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Assistant professor of history Dr. Benjamin Hoy (PhD) will launch a project studying patterns of violence, retribution and forcible confinement in North America. (Photo: Allain Esquivel)

USask historian awarded grant from anti-violence foundation

Dr. Benjamin Hoy (PhD) has been chosen as a 2020 HFG Distinguished Scholar by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation


By Chris Putnam

Dr. Benjamin Hoy (PhD), an assistant professor in the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Department of History, is one of 15 researchers chosen as a 2020 HFG Distinguished Scholar by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.

The HFG Distinguished Scholars program recognizes leading researchers from around the world whose work has the potential to advance understanding of the causes and manifestations of violence.

Hoy was awarded initial funding of US$32,200 for the first year of his two-year research project Dominating a Continent: Violence, Retribution, and Forcible Confinement in North America.

“I became interested in massacres, imprisonments, vigilante justice, and retribution as research topics because so much of North American history was influenced by these events. Historic episodes of violence have shaped the laws we have inherited. It has shaped where people live, whose title to land is recognized, and what country communities now call home,” said Hoy.

The historian’s project will focus on acts of vigilante and state-sponsored violence against Indigenous communities during the 19th century. Hoy will use digital mapping and archival research to connect hundreds of seemingly unrelated acts of violence, surveillance and confinement in Canada and the United States over the course of the century.

Hoy plans to reconstruct the networks of violence that supported federal power in western North America.

“What I find so interesting about this topic is that while we know a lot about wars and battles, we know relatively little about the everyday violence and the infrastructure that made all of this possible,” said Hoy.

Hoy’s newly published book, A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands, is a detailed history of the Canada-U.S. border, including the violent methods used to maintain it.

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