Research projects

South Cathedral (Nantang), Beijing, 2011

Canadian Churches and the trans-Pacific

What was the role of Canadian churches in shaping Canadian foreign relations, especially with Asia? Did Canadian churches have their own “Asia policy” distinct from the Canadian government? If so, how did it interact with state policy? Without seeing the place of religious organizations in Canada’s foreign relations, we cannot come to a full understanding of Canada’s place in the world. Two Canadian church coalitions illustrate these themes in Canada-Asia relations: the Canada China Programme and the Canada Asia Working Group. They were proactive, autonomous foreign policy actors occupying a space between Canadian churches, the Canadian government, and Asian partner organizations who themselves had shifting relations with their own governments. A study of these organizations contributes to our understanding of non-state influences on foreign policy and the interplay of religion and international relations history.

The project web site is in progress – click here to check it out.


Tibet rally, San Francisco, 2009

Notion-States: non-state diplomacy on the Pacific Rim

I define a “notion-state” as a group of people who come to consider themselves as a nation before acquiring a state, with members of the notion-state trying to win international support and recognition. That diplomatic campaign in turn affects the way the prospective nation is imagined. This project studies the ideas and activities independence movements in Timor-Leste (East Timor) and other countries around the Pacific. This is a study, therefore, in the formation of national identity and in the way new nations asserted themselves internationally. Other case studies include Indonesian, Papuan, and other Southeast Asian movements, with broader comparisons to Korean, Six Nations, Tibetan and other independence-seeking movements. Previous publications on this project can be accessed via the writings tab. I have posted some past materials on the Canadian solidarity movement on this page. I introduced the topic on a remarkably short-lived wordpress blog.


Scott diary, Burma, 1952

Modern Missionaries: Canadian Development Advisors in Southeast Asia, 1945-65

Postwar Canadian approaches to Asia were often in the non-governmental realm. International experts called together by the UN Technical Assistance Administration were central to Canadian postwar hopes and aspirations. The Administration, headed by Canadian civil servant Hugh Keenleyside, also included staff member George Cadbury, previously director of the Saskatchewan CCF government’s Economic Planning Board. It was individual Canadian technical advisers like these who offered the hands-on advice and played the crucial role in shaping policy taken by Southeast Asian states. These “modern missionaries” imagined themselves as part of a transnational community, one in which Canada could play a leadership role by being an active member of multilateral organizations.

Published work on this project appears under the writings tab; I am working on a book highlighting advisors who went to Burma, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and other countries.