Professor Linda Freeman of Carleton University’s Department of Political Science has been one of Canada’s most astute observers of southern Africa and on Canadian relations with the region over the last 40 years. Her 1997 book, The Ambiguous Champion: Canada and South Africa in the Trudeau and Mulroney Years, is the definitive analysis of official Canadian policy toward South Africa during the liberation struggle.
More recently, she has focused her attention on the changing political economy of the region, particularly in regards to South Africa and Zimbabwe, in the post-liberation era. To mark the retirement of this eminent Canadian academic, this conference will bring together both a range of participants in the anti-apartheid movement in Canada and eminent scholars to critically reflect on the recent history of both the southern African subcontinent and Canadian forms of solidarity with the region.
Building on Professor Freeman’s work, the conference roundtables and academic papers will coalesce to create a critical historical and political economy analysis of two interconnected subject matters: 1) southern African liberation struggles and Canadian involvement with them; and, 2) the uneven struggles for hegemony in the sub-continent since southern Africa’s freedom from minority and colonial rule. The presentations will seek to answer the following questions: What were the promises and blind-spots of struggle solidarity in light of current political economies and struggles in southern Africa? Can this critical discussion inform solidarity in the future? The aim will be to develop modes of understanding that will assist efforts to go beyond what many would call a developmental and hegemonic impasse towards a future that could rekindle the optimism of struggle solidarity.