The 60s: Canada Thinks Small?
In 2004–2005, the Canadian Centre for Architecture created the exhibition: The 60s: Montreal Thinks Big. Surveying the city’s physical transformation over a decade, the exhibition presented the 60s as a collection of soaring skyscrapers, highway interchanges, and concrete megastructures clothed in the language of internationalism. Indeed, the dramatic reconstruction of Montreal’s downtown core is just one example of how a postwar mania for internationalism swept across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax. Yet, by viewing the 60s as emblematic of Canadians’ desire for greater global connectivity, historians have also sustained a hegemonic view of modernization that reinforces the neoliberal agenda of political, media, and propertied elites who saw the postwar city as the physical embodiment of their own desires. In particular, existing scholarship overlooks the role of the small-scale and intimate in forming spatial and conceptual nexuses of individual and group identities within (and outside) the emergent metropolis.
This session invites authors to reflect on postwar architectural scholarship in Canada by working outside its traditional frames of reference. Through a return to the local and the intimate, we invite readings of Canada’s built environment that pluralize its discourse, while highlighting the complexities of class, gender, and racial politics in an era of rapid change. To what extent did major construction projects play an imaginative role in structuring notions of modern Canadian citizenship? What conservative or anti-modern practices flourished at the small-scale? And how do suburban and peri-urban histories complicate our understanding of people’s experience and perception of postwar cities? Papers shedding light on the experience of women, immigrants, LGBTQ, or other underrepresented groups are especially welcome, as are case studies highlighting practices that ran counter to the globalizing efforts of civic and state authorities.
Session Chairs: Dustin Valen, Concordia University, and Michael Windover, Carleton University
The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 74th Annual International Conference in Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 14–18, 2021. Please see the full CFP and instructions for submitting your abstract by June 3, 2020 here.
Photo: Marie Deschene / Tourisme Montréal