The settler-colonial everyday: Laura Ishiguro, ‘”A Dreadful Little Glutton Always Telling You about Food”: The Epistolary Everyday and the Making of Settler Colonial British Columbia’, The Canadian Historical Review, 99, 2, 2018, pp. 258-283


Abstract: The Canadian and international scholarship on settler colonialism has focused primarily on relationships between Indigenous people and settlers and the connected practices of racialization, dispossession, and violence that underpin these. Investigating British family letters from early settler British Columbia – a widely produced and circulated body of sources that largely ignore these scholarly foci – this article contends that settlers’ personal everyday also played a significant role in the foundations of settler colonialism. Taking epistolary discussions of food as a specific lens onto this issue, it explains that correspondents used descriptions of food acquisition and preparation to explain key points of difference between British Columbia and the United Kingdom, while writing about dining in ways that emphasized their continued connections and aspirations to metropolitan family norms. At the same time, this focus sustained silences, most notably about Indigenous people. Overall, the article argues, British family letters largely did not construct meaning for settlers’ lives in antagonistic contrast to the practices of locally racialized “others” but, rather, in trans-imperial communication and comparison to metropolitan “others.” In doing so, this correspondence reproduced Britons’ disregard of Indigenous people, translated British Columbia into a legible, relatable, and exclusive settler home, and entrenched this understanding as colonial knowledge in extended family networks. In this way, letters about food reflected a broader politics of the personal everyday that underpinned the settler colonial project.

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