Rethinking the Great White North
356 pages, 6 x 9
3 b&w photos, 2 maps
Release Date:01 Jul 2012
Release Date:21 Sep 2011
Release Date:21 Sep 2011

Rethinking the Great White North

Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada

UBC Press

Canada’s claim to a distinct national identity is bound to the idea of a Great White North. Images of snow, wilderness, and emptiness in our most cherished narratives seem innocent, yet this path-breaking volume shows they contain the seeds of contemporary racism.

Rethinking the Great White North moves the idea of whiteness to the centre of debates about Canadian history, geography, and identity. Informed by critical race theory and the insight that racism is geographical as well as historical and cultural, scholars from multiple disciplines explore how notions of race, whiteness, and nature helped shape the nation from travel writing to treaty making; from scientific research to park planning; and within small towns, cities, and tourist centres. Four themes -- identity and knowledge, city spaces, Arctic journeys, and Native land -- serve as entry points to trace how Canada’s identity as a white country was built on historical geographies of nature.

This insightful collection not only reassesses Canadian history and identity, it offers a vocabulary for thinking about whiteness, nature, and nation as Canada enters into new debates about the North and the nature of multiculturalism.

This volume is essential reading for students and scholars of environmental history, geography, and critical race and postcolonial studies and anyone interested in Canadian identity and culture.

Innovative...the book is also particularly stimulating in its attempt to read urban geographies against and/or as part of Canada's constitutive interaction with ‘nature.’ Bruno Cornellier, Centre for Globalization and Cultural Studies, University of Manitoba, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Vol. 13 No. 3, Winter 2012
Is the issue race or whiteness? Nature or wilderness? The best papers in this collection engage the tensions between key concepts, offering not only theoretically engaged analyses of the Canadian situation but also seeking to advance conceptual understanding of race or whiteness and nature or wilderness. Shannon Stunden Bower, University of Alberta, The Goose, Issue 10, 2012
Rethinking the Great White North is a provocative, timely, and far-reaching volume. At a time when the Canadian government is interested in the North as a territory to be claimed and exploited, militarizing northern regions in the name of national sovereignty and security, here is a book that seeks to tell a different story. Renee Hulan, Department of English, Saint Mary’s University

Andrew Baldwin is a lecturer in human geography at Durham University. Laura Cameron is an associate professor of geography at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Historical Geographies of Nature. Audrey Kobayashi is a professor of geography and Queen’s Research Chair at Queen’s University.

Contributors: Luis L.M. Aguiar, Kay Anderson, Stephen Bocking, Emilie Cameron, Jessica Dempsey, Brian Egan, Bruce Erickson, Kevin Gould, Roger Keil, Phillip Gordon Mackintosh, Claire Major, Tina I.L. Marten, Tyler McCreary, Richard Milligan, Sherene H. Razack, Catriona Sandilands, Juanita Sundberg, and Jocelyn Thorpe.

Introduction: Where Is the Great White North? Spatializing History, Historicizing Whiteness / Andrew Baldwin, Laura Cameron, and Audrey Kobayashi

Part 1: Identity and Knowledge

1 “A Phantasy in White in a World That Is Dead”: Grey Owl and the Whiteness of Surrogacy / Bruce Erickson

2 Indigenous Knowledge and the History of Science, Race, and Colonial Authority in Northern Canada / Stephen Bocking

3 Cap Rouge Remembered? Whiteness, Scenery, and Memory in Cape Breton Highlands National Park / Catriona Sandilands

Part 2: City Spaces

4 The “Occult Relation between Man and the Vegetable”: Transcendentalism, Immigrants, and Park Planning in Toronto, c. 1900 / Phillip Gordon Mackintosh

5 SARS and Service Work: Infectious Disease and Racialization in Toronto / Claire Major and Roger Keil

6 Shimmering White Kelowna and the Examination of Painless White Privilege in the Hinterland of British Columbia / Luis L.M. Aguiar and Tina I.L. Marten

Part 3: Arctic Journeys

7 Inscription, Innocence, and Invisibility: Early Contributions to the Discursive Formation of the North in Samuel Hearne’s A Journey to the Northern Ocean / Richard Milligan and Tyler McCreary

8 Copper Stories: Imaginative Geographies and Material Orderings of the Central Canadian Arctic / Emilie Cameron

Part 4: Native Land

9 Temagami’s Tangled Wild: The Making of Race, Nature, and Nation in Early-Twentieth-Century Ontario / Jocelyn Thorpe

10 Resolving “the Indian Land Question”? Racial Rule and Reconciliation in British Columbia / Brian Egan

11 Changing Land Tenure, Defining Subjects: Neo-Liberalism and Property Regimes on Native Reserves / Jessica Dempsey, Kevin Gould, and Juanita Sundberg


Extremity: Theorizing from the Margins / Kay Anderson

Colonization: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly / Sherene H. Razack




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