Get to know our new Sproul Fellow; Prof. Bloemraad talks policy in radio appearance

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

Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Get to know our new Sproul Fellow, Rebecca Wallace, and her research
  • Program director Irene Bloemraad talks immigration on Canadian podcast
  • New “Heritage Minute” celebrates jazz pianist Oscar Peterson
  • Upcoming event: Free documentary & film talk on The Blinding Sea
  • Affiliate event: “The Black Experience in Canada & the US”
New Sproul Fellow Rebecca Wallace Studies How Media Framing Affects Public Attitudes in Social Policy
Dr. Rebecca Wallace, a political scientist specializing in immigration and minority issues, officially joined the program this month as a John A. Sproul Research Fellow. As a visiting researcher, Dr. Wallace will assist program director Irene Bloemraad in analyzing data on attitudes toward immigrants in Canada and the United States. Following the conclusion of her term at Berkeley in June, Dr. Wallace will start a faculty appointment as an assistant professor of political science at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.
We sat down with Dr. Wallace to ask her about her own research, the project she’s working on at Berkeley, and what initially drew her to the position. Highlights from the interview are below: read the full piece on our website.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from a rural part of Canada in southern Ontario. I attended Queen’s University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, where I discovered an interest in social policy. My dissertation centered on trying to understand how “deservingness” is conceptualized and framed in Canada around social assistance and welfare policy. It’s a common thread in American research that the media plays a predominant role in shaping people’s perceptions about social policy. But in Canada, we actually haven’t seen a lot of research in this area. Essentially, it’s the first work that really looks at the codification of deservingness in news media and its effects on public attitudes.
Why did you apply to be a Sproul Fellow at Berkeley?
I was immediately drawn to this position given Berkeley’s reputation. But I’m also very excited to work with Irene. A lot of Canadian scholars in our field are very familiar with Irene’s work, and I love that she’s a very interdisciplinary researcher at heart. Her work branches into political science, sociology, psychology, and it’s well-read across a number of fields. She’s somebody I can really see myself working well with and learning a lot from, especially with this current project around immigration.
What will you be working on at Berkeley?
Irene and I will be looking at how framing affects immigrant claims-making to certain social rights or protections. If advocacy organizations are trying to create certain initiatives around expanding or protecting these rights, they’ll often appeal to ideas like human rights or Canadian or American values. So we’re trying to see how effective appeals to different types of rights are, by comparing a few stories about immigrants that frame the narrative through one of these contexts, and measuring the response. Irene has previously looked at this in the American context, but we’d like to expand it and place it in a comparative context.
Why do you think it’s important to study Canada?
As a proud Canadian, I’m inherently a fan of Canadian studies! But in general, the Canadian case is often overlooked, and I think that’s a big mistake. Really, Canadian policy should be placed at the forefront in a lot of these discussions. Especially in areas like immigration, the environment, and Indigenous politics, there’s so much to learn from the Canadian experience, both for good and bad. And I think that there’s a lot of assumptions that what happens in the United States translates directly to the Canadian context, which isn’t necessarily the case. I think it’s critical that we continue to reinforce the Canadian-American relationship, which has been strained in recent years. We have to go back to an open dialogue, because both countries gain so much from each other.
Prof. Bloemraad Talks Immigration on Canadian Podcast
Last week, Canadian Studies Program director Irene Bloemraad appeared as a guest policy commentator on the Canadian politics podcast Moving the Needle. Hosted by Ontario Senator Ratna Omidvar and Paul Faucette, the podcast hosts discussions on key issues facing Canada and the world. Professor Bloemraad joined World Bank economist Manjula Luthria to address the importance of migrant labor and the pandemic’s effect on immigration. Listen to the full episode via SoundCloud.
Historica Canada Celebrates Jazz Legend Oscar Peterson in New “Heritage Minute”
Historica Canada is commemorating Black History Month with a new sixty-second film dedicated to Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Born in Montreal in 1925, over the course of his sixty-year career Peterson released over 200 recordings, won seven Grammys, and performed with celebrated artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. He was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1984 for his lifetime achievement in music. Watch the video on YouTube.
Upcoming Event
Free Documentary and Talk: The BIinding Sea
March 9 | 12:30 p.m. | RSVP here
Join filmmaker George Tombs for a discussion of his 2020 documentary The Blinding Sea. The film chronicles the life of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), the first person to lead a successful expedition through the Northwest Passage. It evokes the joys, sorrows, relationships, and missed opportunities in the life of Amundsen, who disappeared mysteriously during a polar flight in 1928. The film places a special focus on Amundsen’s relations with the Indigenous people he encountered on his voyages, particularly the Inuit.
The documentary will be available online to registered participants beginning March 2. We request that all participants watch the film prior to joining the March 9 director’s talk.
George Tombs is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Montreal, who works in both English and French. He is currently writing a biography of Roald Amundsen. His past works include Robber Baron, a biography of controversial media tycoon Conrad Black, and his recent humorous novel Mind the Gap.
Affiliate/External Events
The Black Experience in Canada & the U.S.: A Discussion with Debra Thompson
February 24 | 12:00 p.m. | RSVP here
The Black Lives Matter movement has given rise to global conversations on how systems with built in racial inequality continue to affect the lives of people of African descent worldwide. While there is growing awareness of the ongoing legacy of racial inequality in the U.S., the Canadian experience is less well known.
Rana Sarkar, Canadian Consul General in San Francisco/Silicon Valley, will lead a discussion on the Black experience in Canada and the U.S. with Dr. Debra Thompson, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Racial Inequality in Democratic Societies at McGill University and a leading scholar of the comparative politics of race. Dr. Thompson previously spoke at a Canadian Studies colloquium in September 2020.
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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