Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Q61: Dr. H.B. Hawthorn and K.J Tarasoff

From: Adam Carmichael
PhD student, University of Victoria.

I am currently doing some work on the relationship between Harry Hawthorn's research on Indigenous peoples and Doukhobors in the 1950s.

I was delighted when I happened upon a piece you wrote in 2013 about the Idle No More movement. In it you mention that Harry Hawthorn served as a mentor in your scholarly development. I'm wondering if you could tell me a little about your relationship.
  • How did his distinction between [social] integration and assimilation affect your thinking?
  • Did the idea of 'integration' carry over into your other work such as Plakun Trava ?
I really appreciate any insight you can give me. Thanks for your time and all of your excellent writing!


Dr. Harry B. Hawthorn (1910-2006) played a significant role in my education by showing me the wisdom of using anthropological insights to study the local and wider societies. I first met him in the late 1950s at the Banff School of Fine Arts where he was a resource person at a week-long Human Relations Seminar that I attended. His influence led me to enroll in a Masters of Anthropology and Sociology Degree at the University of British Columbia (1962-1963) where he was head of the Department. In August of 1964 he recommended me for a Wrenner-Gren Fellowship to travel and attend as interpreter assistant the 7th International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held in Moscow, Russia [IUAES] where I met populist Margaret Mead.

As a pioneer scholar from New Zealand, Dr. Hawthorn saw the value of both theory and practise in understanding and building viable human communities. His emphasis on practise was especially appreciated.

Hawthorn's influence was especially felt in the pivotal distinction between 'assimilation' and 'integration'. Assimilation, according to Hawthorn, was essentially based on hatred, while integration was considered a respect relationship of people. This idea captured my imagination and became part of my core anthropological understanding of individual and group identity.

I learned that British colonialism was largely an example of conquering indigenous peoples and assimilating them by way of the church, the public education system, and the laws of the land. The Indian Reserve system was a Canadian example of assimilation with its Indian Act, residential schools, and segregation (a form of apartheid).

Working with First Nations people for me was very challenging in my two-year-work (mid-1960s) in the Broadview Area of Saskatchewan involving four Indian Reserves. Hawthorn's second lesson was to observe carefully — 'to walk in the shoes of the other person' — and to help the Indians and non-Indians to share integrated spaces. In this space, I received the name of 'The Camera Man' and was known as an anthropologist who called himself 'neither Black nor White'. By this, I considered myself an equal human being as an integrated citizen of Canada.

During the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West, I held 17-public living room discussions with Soviets in Canada and Canadian citizens, so each could "get to know the stranger." Then I escorted trips to the Soviet Union. The listening and observing tools I learned from Dr. Hawthorn's classes at UBC inspired and prepared me to lead these intercultural meetings and trips. Bridge-building was part of this cross-cultural journey.

My understanding of my Russian Doukhobor heritage was no doubt aided by my anthropological studies. I remember reviewing Hawthorn's book on Doukhobors in The Inquirer that I published and edited in the 1950s. Among my comments, the following best describes my review:

'Written with a sympathetic humanitarian flavour, each expert inquiringly explores his or her sphere of study. Continuous integration of psychological and sociological factors provide a synoptic view. Although no "cure-all" solutions are given, an optimistic attitude prevails. The Committee's hope "to put itself out of business" places assuring faith on Doukhobors themselves to eventually solve their [own] problems and "contribute to the richness of Canadian culture".'

Dr. Harry B. Hawthorn has indeed made a mark on my scholarship, my writings, and my approach to human interaction. My sincere thanks to this professor with wisdom and care who took time to correspond with me when I needed encouragement to find my path. Hawthorn was my mentor.

  1. Book review by Koozma J. Tarasoff of Harry B. Hawthorn's The Doukhobors of British Columbia (1955) in The Inquirer, vol. 2, no. 7, August 1955: 25-27. The book is based on the Report of the Doukhobor Committee which was presented to the Government of British Columbia in 1952.
  2. Koozma J. Tarasoff. Plakun Trava: The Doukhobors. 1982. Download Index.
  3. Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'Getting to Know the Stranger in Your Living Room', paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Sociology and Anthropology Association, Windsor, Ontario, June 6, 1988. 17 pp.
  4. Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'Why are First Nations "Idle No More"? Wisdom from the Past. February 2013.
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