The settlers ultimately don’t care: Krista Johnston, ‘Settler Care: The Politics of Welcome (and Worry) in Canada’s “Most Racist City”’, Journal of Canadian Studies, 2022


Abstract: Care and welcome are central facets of Canadian national mythology. In this paper, I analyze expressions of care in news media coverage of the arrival of Syrian refugees to the city of Winnipeg beginning in 2015. Discussions about who is deserving of care, about what kinds of care should be extended, and about the apportioning of care between refugees and Indigenous peoples all demonstrate that in this instance, discourses about care serve to normalize and perpetuate settler colonialism. Delving into these narratives, this paper develops a conceptualization of settler care, a hollow expression of care for others which serves to bolster settler dominance and to maintain the subordinated positions of refugees and Indigenous peoples within the settler colonial order. I identify two sets of narratives within settler care: settler welcome and settler worry. Each takes several different forms, but in every iteration expressions of settler care serve to normalize settler dominance. When the belonging of refugees is juxtaposed with that of Indigenous peoples, neither is afforded dominance or centrality in the settler order, and Indigenous practices of welcome and demands for justice are subordinated to the settler project. In contrast to these expressions of settler care, the final section of the paper examines anti-colonial practices of care and welcome and reflects on the possibilities and challenges of alternative relations of care.

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