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Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada

Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada

Jennifer Henderson
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada
    Book Description:

    Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canadaengages in a discursive analysis of three 'texts' - the narratives of Anna Jameson (Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada), Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney (Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear), and the 'Janey Canuck' books of Emily Murphy - in order to examine how, in the context of a settler colony, white women have been part of the project of its governance, its racial constitution, and its role in British imperialism. Using Foucauldian theories of governmentality to connect these first-person narratives to wider strategies of race making, Jennifer Henderson develops a feminist critique of the ostensible freedom that Anglo-Protestant women found within nineteenth-century liberal projects of rule.

    Henderson's interdisciplinary approach - including critical studies in law, literature, and political history - offers a new perspective on these women that detaches them from the dominant colony-to-nation narrative and shows their importance in a tradition of moral regulation. This project not only redresses problems in Canadian literary history, it also responds to the limits of postcolonial, nationalist, and feminist projects that search for authentic voices and resistant agency without sufficient attention to the layers of historical sedimentation through which these voices speak.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7981-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgmentss
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-44)

    The representation of the national literature as the organic expression of a people, involved in a process of maturation akin to that of the hero of aBildungsroman, is a convention as old as Canadian literary criticism itself. It has been remarked that the hero of this narrative of national maturation is normatively masculine – in the case of nineteenth-century Canada, a wholesome and vigorous Nordic youth, blazing a westward trail across the northern half of the continent.¹ The passage borrowed for my epigraph, from a 1924 text by Archibald MacMechan, is a fragment from another representational history, one that...

  5. chapter one ‘A Magnificent and an Enviable Power’: Governance of Self and of Others in Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada
    (pp. 45-102)

    Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, Anna Brownell Jameson’s narrative of her eight-month visit to Upper Canada in 1837, was published in three volumes in 1838 by the London publishers Saunders and Otley. Written as a series of journal entries addressed to a female friend, the text is divided into the two sections indicated by its title, sections that record Jameson’s interpretive and translating activities during a winter of seclusion in Toronto, followed by her exploration of the colony by means of baker’s cart, farmer’s wagon, steamboat, and canoe during the spring and summer seasons. ‘Winter Studies’ takes the...

  6. chapter two Female Freedom as an Artefact of Government: Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear
    (pp. 103-158)

    Feminist readers of colonial discourse have shown that images of white female vulnerability set against the sexual aggression of male subalterns were deeply implicated in the legitimation of colonial authority. The defenceless white woman figured especially prominently in responses to challenges to the moral grounds of colonialism. In her study of colonial responses to mid-nineteenth-century anti-colonial insurgencies in India and Jamaica, Jenny Sharpe argues that colonial governments deployed a ‘discourse of rape’ that produced rhetorical slippages between the object of rape and the object of rebellion, between the purity of the English woman and the mission of colonialism (68). When...

  7. chapter three Inducted Feminism, Inducing ‘Personhood’: Emily Murphy and Race Making in the Canadian West
    (pp. 159-208)

    A reader of Canadian newspapers and periodicals in the 1910s and 1920s would have found it impossible to escape the pervasive pronouncements of a woman who signed her pieces Janey Canuck. Her material ranged from feature articles with titles such as ‘Fighting the Drug Menace’ (1920), ‘Are Parents What They Used to Be?’ (1927), and ‘Why Do Wives Leave Home?’ (1926) to essays and addresses urging the sterilization of the insane (1932) and the appointment of psychopathic experts in schools (1918).¹ In Edmonton, where the author of these pieces resided, a reader of the daily newspaper would have encountered on...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 209-220)

    The image of Emily Murphy sporting the costume of a horse-mounted, spear-toting early Saxon warrior in 1919, a decade before her official recognition as a ‘person,’ usefully condenses the connections this book has mapped between liberal ideals of individual freedom and human agency, and the particular performance criteria that these ideals have presupposed. Indeed Murphy’s early Saxon pose is imbued with a theatricality that runs through all the texts I have examined, from Anna Jameson’s preoccupation with dramatic character and the figure of the actress, to Gowanlock and Delaney’s respective performances of vulnerable femininity and foster motherhood, and to Murphy’s...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 221-250)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 251-262)
  11. Index
    (pp. 263-288)