Dr. Benjamin Isitt, BA, MA, PhD, LLB
Social movements and the state in Canada and the world; legal history and comparative labour relations; British Columbia and the Canadian West; comparative social democracy; Canadian political history; Canadian-Russian relations; digital scholarship and public history.
HIST 132 History of Canada Since 1867
HIST 303 The Canadian West
HIST 3332 The Canadian Worker Since 1914
HIST 358 British Columbia Since 1945
HIST 402 Problems in International Relations: History of the Peace Movement
HIST 469 Social Movements in World History
HIST 490 Labour and the Left in British Columbia
I specialize in Canadian and world history, with particular emphasis on social movements and the state in the twentieth century. Combining graduate training in History and Law, I have written two books, From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada’s Siberian Expedition, 1917-19 (Vancouver: UBC Press) and Militant Minority: British Columbia Workers and the Rise of a New Left, 1948-1972 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). My research has also appeared in leading journals including the Canadian Historical Review and Canadian Journal of Political Science. I have travelled extensively, to more than 50 countries on five continents, establishing ongoing collaborative relationships with scholars in Europe, Asia, and North America. I also have professional experience in government, journalism, and the not-for-profit sector.
My research agenda reflects these broad experiences. My monograph From Victoria to Vladivostok builds on an award-winning journal article that employed the method of micro-history to illuminate turbulent social relations during the First World War. This led to further transnational research on Canada’s forgotten Siberian Expedition of 1918-19, providing a rare dialogue between social history, military history, and the history of international relations. Engaging digital scholarship, the Siberian Expedition Virtual Exhibition and Digital Archive brings this history to life for students, teachers, and the public. The book has been translated into French and Russian and I am currently developing a documentary film.
My second monograph, Militant Minority, combines oral history and “horizontal history,” examining diverse responses within British Columbia’s postwar working class to changing economic and social conditions. I am now completing several projects, including a dissertation in Law on the relationship between social movements and the British Columbia judiciary, and SSHRC-funded studies on the political activism of people with disabilities and the relationship between social democracy and labour and environmental claims to natural resources.
Crises of Legitimacy: Judging Social Movements in British Columbia (in progress)
Able to Lead: The Legal Politics of Disablement and the Political Life of E.T. Kingsley, with Ravi Malhotra (Under Contract with UBC Press)
Globalization on the Resource Frontier: Workers, Environmentalists and the British Columbia New Democratic Party, 1972-2001 (in progress)
Digital History/Online Publications
Explore the forgotten history of Canada’s Siberian Expeditionary Force through engaging trilingual narratives and learning resources, alongside a Digital Archive with 2,400 rare photographs and documents.
Canadian Social History Archive (www.SocialHistory.ca) (in progress)
A digital archive providing access to documents and oral interviews on Canada’s social history.
Canada’s Geographic Heritage (www.GeoHeritage.ca) (in progress)
A foray into Historical GIS that links a database of Historical Sites and Monuments with multimedia on Canada’s natural and human heritage.
Other Recent Publications
“Ghosts of elections past still haunt BC.” Times Colonist. 5 April 2009. Reprinted in BC Commentary 12, no. 2 (Spring 2009): 11-12.
“Make housing the priority for federal ‘shovel-ready’ dollars.” Vancouver Sun. 3 February 2009. Reprinted in Island Tides, 12 February 2009 and Columbia Journal 14, no. 1 (May 2009): 8.
Recent Awards and Scholarships
SSHRC Standard Research Grant (Co-Applicant), 2011-2014
University of Victoria Faculty of Law Fellowship, 2011-2013
Aid to Scholarly Publications Grant, 2011
Aid to Scholarly Publications Grant, 2010
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2010
SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Fellowship, 2004-2007
Best Graduate Research Award, Labor and Working-Class History Association, 2006
PhD Graduate Arts Assistantship, University of New Brunswick, 2003-2004
View my complete Curriculum Vitae (PDF)