Alaska border project awarded SSHRC Insight Development Grant

Soldiers of the 93rd Regiment, one of several segregated Black regiments, at work at a makeshift bench while working on the Alaska Highway in 1942. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office of History)

A UBC Geography project led by Dr. Desirée Valadares has been awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas.

Circuits of Capital will offer new insight into how alternative and subversive political and spatial claims are forged and contested on both sides of the northernmost Alaska-Canada border.

Archival research combined with onsite study and documentation of select infrastructural routes that traverse the border between Alaska and Canada will enable an exploration of the visual, material, and spatial histories of historic steamboat lines, inland routes such as the Alaska Highway and ice roads.

This “research-creation” project relies on the creation of a ‘counter-archive’ in visual and aural form that offers an alternative, multivocal and speculative study of these routes on sea, land, and ice.

Dr. Valadares aims to begin fieldwork in 2023, by driving the Alaska Highway to photograph existing conditions of veterans memorials such as bridges, commemorative plaques and historic mileposts that recognize Black U.S. Army engineers who built the Alaska-Canada Highway (ALCAN) during wartime.