Postdoctoral Fellowship: Economic development and occupational structure of the Okanagan, British Columbia, and Canada Since the Second World War

There is an opportunity to apply for a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship through the University of British Columbia’s Internal Banting Competition for study on Economic Development and Occupational Structure of the Okanagan, British Columbia, and Canada since the Second World War.

The Okanagan is today one of Canada’s key entrepreneurial and growth regions. The principal city, Kelowna, is the largest metropolitan area in British Columbia outside of Vancouver and Victoria, and the fifth fastest growing city in Canada. At the end of the 19th century, Kelowna did not exist. Moreover, until very recently, the economic history of the region was largely neglected by academic historians.

The postdoctoral opportunity is part of a wider project studying the economic history of the Okanagan in provincial and national context from 1881, the time of first settlement in the region, through to the early 21st century. Work on the history of the Okanagan until the Second World War is well advanced, and is the subject of a forthcoming book in preparation with UBC Press. It will be followed by research on the post-War period, and on the use of the economic history to catalyse regional economic strategy discussion and formation in practice. The postdoctoral fellow will build upon the platform provided by this wider project.

The project uses a range of sources to explore the development of a regional economy, for example censuses, business records, and government policies, all of which are largely untapped. The analysis is particularly concerned with occupations, what people did and why they did it, with wages and with capital. At the outset, our approach is to find out what happened, then explore causality, but we begin with four major questions. How and why did occupations and demography change? Why did the economy of an agricultural region such as the Okanagan, essentially devoid of manufacturing, grow faster than elsewhere in British Columbia? What made Kelowna exceptional? How can the knowledge gleaned be used to catalyze alternative economic strategies going forward? Comparison of the Okanagan with other regions in British Columbia, and with similar agricultural regions in eastern Canada, Washington State (USA), and other parts of the world, is an essential part of the study. The role of women, often ignored in economic history analysis, is being examined in-depth. Similarly, the impact of change upon First Nations.

Successful candidates must have a research program that complements, or contributes to, one of these areas of inquiry. They also need a research program that is strongly connected to their previous work.

The project is led by Roger Sugden (Faculty of Management, UBC) and Keith Sugden (Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, Campop, University of Cambridge). The postdoctoral fellow will be based at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, in Kelowna, and will spend research periods at Campop, in Cambridge. The two-year fellowship is worth $70,000 CAD per year, with additional research funds provided by UBC’s Faculty of Management.

To discuss possibilities, and interest in particular areas of study, email:

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