Sarah Carter

Recipient of the 2017 Governor General's History Award for Scholarly Research: The Sir John A. Macdonald Prize

November 8, 2017

Edmonton (Alberta)

Imperial Plots: Women, Land, and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies explains the formation of the Canadian West as a British-Canadian colony and reveals how homesteading denied property rights to women.

Throughout, it offers incisive reconsiderations of what it means to be “Canadian,” demonstrating that gender, race, and property have been central to the making of this country. Carter effectively moves from the macro level of national and imperial visions to the micro level of particular women.

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While none should be surprised that imperialism was central to the colonization of western Indigenous lands, Carter exposes just how far Canadian policymakers went to exclude married women from enjoying a right to property.

By offering comparisons with the American west, we learn that the strength of this opposition was peculiarly Canadian. Indeed, before and after contact, Indigenous women were the farmers of the Great Plains. Yet after prairie reserves were established, Indigenous women were limited to kitchen gardens while white men assumed their place on the land.

Imperial Plots covers the late 19th and early 20th centuries and crosses provincial and national boundaries. Sarah Carter makes a strong contribution to our understanding of Canada’s emergence as a country, illuminating ongoing struggles around gender equality, Indigenous rights, and humans’ relationships with their natural environments.

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