Imperial Plots: Women, Land, and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies

Sarah Carter. Univ. of Manitoba (Michigan State Univ., U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $34.95 trade paper (456p) ISBN 978-0-88755-818-4
This well-crafted, accessible history of early agricultural development on the Canadian prairies is a social document surveying the gendered stereotypes underlying British colonialism. It is also a comprehensive overview of the legal and social obstacles placed in the way of European immigrant women owning and working their own land. Carter (The Importance of Being Monogamous) explores how a process viewed as liberating for women (at least within the limited confines of female land ownership) relied on First Nations land dispossession as surveyors cut up vast regions into postage stamp–sized homesteads. In Carter’s hands, this academic study is marked by an invigorating, inviting style that uncovers and reclaims history in all its muddied complications. She allows readers to share in the excitement of her discoveries and insights. Her sharp analysis views the past fairly and judiciously, while generously supplying archival photographs of women on the land that defied the perception of them as fragile creatures to be kept indoors. Additional historic newspaper clippings supplement a depth of research that travels from ancient times to the beginning of the Great Depression. Carter shows how history can be well documented, provocative, and entertaining. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 10/01/2016
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