Focusing research on arts

(Edmonton) As Alberta secures its place on both a national and international stage, increasing attention will focus on the province’s social, political, legal and cultural climate. George Pavlich, associate vice-president (research) at the University of Alberta, says enabling this climate to flourish requires deliberate and continuous support for world-leading scholarship in the humanities, social sciences and creative arts.

To better elevate the important work being done by University of Alberta researchers in the humanities and social sciences, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) has created the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Annual Lecture: Advancing Knowledge and Building Understanding. Pavlich says the lecture found its impetus in the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s continual effort to elevate the profile of the Canadian researchers they fund and this lecture is the university’s way of celebrating those stories.

“This event highlights the findings and achievements of research programs made possible, in part, by the funding received from SSHRC,” said Pavlich.

The creative arts, humanities and social sciences, Pavlich says, have always provided frameworks of knowledge for understanding our past, present and future, and he says the significant contributions of this fundamental knowledge should never be underestimated.

However, while national research-funding opportunities have expanded in some areas, particularly relating to applied-technology development, Pavlich says funding for social sciences, humanities and the creative arts is lagging.

Given the escalating importance of arts scholarship to help Alberta approach its changing social, political and cultural landscapes, he adds, there is a golden opportunity for the province to play a leading national and international role in fostering outstanding social science, humanities and creative arts scholarship.

“Funding from SSHRC allows university researchers to properly deal with matters of the day, and enables new cutting-edge, leading questions to be asked and new types of debates and knowledge to be produced as a result,” he said.

On Nov. 15, Lianne McTavish, professor in the Department of Art and Design, and Frank Tough, project director of the Métis Archival Project, will be this year’s presenters at the SSHRC Annual Lecture, entitled “Sovereign Claims: Visualizing Deception in Body and Nation.”

During her presentation, McTavish will analyze texts and images related to King Louis XIV’s surgery to show how health at this time was considered more than a physical condition. Health was understood as an active performance requiring scripted displays and the visual confirmation of a wide audience that extended beyond the medical domain.

Tough, a historical geographer in the Faculty of Native Studies, will show how warrants in the form of scrips, or currency substitutes, served as a property interest that could be legally, but more often illegally, conveyed to third parties. Historical records show that the crown’s suppression of forgery, impersonation and fraud attracted a concerted, but unsuccessful, political campaign by Alberta Métis and their allies to highlight the perceived abuses of a corrupt scrip system.

Find out how the sovereign assertions outlined in both talks rested on visualized deceptions of body or nation. The lectures will be held at the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in lecture theatre 2-490 in. Light refreshments will follow. Please RSVP at www.research.ualberta.ca.