Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921Book - 2009
Encounters between aboriginal peoples, European colonists, Chinese migrants, and mixed-race populations produced racial anxieties that underwrote crossracial interactions in the salmon canneries, the illicit liquor trade, and the white slavery scare in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century British Columbia. Colonial Proximities explores these contacts as politically charged sites of racial knowledge production in need of colonial governance. Drawing on archival documents, legal cases, and commissions of inquiry, Renisa Mawani traces the legal and spatial strategies of rule deployed by Indian agents, missionaries, and legal authorities, who sought to restrict interracial encounters in the interests of securing racial and national purity. By connecting genealogies of aboriginal-European contact and Chinese migration, Mawani reveals that territorial dispossession and Chinese exclusion were never distinct projects, but two conjunctive and overlapping processes in the making of the settler regime.
Colonial Proximities offers new prospectives on current discussions of multiculturalism and pluralism in modern settler societies, revealing how crossracial encounters in one colonial contact zone inspired a proliferation of juridical racial truths and forms of governance that continue to linger in contemporary politics, albeit in different ways.