The following is a list of scholars working in Canada who have published on the history of human rights. This list is focussed on scholars with expertise in history and the concept of human rights.
My scholarship is divided into two fields: human rights and social movements. I am working on variety of projects that include human rights law and activism; state funding for Canada’s nonprofit sector; national security policies and counterterrorism; security and the Olympics; feminism and the women’s movement; freedom of information policy; and civilian review of police misconduct. In general, my scholarship is concerned with social and political change in Canada and the ability of marginalized people to challenge state power as well as the hegemony of law. See About for further details.
Eric Adams is interested in the history of Canadian constitutional law. His doctoral work was a project that located a critical strand of Canada’s twentieth-century rights revolution in the constitutional thinking of legal scholars, lawyers, and judges. Drawing on archival documents, personal papers, government reports, parliamentary debates, case law, and legal scholarship, his work traced the constitutional thought and culture that first propelled human rights and fundamental freedoms to the forefront of the Canadian legal imagination. Professor Adams is currently leading the legal historical research team of Landscapes of Injustice, a large SSHRC-funded inter-disciplinary research project investigating the dispossession of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
Stephanie Bangarth’s research interests include the issue of race in North American history, law and politics, immigration and ethnicity, and in the history of social movements in modern Canada. Her publications include “Religious Organizations and the ‘Relocation’ of Persons of Japanese Ancestry in North America: Evaluating Advocacy,” American Review of Canadian Studies 34, 3 (Fall 2004): 511-40; “‘We Are Not Asking You to Open Wide the Gates for Chinese Immigration’: The Committee for the Repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act and Early Human Rights Activism in Canada,” Canadian Historical Review 84, 3 (September 2003): 395-422; and Voices Raised in Protest: Defending North American Citizens of Japanese Ancestry, 1942–49 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008)
Linda Cardinal, professor at the School of Political Studies, is chairholder of the Chaire de recherche sur la francophonie et les politiques publiques of the University of Ottawa. Her research interests are linguistic minorities as well as the conflict themes, identity and citizenship in Canada and Québec. She is also interested in the theory of social movements and the history of ideas. She has written about the political culture of rights in Canada, which arises from her work on the politics of language in Canada and Europe.
Ruth Frager’s teaching and research focuses on the history of women, immigrant groups, and the working class, emphasizing modern Canada. She has co-authored with Carmela Patrias a book titled Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870-1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). Her earlier book, Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Jewish Labour Movement of Toronto, 1900-1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), won an award from the Ontario Historical Society. She is now working on the human rights campaigns in Ontario in the aftermath of the Second World War. She is also the author of “Labour History and the Interlocking Hierarchies of Class, Ethnicity, and Gender: A Canadian Perspective,” International Review of Social History 44, 2 (August 1999): 217-47; and “‘This Is Our Country, These Are Our Rights’: Minorities and the Origins of Ontario’s Human Rights Campaigns,” co-authored with Carmela Patrias, in the Canadian Historical Review 82, 1 (2001): 1-35.
David Goutor’s is a co-editor of Taking Liberties: A History of Human Rights in Canada (OUP 2013). His research interests include: Organized labour’s attempts to influence public debates and policy; Transnational migration, migratory labour systems, and the construction of stereotypes of immigrant workers; The history of nation-building, particularly the role of class, race and gender in defining the “national community”; Business and business leaders’ approach to immigration, labour markets, and national development; Gender, women’s history and the impact of social and cultural norms on roles in the workplace and labour markets; Organized labour’s interaction with social movements, including feminism, the Human Rights and Civil-Rights Movements, and nationalism in Quebec; International & comparative approaches to labour, working class, left politics; Globalization and resistance; Slavery and the slave trade, emancipation and the transition to “free” labour systems.
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann is Emeritus Professor and past Canada Research Chair in international human rights at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she held a joint appointment in the Department of Global Studies and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She was also a senior research fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo and a professor emerita at McMaster University. She holds a PhD in sociology from McGill University (1976) and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2006, she was named the first distinguished scholar of human rights by the Human Rights Section, American Political Science Association. She originated and directed McMaster’s now defunct undergraduate minor Theme School on International Justice and Human Rights (1993-99).
Bonny Ibhawoh teaches African, global, and human rights history in the Department of History at McMaster University. He also teaches in the McMaster Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition. His research interests are African history/politics, international human rights, peace/conflict studies, and legal and imperial history. He was the director of the Centre for Peace Studies (2006-10). Previously, he was a professor at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario; a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Asheville; a human rights fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, New York; a research fellow at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen; and an associate member of the Centre for African Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Professor Lucie Lamarche’s career includes ongoing research, teaching, and publishing in the fields of human rights, social and labour law, international law, and feminist studies. Her major focus is the implementation of economic and social human rights, though she encourages interdisciplinary approaches. Her academic work has been complemented by her work with the United Nations, UNESCO, Law Commission of Canada, Status of Women Canada, Canadian Bar Association, and Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.
Dominique Marshall is currently exploring two topics related to human rights: the Child Welfare Committee of the League of Nations and the Declaration of Children’s Rights, and the history of children’s rights and of Canadian humanitarian aid to Africa from 1900 to 1965. The author of Aux origines sociales de l’État-providence: familles québécoises et politiques sociales touchant les enfants entre 1940 et 1950 (Montreal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1998), she offers a course on the international history of humanitarian aid.
Carmela Patrias is Emeritus Professor, Brock University. She has studied the social origins of human rights legislation in Ontario, concentrating on the role of minorities in the province’s human rights campaigns. With Ruth Frager, her findings about the campaigns that led to the 1951 Fair Employment Practices Act were published as “‘This Is Our Country, These Are Our Rights’: Minorities and the Origins of Ontario’s Human Rights Campaigns.” Canadian Historical Review 82, 1 (2001): 1-35. They also explored why both human rights campaigns and anti-discrimination legislation in Canada failed to tackle sex discrimination for about two decades following the Second World War. See Ruth A. Frager and Carmela Patrias, “Human Rights Activists and the Question of Sex Discrimination in Postwar Ontario,” Canadian Historical Review 93, 1 (2012): 1-28. Patrias has written on the origins and impact of the 1947 Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, as well as a book titled Jobs and Justice (UTP, 2012) that examines employment discrimination against ethnic and racialized minorities in Canada during the Second World War.
Miriam Smith’s research interests include Canadian and American politics, public policy, public law, and social movements as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender policy and politics. Her books include Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada (New York: Routledge, 2008); Group Politics and Social Movements in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008); Critical Policy Studies: Contemporary Canadian Approaches (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007); A Civil Society? Collective Actors in Canadian Political Life (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005); New Trends in Canadian Federalism, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003); and Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971-1995 Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999).
Jessica Stites Mor’s research interests include urban Latin America and cultural history. She is the author of Transition Cinema: Political Filmmaking and the Argentine Left since 1968 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) and the editor of Human Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold War Latin America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). She teaches courses about class and culture in Latin America and digital media in the humanities.
Dr. Jennifer Tunnicliffe is a human rights historian with a particular interest in how domestic and transnational activism shapes cultural attitudes and legislative approaches to rights and freedoms. Her work has appeared in the Canadian Historical Review, Social History / Histoire Sociale, History Compass, and on the ActiveHistory blog. She has been featured on the Champlain Society’s “Witness to Yesterday” podcast and has contributed research to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and the Centre for International Governance. Her first book, Resisting Rights: Canada and the International Bill of Rights, 1947-76 (UBC Press, 2019), challenges the narrative of Canada as an historic advocate for international human rights and explores the key role that rights activists have played in shaping Canadian diplomacy at the United Nations. She is also a co-editor of Constant Struggle: Histories of Canadian Democratization (under review with McGill-Queen’s University Press), a collection that explores the historical realities that have shaped how democracy has been understood and practiced throughout Canadian history. Her current book project, Drawing the Line: Free Speech and the Regulation of Hate in Canadian History, examines the evolution of Canada’s hate speech laws through a human rights framework, situating Canadian policy in a global context.
James Walker’s research interests include Canadian blacks, race relations, Africa, and human rights. He has written many articles on the history of human rights law and human rights activism in Canada, and is the author of The Black Loyalists (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992); and “Race,” Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies (Toronto: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997).
David Webster is the author of Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009); and the editor of a collection titled East Timor Testimony (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2004). His research and teaching interests include trans-Pacific interactions between North America and Asia, international human rights, Canadian foreign relations, the diplomacy of non-state movements, and Southeast Asian history. He is currently at work on two projects: a study of diplomatic campaigns by Pacific Rim independence movements and an examination of early Canadian technical advisors in Southeast Asia.
The readings lists available on this site deal with a range of topics from human rights to biographies and specific events.