TOPIA was established in 1997 and emphasizes, but does not limit itself to, investigations of Canadian culture and society. Published out of offices at York University through the combined efforts of Wilfrid Laurier Press and Cape Breton University Press, TOPIA remains Canada's only journal explicitly dedicated to cultural studies.
Papers published in TOPIA tend to consist of applied critical theory, or cross-disciplinary cultural analysis, with an emphasis on the political role culture plays as a vehicle for social transformation. The online archive emphasizes in TOPIA's mandate a concern for the reading, and re-reading of history in light of the mulitdisciplinary space offered by cultural studies, as well as encouraging reflection on the dynamics and politics of disciplinarity itself. In the editorial of the tenth anniversary issue, editor Jody Berland points out the advantage of cultural studies' relatively open status as a discipline in Canada: being one of the few Canadian journals dedicated to this emergent approach to the human sciences, TOPIA is able to escape the kind of splintering and specialization that might be produced by a more diversified field (Fall 2007).
Alongside its acceptance of diverse critical approaches to the study of culture, TOPIA offers a shifting focal point of analysis in the form of special issues dedicated to particular topics. It is also possible to detect in the journal's recent publication history an increased emphasis on globalism and the international. Recent issues have focused on diaspora (2007), Islam (2008), ecology and the environment (2009), a double issue on "Cultures of Militarization" (Oct 2010) and an issue on Bollywood (forthcoming, Fall 2011). Earlier special issues focus on feminist cultural materialism (2005), and technology and culture (2004).
Areas of research relevant to TOPIA are: the historical, institutional, and aesthetic formation of Canadian culture; analysis of visual art, film, television, music, literature and popular culture in Canada; the sociology of museums, galleries and the art market; the evolution of environmental geopolitics, city planning, architecture, landscape and new approaches to nature; cultural studies of science and technology; social, cultural and spatial configurations of new technologies; Canada's cultural industries; nationalism, multiculturalism, and the contemporary nation-state in the era of global integration. What unites these very diverse areas of investigation is the central role played by culture in contemporary social transformation. (TOPIA website)
TOPIA is published twice a year, and submissions are subject to blind peer review. In addition to essays, the journal publishes reviews, and regularly includes a catch-all section called "Offerings" which presents shorter pieces, round-table discussions, etc. The journal also publishes a regular column on "Cultural Studies and Political Economy". For the past two years, TOPIA has received funding from SSHRC.