Solidification of a story

Gradlife Instagram photo by @steezsister

McGill Gradlife Instagram photo by @steezsister


Literally, the word “solidification” means making or becoming hard or solid, making stronger. I like to think of this word as a phase change, like from water to ice, or from magma to crystals or marble. The story that I have told so far in “The beginning of a story” and “Successes: the story continues…” has a liquid status that this text aims to solidify. A character without name will get one, a spatial location will be drawn around his body, a past will carve out his shape throughout the page. (more…)

Being digital humanists….

McGill GradLife instagram photo by

McGill GradLife instagram photo by

Before coming to McGill, I did not know what the expression Digital Humanities means. Now, one year and a half after, I’m focusing my research on this field. I presented it at the last Digital Humanities Showcase that this year took place at McGill on January 26th. It was not only an occasion to share my work with other scholars, but also an example of how this field has become paramount for the curriculum of any graduate student.


Dear Edward Snowden…

Instagram @gradlifemcgill // photo by : @digitalpigeons

Instagram @gradlifemcgill // photo by : @digitalpigeons

“Standing in line to

See the show tonight

And there’s a light on

Heavy glow….”

(Lyrics from The Red Hot Chili Peppers – By the Way)

Verses, words that many of us know, words that came to my mind that late afternoon when nobody-knows-how many students, professors, people of the McGill community waited for hours before listening to Edward Snowden. I was among them and I strongly believe that GradLife should have a page about this event, about his words.


AÉCSUM, Politique Étudiante et Conseil Généraux – Mémoires d’un Représentant

La démocratie en mouvement... assise.

La démocratie en mouvement… assise.
(photo: McGill Daily)

Un autre mois qui passe à McGill, un autre conseil général de l’AÉCSUM. L’AÉCSUM (mieux connue sou son nom anglais, PGSS) est l’Association Étudiante des Cycles Supérieurs de l’Université McGill. Je reviens tout juste de son conseil général, qui regroupe les représentants de toutes les Associations des Étudiants Gradués (AEGs) des diverses discipline, et qui – en tant que plus haute instance de l’organisation – est chargé de toutes les décisions importantes (et de celles qui ne le sont pas, aussi…). Après deux années passées en tant que représentant de mon AEG (Sciences Politiques), ce soir aura été mon dernier conseil. Ci-joint, donc, quelques réflexions vis-à-vis de la politique étudiante à McGill, de l’AÉCSUM, et de mon temps passé en contact avec ces éléments.


Indecision Québec 2014

PLQ Corrumpu

Anti PLQ election graffiti in MontréalParti BourguoisAnti PQ election graffiti in Montréal.

In case you’ve been living under a rock the last few weeks (or under a thesis), you should know that today, Monday April 7, 2014 is election day in Québec. Across the province, people are making their voices heard in what has been an interesting (to say the least) election campaign.

This year, it was easier than ever for students to vote, as we could vote on campus over a period of four days. As a resident of a riding outside of Montreal, this made life easier for me, as I’m sure it did for many other students. I actually cast my ballot last week, without trouble. Then again, I have been resident here for more nearly 7 years; I pay taxes here, I have a Québec driver’s licence, a RAMQ card, and I own a house in Trois-Rivières. I’m already on the list of registered voters. I walked up to the polling station, presented my identification, and was handed a list of candidates for my riding, marked my ballot, placed it in a sealed envelope and went on my merry way.


Qu’en est-il du français à McGill? Un aperçu.

Le drapeau français avant qu’il soit remplacé par la Tricolore après la Révolution. D’éventuelles ressemblances au drapeau du Québec sont entièrement fortuites.

Je m’étais, alors que je commençai à écrire pour ce blog, promis d’écrire un “post” sur deux en français. Cette ambition se fondait sur une double motivation: d’abord, celle de faire justice à une audience forcément diverse, souvent bilingue, et en partie francophone. Ensuite, je souhaitais renouer avec la rédaction du français, qui s’est faite rare au cours d’années passées à poursuivre des études en anglais.

Malheureusement, la deuxième motivation a rapidement eu raison de la première, et pas dans le sens désiré: dur de se forcer à écrire en français alors que l’on passe ses journées à lire et à rédiger en anglais. Mon ambition s’est donc bien vite estompée, et mes “posts” ont, jusqu’à ce jour, tous été en anglais. Mais il n’est jamais trop tard! – d’autant plus que Guillaume vient de publier son premier post en français, ce qui m’a encouragé à renouer avec mon ancienne promesse. Mais le français – parlons-en, justement. Qu’en est-il du français à McGill? Est-il pratiqué? Quelle est sa place, de droit et d’usage? Questions linguistiques, questions culturelles, questions politiques même (ou surtout!?) – ci-dessous, un aperçu, forcément personnel.


Changing of the Red Guard

President XI Jinping will have to contend with a increasingly technologically savvy China

Over the last two weeks, Chinese government officials have gathered in Beijing for the National People’s Congress (NPC), and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). In Chinese, this gathering is known as the “Two Meetings”— an annual assembly that puts forth national-level political decisions.

This year’s meetings marked the once-in-ten-year transition of state figureheads. Under President HU Jintao and Premier WEN Jiabao, the past decade has been most notably characterized by large-scale growth. There’s been the darling infrastructure projects,  like the Three-Gorges Dam and the high-speed railway network; the push for increased global prominence, such as China’s entry to the World Trade Organization and the 2008 Olympics; and of course, the  high national GDP growth, which averaged 11%. Canada’s average for this period, by the way, was roughly 2%.

Last week, President HU (pronounced “WHO”) handed over the reins of power to XI Jinping (last name pronounced “SHE;” hopefully his name will not engender too many headline jokes a la Michael Scott). XI brings to the table a charisma that the previous two generations of Chinese leaders severely lacked. Plus, a modern political PR machine that has aided in molding a much more affable and “of the people” narrative. AND, a super star wife, who, in addition to her singing fame, has been working on HIV and TB issues since 2005, most recently as the World Health Organization’s Global Ambassador.


Of Elephants, Donkeys, Dragons and Men: Thinking about how China Perceives the U.S. Perception of China

Street-side advertisement for the November issue of Vista Magazine, Kunming, China 2012

It’s been over a month since U.S. citizens went to polling stations and exercised their right to elect representatives to office.  Having cast my absentee ballot in September, I watched the lead up to the election half-heartedly, frustrated by bad Chinese internet connections, and without the possibility to change my vote. Thirteen hours ahead of EST, I woke up on Wednesday, November 7th to hear political pundits on NPR (the only reliable stream available) go on about the feasibility of a Romney victory. And then, quickly it was over.

For U.S-observers here, it wasn’t entirely surprising that China played a significantly more prominent role in comparison to previous presidential elections (see graph below). For example, in the third presidential debate on foreign policy, “the China question” even closed down the show (what no Europe?). Obama and Romney’s responses differed only by degree, both highlighting the precariousness of Sino-U.S. bilateral relations and recapitulating a tried image: China, while a potential global partner, is mostly a threat, to the economy and trade, national and regional security, intellectual property, and the list goes on. Strangely, (perhaps even tellingly?), in his introduction to this line of questioning, Bob Scheiffer, the debate moderator, seamlessly sequewayed from an initial China reference to ask the candidates: “What do you believe is the greatest future threat to national security?”

Excuse me? (more…)

McGill’s Iranians: dancing at the crossroads

Last month Canada expelled all Iranian diplomats and closed the embassy, leaving some of Canada’s 150 000 Iranians wondering where they stand. According to an email from the International Students Society, there are 262 Iranian students registered at McGill, many of which were at the Shatner building last week for a party put on by MISA, the McGill Iranian Students’ Association. I was at the party and decided to write about it to bring attention to an underrepresented facet of Canada’s relationship with the Iranian nation.

Shatner Building. Credit: McGill website

It may seem odd that I was at this semester’s Iranian back to school party, since I’m not Iranian, but attendance is open to all and my Iranian friends eventually talked me into going.


Science freedom: a British proposal

Elsevier parody poster. From

A crack may finally be appearing in one of the most serious remaining barriers to equality in the developed world.

Although much has lately been made of the divisions in our societies resulting from inequalities in wealth and social status, we largely ignore perhaps the most serious of all divisions: fundamental access to our knowledge about the world and its inhabitants.

The CBC reported today that the British government has announced it will make all government-funded research available for free by 2014, a move that is being speculatively seen as prefacing a similar EU-wide initiative. (more…)

The biggest small election

(As some of you may know, I have been involved in past and ongoing work in West Africa. I have been paying devout attention to the current Senegalese elections and finally decided to coalesce my thoughts into an article, which follows.)


A young man sends text messages from a Dakar streetcorner. Photo credit: Erik Delaquis

On February 26th millions of Senegalese headed to the polls for the first time since 2007. The results of their first-round voting are forcing a heated runoff election between the incumbent, Abdoulaye Wade, and opposition leader Macky Sall later this March. A bastion of democracy with its parliamentary system and fixed term lengths, the former French colony is an EU darling. At least, for the moment. As riots erupt and the two-horse electoral runoff reaches fever pitch, the future of one of West Africa’s success stories faces a major fork in the road. (more…)

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.