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TOPIC: Polarization and Equity in Canadian Politics and Beyond


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Fiona MacDonald

Section Head Women, Gender and Politics

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Melanee Thomas

Section Head Political Behaviour/Sociology

The politics of many established democracies are increasingly polarized, and Canada is no exception to this trend. Polarization carries two potentially useful definitions. First, it can refer to the erosion of a moderate political centre and a related, widening, gap amongst citizens in relation to any, or all, of the following: partisanship, policy directions, national/regional symbols, and worldview. Second, "affective polarization" refers specifically to negative and/or hostile feelings towards precepted political out-groups, such as different political parties and their partisans, ideological groups, and, most notably, equity-deserving groups. This second form is especially pernicious, because it leads to polarized behaviour from those who otherwise fit in the moderate political centre. As a result, both forms of polarization can lead to hostile and contentious politics.

Political scientists across various subfields are at the forefront of answering the "who", "what", "why" questions raised by growing polarization as well as the question of "how" best to challenge and/or reverse this trend. With this context in mind, we invite proposals for a workshop at the 2023 Canadian Political Science Association conference on the topic of Polarization and Equity in Canadian Politics and Beyond. We are particularly interested in papers that offer the following:

  • Serious engagement and/or cross-pollination from both theoretical and empirical treatments of polarization
  • Analyses on the effects of affect and emotion in polarization
  • Explicit consideration of how polarization is grounded in racism and misogyny
  • Engaging with the opportunities and constraints of existing data in Canada relating to polarization

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: The Council of the Federation at 20: A Critical Review


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Dave Guénette


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Félix Mathieu

Section Head Provincial and Territorial Politics in Canada and Beyond

Under the leadership of the newly elected Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, and Quebec's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Benoît Pelletier, the Canadian Premiers undertook to create in 2003 a new forum to revitalize horizontal intergovernmental relations in the Canadian federation and "build a more constructive and cooperative federal system.” This, of course, is the Council of the Federation.

As written in the founding agreement: “Under the Constitution, Canada’s two orders of government are of equal status, neither subordinate to the other, sovereign within their own areas of jurisdiction and accordingly, they should have adequate resources to meet their responsibilities. […] There is a need to institute a new era of intergovernmental collaboration by promoting a constructive dialogue between the partners of the federation […] and to demonstrate […] leadership through institutional innovation.” The Council of the Federation’s mission is thus to ensure that the central government is not and does not consider itself “the sole guardian of the common good in the federal system” (Laforest, 2014, p. 135).

Two decades after it was created, how would you assess the realizations of the Council of the Federation? Has it lived up to the expectations and hopes raised by the founding agreement? What role has the Council played in the development of intergovernmental relations within the Canadian federation? Has the institution contributed to a transformation of power relations between the provinces and the central government? How does the Council of the Federation compare with similar institutions in other federal systems? What are the main shortcomings of the Council of the Federation? How might it evolve to meet the challenges the Canadian federal society is facing today (Indigenous participation and reconciliation processes, health transfers, ability to present a united front, etc.)?

As part of the 2023 Congress of the Canadian Political Science Association, we invite researchers of all backgrounds and generations to submit a proposal (title, 250-word abstract, brief biography) to address these questions (note that this is a non-exhaustive list of questions).

Participants to the workshop will be invited to submit a written version of their contribution to be considered for a special journal issue (more details to come).

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: Insurgent and Resurgent Knowledges


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Nisha Nath

Co-section Head Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples and Politics

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Davina Bhandar


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Rita Dhamoon


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Anita Girvan


In The Lonely Letters, Ashon t. Crawley writes, “Otherwise possibility is not utopic…but it is the elaboration of the fact that alternatives exist…This is why, for me, there are worlds.”

This interdisciplinary workshop invites a move away from the logics of identity and a singular focus on harm that dominate mainstream approaches within Canadian political science, and a reorientation and recentering of insurgent and resurgent knowledge practices as otherwise orientations to the political. Currently, insurgent and resurgent knowledge practices are emerging from climate justice activism, food security, Indigenous and Afro futurisms, migrant justice movements, queer/trans and gender non-conforming mobilizations, abolitionist politics, among others. Collectively, these sites of political struggle demystify "circuits of power" (Mohanty 2015), center decolonial futures (Habtom and Scribe, 2020), cultivate dissident friendships (Chowdhury and Philipose, 2016), orient knowledge creation and accountabilities to community (Gaudry 2011), and in doing so "break the epistemological contract" (Wynter 2015, as cited in Alexander and Mohanty 2010). Insurgence and resurgence are co-implicated in their challenge to normative hegemonic structures of knowledge production, and in their constituting of foundational possibilities toward social-ecological transformation.

This workshop will be organized around a set of contiguous conversations on the thematics of insurgence and resurgence in the context of your work within (and outside) the discipline of Political Science. The workshop will begin with a micro-lecture event on the keywords insurgence and resurgence. Submissions are invited to the following four sessions that could, depending on interest, include:

  1. Panels/roundtables exploring lineages of insurgence and resurgence through an honoring of the work of bell hooks and Lee Maracle.
  2. A session exploring insurgent and resurgent methods and recipes (yes, we mean literal recipes with ingredients in addition to recipe as metaphor for method or “how to”!). 
  3. A pedagogy session exploring how insurgence and resurgence is taken up in teaching and mentoring.
  4. A session on topics of insurgence and resurgence (e.g., theories, historical and contemporary practices, paradoxes/tensions/incommensurabilities, narratives and stories, futurities, Black radical ecologies, Indigenous resurgence, decasteing and queering love and intimacy). 

Submissions should specify which of the above four sessions you would like to contribute to with a 250 word abstract. Alongside disciplinary submissions, we encourage interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary submissions, interactive and creative submissions. In embracing the spirit of a workshop, we invite works in progress as well as completed papers. Submissions should be grounded in a substantive engagement with insurgence/resurgence, and we strongly encourage folx with embodied commitments to insurgent and resurgent knowledges to contribute.

Participants in the workshop will also be invited to contribute to an online living syllabus and music collection on Insurgent and Resurgent Knowledges housed at the Insurgent Resurgent Knowledges Lab (IRK Lab) at Athabasca University, and possibly an edited volume or special issue journal on ‘Political Worlds of Insurgent and Resurgent Knowledges’.

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: Blame Avoidance in Canadian Politics


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Christopher Cooper

Section Head Public Administration Section

Kent Weaver’s (1986) The Politics of Blame Avoidance changed the way we view politics. From the motivations of politicians, to the type of policies and programs politicians adopt, to the nature of bureaucratic organizations and delegation, blame, or more specifically blame avoidance, is believed to be an essential factor.

During the last decade a great deal of research on blame avoidance, such as Hood’s (2011) The Blame Game and Hinterleitner’s (2020) Policy Controversies and Political Blame Games, have improved our theoretical understanding of blame in everyday politics, policy and administration. Yet to date, the blame literature has been underutilized by Canadian political science.

This workshop invites papers to mobilize the blame literature to examine any facet of Canadian politics. Some possible issues to explore include:

  • the relationship between federalism and blame;
  • regionalism and blame; or
  • blame between elected government and administrative officials.

With this context in mind, 250-word proposals are invited on the topic of Blame Avoidance in Canadian Politics.

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: Conflict, Intersectionality and Systemic Ableism: Contemporary Scholarship and Practice


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Stephanie Kerr

SECTION HEAD Comparative Politics

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Nancy Hansen


With a population of over 1.1 billion, representing 15% of the world’s population, disabled people are the world’s largest minority. Their lived experiences run the full course of human experiences. This includes the compounding impacts of intersectionality. Intersectionality refers here to the interconnected nature of social categorizations including but not restricted to race, class, gender expression, and sexual orientation, that create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage.

While there are 164 signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the reality is that to say the implementation of the principles contained therein fall far short, would be the severest of understatements. While questions of policy implementation run up against issues of political will, funding, institutional incongruencies, or even party politics, with respect to the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities, the issue of systemic ableism – that system of institutions, policies and societal values that creates barriers for disabled people - underlines all aspects of such shortcomings.

Furthermore, in times of violent conflict disabled people, including those who may have become disabled as a result of conflict – whether through direct violence, lack of adequate medical care or nutrition etc. – as well as those whose disabilities pre-dates the conflict, face additional barriers in accessing basic, life-altering, and life-saving services, and may be particularly vulnerable to direct violence. The same can usually be said for the post-violent conflict period.

The workshop aims to provide participants with an opportunity to better understand the depth and breadth of systemic ableism in post-conflict policy implementation and lived experiences by highlighting the compounding and intersectional impacts of systemic ableism. Presentations will highlight an array of relevant themes, such as health, decolonization, post-conflict reconstruction, re-integration, economic (re)construction and refugee policies. Participants will then take part in guided discussions exploring the role of intersectionality and systemic ableism woven throughout the broader topic.

The workshop format will allow each contributor to highlight a particular issue, region, or topic as it relates to the overall theme of conflict, intersectionality and systemic ableism, laying the groundwork for a broader discussion on gaps in the existing scholarship, hurdles in implementation, and options moving forward.

The panel will be presented using a hybrid model, allowing for both in person and virtual attendance. Zoom automatic transcriptions will be employed to provide ongoing transcription of the proceedings. ASL interpretation will also be provided.

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: Public Governance and Government Agencies in Canada


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Sule Tomkinson

Section Head Law and Public Policy

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Carey Doberstein


Government agencies are ubiquitous in Canadian public governance. These organizations include a multitude of independent and arm’s-length authorities that perform advisory, service delivery, enforcement, regulatory, grant distribution, coordination, adjudicatory, and investigatory functions. The rationale for the delegation of these tasks to agencies instead of government departments or courts are diverse, ranging from improving policy legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency to removing political pressures from public policy development and implementation. While the international scholarship on agencification attributes the rise of agencies to the New Public Management reforms, agencies have long been a part of the Canadian machinery of government.

Despite their important role in Canadian public governance, the study of agencies has mostly escaped the radar of Canadian political scientists, particularly in recent decades. This workshop aims to remedy that. We welcome paper proposals that feature theoretical and and empirical research on government agencies (including boards and administrative tribunals) in Canada. Papers from this workshop may be invited to become either chapters in an edited volume or articles in a special issue on Canadian public agencies.

Questions about this workshop can be emailed to the organizers (click on the  icon below their pictures for contact information).



TOPIC: Territorial Conflicts and State-Building in the Borderlands


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Dilan Okcuoglu

American U.

Territory and control over it have remained central to modern statehood since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). Territorial control has also been key to other forms of institutional design, such as territorial autonomy. The current pursuit of homogenization in several countries has thrown normative and empirical debates on the making, remaking, and (un)making of territories and borders (Moore 2015; O’Leary, Lustick and Callaghy 2001) into sharp relief. Yet, states’ territorial designs (Atzili and Kaderchan 2018) remain important to scholars and policymakers, with more than 150 territorial conflicts across the globe.

Given the drastic consequences of a high number of territorial conflicts, a growing body of scholarship has emerged on the causes and types of territorial conflict (Forsberg 1996; Huth and Allee 2002; Toft 2003) as well as on resolution models in the post-conflict period (Samuels 2005; Lundy and McGovern 2008). In spite of the immense impact of territorial conflicts, several important questions remain understudied in the political science literature:

  • How does state (re)make itself over a given territory (especially in divided nations)?
  • What happens to the concepts of territory and territoriality in times of crises?
  • Why and how should we study territorial configurations  of states in a comparative perspective?
  • Under what conditions do territorial configurations of states change?
  • How can such change, when it is agreed, be effectively managed/regulated?

The objective of this workshop is to focus more on the interaction between territorial conflict and state-building practices in the borderlands. Moving the focus from national politics to local practices of everyday life in contested borderlands, this workshop will also unpack the effects of territorial conflict on the populations residing in the borderlands from a comparative lens. We will have an opportunity to discuss and exchange on several cases, such as Kashmir, Nepal, India, Israel-Palestine and other borderlands, especially in MENA and Asia.

In spite of the immense impact of territorial conflicts, a lack of empirically rich data on the nature  of territorial conflicts over borders and borderlands persists. Despite the surge in the number of territorial disputes, several important questions regarding how the borders are involved remain unanswered in the literature:

  • Under what circumstances do borders tend to become the center of protracted conflict?
  • What are the lived experiences of border disputes and how are these perceptions related to  the broader question of state-making?
  • How does the study of experiences and perceptions of state-making in borderlands expand our analytic lens on the relationship between state power, people and territory in divided nations?

This workshop will explore both the theoretical and empirical aspects of territorial disputes in borders and borderlands. Panels will explore concepts and theories about change in territorial designs (configurations) and the forms of state building in borderlands and conflicted territories, as well as specific empirical analysis of case and comparative studies. A wrap-up session in the format of a roundtable discussion will serve to further evaluation and exchange.