This year the Society for Socialist Studies turns 50. It is a remarkable achievement. We are an academic association unlike any other. The sort of scholarship we pursue and seek to encourage and support – critical, socialist, feminist, anti-racist and generally anti-discriminatory – is not exactly encouraged and rewarded by university hiring and promotion committees or granting agencies. The views we seek to advance are not usual in the media or culture generally. Many of our members have paid a political price for pursuing the scholarship of their choice. Against such odds, the SSS has grown over the decades and its membership and scholarship has become more diverse and wide-ranging. We have maintained our annual conferences and journal and through this, the society and its scholarship have grown in response to new political and intellectual challenges posed by developments in Canada and the world.
At this year’s annual conference of the Society, we hope to be able to celebrate and honour these achievements and, taking inspiration from them, look towards, initiate and plan the activities of the next 50 years.
The Society began when the first 40 scholars responded to Ed Broadbent, Ian Lumsden and the late Abe Rotstein invited ‘teachers, students, writers, editors, artists, and scientists’ to come together and found a “Committee on Socialist Studies” in 1967 ‘to encourage the development of socialist research in Canada’ particularly on political and economic theories, social and political movements, contemporary social problems and literature and the arts’. Renamed the Society for Socialist Studies in 1980, its activities have ensured that Canada punches above its weight in the world league tables for socialist research and scholarship. Its members include leading Canadian intellectuals.
Over the past five decades, Socialist Studies has gone from being an ad hoc committee to becoming a recognized learned Society (1980); from holding an annual conference with a handful of sessions to one with dozens of parallel sessions and some of the most inspiring keynote addresses at Congress; from publishing a cyclostyled newsletter, to producing a journal – now on-line and open access – which reaches a world-wide readership; from focussing on socialism alone to an expanded focus which includes feminism and anti-racism as part of its core concerns. Some of the key advances in the study of Canada have taken place in the Society. To take just one example – formed by those concerned about Canada’s ‘dependent’ status, it is now host to much scholarship challenging and modifying this thesis both because of historical developments and a sharpening of scholarly concepts and measures.
On the strength of these achievements, we hope to continue to build the Society in coming years and decades. Certainly the relevance of socialist scholarship is greater today than it has ever been, whether one has in mind spectacular recent events such as economic and financial crises and ongoing stagnation, the rise of right-wing populism, religious fundamentalism and heightening international tensions or one looks to the slow but sure deterioration in work, welfare, education and cultural and community life.
We hope you will join us in doing this in one or more of the following ways:
- Participate in the Society’s activities, its conferences and journals. This year’s conference promises to be one of the largest and most exciting in the Society’s history. Please consider participating and attending. A preliminary list of sessions can be found here: http://socialiststudies.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SSS-Call-for-Papers.pdf
- Become a member and donate to the society: Your donations help us to further all our activities but two are particularly important. Our bursaries fund unwaged or student participants in our annual conferences. Our journal, the Socialist Studies Journal, is edited by a volunteer editor but we still have costs which we incur to keep the journal open access. Your contributions will permit us to sustain and expand, where necessary, these activities. Memberships can be renewed and donations made here: http://socialiststudies.ca/membership/
- Serve on its executive, conference committee, its journal advisory board or in its Hive. The SSS has come this far because there have always been people with the will and dedication to work in some – greater or lesser capacity – for the Society and its journal. We welcome indications of interest in serving. Email the society at … firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto.