Mark Leier

Office: AQ 6010
Personal Website

Areas of Study:


This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.


Mark Leier was born in Ladner, BC, and worked for several years at a number of jobs, including bridge tender, short order cook, dishwasher, construction labourer, printer, folk singer, and first aid attendant before going to university. He served as a shop steward and a contract negotiator with the Glaziers union, and has been a member of the Carpenters union, CUPE, and the TSSU. He received his PhD from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1992, and signed on with SFU in 1994.

Research Interests

From Spartacus to the Battle in Seattle, I'm interested in how people have struggled against those in power to win more freedom and equality. This interest has sparked my research in the history of anarchism, labour, and contemporary issues. I've written on the IWW, labour bureaucracy, a labour spy, and the anarchist Michael Bakunin to study popular movements and ideas on the left. It's not "history from below" that fascinates me so much as how the struggle between classes shapes history. And I'm intrigued by how ideas both reflect and change the economic and political structures of the day. I've always liked Harvey Kaye's argument about history and historians. In The Education of Desire he wrote, "Against historians as consensus builders I would advance a vision of historians as social critics, invoking the powers of the past-perspective, critique, consciousness, remembrance, and imagination-to comprehend and consider the present in order to contribute to the charting of new directions in the future."


Graduate Supervision

For MA and PhD students, as a supervisor I'm less concerned about boundaries of region and period than about themes of class and conflict. Some of the recent work I've supervised includes:

  • Anarchism in BC in the 1970s-1980s
  • Violence in the auto industry
  • The anarchism of Errico Malatesta
  • Section 98 and the Communist Party of Canada
  • Women and the IWW in the Pacific Northwest
  • Wobblies and violence in the Pacific Northwest
  • Organizing in the relief camps during the Great Depression
  • Howard Zinn and the writings of history

What links these apparently disparate topics are the themes of struggle, class, and protest, and our program is uniquely suited to students who want to pursue these themes in a wide range of topics, regions, and periods.

Teaching Interests

Anarchism; Labour and left history; Canadian post-confederation; Marxist theory and historiography



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