Settler Governmentality and Racializing Surveillance in Canada's North-West

Jeffrey Monaghan

Abstract


Abstract. Examining archival materials from the mid-1880s, this article details practices of racializing surveillance carried out in the North-West. I focus on the reports from an undercover agent from the Department of Indian Affairs named Peter Ballendine. Contributing to literature on Foucauldian interpretations of race and racialization, Ballendine’s correspondence reveals a campaign of covert surveillance and infiltration that imbued indigenous leaders with characteristics of dangerousness, abnormality, and deviance, translating indigenous demands for rights and dignity into threats to security of the budding Canadian settler state. Stressing that settler colonialism follows a structured logic of elimina- tion, I use the concept of settler governmentality to stress that the rationalities of colonial governance in the North-West approached indigeneity — especially expressions of counterconduct — as threats to the health, prosperity, and legit- imacy of settler society.

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