Tomorrow: A scholar’s take on being Black in Canada & the US; Bogs & climate change

An item from one of our fellow Canadian organizations in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Tomorrow: Blackness and Belonging in North America
  • Hildebrand Fellow Kim Huynh studies how bog emissions affect climate change
  • Upcoming event: Migrant farmworker rights during COVID-19
Return: On Blackness and Belonging in North America
Lecture | September 15 | 12:30 PM | Online – RSVP here
McGill University professor Debra Thompson, an expert on race and ethnic politics, will explore the complex experience of Black people in North America, juxtaposing her deep, ancestral links to the United States with a parallel but at times competing national affinity with the land to which many enslaved Black Americans once fled: Canada. Through the analytical insights of black political thought, Prof. Thompson uses personal narrative to explore the boundaries of racial belonging and identify key facets of Canadian ideas about race and racism; to analyze the transnational nuances and contours of the African diaspora in North America; and ultimately, to think through what it means to be in a place, but not be of that place.
Please RSVP at to receive a webcast link. You must be signed in to a Zoom account to join. UC Berkeley affiliates can use their CalNet ID’s to sign in to Zoom; other participants can create a free, consumer Zoom account or dial in via phone.
An “Important But Overlooked” Aspect of Climate Change:
2018 Hildebrand Fellow Kimberly Huynh on Wetland Emissions
Kimberly Huynh is a current environmental engineering PhD student at UC Berkeley, and a member of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology research group. Originally from Chicago, she earned both a bachelor of science in Environmental Engineering and a master of science in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University through a combined degree program. Her research focuses on combatting climate change through better understanding of natural greenhouse gas sources; she presented preliminary findings at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 2016.
In Summer 2018, Kimberly received a Hildebrand Fellowship to support field research into greenhouse gas emissions from wetland areas near Vancouver, British Columbia. We checked in with her to find out more about that experience and what her research has uncovered. Read more below, or on our website here.
What is your research about?
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential many times that of carbon dioxide, and wetlands are its largest natural source. The gas is produced in wetland soils as microorganisms break down organic compounds. Improving how scientists quantify and predict methane emissions from wetlands is important because of its implications on climate change. This gas is released from the soil and travels across the air-water interface through three main pathways: transport through the gas-filled tissue of plants, transport through bubbles, and water-driven (hydrodynamic) transport. Hydrodynamic transport, the focus of my research, is an overlooked pathway that may be very important in some places {like British Columbia}, depending on conditions such as climate and local vegetation.
How did Canadian Studies support your project?
Thanks to the Edward E. Hildebrand Fellowship, I was able to research this topic firsthand in Burns Bog, just outside of Vancouver, BC, in Summer 2018. I collaborated with scholars at the University of British Columbia to measure methane emissions from hydrodynamic transport. I was interested in this site because its oceanic climate and heterogeneous vegetation was a stark difference from the humid Arkansas rice paddy I had researched the previous two summers.
With the funding I received, I prototyped several submersible, programmable cameras that could measure water velocity in very slow-moving wetland waters. Since these cameras automated water velocity measurements, I was able to collect several weeks of data in Burns Bog both in the morning and through the night. This was important because in some wetlands, there have been unexplained nocturnal spikes in methane emission. I wanted to learn whether there were any such spikes in Burns Bog and whether they could be linked to stirring in the water, such as water cooling and sinking during the transition from day to night.
What was your favorite part of your research experience?
As I look through the hundreds of videos and write code to extract velocity information, I am reminded of my fieldwork and feel grateful for the experience. Each day I was in the field, I had the rare opportunity to be in a wetland largely off-limits to the public and surrounded by hundreds of different animal and plant species, including a number of endangered birds. Through the Hildebrand Fellowship, I was given the freedom to explore a research topic of both deep interest and importance. I look forward to unraveling the story behind my rich dataset and appreciate the opportunities afforded to me by the Canadian Studies Program.
Social Movements and Legal Mobilisation in Times of Crisis: Migrant Farm Worker Rights in Canada
Lecture | October 6 | 12:30 p.m. | Online – RSVP here
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected migrant farm workers. Former Hildebrand Fellow Vasanthi Venkatesh, a professor of law at the University of Windsor specializing in social movements and immigration, gives context to the crisis by showing how the pandemic has overlaid itself onto existing systemic racial discrimination against migrant farm workers embedded in law and policy. She also shows how migrant farm worker advocates have responded to the crisis by exposing the racial capitalism of the Canadian agricultural economy, using radical narratives to challenge these systems.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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