Director's Research
Diana Brydon FRSC
Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies 

Global Imaginaries and Canadian Culture

"Imaginaries" are the representational systems that both mediate reality and form identities. In her research as a Canada Research Chair, Dr. Diana Brydon is examining how "global imaginaries" are changing notions of home, belonging, and citizenship as well as posing new challenges to local and national communities.

Brydon, an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of postcolonial literary and cultural studies, is researching the effects of globalization. Her research program has three target areas. In the first area, she investigates representations of "home," primarily in analytical, literary, and visual culture. She asks: How do images and descriptions of home shift ideas of accountability, belonging, and social responsibility?

In a second area, Brydon focuses on how cosmopolitanism, diaspora studies, and theories of "planetarity" are transforming the structure and practice of various academic disciplines and reconfiguring cultural studies.

Brydon’s third area of research is answering the question of how globalization is changing what people need to know and learn, how people can communicate their understanding, and how governance practices can be adjusted to ensure continued social well being.

Brydon’s goal is to assess and develop ways in which research into globalization and the analysis of cultural practices can contribute to furthering trans-cultural understanding and interdisciplinary collaboration, both within Canada and abroad. Her research is providing important new insight into Canada’s social, economic, and cultural development.

Some of her current research documents are contained in a related document section.

Do The Humanities Need a New Humanism? Diana Brydon

A version of this paper was delivered at the workshop on "The Culture of Research: Retooling the Humanities" held by Daniel Coleman and Smaro Kamboureli at the University of Guelph in October 2006. This revised version has been prepared for a book on the subject, edited by Coleman and Kamboureli. Retooling the Humanities The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities pdf UAlberta Press October 2010

“The question of our relation to regimes of value is not a personal but an institutional question. A key condition of any institutional politics, however, is that intellectuals do not denegate their own status as possessors of cultural capital; that they accept and struggle with the contradictions that this entails; and that their cultural politics, right across the spectrum of cultural texts, should be openly and without embarrassment presented as their politics, not someone else’s” (Frow 169)

Do the humanities need a new humanism? I think so, and I see a consensus emerging to this effect, although many of the details need still to be worked out across a range of positions (Kristeva, Mbembe and Posel, Said, Scott, Spivak). In essence, most agree with Edward Said that “it is possible to be critical of humanism in the name of humanism” (Said 10), “situating critique at the very heart of humanism” (Said 47)  and recognizing that such critique carries practical consequences for the work that we do in the humanities. In his influential Keywords, under the entry on “Humanity,” Raymond Williams discusses the new 19th C use of humanism “to represent the developed sense of humanist and the humanities: a particular kind of learning associated with particular attitudes to CULTURE (q.v.) and human development or perfection” (bolding in original 123). This learning and these attitudes now seem to be changing once again. continue reading pdf

Crosstalk Canadian and Global Imaginaries in Dialogue Diana Brydon Marta Dvorák editors March 2011
Wilfrd Laurier University Press Cloth · $85.00 · 286 pages 6 x 9 · 978-1-55458-264-8
Table of Contents
Introduction | Diana Brydon and Marta Dvořák
Part I: Collaboration, Crosstalk, Improvisation
Voicing the Unforeseeable | Ajay Heble and Winfried
Epistemological Crosstalk: Between Melancholia and
Spiritual Cosmology in David Chariandy’s Soucouyant
and Lee Maracle’s Daughters Are Forever | Daniel
Native Performance Culture, Monique Mojica, and the
Chocolate Woman Workshops | Ric Knowles
Collaboration and Convention in the Poetry of Pain Not
Bread | Alison Calder
Part II: Dialogism, Polyphony, Voice
Voices Lost in Time: Getting from Nowhere to the Far
Bank | Marta Dvořák
Not Just Representation: The Sound and Concrete
Poetries of the Four Horsemen | Frank Davey
Portraits of the Artist in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long
For and Madeleine Thien’s Certainty | Pilar Cuder
Dionne Brand’s Cosmopolitan Cities | Sandra Almeida
Questions of Voice, Race, and the Body in Hiromi Goto’s
Chorus of Mushrooms and Larissa Lai’s When Fox Is a
Thousand | Charlotte Sturgess
Part III: Space, Place, and Circulation
The Artialization of Landscape in Jane Urquhart’s The
Whirlpool | Claire Omhovere
Orientalist Clichés and Transformation in Robert Lepage’s
The Dragons’ Trilogy | Christine Lorre
Diasporic Appropriations: Exporting South Asian Culture
from Canada | Chelva Kanaganayakam
Negotiating Belonging in Global Times: The Hérouxville
Debates | Diana Brydon

Voice and Vision/Voix et Vision Thursday May 22 - Saturday, May 24, 2008 Centre d'Etudes Canadiennes Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris Situating Canadian Culture Globally/culture canadienne et mondialisation. An archived event document is available for referencing ongoing work resulting from the colloquium.

The SSHRC MCRI Globalization and Autonomy research project is now drawing to a close.

The Results of Our Research

We are publishing the results of our research in three ways. First, we are making them available and accessible to a wide public audience through the Globalization and Autonomy Online Compendium

Second, we are publishing them in academic form in the Globalization and Autonomy Series published by the University of British Columbia Press. To order: Click on the links below, call toll-free: 1-800-668-0821Tel: (604) 822-5959 E-mail: With the dedicated assistance of Nancy Johnson, we have continued to move forward with the publication of the academic volumes of the project. Two have been fully accepted for publication.       

Global Ordering: Institutions and Autonomy in a Changing World, Louis W. Pauly and William D. Coleman, eds. 

Renegotiating Community: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Global Contexts Diana Brydon and William D. Coleman, eds. 2008 ISBN 978-0-7748-1506-2 hc, $85.00 flyer

Other titles

Empires and Autonomy: Moments in the History of Globalization, Stephen Streeter, John Weaver, and William D. Coleman, eds, is currently submitted to the Press and we await the reviews.

Unsettled Legitimacy: Political Community, Power and Authority in a Global Era, Steven Bernstein and William D. Coleman, eds.

Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for a Global Age

Property Rights: Struggles over Autonomy in a Global Age

Cultural Autonomy: Frictions and Connections

Deux Méditerranées: Les voies de la mondialisation et de l’autonomie

The latter volume will be published first in French by Les Presses de l'Université Laval and, funds permitting, we will then seek to publish it in English.

We also have a contractual arrangement with our project colleague, Professor Yu Keping, Director, China Center For Comparative Politics And Economics, Beijing, for selected chapters of various volumes to be published in Chinese, once they have been finalized for publication by UBC Press.

Diana Brydon, Louis Pauly and William D. Coleman have a plan for the final synthesis volume of the project. Its title will be:

Globalization and Autonomy: Conversing across Disciplines

Finally, individual team members are publishing their work in their usual disciplinary journals and books. These publications are included in the Compendium's bibliographic database

Three of the postdoctoral scholars associated with the project have published books.

Natalia Loukacheva published The Arctic Promise: Legal and Political Autonomy of Greenland and Nunavut with University of Toronto Press.

Rauna Kuokkanen published Reshaping the University: Responsibility, Indigenous Epistemes, and the Logic of the Gift with University of British Columbia Press. 

Ravi de Costa published A Higher Authority: Indigenous Transnationalism and Australia with University of New South Wales Press. This update to the team was written by William D. Coleman 2007/07/11