The gender of the settler state: Sydney Rae Krill, ‘The Settler State is a White Woman: Re-Conceptualizing Audra Simpson’s Masculine State Through a Gendered Genealogy of Settler Colonial Statecraft in Canada’, MA Dissertation, University of Calgary, 2019

01Sep19

Abstract: Audra Simpson accounts for the oppressive colonial apparatus of the Canadian state with a gendered theory of settler statecraft. The ongoing evidence of heteropatriarchal violence targeting Indigenous women in Canada points her to adopt a wholly androcentric theory in which she argues that ‘the state is a man’. From an intersectional standpoint, this does not address the complex way that gender and colonial power operate together to uphold and sustain the settler colonial regime. This thesis will challenge Audra Simpson’s male-centric theory by interrogating gender and the role of both settler men and women in Canada’s historical process of statecraft. Chapter two will present an alternative perspective to the assumed relationship between men and the settler colonial regime that Simpson puts forth, offering a gendered genealogy of settler colonial statecraft that centers men and masculinity in its analysis. This chapter will argue that theorizing the settler state ‘as a man’ in its entirety does not reflect the actual gendered process of colonial state building in Canadian history. Chapter three will conduct a similar analysis but focus on the position of white women within this history, expanding the ways in which we think about and perceive the state in gendered terms. This chapter will argue that white women were fundamental to the creation of Canada’s stable sovereign settler colonial state. This conclusion offers a more historically accurate and intersectional account of how settler colonial phenomenon is constituted by and continuously sustained through gendered systems and actors. To theorize how the significance of this research might be realized moving forward, chapter four will conclude with a discussion of the importance this research has for efforts of mainstream feminism in Canada. This chapter will argue that viewing the settler state as a white woman implicates mainstream feminists in the overturning and dismantling of colonial state apparatus as political actors working towards gender justice.



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