2010–11 Canada-US Fulbright Chair, Marcia Ostashewski

Marcia OstashewskiNews from Fulbright

Marcia Ostashewski, the 2010–2011 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair, is an ethnomusicologist investigating intersections of music and dance with race and ethnicity, gender, class and region, with a specific focus on Ukrainian dance and culture in Cape Breton and Aboriginal/Ukrainian encounters and relations on the prairies of Canada. In Fall 2010, she is teaching ethnomusicology, as well as a course on the musical practices of North American indigenous communities as a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria.

Marcia is currently involved in two research projects in different regions of Canada, in which she is investigating intersections of music and dance with race and ethnicity, gender, class and region. The first is a study of Ukrainian music, dance and related culture in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for which she was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Marcia's second project focuses on the expressive culture and a legacy of Aboriginal/Ukrainian encounters and relations on the prairies. Neither of these two groups, Aboriginal-Ukrainians nor Cape Breton’s Ukrainians, has been addressed in scholarship or public memory. Her work engenders new perspectives about ethnic and group identities with regard to constructions of identity, nationhood and community—and provides new opportunities for scholarly collaboration, intercultural relations and teaching/learning together with communities.

Return to Top

News from Fulbright

Outcome of Fulbright: Celebrating 100 years of Ukrainian Faith in Cape Breton Novia Scotia

After her fulbright term at Canadian Studies, Marcia Ostashewski, remains active in her studies. She is currently working on various events at Cape Breton University that runs from January 26 - February 3, 2012. See events

Métis, mixed-ness and music: Aboriginal-Ukrainian encounters and cultural production on the Canadian prairies
Wednesday April 20, 2011


From left: Mary Wright, American Indian Studies; Marcia Ostashewski, 2010-11 UW Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair; Lucy Jarosz, Geography

In late April, Dr. Marcia Ostashewski, UW’s 2010-11 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, gave her lecture Métis-Ukrainian encounters in Canada as part of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Global Focus Lecture Series.

Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal intermarriages, often described as “mixed-race,” have been the focus of historians and anthropologists, and represent an important legacy of the colonial pasts and present of both the United States and Canada which require further investigation. As an ethnomusicologist, Ostashewski is investigating a legacy of Aboriginal/Eastern European settler encounters and relations in music, dance and related expressive culture on the Canadian prairies. In this presentation, she focuses on Alberta-based musician Arnie Strynadka, “The Uke-Cree Fiddler” – looking at the ways in which his musical life and performance represent a particular encounter and fusion of ethnicities, examining experiences of hybridity and intercultural relations in the context of this unique, western Canadian musical life.

The lecture was attended by faculty and students from geography, ethnomusicology, sociology and history. It was followed by a lively discussion between Ostashewski and participants.

This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Title VI grant, U.S. Department of Education, International and Foreign Language Education.

In 2006 the UW (Vice Provost for International Education) and the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States agreed to establish a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the UW. The Fulbright Chair is sponsored by Global Affairs, Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Fund for Excellence and Innovation, and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

View Video

Return to Top 

Canadian Studies Center Welcomes 2010-11 Canada-U.S. Fulbright Chair, Marcia Ostashewski

group of educators

Marcia with horses on the farm of Arnie Strynadka, January 2011.

Marcia Ostashewski, the 2010–2011 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair, is an ethnomusicologist investigating intersections of music and dance with race and ethnicity, gender, class and region. She is currently involved with two research projects in different regions of Canada.

In one of her research programs, “Mixed Music,” she is exploring a legacy of colonialism specifically, Aboriginal and Ukrainian settler encounters and relationships on the prairies. This project developed out of discussions with research consultants who identify as Ukrainian-Cree and Ukrainian-Ojibwe, families and communities of Métis who have been forgotten or, at least, have gone unacknowledged.

The current focus of her research in this area is Alberta musician Arnie Strynadka, who says he “grew up with bannock in one hand and kobassa [Ukrainian garlic sausage] in the other,” speaking Cree with one grandmother and Ukrainian with the other. This declaration draws on widely recognizable and easily parodied stereotypes of two cultures — one aboriginal, the other, immigrant — that have centrally shaped his identity. Yet Arnie’s musical life has been anything but stereotypical.

Arnie, who bills himself as ‘The Uke-Cree Fiddler,’ articulates a particular encounter and fusion of ethnicities, inherent conflicts and syntheses of values, symbols and expressive forms. From the early 1980s until early 2000s, he travelled in his touring bus/mobile home between venues in western Canada and mid-western USA. He enjoyed great success in country music centres such as Nashville and Branson after being taken up by an ‘Indian art’ promoter, leading to overseas acclaim. His repertoire and style are reminiscent of Métis fiddlers and what Arnie calls the “old Indian way of playing” and also incorporate elements of Ukrainian Canadian fiddling. Historians and anthropologists have focused on social histories and genealogies of Métis and families of mixed-ancestry. Ostashewski is working on a genealogy of Arnie’s musical performance, examining his musical life in relation to social institutions and practises, exploring productive tensions arising between stereotypes and individual experiences, cultural expectations and individual capacity.

Investigating Arnie’s life and the ways in which he presents it — within a broader context of Aboriginal and Ukrainian histories in North America — Ostashewski is preparing a book-length manuscript that brings to light the ways in which Arnie and his music have functioned within cultural webs along the many avenues they have travelled. Contributing to a burgeoning ethnomusicological literature on musicians’ life stories, this work reveals shared practices and ideologies within northern Alberta indigenous communities and immigrant settlements, and beyond.

Ostashewski is also engaged in a collaborative research program with an urban, industrial-based Ukrainian community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in which she is exploring Ukrainian music, dance, community and labour history, and contemporary cultural production. The overarching research program consists of publications and presentations to scholarly and wider community audiences; an interactive exhibition in a local museum commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the city of Sydney’s Holy Ghost Ukrainian parish in 2012; and a comprehensive web portal (leading to ten distinct websites, virtual exhibits and learning opportunities).

This expands upon preliminary research she conducted during a series of short-term site visits in 2008-09, in which Ostashewski created an interactive multimedia exhibit at the Cape Breton University (CBU) Art Gallery. The exhibit, based on her original research, introduced Cape Breton Ukrainian communities and culture (and ways they intersect with other local ethnic groups, including descendants of West Indies immigrants and a local African Orthodox parrish in particular, and European Jews) and explores both the historical and contemporary practice of Ukrainian dance and music in the area. A model of successful collaborative research, with the enthusiastic involvement of many community leaders and other members, this exhibit was also facilitated by collaboration with an art gallery, archives, research centres in different parts of the country, and various offices and scholars at CBU.

Ostashewski’s research has since garnered national recognition and led to increased interest in the area; findings have been integrated into site interpretation for tourists; it has become the basis of academic conference papers; and it is cited widely by other university-based researchers as well. This preliminary research has also subsequently provided opportunities for further scholarly collaboration, intercultural relations and teaching/learning together with communities. (View a slideshow of the 2009 exhibit opening at: http://culture.cbu.ca/ccbs/Ukrainian_Exhibit.html)

In these and other research and teaching projects, Ostashewski works closely with research participants, community and cultural institutions. Her research is dialogic — she seeks to integrate a variety of perspectives, facilitating conversations among ‘doers’ and ‘knowers’, changing the way knowledge is produced and represented and stimulate the involvement of students and scholars as social and cultural activists.

In addition to being the recipient of the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Canadian Studies (2010-2011), Ostashewski is also generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC, Government of Canada). She also holds a Visiting Research Fellowship in the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, British Columbia – where she taught courses on indigenous music of North America and ethnomusicology this past Fall. Ostashewski has taught at several universities across Canada and is regularly invited to speak at universities and community institutions. Her work has been published in scholarly journals, books and magazines, as well as in the public press.

The Fulbright Visiting Research Chair is sponsored by Global Affairs, Social Sciences (College of Arts and Sciences), the Graduate School Fund for Excellence and Innovation, and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

Return to Top

Discovering Ukrainian Cape Breton, Cape Breton University

Amongst a myriad of cultures found on Cape Breton Island are the deeply-rooted and vibrant Ukrainian communities of Cape Breton. Read more...

Métis, Mixed-ness and Music: Aboriginal-Ukrainian Encounters and Cultural Production on the Canadian Prairies

Visit the following link to watch a video of the annual Canada-US Fulbright Lecture, part of the Jackson School's Global Focus lecture series, given by the 2010-11 Canada-US Fulbright Chair, Marcia Ostashewski: http://vimeo.com/25996154

Return to Top

Contact Information for Marcia Ostashewski

E-mail: marcia.ostashewski@gmail.com

Return to Top

Canadian Studies Center
University of Washington
Box 353650
Thomson Hall, Room 503
Seattle, WA 98195-3650
T (206) 221-6374
F (206) 685-0668