Liberalism, Surveillance, and Resistance by Keith D. Smith
Indigenous Communities in Western Canada, 1887-1927

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Canada is regularly presented as a country where liberalism has ensured freedom and equality for all. Yet as Canada expanded westward and colonized First Nations territories, liberalism did not operate to advance freedom or equality for Indigenous people or protect their property. In reality it had a markedly debilitating effect on virtually every aspect of their lives.

This book explores the operation of exclusionary liberalism between 1877 and 1927 in southern Alberta and the southern interior of British Columbia. In order to facilitate and justify liberal colonial expansion, Canada relied extensively on surveillance, which operated to exclude and reform Indigenous people. By persisting in Anglo-Canadian liberal capitalist values, structures, and interests as normal, natural, and beyond reproach, it worked to exclude or restructure the economic, political, social, and spiritual tenets of Indigenous cultures. Further surveillance identified which previously reserved lands, established on fragmentsof First Nations territory, could be further reduced by a variety of dubious means. While none of this preceded unchallenged, surveillance served as well to mitigate against, even if it could never completely neutralize, opposition.


About Keith D. Smith

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Keith D. Smith is chair of the Department of FirstNations Studies and teaches in the Department of History at VancouverIsland University in Nanaimo.
Published August 10, 2009 by University of Washington Press. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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