In just two weeks the Canadian Society for the Study of Names / Société canadienne d’onomastique will meet at Congress in Victoria, BC for our annual meeting. We’re pleased to have intriguing and diverse presentations from our members, as well as two invited speakers.
Coming to know the politics of naming (places)
Dr. Lawrence D. Berg
This paper presents a spatial autobiographical account of the author’s own development of a critical understanding of place naming processes. I use this spatial autobiography as a way to outline the rise of critical place-name studies in the discipline of Geography. In addition, my presentation will draw on a number of empirical case studies of the politics of naming places in Aotearoa/New Zealand in order to illustrate key aspects of critical place name studies.
Biography: Lawrence D. Berg is full Professor of Critical Geography and Co-Director of the UBC Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice, located at the Okanagan Campus of UBC in Kelowna, British Columbia. Lawrence’s research focuses on issues of place and the politics of identity, and he has more than 80 publications on topics ranging from the cultural politics of healthcare for urban Aboriginal people to white supremacy in academia. Lawrence is part of a group of scholars that first started research and writing about critical perspectives on the politics of naming places in the early to mid-1990s. Along with Jani Vuolteenaho (University of Helsiki), he is editor of Critical Toponymies: The Contested Politics of Place Naming (Ashgate, 2009).
Private Names for Public Places? Naming Rights and Toponymic Activism
Dr. Reuben Rose-Redwood
In the current age of neoliberal governance and entrepreneurial urbanism, the naming of places is increasingly being framed by policymakers in cities around the world strictly as a matter of economic calculation with the naming rights for public places being sold to corporate sponsors and wealthy elites. Very few scholars, however, have critically examined the historical emergence and geographical diffusion of municipal naming rights policies and practices. This presentation offers a preliminary assessment of the geographies of naming rights in Canadian cities as well as grassroots efforts to resist the commodification of public place names. Based upon an ongoing research project, the aim of this study is to examine the political strategies, economic outcomes, and cultural reception of naming rights policies in different cities across North America. With a particular focus on the implementation of the Sponsor Winnipeg program and activism against the City of Victoria’s proposed naming rights policy, this talk calls for a renewed commitment to “toponymic activism” that moves beyond arm-chair toponymy by demanding that our elected officials resist the short-sighted policy of privatizing the symbolic identities of public places.
Biography: Reuben Rose-Redwood is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Victoria. His research explores the cultural politics of place naming, commemorative landscapes, and the historical geography of cities. He is currently an Editorial Board member for the journal, Cartographica, and has published works on various topics in leading scholarly journals including the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Social & Cultural Geography, The Professional Geographer, the Geographical Review, ACME, Cartographica, and Urban History. His research has also been featured in the New York Times, Atlantic magazine, and Canadian Geographic as well as on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and BBC World Service Newshour.