This is an image of a colourful pile of journals, stacked one on top of the other. You can only see the edge of the stack, however, and the rest of the photo is a grey background.

Because, let’s face it – who has time to catch up on all the journal articles published in Canadian history?


Welcome back to the Best New Articles series, where each month I post a list of my favourite new articles! Don’t forget to also check out my favourites from previous months, which you can access by clicking here.


This month I read articles from:

Here are my favourites:


Adam Barker, “Deathscapes of Settler Colonialism: The Necro-Settlement of Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers, prepublished January 23, 2018: 1-17.

Author’s Twitter: @AdamOutside


What it’s about: Focusing on the example of a burial ground on Smith’s Knoll in Ontario, this article argues that the bodies of soldiers can serve as a site whereby non-Indigenous Canadians can reimagine their history to better coincide with the dominant settler narrative of Canadian history. The area currently known as Smith’s Knoll was originally part of both the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Anishinaabe nations and the site for multiple political, economic, and cultural exchanges. This Indigenous landscape was disrupted by the War of 1812, where American and British settlers fought over control of Indigenous lands. During the Battle of Stoney Creek, the Americans installed their canons on Smith’s Knoll. Afterwards, the location was turned into a battlefield burial ground. Forgotten, rediscovered in 1889, forgotten and then rededicated in 2000, this location is an example of the continual remembering and forgetting that served both to erase Indigenous histories and peoples while also reimagining the landscape as definitively Canadian.

What I loved: Before I go any further, you should know that Adam Barker is a dear friend of mine and that a version of this piece appeared on Unwritten Histories almost exactly one year ago. That said, again, I still think this is a fabulous article that all Canadian historians should read. Coming on the heels of the Monument Wars, this article is a great example of how history and historical narratives matter and the harm that is done when certain elements are privileged over others. Barker also does a masterful job of weaving together the material and the discursive in his discussion of necro-settlements, as well as the layered meanings of landscapes and memories. The personal aspects of this research, the emphasis on the history of death, and the indigenization of settlers are just icing on the cake.

Favourite quote:  “Settlers assert this historical weight through numbers—how many years a family has been in place, how long since first settlement, how long a settler lived, how many children they had, how many men died in a battle—which are further given cultural mass by their material carving into stone and other monuments. For people like myself, whose family tenure on the land goes back no further than the mid-twentieth century, association with these places through linkages of home and belonging allowed me to attach my own identity to these deep colonizing narratives despite my relative newness on the land.” p. 11

Suggested uses: I think that anyone who studies or researches settler colonialism would benefit from reading this article. While the focus is on the War of 1812, Barker’s discussion of the landscape of memory has tremendous potential to help us better understand other aspects of Canadian history. While I don’t think that this article would be suitable for an undergraduate class, I could definitely see it working in a graduate class on Canadian history, or ones focusing on historical memory and commemoration. This would also be a great article for teaching students about the basics of settler colonialism and how it operates. And of course, this article will be of great interest to scholars researching the War of 1812.


Darryl Leroux, “’We’ve Been here for 2,000 years’: White settlers, Native American DNA and the Phenomenon of Indigenization,” Social Studies of Science, prepublished January 9, 2018: 1-22.

Author’s Twitter: @DarrylLeroux


What it’s about: Focusing on four different reports from the Épidémiologie génétique et génétique des populations du Québec (EGGPQ) project, which studies French Québécois ancestry, this article focuses on how genetic researchers are facilitating the reimagining of some French Québécois as “indigenous.” Many of these tests have focused specifically on the French Québécois population of the Gasépie region. Resting on the mechanism of hyperdescent (whereby one aspect of a person’s genetic heritage is seen as more important than another), genetic scientists working for EGGPQ have retroactively assigned “métis” identity to Acadian ancestors. Doing so has allowed some individuals and organizations, such as the Métis Nation of the Rising Sun, to advocate for their own “Indigenous” rights, while denying those of the Mi’kmaq of Gaspésie. This in turn reinforces dominant narratives of Canadian and Quebec history in such a way that obscures or ignores Indigenous perspective and experience.

What I loved: I think that this article is yet another example of the important role that historians have to play in the political landscape as speakers of truth. Leroux’ commitment to exposing the real motivations of such self-styled “métis” as well as his work, along with Kim Tallbear, to problematize the recent emphasis on rediscovering your ancestry through genetics, is a model for all of us. The same can be said for his critical perspective on scientific research, something that is sorely lacking in this day and age. Leroux does not pull any punches here, which is probably why the Métis Nation of the Rising Sun, and several other organizations, are threatening to sue him. I also think that this article perfectly complements Barker’s, since both focus on the re-writing of history.

Favourite quote:  “Purity, it seems, continues to be the ghost haunting racial science, one that conveniently facilitates white settler strategies that undermine Indigenous self-determination in the contemporary era.” p. 3

Suggested uses: Well obviously I think anyone who likes to self-identify as “métis,” should read this article — obviously that is not going to happen. However, I think that many scholars would benefit from reading this article, particularly those who examine Quebec nationalism, DNA ancestry testing, settler colonialism, settler-Indigenous relations, and self-indigenization. And again, like Barker’s piece, I think framework can be extremely helpful when trying to unpack how personal and family history plays into nationalist narratives. Again, I don’t think this is suitable for an undergraduate course, but it may work well in a graduate course that examines Quebec history or the history of settler-Indigenous relations.


Also recommended:


In my attempt to get back on a regular schedule for my Best New Articles post, I’ve combined December and January. So then I had to read all the journal issues. My poor brain. Anyways, I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post. If you did, please consider sharing it on the social media platform of your choice! And don’t forget to check back on Sunday for a brand new Canadian history roundup. See you then!

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