Travelling colonist
British emigration and the construction of Anglo-Canadian privilege
in Empire, migration and identity in the British world
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This chapter discusses the concepts of Britishness, white settler society hegemony, and British superiority in pre-Second World War Canada. A large corpus of literature on the construction of whiteness has taught historians to think carefully about the power of seemingly normative categories of identity. The chapter shows how British emigrants and their supporters worked, consciously and unconsciously, to create perceptions of social distance from other immigrant groups. The Anglo-British identity that migrants laid claim to (or were assigned by imperially oriented observers) in order to secure more comfortable travelling conditions was fundamentally a gendered identity. The perception that people of British origin effectively made Canada an Anglo-British nation has also been heightened by the fact that British emigration has been routinely studied in isolation. Moreover, histories of Italian migrants are included in Canadian immigration history readers, where comparisons are made explicit.

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