Recipients of 2014 German-Canadian Studies Scholarships, Grants, and Prizes

Recipients of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Fellowship competition have been announced. Once again, the program is funding research of the highest quality. The funded projects are innovative studies in social history and the history of medicine as well as family history and intergenerational memory. The 2015 Fellowship program has been announced on the German-Canadian Studies website.


GCS Dissertation Prize

Making Ethnic Space: Education, Religion, and the German Language in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930

Dr. Benjamin Bryce is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Dissertation Prize, which he won for “Making Ethnic Space: Education, Religion, and the German Language in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930” (York University 2013). In his study, Dr. Bryce, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, explores how children, parents, and teachers struggled with politicians, bureaucrats, and religious leaders over the meanings of German language, bilingualism, and ethnic identity. He compares these negotiations between immigrants and the state in two distinct liberal nations at the height of European immigration to the Americas. Professor Roberto Perin (York University) calls it “a complex, innovative, and dynamic study which highlights the German women and men who tried to reproduce their ethnicity in gendered ways within the family and the institutions they founded and used in the countries of adoption.” Professor Jose Moya (Barnard College) writes: “The prose and the organization are as lucid as the conceptual apparatus.” He also notes: “The primary research, conducted in three different countries and four languages, is broad, deep, and at times awe inspiring.” Dr. Bryce’s dissertation meets the high expectations of excellence in the field of German-Canadian Studies that are required by the German-Canadian Studies Fellowship program. Dr. Bryce previously had received German-Canadian Studies research scholarships for his Master’s thesis and doctoral work. Dr. Bryce’s recent publications include “Linguistic Ideology and State Power: German and English Education in Ontario, 1880-1912” in the Canadian Historical Review (2013), “Entangled Communities: Religion and Ethnicity in Ontario and North America, 1880-1930” in Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (2012), and “Los caballeros de beneficencia y las damas organizadoras: El Hospital Alemán y la idea de comunidad en Buenos Aires, 1880-1930” in Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos (2011). Dr. Bryce is presently revising his dissertation into a book, which is tentatively entitled “Regimes of Pluralism: Language, Religion, and Ethnicity in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930.” For more information about his research, you can visit his website:


GCS Master’s thesis Prize

Of ‘Modern Immigrants’ and ‘German Bread’: A Case Study of Ethnic Identity Construction Amongst Contemporary German Immigrants in the City of Ottawa, Canada

Ms Anke Patzelt is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Master’s thesis Prize, which she won for “Of ‘Modern Immigrants’ and ‘German Bread’: A Case Study of Ethnic Identity Construction Amongst Contemporary German Immigrants in the City of Ottawa, Canada” (Malmö University 2013). In her study, Ms Patzelt, who will start a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Ottawa in September 2014, investigates the ways in which recent German immigrants to Canada continue to identify with Germany and German culture. While much research has focused on the large wave of German immigrants who arrived during the 1950s, few researchers have studied those who have arrived since 1990. More so than earlier generations, the most recent immigrants use modern communication and transportation to maintain transnational ties with Germany, which they continue to see as their homeland. More so than earlier generations, the post-1990 immigrants emphasize passing their German language and culture on to their children. Professor Elke Winter of the University of Ottawa writes that Ms Patzelt “identifies stark differences in social class, integration and identity construction between Germans who came to Canada in the post-war years and those having joined the country in the 1990s.” She continues, “Ms Patzel’s work makes a significant contribution not only to the understudied phenomenon of recent German immigration to Canada, but also to the changing nature of ‘ethnic communities’ and ‘identity retention’ within the Canadian context more generally.” Ms Patzel’s thesis meets the high expectations of excellence in the field of German-Canadian Studies that are required by the German-Canadian Studies Fellowship program.


GCS Research Scholarship (M.A.)

Mennonites, Community and Influenza: Creating Communities and Understandings of Disease During the 1918-1920 Influenza Epidemic

Ms Vanessa Quiring is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Scholarship (M.A.). She is a graduate student in the Joint-Masters-Program in History at the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg. The following is a description of her research project.

In the fall of 1918, as the First World War was drawing to a close, Canadian soldiers were coming back from battle overseas. In the midst of Canada’s first major foray into war since Confederation, another threat became more obvious: influenza. Spanish influenza affected millions of people worldwide from 1918 to 1920 and the Canadian population was not immune to such an outbreak. Hundreds of thousand contracted the virus and nearly 50,000 perished. My MA thesis will use a German-speaking Mennonite population and locale, the rural district of Hanover, as the focus for a study of influenza, both the response of marginalized groups to state imposed public health regulations, to use an epidemic event to demonstrate how Mennonites may have experienced disease and the reaches of a community perceived as both tangible and “imagined” through death records and local newspapers. During the 1918 flu pandemic, Mennonites, due to wartime anti-German sentiment, had to cease publishing their newspapers in German and instead use English. Did this impact the readership of Die Steinbach Post during the influenza outbreak and what was being reported in community newspapers about the epidemic? My research therefore seeks to understand how state forms and print communication can be seen as a way of understanding the impact of disease upon a community and of forming a self-identity, both restricted in geographic space and in the broader North American Mennonite community. I intend to see how influenza affected communities through the registration of deaths on provincial governmental forms. In the case of this study, mortality rates for the Rural District of Hanover, which encompass records from the city of Steinbach on the East Reserve of Manitoba will provide an estimation of the mortality rate within a Mennonite community. The abundance of death certificates in an epidemic moment with very little public health organization leaves death records with a wealth of information. The self-identification of Mennonites as well as the construction of Mennonites by government officials can be explored through the lens of disease. Mennonites, historically, lived in community groups, relatively separate from the general population and had their own school system and wanted to maintain a certain level of independence from outside governments. A study of Mennonites during this epidemic event will help understandings of how Mennonites navigated illness. The extent to which Mennonites followed public health measures, filled out death certificates and reported illness and death in the newspapers provides an insight into the world of health within Mennonite communities. The influenza epidemic provides a lens through which one can use death certificates and various print media to understand how communities both face-to-face and imagined are formed. The placement of illnesses of relatives living outside of the Hanover region within local news can tell us about the imagined Mennonite community that extends outside of the province and even of Canada. My study will present an interdisciplinary look at the role that migration, community and religion played in the understanding and treatment of disease.


GCS Research Grant

Intergenerational Memories of a German-Canadian Family

Ms Allison Penner is a recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. Her project is a continuation of “Intergenerational Memories of a German-Canadian Family,” an oral history she began in 2013. While the psychological, educational, material, social, and cultural issues faced by refugees have been studied by social scientists, refugee movements have been left largely unaddressed by most historians, thereby excluding the voices and experiences of these forced migrants from the historical record. This project creates extensive oral histories with three generations of one German-Canadian refugee family. The first generation arrived as post-war refugees in Canada in the 1950s. The study is based on extant interviews with the first generation and will produce extensive oral histories with members of the second and third generation in 2014-15. The interviews will be transcribed and archived at the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre, where, with the permission of the interviewees, they will be made available to other researchers and the public. A report of the project’s findings will be published at the completion of the research. Family interviews provide researchers with detailed narratives of post-war refugee experiences, narratives of first-, second-, and third-generation German-Canadians, narratives of intergenerational memory within a family, and a glimpse into the public and private life in Winnipeg in the second half of the twentieth century through the perspectives of one German-Canadian family. The interviews will contribute to our understanding of how refugees and their children and grandchildren make sense of and renegotiate ideas of home and identity, and how these ideas and memories can be passed down and reshaped within a family. Ms Penner graduated from the University of Winnipeg with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History in 2013. She works as a research associate of Dr. Alexander Freund at the University of Winnipeg. Penner also teaches oral history workshops at the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre. Most of her oral history work has focused on refugees in Manitoba.


GCS Research Grant

Post-WWII Immigrants in Manitoba

Ms. Elizabeth Krahn is a recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. She is an independent researcher in Winnipeg and a recent MSW graduate from the University of Manitoba (2011). Her project is based on Post-WWII Immigrants in Manitoba(PWIM), a SSHRC-funded study that investigated the experiences of refugees in Manitoba from 1945 to 2010. The PWIM project located extant oral history interviews conducted in the 1970s and 1980s with European refugees who came to Manitoba after the Second World War. Researchers conducted follow-up interviews with five survivors of that era (representing Winnipeg’s Polish, Jewish, and Hungarian communities), and interviewed some of their children and grandchildren. This current project focuses on the second and third generation of the refugees. Interviews with members of these generations will be transcribed, summarized, and prepared for archiving. A primary objective of the project is to acknowledge the profound histories and pre- and post-migration experiences of refugees who have arrived in Manitoba over the past 70 years, as well as their descendants, and thereby contribute to a more comprehensive picture of the history of Manitoba, better reflecting its cultural diversity and complexity. Post-WWII refugees are among the oldest living long-term immigrants in Canada and much can be learned from their lived experience across the lifespan and that of their children and grandchildren. My own approach to the analysis and presentation of these oral histories has often been ethnographic, and at times autoethnographic,as I am an adult child of refugees of that era. My particular interest has been inwhat narratives regarding collective trauma tell us about the impact of trauma on personal and cultural identity, meaning, belonging and attachment, and well-being, and how the genuine witnessing of these narratives within and between generations and cultures has the power to stimulate greater understanding, empathy, and transformation rather than reinforce biased assumptions of the other. Ms. Krahn has presented papers at national and international conferences related to qualitative research analysis, gerontology, immigration, and oral history. Her publications include Published articles include “Transcending the ‘Black Raven’: An Autoethnographic and Intergenerational Exploration of Stalinist Oppression”(Qualitative Sociology Review, 2013), and “Lifespan and Intergenerational Legacies of Soviet Oppression: An Autoethnography of Mennonite Women and their Adult Children” (Journal of Mennonite Studies, 2011).