Jordan Stanger-Ross is the Director of Past Wrongs, Future Choices and a Professor of History at the University of Victoria. Jordan’s previous project, Landscapes of Injustice, earned the significant honour of the first-ever Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Impact award for the University of Victoria. Past Wrongs, Future Choices builds on successes, collaborative potential and community impacts established through Landscapes of Injustice, while pushing its scope transnationally.
Jordan sees Past Wrongs, Future Choices from two perspectives: as project director and as a researcher. Having “dual” identities and perspectives on the same project reminds Jordan of his favourite scene from the cinema classic Citizen Kane, in which Charles Foster Kane describes himself as “two people”: “As a researcher,” Jordan explains, “I want to connect with other researchers, learn from them, co-write materials that expand my understanding, learn from artists… all of these types of experiences as a researcher that have been made available to me.” The ambitions and perspective of a project director, however, are very much their own—“they’re kind of split identities on the project!”
As a researcher, Jordan comes to the project as an expert on Canadian histories of migration, race and inequality—a Canadianist with a particular focus on the dispossession and “cascading” harms experienced by Japanese Canadians. His hope is to connect, co-write and learn—bringing his research expertise together in dialogue with other area experts.
Jordan is currently finishing off a co-authored book—with University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams—on the Canadian federal government’s decision to exile Japanese Canadians in 1946. This book, paralleling the expanding transnational focus of Past Wrongs, Future Choices, moves landmark cases in Canadian law into a more international lens. The second major project of Jordan’s will be a book, tentatively titled “What good is bad history?”, exploring the public telling of histories of injustice in national and transnational frames. Other research collaborations include work on joint pieces with Masumi Izumi, Neilesh Bose, Monica Setuyo Okamoto, and Jessica Fernandez de Lara Harada. Jordan the researcher always wants to be writing.
On the other hand, as director of Past Wrongs, Future Choices, Jordan manages project clusters and networks working to support outputs including teaching resources, museum exhibitions, artistic creations, and archival infrastructure. As a Project Director, Jordan is the facilitator of collaborative networks among project partners, institutions and researchers. Jordan the Project Director is most frequently found in a meeting.
Rather than seeking to coherently synthesize the plurality of perspectives, personal histories, and research, artistic and professional expertise that each team member brings with them into the project, Jordan sees the partnership project as the ‘space’ or ‘container’ for “the encounter of different people with varying expertise who are going to try to come together to thread with one another a new way of telling this story.”
Success for Past Wrongs, Future Choices, from Jordan’s project director perspective, comes from “doing what we said we were going to do” to create impactful outputs—such as supporting community members and researchers learn histories from archives and exhibitions, or producing educational resources for teachers. Further, the interest from project partners and institutions to collaborate continues to move the needle on what’s possible for the partnership project. It’s about creating outputs that matter for its audiences and resonate with the public—”creating more dialogue with partners and institutions and delivering on it.”
In addition to Jordan’s collaborations and book projects, more of his work in areas including Holocaust memorialization in Victoria and political apologies can be found here.
This article was written by Sarah Stilwell, from an August 2023 interview with Jordan Stanger-Ross. Stay tuned for upcoming Past Wrongs, Future Choices Governance Board profiles.