Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History ed. by Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry, and Henry Yu (review)
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Reviewed by
Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry, and Henry Yu, eds. Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History. University of Toronto Press. x, 374. $34.95

Carefully and with a full awareness of the complexity of the scholarly terrain on which they and their authors tread, the editors of this volume of fourteen essays aim to assess and illustrate the impact on Canadian history of scholarly changes often summed up as a "transnational turn." In their introduction, editors Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry, and Henry Wu acknowledge both the creative research sparked by the transnational turn and the push-back and critique it inspired. As they note, the writing of national histories of Canada was itself still a relatively new undertaking in the 1990s when historians became interested in transnational approaches. Canadian historians' ambivalence about the transnational turn explains the collection's title and search by many of its authors for prepositions – "beyond," "above," "outside," or "below" – that point toward their approaches.

Within and Without the Nation is organized in three parts. In the first, an international group of historians – Ann Curthoys (Australia), Penelope Edmonds (Tasmania), and Angela Wanhalla (New Zealand) – join Canadians Elizabeth Elbourne and Tolly Bradford to explore "Indigenous Peoples and Dispossessions." The individual authors disagree mildly over possibilities for giving voice to Indigenous peoples within a transnational framework. Mainly they demonstrate how comparative approaches and broader scales of analysis (Atlantic, Pacific, colonial) that incorporate Australia, South Africa, and the Caribbean can assist in the writing of a [End Page 168] national history of Canada. Through careful studies of mobile individuals (Henry Budd, Tiya Soga), families (the Bannisters), and colonial policies (the Durham Report; photography as a tool over governance), the authors suggest broad questions about what, if anything, is characteristic of Britain's North American colonies and about relations between colonizing states and the natives of the new lands they conquered and occupied. However, it is also striking that none of the essays consider relations among Indigenous peoples within differing colonial contexts; neither do they examine closely entangling alliances among colonizers and Indigenous groups in North America, especially during the conflicts of the eighteenth century.

Part Two of Within and Without the Nation tackles migration, a topic that is defined by the act of crossing national or imperial boundaries. Covering almost two full centuries (from the first decades of the nineteenth century to the second half of the twentieth century), essays by Bettina Bradbury, Ryan Eyford, Henry Yu, Laura Ishiguro, and Karen Flynn offer diverse perspectives on migration to and life in both eastern and western Canada. The authors explore issues that will be broadly familiar to most Canadian immigration historians, including individual transformation through mobility, the centrality of networks for Trans-Pacific moves, the importance of the letter as a technology of transnational communication (especially at the time of death), and the role of the state in recruiting workers, exemplified here by a case study of Caribbean-origin nurses. Authors in this section seem more comfortable working within a transnational paradigm. Perhaps the most original contribution in this section is Bettina Bradbury's analysis of how married migrants circulating among British colonies encountered differing inheritance laws that challenged and sometimes frustrated their preferences for control over personal and marital property.

In Part Three, authors consider other forms of mobility and connection between Canada and the world beyond its borders by examining "Nationalisms, Internationalisms and Anti-Nationalisms." Renisa Mawani sheds new light on the well-known Komagata Maru case by examining laws governing travel and sovereignty within the British empire as challenges to the transnational racial ideologies that supported white settler nationalism. Kristine Alexander also examines tensions of race and empire in an article on Girl Guides. Esyllt Jones asks readers to consider how the cross-border moves of radical doctors influenced the development of Medicare in Saskatchewan. In the volume's two final essays Fred Burrill and Catherine LeGrand and Sean Mills draw Quebec's Catholic and geopolitical ties (especially to Latin America) firmly toward the centre of any analysis of the meaning of nationalism and internationalism in Canada during the era of worldwide decolonization. [End Page 169]

Within and Without the...


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