Bruce Curtis: From 'the People' to 'Population': a genealogy of Canadian social science

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Fri., Mar. 15, 2013, 2:30pm - , 5:00pm

From 'the People' to 'Population': a genealogy of Canadian social science
Bruce Curtis, Carleton University      
Fri., March 15, 2013,  2:30 to 4:00 pm.
The MacMechan Auditorium in the Killam Library, Dalhousie University

Based on the research that is reported in his most recent book, 'Ruling by Schooling Quebec: Conquest to Liberal Governmentality. A Historical Sociology,' Bruce Curtis argues that ongoing attempts to rule the continually refractory colony of Quebec/Lower Canada helped propel shifts in both the logic and the practice of colonial government. The theory of 'mixed monarchy', with its fixed orders of King, Lords and Commons, which presided over the colony's 1791 constitution, gave way increasing to a liberal governmentality. Mixed monarchy aimed to govern the people. Liberal governmentality aimed at the population in territory and sought the establishment of a system of security. This logic of government encouraged conscious reflection about what was to be governed, by what means, and with what concrete objectives. It encouraged a novel political imaginary, but it also stimulated practical inquiry into empirical conditions. Taken together, the two promoted the development of a novel form of investigation and analysis: 'the social science.'
Curtis demonstrates that the conventional account of Canadian social science as developing out of the late nineteenth century concerns of Social Catholicism and the Social Gospel with poverty misery and vice is in need of revision. Key elements of the later social sciences were elaborated in the 'social science' of the first decades of the nineteenth century.  As the site of colonial Canada's first two Royal Commissions of Inquiry, Lower Canada played a key role in the emergence of new ways of knowing and administering population.

Sponsored by Situating Science and by the Dalhousie Departments of History and Sociology/Social Anthropology.