Contesting White Supremacy
School Segregation, Anti-Racism, and the Making of Chinese Canadians
In 1922-23, Chinese students in Victoria, British Columbia, went on strike to protest a school board’s attempt to impose racial segregation. Their resistance was unexpected at the time, and it runs against the grain of mainstream accounts of Asian exclusion in Canada, which tend to ignore the agency of the excluded.
Contesting White Supremacy offers an alternative reading of the history of racism in British Columbia, one based on Chinese sources and perspectives. Employing an innovative theory of racism and anti-racism to explain the strike and document its antecedents, Timothy Stanley demonstrates that by the 1920s migrants from China and their BC-born children actively resisted policy makers’ efforts to organize white supremacy into the very texture of life. The education system in particular served as an arena where white supremacy confronted Chinese nationalist schooling and where parents and students rejected the idea of being either Chinese or Canadian and instead invented a new category – Chinese Canadian – to define their identity.
By shifting the focus from discourses about the Chinese to discourses of the Chinese, this compelling narrative of adaptation and agency and racism and rejection offers a truly anti-racist alternative to nationalist narratives and paradigms.
Contesting White Supremacy will appeal not only to students and scholars interested in the history of education, British Columbia, and Asian Canadians but also to anyone who wants a well-rounded understanding of race and racism in a globalizing world.
- 2012, Winner - Clio Award for British Columbia, Canadian Historical Association
- 2012, Winner - Founder Award, Canadian History of Education Association
A crucial contribution to scholarship. Featuring thorough documentation and previously underutilized Chinese-language sources, Stanley shows how white supremacy and anti-Chinese politics shaped the development of BC schools. He breaks new ground by analyzing how racism helped create a set of a consciously ‘Chinese Canadians,’ who were able to organize against discrimination and exclusion. In a world that continues to dehumanize those who are the targets of racism by reducing them to their victimization, Stanley provides an understanding of how individuals organized in resistance to white supremacy and used new forms of identity to claim a belonging for Chinese in Canada.
Introduction: Questioning the Existence of the World
1 The 1922-23 Students’ Strike
Part 1: Racism
2 Anti-Chinese Racism and the Colonial Project of British Columbia
3 Racializing ‘the Chinese,’ Racializing ‘the Canadian’
4 Schooling and the Organization of Racist State Formation
5 The Chinese Archipelago in Canada and the Consequences of Racialized Exclusion
Part 2: Anti-Racism
6 Resisting Racialization and the Invention of Chinese Canadians
7 Making Inclusions and Chinese Nationalist State Formation in Canada
8 Mitigating Racism through Chinese Nationalist Schooling
9 Anti-Essentialist Anti-Racisms and the Resistances of Odd Places
Conclusion: Anti-Racism, History, and the Significance of Chinese Canadians
Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.Subscribe to our newsletter now
Read past newsletters