Call for Presentations—Worlds Apart: Music, Nostalgia, and Absence in Canada’s Diasporic Communities Since 1945

When and Where

Friday, January 19, 2024 12:00 am to Saturday, January 20, 2024 12:00 am
Walter Hall
Faculty of Music
80 Queen’s Park, Toronto M5S 2C5


Worlds Apart will be a two-day conference and recital series May 25th–26th, 2024 that explores how refugees and displaced peoples in Canada have used music to “fill” cultural absences, create diasporic communities, and build intercultural bridges since 1945. After the Allied victory at the end of the Second World War, the four largest waves of refugees entering Canada have been directly connected to East-West geopolitical tensions (e.g. the 250,000 Central and Eastern Europeans who fled Communism between 1947-1952; the 60,000 Vietnamese and Cambodians who fled communism between 1979-1980 [Molloy et al., 2016]; the 60,795 [and counting] Syrians who fled civil war since 2011 prior to the recent natural disaster; and the 137,797 [and counting] Ukrainian citizens who have arrived since 24 February 2022 as emergency three-year temporary residents [Government of Canada, 2023]). Consequently, this period in Canada’s migration history is distinguished by the profound impact of (post-)Cold War conflicts. These same events have informed Canada’s divergent approaches to nation-building at home and its exertion of “soft power” abroad.

Ultimately, it was a group of Ukrainian Canadians, led by linguist Jaroslav Bohdan Rudnyckyj (1910-1995) and politician Paul Yuzyk (1913-1986), who successfully petitioned the Canadian federal government from 1963-1971 to adopt an official policy of “multiculturalism” (Prymak, 2019). Since then, one of the Government of Canada’s core strategies for nation-building has been to represent and revive the cultural traditions of its diasporic communities (Bissoondath, 1994). Nowhere has this approach been more clearly pursued than through music (Ghorayshi, 2010). Musical performance can inspire nostalgia for an absent homeland, producing creativity and moral codes that “govern a community’s identity and sense of belonging” (Jordan, 2023: 13). Literature on how states incorporate incoming refugees in their nation-building and public diplomacy campaigns tends to focus on monolithic national brands (Cevik and Efe Sevin, 2017; Fosler-Lussier, 2015). But how can constructivist, multicultural approaches to nation-building be developed and communicated—especially by self-described cultural “mosaics” or “melting pots” like Canada? Worlds Apart will inspire researchers and performers to consider how musical expressions of Canada’s growing and ever-changing refugee and diasporic communities have intersected with perceptions of multiculturalism and Canadian-ness at home and abroad.

Participants in Worlds Apart are encouraged to present a proposal for a recital or academic paper related to one or more of these questions:

  • What is the role of collective nostalgia, cultural absence, and musical performance in building Canada’s refugee diasporic communities?
  • What role has music played as a metaphor and concrete arena for intercultural dialogue between Canada’s refugee communities and other residents/citizens?
  • What role do refugee music and culture play in Canadian cultural diplomacy?
  • How do Canadian funding bodies, composers, performers, and critics determine the ethnic symbolism and value of refugees’ musical performances?

Instructions to applicants:

  • Participation is strongly encouraged by researchers across all disciplines
  • Participation is strongly encouraged by performers of all music traditions

Submission instructions for 20-minute papers:

Submission instructions for 30-minute to 1-hour recitals:

  • Submit an audio or audio/video recording/link to
  • Submit a brief explanation of how your recital would be relevant to the conference topic of music and cultural diaspora in Canada (350 words max)

All papers and recitals will be followed by a chaired 10-minute Q&A session with audience participation.

All presenters and performers will have access to the following:

  • A Steinway concert grand piano
  • Presentation screen
  • Audio system
  • Clicker & adapter cables for laptops

Application Fee: $40 CAD (includes conference attendance and concert on the evening of Saturday, 25th of May 2024). Tickets will be requested from applicants after January 19, 2024, but may be purchased at any time.

All academic presentations will be considered for chapters to be published within an edited book with Oxford University Press.

Please send questions to

Applications due date for conference presenters: January 19, 2024.

Director: Dr. Daniel Jordan
Co-organizer: Prof. Robin Elliott

Supported by the JHI's Program for the Arts.

Contact Information

Dr. Daniel Jordan


Jackman Humanities Institute, Faculty of Music


80 Queen’s Park, Toronto M5S 2C5