We are your benevolent Convergences leaders, Kate (she/her) and Angela (she/her), in our first of many blog posts for Convergences. We’ve finally got the CFP and the website ready for visitors! It’s been a tough journey in 2020, especially coming out of the pandemic and trying to not just survive, but thrive, in the fall semester. Many of us have teaching duties, or coursework, or are just trying to perfect our dissertation. You as graduate students will understand the struggle, but our shared experiences is why we are so excited to share this conference with you!

 We are trying to plan a conference that both grounds us in our crisis and can perhaps be a brief reprieve from reality. We don’t know what the world will look like in April 2021 but we know that, barring apocalypse, we will be sitting around in Zoom, talking about subjects we are all passionate about with like-minded colleagues. 

There’s some major points we want to tackle in this inaugural blogpost for our inaugural conference:

York-U of T collab!

It’s high time that our two universities, now within a 30 minute subway ride of each other, started treating each other like friends rather than rivals. All it took was simply reaching out and asking, and for the other to be receptive and some hour long (and more than an hour long) Zoom meetings. Of course, we’d rather meet in person and plan this conference over coffee or beer but so far – with the occasional feline interruption – Zoom planning has gone on without too many hiccups. Technology actually worked in our favour, like the ability to share screens or look things up on the fly. There aren’t enough good things I can say about Slack in this conference planning journey (although we had to persuade some of our team members to get on board). One day, we will all share a beer over this conference (inoculated against COVID-19) and finally meet in person the people we are getting so close to virtually. 

Our Commitment to Social Justice

The Convergences team is made up of a diverse cast from around Canada and the world, and we are so much better for it. We are super excited and think that this is the future of the history discipline – boundaries, whether in gender, race, sexuality, class or ability, being transcended. That being said, we understand that there are structural, institutional and individual hierarchies that prevent people from participating fully in such conferences. To this end, we are trying to make the conference as equitable as possible. This does not mean that we aim to treat people equally in the broad sense, because we know that those who are disadvantaged by these social hierarchies deserve and require more than equality, but that we are aiming to rethink and reconstruct our discipline and the conference into something that is equitable for all and allows participation as broadly as possible. Now this might mean something as simple as entering your pronouns into your Zoom name, or on our end, budgeting for someone trained to caption our conference, but whatever it is, we are here to listen to your needs and concerns, and to try to address it in the best way we can. We may not be perfect in our ongoing efforts but we are trying to make the effort and we’d appreciate our attendees to do the same. 

All in all, please do check back here regularly. We plan to be as open and communicative about the conference planning as we can. Blog posts will be updated regularly on a bi-weekly basis and you’ll hear from a range of Convergences team members on their personal takes on the conference planning session. As always, if you have any comments, ideas or questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email as at cyuthistory@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing this journey with you!

Wishing you all the best,

Kate (she/her) and Angela (she/her)

You can follow Kate on Twitter at @katedoeshistory and Angela @AngieYZ

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