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October 2005
312 pages  

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Permeable Border
The Great Lakes Basin as Transnational Region, 1650 - 1990
Bukowczyk, John J., Faires, Nora , Smith , David , Widdis, Randy
This text examines the history of the Great Lakes Basin in relation to its importance as a place of social, economic, and political interaction between the United States and Canada.

Winner of the 2006 Albert B. Corey Prize from the American Historical Association.

Available in Canada through University of Calgary Press

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John J. Bukowczyk is professor of history and director of the Canadian Studies Program at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Nora Faires is associate professor of history and women’s studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
David R. Smith is a history instructor and academic advisor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Randy William Widdis is professor of geography at the University of Regina.
Permeable Border offers a fresh, thought-provoking inquiry into the history of U.S.-Canadian relations. Examining economic development, migration, and national policies, these essays throw light on the changing patterns of cross-border interaction in the Great Lakes region since 1800. This book will be essential reading for scholars interested in an integrated view of North American history, and makes a valuable contribution to contemporary debates over globalization.—Christopher Clark, University of Connecticut

“A work of impeccable scholarship and painstaking research . . . a seminal benchmark reference for the significant activity on the Great Lakes for trade between its most active years of 1650 and 1990.”—Michael J. Carson, Midwest Book Review, April 2006

“An exemplary collaborative effort in which the authors combine their respective specialties in U.S. and Canadian history with a view to remapping the Great Lakes border region and confer it new historical meaning, drawing skillfully from recent transnational perspectives.” —Bruno Ramirez, author of Crossing the 49th Parallel: Migration from Canada to the United States, 1900–1930

“Its theoretical chapters and bibliographic essay make Permeable Border an excellent starting point for studying Canadian-American borderlands, looking ahead to a common history free of nationalist and continentalist bias. Its historical chapters reveal the importance of Canadian emigration to American capitalism and to Canadian nationalism. Indeed, this book demonstrates that the history of the Great Lakes region is best told from a transnational perspective—from the fur trade to free trade.” —Donald F. Davis, University of Ottawa

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From the colonial era of waterborne transport, through nineteenth-century changes in transportation and communication, to globalization, the history of the Great Lakes Basin has been shaped by the people, goods, and capital crossing and recrossing the U.S.-Canadian border. During the past three centuries, the region has been buffeted by efforts to benefit from or defeat economic and political integration and by the politics of imposing, tightening, or relaxing the bisecting international border. Where tariff policy was used in the early national period to open the border for agricultural goods, growing protectionism in both countries transformed the border into a bulwark against foreign competition after the 1860s. In the twentieth century, labor migration followed by multinational corporations fundamentally altered the customary pairing of capital and nation to that of capital versus nation, challenging the concept of international borders as key factors in national development. In tracing the economic development of the Great Lakes Basin as borderland and as transnational region, the authors of Permeable Border have provided a regional history that transcends national borders and makes vital connections between two national histories that are too often studied as wholly separate.


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