Director's Message


In her introduction to The Posthuman, philosopher Rosi Braidotti begins by paying tribute to the values that she sees at the heart of humanities. What inspires the best of humanist scholarship, she writes, is “the dream of producing social relevant knowledge that is attuned to basic principles of social justice, the respect for human decency and diversity, the rejection of false universalisms; the affirmation of the positivity of difference; the principles of academic freedom, anti-racism, openness to others and conviviality.” These are some of the key values that have sustained the Calgary Institute for the Humanities over the course of its history, and which continue to inspire us to foster what she calls “communities of learning.”

2021-22 marks the 45th anniversary of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, Canada’s oldest humanities institute. The CIH was founded to support and promote high-quality humanities research at the University of Calgary, and it does this by playing host to scholars who produce some of the most exciting and innovative research in the University. This year we host five resident fellows, including our first ever Applied Ethics Fellow, a scholar-in-residence, our graduate fellow, two post-doctoral scholars and two visiting fellows. These scholars work on subjects ranging from Dante’s Inferno, candid photography, nineteenth-century tales of mixed-race revenge, and Calgary’s marginalized human and non-human communities. Together, they offer an inspiring example of the value of multi-disciplinary collaboration and conversation.

Like other humanities institutes, our mission has expanded over time. Beyond our key role in supporting humanities research and interdisciplinary inquiry at the university, the CIH has played a central role in building bridges of learning to the broader community. The CIH has been a pioneer in community-based research, holding our Community Seminar each year to address issues of concern to the broader community. Our Calgary Atlas Project is producing lively and beautiful historical maps of our city. And most recently, we have started a Public Humanities program, that places advanced doctoral students in community organizations, demonstrating to both the students and the organizations the wealth of skills possessed by humanities graduates.

In everything we do, the CIH seeks to contribute to the public good by promoting the core values of the humanities and fostering crucial conversations. It is an uneasy time in world affairs, with far too many examples of these values coming under threat, and it has never been more important to stand up and affirm them, to build strong communities and decry marginalisation of any sort. While the pandemic has rendered our preferred mode of communication – face-to-face conversations – more difficult, we nonetheless hope that you will join us when you can, either in person or on-line, to continue this vital tradition of humanistic inquiry.

- Jim Ellis, Director, CIH