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.”
2020-2021 marks the 44th 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, our research fellows are looking at how propinquity facilitated literary careers of women in Victorian London, exploring the meaning of sport and physical activity in the lives of queer Calgarians, examining digital justice and injustice in the smart city, and analysing contemporary debates on the social value of art and poetry through the lens of the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers.
Like other humanities institutes, our mission has expanded over time. Beyond our key role in supporting humanities research 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. The results have been published in over twenty books, and broadcast worldwide via CBC Ideas. And like other humanities institutes, the CIH seeks to foster the most innovative interdisciplinary conversations, by bringing together scholars from different disciplines to address common issues from a variety of perspectives.
In everything we do, the CIH seeks to contribute to the public good by promoting the core values of the humanities. It is an uneasy time in world affairs with far too many examples of these values coming under threat, so 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 currently rendered our preferred mode of communication – face-to-face conversations – impossible, we nonetheless hope that you will join us virtually in our convivial community of learning until it is safe to gather together once more.
- Noreen Humble, Acting Director (2020-21), CIH
- Jim Ellis, Director, CIH