jeffrey monaghan on mounties on the frontier


Jeffrey Monaghan, Mounties in the Frontier: Circulations, Anxieties, and Myths of Settler Colonial Policing in Canada’, Journal of Canadian Studies 47, 1 (2013).

Examining correspondence records from 1886 onward, this essay details how the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) established patrol routes in the year following the North-West Rebellion. Discussing how patrols were intended to enhance the circulation of NWMP officers, the author borrows from Michel Foucault (2007) to examine how correspondence records characterize the objectives and methods of the new patrols. In part aimed at accumulating knowledge of natural and artificial conditions, the circulations aimed to anticipate, contain, and control outbreaks of perceived dangers. The circulation of patrols also produced various forms of knowledge and imaginings about the Indigenous population in the North-West. By continuously sorting and distinguishing between “good Indians” and “bad Indians,” circulations contribute to settler anxieties and elicit further calls for “law and order.” The author details how the enhanced circulation of NWMP patrols often produce anxieties and rumours that are rooted in the colonial imagination, serving to rationalize mechanisms of security as an essential function of liberal order-building.

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