Meet Our Postdoctoral Fellows: Julia Lum
Friday, February 15, 2019
SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I came to the University of Toronto after completing my PhD in art history at Yale University. Before that, I did a master’s degree in art history at Carleton University.
Many things attracted me to the University of Toronto: its faculty, its world-class library and museum collections and its opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement. I wanted to work with Mark Cheetham, whose scholarship on landscape, eco art and art theory advances urgent sets of issues that connect across periods and traditions.
My own research about the art of eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, cross-cultural exchange and landscape art has shifted since I began postdoctoral research. My new project looks at the photographs and landscape views made by British and American surveyors who marked the 49th parallel North American border between Lake of the Woods and the Pacific Coast from 1857 to 1876.
The question of how Canada and the United States took shape, and what other kinds of knowledge and cultural practices were adopted or suppressed in the process of making the line, is something that I’m particularly poised to think about in Toronto. Not only are there photographs and papers at the Archives of Ontario, but the original reports, engravings and publications of the boundary survey are within easy reach at UofT’s magnificent Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and at Robarts Library. No less important is the strong contingent of Toronto-based Indigenous and Settler artists and scholars whose practices are reframing how we think of nations and sovereignties.
My approach to this research question is enriched by attending workshops at interdisciplinary centres such as the Jackman Humanities Institute, and by seeking expertise in fields as diverse as cultural geography, environmental studies, anthropology and Indigenous education. I look forward to continuing to build relationships with the art history and visual studies faculty, graduate students and with scholars across campus.