Sociology Prof Wins National Book Prize

July 14, 2008 - News Release

University of Guelph sociology professor Cecil Foster has received the 2008 John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Prize for his work Blackness and Modernity: The Colour of Humanity and the Quest for Freedom.

The award, presented annually by the Canadian Sociological Association, recognizes work that advances sociological knowledge in Canada. It was created in 1980 to honour John Porter, one of Canada's most important sociologists.

"I am humbled by this award," said Foster, who is considered one of Canada's leading intellectuals on issues of race, culture, citizenship and immigration.

"I have always respected the pioneering work of John Porter so it is quite an honour for me to be recognized as a scholar whose work adds to his legacy . . . In a real sense, this kind of recognition is the highest form of validation, for it reminds us of what we can all achieve working together in collegiality and with respect for scholarship and the dignity of all scholars."

Blackness and Modernity was selected from among several dozen nominated works. Published in 2007, it challenges existing notions of blackness and argues for the viability of a multicultural world. "It's about inclusiveness, recognition and the triumph of the human spirit," said Foster.

He added that he shares the Porter Award "with all those who have helped and encouraged me over the years," including his mentor, Howard Adelman, and his colleagues at U of G.

"I hope this achievement will be an inspiration for my students, particularly those with whom I have discussed such issues as multiculturalism, social inequities, diversity, identities and cultures, and race and ethnicity. I am sure they will surpass me in this respect."

Foster, a U of G faculty member since 2002, is the author of several non-fiction and fiction books, including Where Race Does Not Matter: The New Spirit of Modernity, the award-winning A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada, the memoir Island Wings and the novel No Man In the House.

A former journalist, Foster was the host of Urban Talk on CFRB Radio and has written for many national magazines and newspapers, as well as for CBC Radio and TV. He also taught media studies at Ryerson University and Humber College.

He received the African-Canadian Achievement Award for his overall contributions to arts and entertainment in 2006.

As the 2008 book award winner, Foster will deliver the annual Porter Lecture at the Canadian Sociological Association's 2009 annual meeting in Ottawa next May.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/

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