Comparing Germans in Ontario and Buenos Aires

My name is Benjamin Bryce and I will begin the fifth year of my PhD at York University in September 2012. My interest in researching German immigration to Canada first began while I spent a bit over a year teaching English in Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein between my BA and MA in 2005-2006. My MA thesis, which I wrote while on a York exchange in Berlin in 2007-2008, was on a topic in German-Canadian history and was generously supported by the Spletzer Family Foundation MA scholarship. For three months in the summer of 2011, I carried out research for my PhD in Berlin and Leipzig as well.
My dissertation explores the divergent constructions of German ethnicity in Canada and Argentina and the ways this influenced tangible activities related to education, childhood, social welfare, and religion. Entitled “Reproducing Ethnicity: German Schools, Philanthropy, and Religion in Ontario and Buenos Aires, 1880-1930,” it weaves together local, provincial, national, and international perspectives on the interaction between families, communities, and the state. It uses German speakers as a case study to offer new arguments about how ethnic minorities contested nationalist projects and carved an ethnic space into several public domains in Ontario and Buenos Aires. Schooling, charities, and religion provide windows into the ideas of language and nation that Canadian and Argentine politicians, bureaucrats, and educators espoused and the alternative visions that German-speaking teachers, female fundraisers, and clergymen propounded. The comparative approach situates immigration to Canada in its global context by juxtaposing this country with Argentina, which was second only to the United States in attracting European immigrants between 1870 and 1945. The research is funded in part by a Spletzer Family Foundation German-Canadian Studies Research Scholarship (PhD).
Ben Bryce, York University