UFV History Instructor, Dr. Ian Rocksborough-Smith, featured at Illinois Press Book Exhibit

Dr. Rocksborough-Smith, a sessional faculty member in UFV’s History department, holds his newly published book Black Public History in Chicago at the University of Illinois Press book exhibit on April 12, 2018.

What did you do?

“This is my first book. It represents nearly ten years of archival and oral history research from my PhD studies through my early years as a history instructor at UFV (2013-present). It focuses on how black Americans, many of them school teachers in Chicago, used public history projects to engage with struggles for civil rights and citizenship over the middle decades of the 20th Century. These projects included things like curriculum reforms for public schools, local history organizations and societies, and efforts to build museums and institutions, like the DuSable Museum of African American History – which is alive and well today. For my research, I was very fortunate to interview the now deceased founder of the DuSable Museum, Dr. Margaret T.G. Burroughs, who is considered an artistic and cultural icon of 20th Century Chicago and especially its African American community. I am thankful for all the support I received from UFV History Department colleagues and associates over the years as well as colleagues at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where I have also taught.”

What’s next?

“My primary research interests include the study of late 19th and 20th Century United States history, urban studies, and histories of race, religion, and empire in the Atlantic world. In particular, my future work will continue to look at how local and public history methods can help to uncover these aspects of the past, particularly in cities like Chicago which became almost “laboratories” for how the “modern” North American city evolved. Currently, I am working on a new project about how white Catholic liberals engaged in anti-racism in the 1950s in northern U.S. cities like Chicago. Indeed, many North American cities became the site of successive immigration of Catholic Europeans over the early decades of the 20th Century and I am fascinated with how these groups on the one hand experienced discrimination themselves but came to in turn discriminate against black Americans and other people of color who moved to the city.”

“I am excited to be returning to teach as a LTA history instructor with UFV. In the courses I have been privileged to teach here, I have learned a lot from my students who are deeply engaged in local issues in the Fraser Valley community as well as global issues of significance, such as the forces that have given rise historically to developments like Brexit or the current presidency of Donald Trump. I’m particularly excited to be teaching a new course on Populism in America (History 396Q), which looks at the ways populism has informed American political culture from the administration of Andrew Jackson through the present.”

Dr. Rocksborough-Smith sits on a panel at the Organization of American Historians in Sacramento.

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