The tone of this literature, and its attitude towards the United States, can be judged from the titles of two key works, both published in 1970: Silent Surrender: The Multinational Corporation in Canada, and Close the 49th Parallel: The Americanization of Canada.20

  • 21  Watkins, “The Branch Plant Condition,” in Arthur K. Davis, ed., Canadian Confrontations : Hinterla (...)

27While Canada’s new political economists made a commendable effort to study and engage the work of Latin American scholars, they walled themselves off from the United States in a manner hardly conducive to transnational insight. “If we want to study the Canadian condition,” Mel Watkins wrote in 1969,“we would be much better off reading what Latin Americans write … than anything we will ever learn by reading what American social scientists write about. There is virtually no literature produced by Americans on multinational corporations that can be taken seriously.”21 The new political economists were so eager to see Canada as identical or equivalent to Latin America, a victim of the same kinds of economic penetration and exploitation, that they denied the real health of Canada’s political institutions, its genuine wealth relative to many semi-industrialized Latin American countries, and indeed its complicity in United States exploitation of Latin American economic resources. Nor did the new political economy devote much attention to regional disparities of wealth and power within Canada.

  • 22  Glen Williams, “Canada in the International Political Economy,” in The New Canadian Political Econ (...)

28More recent work has addressed these gaps. Glen Williams argued in 1989 that the political economists of the previous decade had misread Innis, in their haste to claim him as an intellectual forerunner of Canadian dependencia analysis. Innis in the 1930s and 1940s was undoubtedly concerned about Canada’s economic and political autonomy vis-à-vis the United States. But he also emphasized “the elasticity of Canada’s political, economic, and social structure” and its wealth and success relative to the comparatively “inelastic” resource-export economies of many Latin American countries. And although he did not use the same terminology as scholars today, Innis offered a sophisticated and modern-seeming reading of geographic regions within nations as relational, diachronic, and historically constructed.22

29Political economy scholarship in Canada today—the new new political economy?—builds on both the dependency theories of the 1970s and Innis’ earlier work to offer a holistic, materialist approach to the analysis of regions, nations, and the international system. It is often critical of globalization but not one-dimensional in its approach. It is a promoter of interdisciplinary dialogue and offers compelling possibilities for transnational conversation and comparison. We cannot go forward by wishing the United States away. But a political and political economic history that really engages with the full ambiguity of Canada’s place in continental, hemispheric, and global systems may serve as a real contribution to transnational scholarship and a useful counterexample to models derived from European or Latin American norms.

30Canadians have lived for years, even when their history was written to deny it, with phenomena that are now understood to be globally widespread. These include the destabilizing of state power by transnational markets, the persistence of regional economies and identities within the outline of the nation-state, and the simple truth that states and nations are not always coextensive. As a result, Canadian scholars have much to offer, and much to gain from, a broadly conceived history of North America’s politics and political economy that fuses indigenous intellectual traditions with new insight from transnational work.

  • 23  Thomas Dunk, “National Culture, Political Economy, and Socio-Cultural Anthropology in English Cana (...)

31In the realm of culture, Canada is easily imagined from the outside as a “Great White North,” homogenous and bland. But Canadian histories of multiculturalism and racial hybridity challenge such stereotypes. Canadians themselves are more likely to argue that English-Canadian culture is defined only by its lack of definition. Canadian culture is said to be marked by its “bicentrism,” defined by Canadian anthropologist Thomas Dunk as “the inability to imagine a whole that is not divided within itself.” But as Dunk points out, this is “increasingly said to be true of all cultures.”23 Canadian discourses of ethnic and racial hybridity mirror and compliment Latin American theories of hybridity and mestizaje, and perhaps reflect a more universal postmodern condition.

32Can we conceive of a continental narrative that is not simply a nationalist history of the United States, or its inverse, a catalog of U.S. errors and crimes? Can we write a history of North America that sees national variations as instances of the story but not the story itself? What will a truly transnational history of North American politics look like? It might look a little like the very best of the new Canadian political history.

  • 24  Andrew Cohen, “Our Mythology of Values,” in Rudyard Griffiths, ed., American Myths : What Canadian (...)

33A truly transnational history will not be without its costs. It will require rejecting the narcissism of small differences, to which Canadians are extremely prone.24 It will mean giving up the solipsism of American exceptionalism and the familiar comforts of anti-Americanism too. And transnational history is of course hard work. It demands research in far-flung archives and mastery of multiple literatures and languages. Continental transnationalism may be a more modest and achievable project than history on a truly global scale.

  • 25  H.J. Hanham, “Canadian History in the 1970s.” Canadian Historical Review 58 (1977) : 2-22.

34In 1974, the British historian H.J. Hanham wrote an article for the Canadian Historical Review on Canadian history as viewed from the outside. He emphasized, as I have also tried to do, the lively diversity afforded by Canadian federalism and the way it gave “free rein to the provinces to work out their own destinies over a very wide range of activities.” But Hanham concluded his article by calling on Canadian historians to “write about Canadians without being constantly preoccupied with the mystery of what is Canada.”25 That remains worthwhile advice, not only for historians of Canada but for historians of any nation. There are bigger questions to be asked and more universal stories to be told.

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Notes

1  I would like to thank Richard Bensel, Richard John, Annick Lemperiere, and Robert Wardhaugh for their contributions and criticisms.

2  On the return of political history in the United States, see Meg Jacobs, William J. Novak, and Julian E. Zelizer, eds., The Democratic Experiment : New Directions in Political History (Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2003). I focus here on English-Canadian historiography, but a parallel case is made for French-Canadian historiography in Réal Bélanger, “Pour un retour à l’histoire politique,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique Française 51 :2 (1997) 223-241. The two literatures remain lamentably distinct. Carl Berger, The Writing of Canadian History : Aspects of English-Canadian Historical Writing, 1900-1970 (Toronto : Oxford University Press, 1976) ; Serge Gagnon, Le Québec et ses historiens de 1840 à 1920 (Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval, 1978) ; Ronald Rudin, Making History in Twentieth-Century Quebec (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1997).

3  J.L. Granatstein, Who Killed Canadian History ? (Toronto : Harper Collins, 1989) ; Bryan D. Palmer, “Of Silences and Trenches : A Dissident View of Granatstein’s Meaning.” Canadian Historical Review 80 (1999) : 676-86.

4  Ian McKay, “The Liberal Order Framework : A Prospectus for a Reconnaissance of Canadian History,” Canadian Historical Review 81 (2000) : 617-45.

5  Jane Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada : A Developing Colonial Ideology (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987) ; Gordon T. Stewart, The Origins of Canadian Politics : A Comparative Approach (Vancouver : University of British Columbia Press, 1986) ; Robert C. Vipond, Liberty and Community : Canadian Federalism and the Failure of the Constitution (Albany, NY : SUNY Press, 1991).

6  Allan Greer and Ian Radforth, eds., Colonial Leviathan : State Formation in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Canada (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1992).

7  Wallace Clement and Glen Williams, eds. The New Canadian Political Economy (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989) ; Wallace Clement, ed. Understanding Canada : Building on the New Canadian Political Economy (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997).

8  Janet Ajzenstat, “Canada’s Political Culture Today,” in Canada’s Origins : Liberal, Tory, or Republican ? ed. Janet Ajzenstat and Peter J. Smith (Ottawa : Carleton University Press, 1995), 265-281.

9  Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada.

10  Tony Judt, “A New Master Narrative ? Reflections on Contemporary Anti-Americanism.” in With Us or Against Us : Studies in Global Anti-Americanism, ed. Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 11-31.

11  John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country : Telling Truths about Canada (Toronto : Viking Canada, 2008), 129.

12  The preamble to the U.S. Constitution, surely familiar to Mackenzie, reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

13  Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada.

14  Paul Romney, Getting It Wrong : How Canadians Forgot Their Past and Imperilled Confederation (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1999).

15  Janine Brodie, “The Political Economy of Regionalism,” in The New Canadian Political Economy, ed. Wallace Clement and Glen Williams (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 138-159 ; Ian McKay, “A Note on ‘Region’ in Writing the History of Atlantic Canada,” Acadiensis 29 (2000) : 89-101 ; Robert Wardhaugh, introduction to Toward Defining the Prairies : Region, Culture, and History, ed. Robert Wardhaugh (Winnipeg : University of Manitoba Press, 2001), 3-13.

16  Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, “‘Impossible Conditions of Inequality’ : John W. Dafoe, the Rowell-Sirois Royal Commission, and the Interpretation of Canadian Federalism,” Canadian Historical Review, 84 (2003) 551-583 ; Ian McKay, “After Canada : On Amnesia and Apocalypse in the Contemporary Crisis,” Acadiensis 28 :1 (1998) 76-97 ; Ian Peach, ed. Constructing Tomorrow’s Federalism : New Perspectives in Canadian Governance (Winnipeg : University of Manitoba Press, 2007).

17  Herbert E. Bolton, “The Epic of Greater America,” American Historical Review 38 (1933) : 448-474 ; John B. Brebner, “Canadian and North American History,” Canadian Historical Association Annual Report 9 (1931) : 37-48 ; John B. Brebner, North Atlantic Triangle : The Interplay of Canada, the United States and Great Britain (New York : Columbia University Press, 1945) ; Arthur Whittier MacMahon, Federalism : Mature and Emergent (New York : Russell and Russell, 1962) ; Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, “Reconsidering Rowell-Sirois and Rethinking Canadian Federalism,” in Constructing Tomorrow’s Federalism : New Perspectives in Canadian Governance, ed. Ian Peach (Winnipeg : University of Manitoba Press, 2007).

18  Albert Braz, “North of America : Racial Hybridity and Canada’s (Non)Place in Inter-American Discourse,” Comparative American Studies 3 (2005) : 79-88.

19  Rachel Adams and Sarah Phillips Casteel, “Canada and the Americas,” Comparative American Studies 3 (2005) : 5-13 ; Bryce Traister, “Risking Nationalism : NAFTA and the Limits of the New American Studies,” Canadian Review of American Studies 27 (1997) : 191-204.

20  Clement and Williams, The New Canadian Political Economy.

21  Watkins, “The Branch Plant Condition,” in Arthur K. Davis, ed., Canadian Confrontations : Hinterland vs. Metropolis, Edmonton : Western Association of Sociology and Anthropology, 1969, 39.

22  Glen Williams, “Canada in the International Political Economy,” in The New Canadian Political Economy, ed. Wallace Clement and Glen Williams (Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 118-137.

23  Thomas Dunk, “National Culture, Political Economy, and Socio-Cultural Anthropology in English Canada,” Anthropologica 42 (2000) : 131-45.

24  Andrew Cohen, “Our Mythology of Values,” in Rudyard Griffiths, ed., American Myths : What Canadians Think They Know About the United States, Toronto : Key Porter Books, 2008, 137-150.

25  H.J. Hanham, “Canadian History in the 1970s.” Canadian Historical Review 58 (1977) : 2-22.

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Robert MacDougall, « Towards a Transnational Political History of North America: The View from Canada », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En ligne], Débats, mis en ligne le 26 mars 2010, consulté le 30 août 2014. URL : http://nuevomundo.revues.org/59404 ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.59404

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Robert MacDougall

Assistant Professor, Department of History; Associate Director, Centre for American Studies; University of Western Ontario

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