MacKay Lecture Series

The annual MacKay Lecture Series features up to four lectures given by internationally renowned speakers, addressing subjects related to the liberal and performing arts. Three of the lectures revolve around a common interdisciplinary theme chosen each year by the Faculty's Research Development Committee from a selection of faculty proposals. The fourth lecture is on a broadly based historical theme, in recognition of the generous donation funding the lecture series that was given by Gladys MacKay in appreciation of the education that her husband, the Reverend Malcolm Ross MacKay, received at Dalhousie as a B.A. student in History (1927).

2024-2025 MacKay History Lecture

"The Underground Railroad as Afrofuturism: Exploring New Galaxies in the Outer Spaces of Slavery" 
Thursday, October 24, 2024
7:00 pm
room 1028, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Avenue, Halifax

Featuring dann j. Broyld, Associate Professor of African American History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell
Organized by Philip Zachernuk, Department of History

Lecture Description:

This talk employs the lens of Afrofuturism to address new dimensions of the Underground Railroad, detailing what imagination, tact, and technology, it took for fugitive Blacks to flee to the "outer spaces of slavery." Runaways revealed the inner workings of their intelligence with each day they were away. Escaping slavery brought dreams to life, and at times must have felt like "magical realism," or an out-of-body experience, and the American North, Canada, Mexico, Africa, Europe, and free Caribbean islands were otherworldly and science fiction-like, in contrast to where Black fugitives ascended. This talk will address the intersections of race, technology, and liberation by retroactively applying a modern concept to dynamic historical Black moments.  


Speaker's Bio:

dann j. Broyld is an associate professor of African American History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He earned his PhD in nineteenth-century United States and African Diaspora History at Howard University. His work focuses on the American–Canadian borderlands and issues of Black identity, migration, and transnational relations as well as oral history, material culture, and museum-community interactions. Broyld was a 2017-18 Fulbright Canada scholar at Brock University and his book Borderland Blacks: Two Cities in the Niagara Region During the Final Decades of Slavery (2022) was published with the Louisiana State University Press. Borderland Blacks recently won the Ontario Historical Society's 2022-23 Fred Landon Book Award. 


2023 MacKay Lecture Series

Our Aesthetic Possibilities: Lectures on Art-Making in the 21st Century. 
Organized by:
Erin Wunker, English department and Gender and Women’s Studies program
Bart Vautour, English department and Canadian Studies program

“The Politics of Non-Relation: or, How the University Broke My Heart”
Featuring Natalie Loveless
Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory in the Department of Art & Design and Associate Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Alberta

"After This Sentence"
Featuring Canisia Lubrin
Assistant Professor and coordinator of the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA in the School of English & Theatre Studies, Senior Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Race, Gender & Class at the University of Johannesburg

“Narrative Activism and Internet Fans: or, How I think about audiences now that they clap back”
Featuring Hannah Moscovitch
Acclaimed playwright and TV-writer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Winner of a Governor General's Award, the Trillium Book Award, the Nova Scotia MasterWorks Arts Award, and the Windham-Campbell Prize.

2023-24 MacKay History Lecture

From Nuclear Power to Nuclear War: Ukraine's History as a Nuclear Colony
Featuring Kate Brown,
Distinguished Professor in History of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Organized by Will Langford, Department of History

2023 MacKay History Lecture

Siloed Knowledge: Mennonite Settlers vs. the Farm Expert
Featuring Dr. Royden Loewen, University of Winnipeg
Organized by Dr. Will Langford, Department of History

2022 MacKay History Lecture

Old Beginnings: The Scene of Decolonisation
Featuring Professor Priyamvada Gopal  (University of Cambridge)
Organized by Ajay Parasram, Departments of History and International Development Studies

MacKay Lecture Series 2021-22

Organized by Martha Radice, Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology

This year, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hosted a virtual MacKay Symposium, Happiness in Troubled Times.


  • Dr. Carol Graham, The Brookings Institution - Unequal Hopes and Lives in the U.S.A.: Insights for Research and for Policy from the New Science of Well-Being
  • Dr. Helen A Regis, Louisiana State University - Troubling Joy: Learning from Activists for Racial Justice in the Festival Archive 
  • Dr. Joel Faflak, Western University – Got Happy?
  • Dr. Francisco Cruces Villalobos, UNED – Little Joys and Agonies of the Intimate Space

Watch the video recordings of the 2021-22 MacKay Symposium presentations.

MacKay History Lecture 2020-21

Professor Derek PenslarHarvard University
"Towards a Unified Field of Israel/Palestine Studies"
Organized by Denis Kozlov, Department of History

MacKay History Lecture 2019-20

Professor Joan M. Schwartz, Queen's University
"Picturing Place & The Writing of History: The Lens & Legacy of Frederick Dally"
Organized by Lisa Binkley, Department of History

MacKay Lecture Series - 2018-19

"Learning Machines: Who builds AI? Who benefits?" - organized by Karen Foster (Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology) and Darren Abramson (Department of Philosophy)

AI, Automatization and Social Transformations
Dr. Ross Boyd,
Senior Research Associate
Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and Network
University of South Australia

Transparency, Accessibility, and Ethics in AI
Dr. Larry Medsker, Research Professor of Physics
Associate Editor, Neural Computing and Applications
Public Policy Officer, ACM SIGAI and Member, ACM US Technology Policy Committee
The George Washington University, Washington, DC

MacKay History Lecture 2019

Professor Robbie Shilliam
John Hopkins University
Fire Pon Rome: Rastafari and anti-Fascism
Organized by Ajay Parasram, Department of History, Department of International Development Studies

MacKay Lecture Series - 2016-17

"Immigration Politics in Review" organized by Pauline Gardiner Barber and Ruben Zaiotti. 

Living Race in the Post-Racial Era? Mixed Race Amnesia in Canada
Dr. Minelle Mahtani
Associate Professor of Human Geography and Program in Journalism
University of Toronto - Scarborough

Resettler Society:  Private Sponsorship of Refugees and the Making of Citizenship
Dr. Audrey MacKlin
Professor and Chair in Human Rights Law
University of Toronto

The Futures of Migration in Europe and Germany: A New Normalcy?Dr. Thomas Faist
Professor of Sociology of Transnationalism, Migration and Development
Bielefeld University, Germany

MacKay History Lecture 2017

Containers & Humans in Deep Time: An Environmental History
Dr. Daniel Lord Smail
Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of History
Harvard University

MacKay Lecture Series - 2015-16

"Multilingualism Matters--Beyond Babel," organized by Krista Kesselring, department of History

Patricia Lamarre: "Parkour de ville: What the linguistic trajectories of young multilingual Montrealers tell us about Quebec post-Bill 101"

Sherry Simon: "The Translational Life of Cities: How Language Exchange Shapes Urban Culture"

Monica Heller: "Multilingualism in the Globalized New Economy"

MacKay History Lecture 2015

Marcia Chatelain: "Teaching in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter: Social Media, Social Justice, and Social Change in Classrooms and Communities"

Dal News story: Marcia Chatelain Talks #FergusonSyllabus at Dal

MacKay Lecture Series - 2014-15

"Performance Across Boundaries,"
Organized by Roberta Barker (Fountain School of Performing Arts).  

Christopher Baugh (University of Leeds): "Devices of Wonder and the Spectacle of Power"

Philip Auslander (Georgia Institute of Technology): "Barbie in a Meat Dress: Performance and Mediatization in the 21st Century"

Marlis Schweitzer (York University): "Precious Objects: The Material Culture of Nineteenth-Century Child Performers"

MacKay History Lecture 2014

Maria Subtelny (University of Toronto): "Rules for Rulers: Political Ethics in Medieval Islam"

MacKay Lecture Series - 2013-14

“European and Canadian Separatisms”

Organized by Jerry White, Canada Research Chair in European Studies

"Myths, Nations and Collective Imaginaries: A New Frontier for Cultural Research"
Gérard Bouchard

"The Language of Incomprehension: How Not To Be a Minority Language Writer"
Christopher Whyte

"Recognition and Political Accommodation, From Regionalism to Secessionism: The Catalan Case"
Ferran Requejo Coll

MacKay History Lecture 2014

"Dis-united kingdoms? Debating Britain in Seventeenth-Century Scotland"
Roger Mason

MacKay Lecture Series - 2012-13

Reconciliation:  The Responsibility for Shared Futures
Organized by Brian Noble, supported by Sociology and Social Anthropology, Canadian Studies, and International Development Studies 

"Back to the Future:  The Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation"
Dr. Michael Asch

"Aki-noomaagewin (Earth's Teachings):  Stories of the Fall, Indigenous Law and Reconciliation"
Dr. John Burrows

"Reconciliation Here on Earth:  Shared Responsibilities"
Dr. James Tully

Previous Series Themes:

  • 2011-2012: Reconciliation:  The Responsibility for Shared Futures
  • 2010-2011: Global Change and the Need for a New Social Imagination
  • 2009-10 - Sustainability: Past, Present, Future
  • 2008-09 - Music, Culture, and Society
  • 2007-08 - Identities and Ideologies:  Changes and Transformations in the Modern Islamic World
  • 2006-07 - The Early Modern Family
  • 2005-06 - With Respect to Readers: Book History and the History of Reading
  • 2004-05 - Finding the Balance: Citizenship, Immigration, and Security
  • 2003-04 - Europe: A Multidisciplinary Feast
  • 2002-03 - Origins
  • 2001-02 - Cross-Cultural Exchanges in North America