The Clio Prizes
Sean Carleton, Lessons in Legitimacy: Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia. University of British Columbia Press.
Sean Carleton’s Lessons in Legitimacy: Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia is a nuanced, timely, and ambitious analysis of the rise of state schooling in British Columbia. Carleton brings together two subjects that have normally been studied separately – Indigenous and non-Indigenous schooling – into one analytic frame and shows how the boundaries between these different types of schooling were blurred on the ground. Meticulously researched, this book is at once richly detailed and highly readable. In it, stories about the day-to-day operation of state schools in British Columbia are tied to, and situated within, the broader, transnational, imperial context. Carleton reveals that state schooling took shape in complicated ways and embodied both planned and arbitrary elements. Despite differences in form, all types of state schooling in BC served to justify and legitimize the colonial project, and to further entrench settler capitalism. In putting forth these arguments, Carleton draws both extensively and thoughtfully on a wide range of secondary literature, including that by decolonial, Indigenous, and transnational theorists and historians. This engaging book offers rich new insights into the history of education in British Columbia and deepens our understanding of how settler colonialism took (and takes) shape in local, regional, and transnational contexts. It also provides a strong example of critical activist Indigenous scholarship by a settler ally committed to personal and professional accountability.