PROFile: Paul Lawrie

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Winnipeg

In the University of Winnipeg’s expansive history department, Dr. Paul Lawrie’s area of focus lies in American History.

“I teach primarily modern American history with a focus on urban history, history of race relations (and) African-American history.”

Lawrie says he was drawn to the field during his time at York University.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

“I became quite interested in issues of race and philosophy and particularly the African-American experience in the US, and that just drew me into examining that from a historical perspective.”

In the classroom, Lawrie finds that his students continually remind him how relevant history is to the present. He notes issues that are esoteric are particularly important, ensuring that they are understood.

“The present is a product of the past, and if we can’t make that connection, then it becomes abstract, it becomes unobtainable.”

What was your worst grade in university?

“I got a D in second-year Spanish despite working tremendously hard. I’m depressingly monolingual.”

What’s the best thing about your work?

“The best thing about my work is (that) I’m being paid to read and research and teach and lecture and engage on issues that are my passion.”

If you could meet any person from history and talk to them for an evening at dinner who would it be?

“I would very much like to meet Malcolm X and talk to him ... and Ralph Ellison.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“When I have spare time, my favourite thing to do is spend it with my family, especially with my two children.

“You can (also) find me at the Duckworth gym or teaching boxing at my community centre. Those are the two things I do.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 13 of The Uniter (January 9, 2020)

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