Children settlers: Morgan Brie Johnson, ‘Settler Colonial Structures of Domestication: British Home Children in Canada’, Genealogy, 5, 78, 2021


Abstract: There has been a surge of research on Home Children in the past several decades, as the phenomenon previously unknown to many came into the spotlight. However, much of the historical research has focused on either the psychological and physical impacts on the children at the hands of their new “families” (there were many reports of child abuse and neglect) or the ways they were saved from their poverty in Britain by being sent to the colonies. This article will put this existing historical research into conversation with theories of settler colonialism, considering Home Children as a tool of domestication for the social reproduction of Canadian white settler society, which was paired with the forced removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands. This analysis stems from and is intertwined with personal reflections on my own family history as a white settler woman descending from a Home Child to explore the gendered labour of social reproduction as a crucial pillar in creating and maintaining settler colonial Canada. Following Lorenzo Veracini’s argument that settler colonialism is a distinct structure that uses domestication as one of its key tenets and relies on its “regenerative capacity”, this paper will explore how British Home Children were a key component of settler colonialism in Canada and how this history has manifested in the current gendered, racialized, and classed politics of “settling”.

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