David B MacdonaldI am a Canadian political scientist specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics.  I focus on Comparative Indigenous Politics in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States, American foreign policy, New Zealand foreign policy, and Anglo-American Diplomacy.  My mother's family is Trinidadian Indian and my father's family is originally from Scotland but goes back many generations in Nova Scotia. Since these roots have been important in my upbringing and influence the direction of my work, I inevitably bring a multicultural perspective to pressing issues in political science which I hope creates a useful angle through which to assess some aspects of international and domestic politics. Please feel free to have a look and explore my articles, chapters, and books, read my blog and check out my links page. You will also find information on my SSHRCC grant on Indian Residential Schools in Canada. If you'd like some more information or just want to say hello, please email me! And if you really like or dislike my work, please let me know why.

Recent Publications

Recent Publications

“Canada’s history war: indigenous genocide and public memory in the United States, Australia, and Canada,” forthcoming in Journal of Genocide Research, 2015, 33 pp.

In this article, I explore the slow development of a national debate in Canada about genocide in the Indian Residential Schools, which I compare to earlier “history wars” in Australia and United States. In the first section I begin with a brief introduction to the history of the IRS system and some of its legacies, as well as attempts at redress. These include financial compensation through the 2006 IRS Settlement Agreement, an official apology, and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which has been a nodal point for articulating claims of genocide. I follow this in section two with an analysis of the history wars in the United States and Australia over indigenous genocide, before engaging in section three with debates about genocide in Canada. Overt debates about genocide have been relatively slower in developing, in part because of the creation of a TRC, mandated with collecting the “truth” about the IRS system while similarly engaging in “reconciliation” (a contested term) with settler Canadians. While Canada’s history wars may seem slow in getting off the ground, they may have a greater effect in stimulating national awareness than in the United States and Australia because of the more sustained mandate and national presence of the TRC. However as I will later discuss, a certain inbuilt caution on the part of the TRC due to lessons learned from the US and Australia may prevent any official finding of genocide.

“Genocide in the Indian Residential Schools: Canadian History through the Lens of the UN Genocide Convention” in Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benvenuto, and Alexander Laban Hinton (eds), Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America (Duke University Press, 2014) pp. 465-493.

I begin with a brief background of the IRS system before plunging into my main discussion as to whether the system can be deemed genocide. I focus primarily on Article 2e of the UNGC, “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Space prohibits me from engaging in any detail with the other four elements of Article 2. Death in the schools is not a major focus of this chapter, although it is clear that large numbers of children died as a result of their experiences in the IRS system. I also do not engage with recent studies of nutrition experiments in several residential schools from 1942 to 1952. I conclude with a brief discussion of what are we to do now, in Canada, if we recognize that the IRS system was genocidal. What sort of restitution and reconciliation needs to occur between Aboriginal and settler peoples, and how much will this change Canada as it is now politically constituted?

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SSHRCC Insight Grant 2013-2018
Role: Principal Investigator
“Aboriginal-Settler Bi-Nationalism as a form of Reconciliation within a Multicultural context: Can a New Zealand model of Power-Sharing Work in Canada?” 

SSHRCC Partnership Development Grant 2014-2016
Role: Collaborator
"Embodying Empathy : Fostering Historical Knowledge and Caring Through a Virtual Indian Residential School"

SSHRCC Standard Research Grant 2009-2013
Role: Principal Investigator
"Indigenous People and the UN Genocide Convention: A Study of Indigenous Assimilation Policies in Canada"

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Books Available

Europe in Its Own Eyes, Europe in the
Eyes of the Other

Europe in its Own Eyes

Other Available Books

Teaching & Supervision

University of GuelphI have been teaching at the university level since 1999. I teach international relations and comparative politics classes, ranging from large first year classes in international politics to the PhD core course in comparative politics.


Contact Information

David MacDonald
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1