Nothing to Write Home About
British Family Correspondence and the Settler Colonial Everyday in British Columbia
In the context of surging interests in reconciliation and decolonization, settler colonialism increasingly occupies political, public, and academic conversations. Turning from the emphasis on Indigenous-settler relations and state policy, Nothing to Write Home About uncovers the colonial significance of trans-imperial families, the everyday, and silence in British family correspondence sent between the United Kingdom and British Columbia between 1858 and 1914.
Drawing on thousands of letters, Nothing to Write Home About is a detailed study offering insights into epistolary topics including intimacy and conflict, boredom and food, and what correspondents chose not to write about. Analyzing both the letters’ content and their loaded silences, Laura Ishiguro traces how Britons used the post to navigate the family separations integral to their migration and understand British Columbia as an uncontested settler home. This book argues that these letters and their writers played a critical role in laying the foundations of a powerful, personal settler colonial order that continues to structure the province today.
Nothing to Write Home About is the first substantial study of family correspondence and settler colonialism. By underscoring the entwined significance of family and the everyday in a formative period in British Columbia, it offers a timely new lens into the global and local dynamics of settler colonialism.
Scholars of history, post-colonial studies, literary studies, biography writing, space and cultural geography, Canadian Studies, British Studies, and in the burgeoning field of settler colonial studies will find this book to be of interest.
Laura Ishiguro is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia, where she is a historian of settler colonialism, mobility, family, and the everyday in Canada and the British Empire. Her research has been published in a number of edited collections and journals, including a 2016 article in BC Studies – “Growing Up and Grown Up […] in Our Future City: Discourses of Childhood and Settler Futurity in Colonial British Columbia” – which won the 2017 Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity, and Transnationalism article prize. She has also coedited (with Esmé Cleall and Emily J. Manktelow) a 2013 special issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History on histories of family in the British Empire, and edited a 2016 special issue of BC Studies on histories of settler colonialism in British Columbia. She is an associate of the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University (2017-20) and a recipient of the Killam Teaching Prize at UBC (2018).
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