Fall 2016 - HIST 436 D100

British Columbia (4)

Class Number: 6392

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    BLU 11901, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Christina Adcock
    1 778 782-4533
    Office: AQ 6236
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 101 and 102W.



Selected problems in the social, cultural, economic and political development of British Columbia.


Land and Power in British Columbia

Whether perceived as “the best place on Earth” or a “sea of sterile mountains,” the landscapes of British Columbia have long made powerful impressions upon visitors and residents alike. This seminar critically examines human encounters and relationships with the lands and waters of this province from deep time to the present day. It will explore how different actors have enrolled those lands and waters in social hierarchies of value and meaning, often empowering themselves at the expense of others. Land offers people biophysical power through the production of food, fuel, and kinetic energy, and economic power through the exploitation of non-renewable resources. Land has also been a key source of political and cultural power in the Indigenous, settler colonial, and liberal democratic societies built atop British Columbia’s terrain. Water and land have their own intrinsic power and agency, of course. They’ve changed and confounded the course of human affairs throughout this province, and we’ll talk about this, too.

We will engage the course’s core theme from multiple perspectives—Indigenous, European, Asian, American, and Canadian—and at various sites, including estuarine gardens, fur trade forts, mining towns, Chinatowns, reserves, fisheries, hydroelectric dams, and high-rise towers. Students will have the opportunity to delve into primary collections of textual and visual sources, and to contemplate current expressions of the land-power nexus in a museum exhibition of their choice. Held in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, and in a province superimposed primarily upon unceded Indigenous lands, this seminar will also afford us time and space to reflect upon the shifting relationships between land and power in British Columbia today, and to imagine how we would like them to look in the future.


  • Participation 20%
  • Museum exhibit report 15%
  • Primary source analysis 15%
  • Research paper 50%
  • *Course components and their weighting may be altered between now and the beginning of the fall term.



Required readings will be made available on Canvas.


Patricia E. Roy and John Herd Thompson. British Columbia: Land of Promises. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 2005.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html