This week our readings are situated in postcolonialism, with Ann Laura Stoler’s article “Tense and Tender Ties: The Politics of Comparison in North American History and (Post) Colonial Studies” presenting a broad overview of how the topic of empire has been approached in postcolonial studies and then scaling down to illustrate how an international comparative approach can provide insight on how empires produce racial categorization/stratification. In her first section, she engages with numerous academics both within the body text and footnotes in order to represent as many nuanced, intersectional scholarly perspectives as possible (e.g. empire and gender, race and the politics of marriage, gender and war, race and culture, etc.). In the second part of her article, she lists four “colonial moments” in both North America and Europe and how they have been represented in comparative histories. Lastly, in her third and final section she explores comparisons that lend support for conducting comparative histories internationally as they “illustrate the value of looking comparatively at circuits of knowledge production, governing practices, and indirect as well as direct connections in the political rationalities that informed imperial rule” (p.831).
The accompanying book, Margaret D. Jacobs’ White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940, is a much more in-depth example of utilizing a comparative approach to analyze the “colonial moment” experienced in tandem in the United States and Australia. Her first chapter offers a brief summary of gender and settler colonialism in both nations, while chapters two and three dive into the ideological frameworks that produced the notion of indigenous child removal (the third chapter in particular probes at how white women positioned themselves within this framework). Chapters four and five deal with the actual process of child removal; chapter five focuses on white women’s unique positionality that allowed them to disrupt intimate native spaces and participate in the removal project. Chapters six and seven go into detail on the experiences that children who were removed from their native communities had in the schools they were sent to. Lastly, chapters seven and eight offer insight on the aftermath of removal in two ways; the experiences of children who left the schools to join the workforce and white women’s shifting attitudes toward the policy and practice of indigenous child removal.
Below are some questions to get the mental gears turning!
What are some of her suggestions for postcolonial historians attempting to do comparative history?
What is the value in doing a comparative history?
What is maternalism? What makes a policy or practice “maternalist”?
In what ways does Jacobs use race? Gender? Do they intersect?
What were the goals behind child removal policies for both the United States and Australia?
In what ways were the experiences of both white women and indigenous women/children different between the United States and Australia?
How did white women in the United States interact with and/or participate in child removal projects? How about in white women in Australia?
Does Jacobs perform the kind of comparative history that Stoler was advocating for?
Would Crenshaw approve of the amount of intersectionality in Jacobs’ book?
How could we connect Jacobs’ book to Ryan’s and Zagarri’s?
Are there similarities between the marginalized populations’ responses to colonialism in Camp’s book and Jacobs’ book?