Colonial Proximities

Colonial Proximities

Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921

Book - 2009
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Univ of Washington Pr

Encounters between aboriginal peoples, European colonists, Chinese migrants, and mixed-race populations produced racial anxieties that underwrote crossracial interactions in the salmon canneries, the illicit liquor trade, and the white slavery scare in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century British Columbia. Colonial Proximities explores these contacts as politically charged sites of racial knowledge production in need of colonial governance. Drawing on archival documents, legal cases, and commissions of inquiry, Renisa Mawani traces the legal and spatial strategies of rule deployed by Indian agents, missionaries, and legal authorities, who sought to restrict interracial encounters in the interests of securing racial and national purity. By connecting genealogies of aboriginal-European contact and Chinese migration, Mawani reveals that territorial dispossession and Chinese exclusion were never distinct projects, but two conjunctive and overlapping processes in the making of the settler regime.

Colonial Proximities offers new prospectives on current discussions of multiculturalism and pluralism in modern settler societies, revealing how crossracial encounters in one colonial contact zone inspired a proliferation of juridical racial truths and forms of governance that continue to linger in contemporary politics, albeit in different ways.

Book News
Mawani (sociology, U. of British Columbia) takes a wide-ranging approach in this insightful book on efforts by Indian agents, missionaries, and authorities to restrict interracial encounters in British Columbia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Racial tensions were high during the era in which aboriginal people, European colonists, Chinese immigrants, and mixed race peoples worked side by side in the salmon canneries, the illegal liquor trade, and other areas. The author uses legal cases, archival documents, and commissions of inquiry to track the legal and spatial strategies employed to keep the disparate peoples apart in an effort to ensure racial and national purity. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Vancouver : UBC Press, c2009
ISBN: 9780774816335
Characteristics: ix, 269 p. : ill., ports. ; 24 cm


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