Jody Berland’s North of Empire is an astute, compelling retrospective of half a career’s thought on media spaces from a distinctly Canadian perspective.It is the best book in a generation to argue for the value of a Canadian approach to cultural studies, not just parochially but as a critical contribution to the contemporary study of culture anywhere.
Given its substantive focus, it should be no surprise to learn that the Canadian Communication Association awarded North of Empire its 2009 Gertrude J. Robinson book prize (full disclosure: I served on the jury). Nonetheless, an anthology of previously published essays is not an obvious choice for a book award.Referring in her postscript to the heightened concern about protecting and nurturing Canadian culture amidst debates over free trade negotiations in the 1980s, Berland reminds us that “just because something is past does not mean it is not present” (p. 301). She could be explaining the continuing relevance, even spectral centrality, of her own concerns in this collection of essays. Although the chapters were originally published between 1988 and 2005, each is updated and thematically positioned out of chronological order to create a surprisingly cohesive monograph.
Moore, P. S. (2011). North of Empire: Essays on the Cultural Technologies of Space [Review of the book North of Empire: Essays on the Cultural Technologies of Space by J. Berland]. Canadian Journal of Communication, 36(2).