How Contemporary White Nationalists Reference Nazi Germany

On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, The Atlantic posted an article entitled “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.” It concerns a November 19 National Policy Institute (NPI) conference in Washington, DC, along with video footage excerpted from the speech of NPI president Richard B. Spencer. The NPI is an “alt-right” (i.e. right-wing extremist) white nationalist organization based in Arlington, VA, just outside of the US capital. Though it was founded only in 2005, the NPI is a part of a stream of North American racism, antisemitism, and support for Nazism that dates back to the 1930s, and which has never entirely disappeared. In his speech, Spencer drew heavily on the symbols, language, and ideology of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. Here is how:

1. “Hail Trump! Hail Our People! Hail Victory!” Continue reading


Researching German Immigration to Western Canada

At Ambrose, history faculty and students research various local history projects. From 2016-2018, we are engaged in a project called “Refugee Stories: The Immigration and Resettlement of Germans in Western Canada, 1947-1960.” We are partnering with members of various German-Canadian communities in Calgary and throughout Alberta, combining scholarly research and oral history interviews to discover the history and memory of the emigration of Lutherans, Baptists, Mennonites, Catholics and others from Germany and/or Eastern Europe and their resettlement in Canada during the fifteen years after the end of the Second World War. This research will be community-based and participatory, which means that members of the German-Canadian community will be invited to bring their knowledge and expertise about this history into a partnership with university researchers.

We are delighted that “Refugee Stories” has the support of Continue reading

After the Trumpocalypse: What Should We Expect Now?

After the Trumpocalypse: What should we expect now?

In “After the Trumpocalypse: What Happened?” I attempted to explain–if only to satisfy myself–how Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential election.

But what happens now?

We have no idea.

Given Donald Trump’s erratic and unprincipled record in his business, public, and private life, there is absolutely no way to predict how he will be or what he will do as president. Following Richard Rorty’s lead, I would invoke two historical precedents. Continue reading

University-Museum Partnerships: The “Placing Memory” Project and Community-Based Research

Organization of Military Museums of Canada conference in SAIT’s lovely Heritage Hall.

Recently, I was invited to participate on a panel at the Organization of Military Museums of Canada conference in Calgary. The organizer wanted to bring together scholars who had something to say about the potential for partnerships between museum curators and university scholars, based in part on some of the innovative ideas around public engagement articulated in The Participatory Museum, by Nina Simon. My contribution was to explain the nature of the partnership between the Ambrose University History program and the Museum of the Highwood in High River. Here is the text of my paper: Continue reading

A Professor’s Summer (2016)

Over the years, friends and family members have often joked with me that once the summer comes, I don’t really have to work. Usually (I think) this is in fun, and my standard reply is something like, “I don’t remember seeing you in grad school …” It’s my way of reminding them (and myself) that the great job I have came at a price. (It’s worth noting that my wife Colleen paid about as much of that price as I did!)

img_0286More seriously, one of the great joys of my work is its variety. The semesters are usually very busy, and then the summer takes on its own rhythm. I work from home much of the time, do a little gardening, and much of the cooking and cleaning. As I was invigilating a final exam this morning, I decided to think through my summer plans in a bit more detail. Here’s a rough sketch: Continue reading

Christmas Through the Eyes of Medieval Christians

Recently, I was asked to contribute a word to our church’s monthly newsletter. I found myself reflecting on two ideas–the many things I’ve learned by interacting with the history of Christianity and the meaning of Christmas. The following was an attempt to bring these two ideas together:

Christmas Through the Eyes of Medieval Christians

One of the pleasures of studying history for a living is the regular interaction I have with Christians from the past—believers long dead but still speaking to me through their writings, if I make time to listen to them. In their wisdom, they often remind me that my view of God and my understanding of Christianity is strongly shaped by my culture, and quite different from the way Christians in the past understood these things. Continue reading

Responding to the Refugee Crisis

Recently a friend and former student asked me what I thought about the backlash to the refugee crisis. Throughout the summer, we have seen heart-wrenching stories and moving images of desperate refugees from bombed out Syria. But in the wake of the outpouring of sympathy for Syrian refugees in the late summer of 2015, other voices have argued against taking refugees into European and other Western countries, because of the danger that ISIS might be sending Islamic warriors into Europe among the refugees. And when the refugees refuse to register in countries like Hungary, this seems to confirm the view that they are dangerous.

The truth is that I’m not sure I have a satisfying answer to this question. Truthfully, there are several interrelated issues that complicate this crisis: Continue reading