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Back to the Future: Historical Political Science and the Promise of Canadian Political Development

  • Jack Lucas (a1) and Robert Vipond (a2)
Abstract

How “historical” is Canadian political science? This paper sets out to answer this question through an analysis of historically oriented articles that have appeared in this journal from its first volume, in 1968, to 2015. We suggest that historical research in this journal is at once enduring and uneven, a pattern that we then explore in more detail in a case study, spanning forty years, of historical articles that focus on the interconnected themes of the constitution, courts, and federalism. The unevenness of this pattern suggests that the intellectual and methodological foundation of “historical” Canadian political science may not be as firm as it appears. We therefore conclude with a description of some methodological and conceptual tools, originally fashioned within the historically oriented subfield of American political development in the United States, that Canadian political scientists might deploy to probe important and enduring questions of Canadian politics.

Dans quelle mesure, la science politique canadienne est-elle « historique »? Cet article vise à répondre à cette question à travers une analyse des articles historiquement orientés publiés dans cette Revue, depuis la parution du premier volume en 1968 jusqu’à 2015. Nous suggérons que la recherche historique dans cette Revue est à la fois durable et inégale, un schéma que nous examinons ensuite plus en détail dans une étude de cas, s’étendant sur quarante ans, d’articles historiques centrés sur les thèmes interconnectés de la constitution, des tribunaux et du fédéralisme. L’irrégularité de ce schéma suggère que le fondement intellectuel et méthodologique de la science politique canadienne « historique » peut ne pas être aussi fixe qu’il y paraît. Nous concluons donc par une description de quelques outils conceptuels et méthodologiques, façonnés aux États-Unis à l’origine du sous-domaine du « développement politique américain » historiquement orienté, que les politologues canadiens pourraient déployer pour approfondir des questions importantes et durables de la politique canadienne.

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Corresponding author
Department of Political Science, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, email: jack.lucas@ucalgary.ca
Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, email: rvipond@chass.utoronto.ca
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
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