Changing the Cultural Record: Constructing the Black Prairie Archives

Sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Recorded on 05/13/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 125

Anthologies have the power to not only reshape the past, but also reflect on the current cultural moment. In The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology, Karina Vernon, Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough, grapples with how her collection amends the history of the prairies, while impacting current North American cultural and social politics.

Dr. Vernon explains that when shaping the volume, she wanted to bring to light representations of Black life in the Canadian prairies that hadn’t before been properly acknowledged. In that unearthing, she also had to confront how Black histories on the prairie entangled with indigenous life: “I wanted to think of Black stories, Black literature, and Black life in a way that also made space for indigenous stories and histories.”

In this episode, Dr. Vernon discusses how Black and indigenous histories intersect on the prairie, and how that intersection fits into the current political climate in Canada. She explores the range of voices and texts included in the anthology—”the songs, the gospels, the shouts, the stories, the recitations, the prayers”—and the scholarly possibilities the collection holds for the classroom and beyond.


About the guest:

Karina Vernon
Associate Professor
University of Toronto Scarborough