The Jean-Marie Fecteau Prize
Edward Dunsworth, “Race, Exclusion, and Archival Silences in the Seasonal Migration of Tobacco Workers from the Southern United States to Ontario”
Edward Dunsworth’s article, “Race, Exclusion, and Archival Silences in the Seasonal Migration of Tobacco Workers from the Southern United States to Ontario,” published in the Canadian Historical Review in Winter 2018, examines the movement of seasonal tobacco workers from the Southern United States to Ontario from the 1920s to the 1960s. The unstated, systematic hidden racism it uncovers in the official and unofficial Canadian responses to temporary migrant workers clearly sets out the operation and evolution of the colour barrier in twentieth-century Canada, and puts into question the narrative of Canadian tolerance (relative to the United States) and the purported elimination of race from Canadian immigration policies in the 1960s.
The committee was impressed by the elegance and sophistication of Dunsworth’s analysis, and by the methodological strengths of this paper in identifying different forms of archival silences and proposing a method for reading around them. By linking multiple archives on both sides of the border, the article modelled the ways a transnational approach challenges older interpretations. The committee noted as well the effective use of maps, photographs, and geo-spatial visualization techniques in the article: more than simply adjuncts to the discussion, these illustrations were well integrated into the author’s discussion and arguments. Dunsworth’s examination of the history and evolution of migrant worker programs in Canada provides highly relevant historical context for a phenomenon of ongoing contemporary significance in the Americas and beyond.