Dr. Elizabeth Vibert

Dr. Elizabeth Vibert
Associate Professor

BA (Dal), MA (E Anglia), DPhil (Oxon)

Office: Cle B229

Office Hours

Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:00 or by appointment.


Small-scale farmers and food sovereignty; history of poverty, race and gender; British colonial history.

The Thinking Garden trailer from French film festival 

The Thinking Garden Press Kit

Website of South African community research

Community Engagement 


Originally from Nova Scotia, I completed a BA Hons. (Political Science) at Dalhousie; an MA (International Development Studies) at the University of East Anglia; and a doctorate in Modern History at the University of Oxford. I have taught at UVic since 1994.

My main research interests are food insecurity and food sovereignty, particularly in colonized spaces and in the era of climate crisis; colonialism; and the intersecting histories of poverty, gender, and race. I am Principal Investigator on a SSHRC-funded, transnational and community-engaged research project to examine historical and contemporary causes of food crises, and powerful community-level responses, in four settings: South Africa, Colombia, Indigenous communities in southern and northern Canada, and refugee communities in Jordan. More details of this project, under the working title “Four Stories About Food Sovereignty: Transnational Crises and Local Action,” can be found at www.fourstoriesaboutfood.org/ My other major project, one of the “four stories,” explores the lived experience of rural poverty for generations of women in South Africa during and after apartheid. I am collaborating with community members to collect the life histories of older women in communities in Limpopo Province, examining the quest for food sovereignty within a national and global context antithetical to its pursuit; household economies; inter-generational politics; and shifting relations to the state among smallholder farmers. The major knowledge mobilization from this project to date is the award-winning 2017 documentary film The Thinking Garden. The political and temporal urgency of the food sovereignty research has placed on the back burner an earlier project on processes of racialization (including through food) and the making of poverty in colonial Nova Scotia.

I teach comparative and Canadian history at the introductory level, and comparative British colonial history, South African history, and historiography at the senior undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2014 I offered The Colonial Legacies Field School in South Africa. In addition to teaching, research, and community engagement, I served for six years as the History Department's Graduate Director and have served as Acting Associate Dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Selected publications

  • The Thinking Garden. Documentary 2017 (Dir. Christine Welsh; Co-producer/writer/research Elizabeth Vibert).*

* Matrix Award Winner; translated into French, German, Arabic. PRESS KIT

* UVic REACH Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization.

  • Out There Learning: Critical Reflections on Off-Campus Study Programs, co-edited by D. Curran, C. Owens, H. Thorson, E. Vibert. (University of Toronto Press, Fall 2019)
  • Traders' Tales: Narratives of Cultural Encounters in the Columbia Plateau. University of Oklahoma Press, 1997 and 2000.*

*Winner of the AHA/CHA Corey Prize, 1999. Honourable mention, CHA Macdonald and Ferguson Prizes, 1998. 

  • Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History, co-edited by Jennifer Brown and Elizabeth Vibert. Broadview Press, 1997; University of Toronto Press, 2003.
Select recent articles, chapters, papers:
  • “The View from the Farm: Gendered Contradictions in Global Goal Setting for Hunger,” with Astrid Pérez Piñàn. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 20 (4), 2019: 436-50.

  • “Power in Place: Dilemmas in Leading Field Schools to the Global South,” with Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta. In Curran, Owens, Thorson and Vibert, eds. Out There Learning: Critical Reflections on Off-Campus Study Programs (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

  • “Gender, Resistance, and Resilience at a South African Women’s Farm,” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 34 (2), 2016: 252-267.

  • “Loyalist Historiography,” short essay for J. and M. Bumsted, ed., A History of the Canadian Peoples, 5th edition 2016.

  • “Wretched Fishers and Manly Men: Meanings of Food in the Columbia Plateau,” in Kristin Burnett and Geoff Read, eds., Aboriginal History: A Reader (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015).

  • “Rural Mothers and a Politics of Resilience in South Africa,” paper presented at International Federation for Research in Women’s History, Sheffield UK, August 2013.

  • “Cape Breton, 1843: Improvement and Degeneracy,” Victorian Review 36 (1), 2011.

  • "The Contours of Everyday Life: Food and Identity in the Plateau Fur Trade," in Laura Peers and Carolyn Podruchny, eds., Gathering Places: Essays on Aboriginal and Fur Trade Histories (Vancouver, UBC Press, 2010).


History 101A

10 Days that Shook the World


Canada to Confederation

HSTR 470

Colonial Legacies Field School in South Africa


Making 'Race' in the British Atlantic World
HSTR 500



17th - 19th Century Canadian History

HSTR 517

Cultural History and Theory

Grad students

I have supervised graduate students in many areas, including early modern and modern colonial histories (North America, Caribbean, India, Southern and West Africa, South Pacific); First Nations histories; cultural theory; and travel literature.

  • Keith Smith (MA)
  • Pasi Ahonen (PhD – inc.)
  • Sylvia Olsen (MA)
  • Sarah Eustace (MA)
  • Georgia Sitara (PhD)
  • Mrinalinhi Greedharry (MA)
  • Robin Grazley (MA)
  • Nicholas May (MA)
  • Sara Sharun (MA)
  • Lisa Helps (MA)
  • Patrick Chassé (MA)
  • Nicholas Melchin (MA)
  • Meleisa Ono-George (MA)
  • Crystal Fraser (MA)
  • Ashley Forseille (MA)
  • Elizabeth Clemo (MA)
  • Ezekiel Gow (MA)
  • Lesley Golding (MA)
  • Faelan Lundeberg (MA)
  • Gina Mowatt (MA)
  • Darren Reid (MA)
  • Theresa Mackay (PhD)