Thursday, June 03, 2010

Movement History Update

As some readers of this blog may be aware, my central project for quite some time has been writing a book based on oral history interviews with long time activists from a wide variety of Canadian social movements. The plan, at least for the last bunch of years, has been to present the material not as traditional oral history but using a subset of the interviews with generous helpings of historical and political context as an entry point into various bits and pieces of Canadian and movement history that don't usually get told. This is a reposting of the latest update from the project's site (and the first such update in an embarassingly long time).

Lots of news since the last update. The biggest piece is that the manuscript is DONE!!! I can't tell you how exciting that is. The final chapter was completed some time in the new year, then I spent a few months doing various sorts of editing work on the entire book. It was completed a couple of weeks ago. I've sent packages to the three publishers with whom I've had interactions over the years who still appear to be open to considering the project, to let them know it is finished. It's still early -- the publishing industry is nothing if not slow -- but since I sent the packages, I've already had a supportive but quite inconclusive interaction with one of the publishers (with the promise of further interaction after they've had a chance to examine what I sent more closely), and am waiting patiently for more definitive responses from all three. At the moment, that is the plan: Wait to hear from those three, then take further steps based on what I hear.

In other, and much sadder, news, interview participant Wey Robinson passed away on May 24, 2010. Wey was a long-time anti-poverty activist in Ontario. Perhaps the most visible struggle in which Wey was a core organizer was the winning of rent control in Ontario in the 1970s, but their involvement spanned decades. (Wey was also the only trans person among the 50 that I interviewed, though very little of their collective, public activism focused on those particular experiences -- I'm not sure what pronouns Wey was using at the the time of their death, so I'm using "they/their.") Wey was not only someone I interviewed but someone I worked with for years in activist settings in Hamilton, Ontario, and from whom I learned a great deal. I last saw Wey a couple of years ago when I stopped by for a visit during a trip to southern Ontario. At that point, their mobility was significantly restricted but their commitment and contributions to the struggles of people living in poverty remained sharp and fierce. Wey will be greatly missed.

In the next week or so I will likely be sending out an update on the project by email to those who have previously indicated interest in it. I am also considering revamping the web site -- the way I have thought about this so far is that I would keep the content the same but move it over to blogspot or some other convenient web publishing engine, as right now it is published using hand-written code that is old and unnecessarily clunky. We will see...

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