Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Imagined Communities of 'Whiteness': Racial-Nationalist Origins of Settler-State Formation in Argentina and Canada, 1840-1914

Document type Thesis
Author Evans, Jessica Jacqueline
Degree Ph.D., Political Science
Publisher York University; Toronto
Date 2018
Pages 281 pages


This dissertation sits at the intersection of critical international political economy and a decolonizing, anti-racist approach to empirical political science. Specifically, I examine how liberal state forms are presupposed by and premised upon illiberal practices of sorting, policing, and defining populations. Rather than view such practices as anomalous to the modern state form, I view them as productive. I depart from the dominant literature in this field of study (postcolonial theory) with a typical focus on discursive and local practices, and instead advance a defense of Marxism rooted in an examination of the material practices of states responding to global political-economic pressures. This analytical and methodological focus stems from an engagement with the theoretical and empirical work conducted through Political Marxism, and through an engagement with the concept of uneven and combined development. I compare instances of racialized nation-building from the nineteenth century, focusing on the ways in which the creation of racialized hierarchies of belonging were seminal to the production of liberal state capacity and legitimacy. I examine the cases of Canada and Argentina to explore how the dispossession and management of indigenous peoples served to foment vast networks of bureaucratic, fiduciary, and coercive state capacities. Such capacities were necessary in the project of constructing competitive liberal economies to respond to pressures generated by an emergent global market in agricultural goods. This work sheds new light on the role of race and racialization in the formation of the nation-state system, while responding to and contesting common assumptions about the legal equality assumed to underpin Western nationalism(s).