Annual Humanities Congress | Research associations turn their backs on McGill

Annual Humanities Congress | Research associations turn their backs on McGill
Annual Humanities Congress | Research associations turn their backs on McGill

The holding of the largest humanities conference in the country, scheduled for June at McGill University, is compromised by recent events on its campus. Activities have already been moved to the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).


Posted at 1:35 a.m.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

The largest gathering of researchers in the country, the annual Humanities Congress is scheduled to be held at McGill University from June 12 to 21.

Professors, students and decision-makers are expected to come and discuss the challenges posed by climate change in a global context.

However, hundreds of researchers will be absent. The management of recent events on the English-speaking campus – law professors’ strike, pro-Palestinian encampment – ​​is making several scholarly associations uncomfortable, we have learned The Press.

At the end of April, the McGill Association of Law Professors (AMPD) launched an indefinite general strike, having failed to reach an agreement in principle with the university.

Already 25 associations, including the largest of the congress, have announced measures of solidarity towards law professors, either by canceling, moving their conferences or minimizing their presence on the McGill campus when the latter options were not possible. . “We are talking about thousands of researchers involved,” underlines Víctor M. Muñiz-Fraticelli, member of the AMPD strike committee.

The Canadian Law and Society Association, which alone expects between 250 and 300 participants, is among those who have decided to move their activities to UQAM.

“People have expressed their discomfort at going to a campus where there is a strike in progress,” says Thomas Collombat, professor at the University of Quebec in Outaouais.

The Canadian Association for the Study of Labor and Trade Unionism – of which he is a member – has also decided to move all of its panels to UQAM, in solidarity with the strike. Around a hundred of its members are registered for the event.

Uncertainty surrounding the encampment

The pro-Palestinian encampment is also an issue raised by associations which have decided to turn their backs on McGill University.

Several researchers disapprove of the legal steps taken by the university, which seeks to dislodge the demonstrators from its grounds.

For many academics, a campus is not a property like any other. It is a space that must be open to debates and demonstrations.

Thomas Collombat, professor at the University of Quebec in Outaouais

Some also fear police intervention, even if the Superior Court last week rejected a request for an interlocutory injunction which would have authorized the immediate dismantling of the encampment.

“If the camp ever had to be forcibly evacuated, [les associations seraient mal à l’aise] to come to campus a few days or a few weeks later, as if nothing had happened,” says Thomas Collombat.

According to the professor, the university is holding a contradictory discourse in the face of the fears of the associations.

“She says not to worry, that the campus is completely accessible, safe. However, it is exactly the opposite that she said in court to justify her request for an injunction. »

The Society for Socialist Studies also made the decision to move its conference in solidarity with law professors and the pro-Palestinian camp.

“Either way, the demands of these organizations will not only benefit themselves, but will create a better university for everyone,” she said on social media.

“We have been in conversation with the associations participating in the Congress for two weeks, in order to hear their concerns and find solutions that correspond to each unique situation,” responded the Federation of Humanities, which organizes the congress.

“We have made our virtual platform available to them so that they can hold their conferences, or part of their conferences. We continue to monitor the situation closely in collaboration with our partners at McGill, and to communicate with our associations to ensure effective planning,” she continued.

McGill University did not respond to our questions.

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