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Tina Loo

Tina Loo

Best Book in Political History Prize


Tina LooMoved by the State, Forced Relocation and Making a Good Life in Postwar Canada. UBC Press, 2019.

Moved by the State is a masterful work. It is as impressive in scope as it is in the intellectual heft of its argument.  Drawing on case studies from the Arctic to the Atlantic, to the Pacific and points in between, Loo gives us a history of forced relocations in Canada that shows Canadian connections to global histories of social and economic development.  She highlights how race, gender, class, and the urban/rural divide informed these relocations. In the process, she pays sensitive attention to the conflicts both within communities and between the state and those whose homes were marked for removal. Loo respects the hope-filled attempts to use public resources to help people and to build participatory democracy, but she is also unfailingly alert to both the limits and the unexpected consequences of these efforts. Those who were targeted for relocation found in “citizen participation” new channels for speaking back to power. In many ways, they defined “the good life” on their own terms, at odds with those of the modernizers. In its exploration of the complex connections between development, democracy, and empowerment, Moved by the State shows us the origins of political problems we still face today. It is an important and inspiring investigation of Canada’s liberal order in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Honourable Mention

Sarah A. Nickel. Assembling Unity: Indigenous Politics, Gender and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. UBC Press, 2019.

Assembling Unity is a fascinating account of Indigenous political history. Drawing on oral history, Indigenous theory, and gender analysis, Nickel situates the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in the longer history of Indigenous political organization, as well as global movements of anti-colonial resistance.  She explores how ‘unity’ was understood and deployed by diverse political actors. In this vein, she discusses the political impact of Indigenous women, both as individuals and through organizations such as the British Columbia Indian Homemakers’ Association. She also brings an Indigenous feminist analysis to the images and practices of Indigenous political activists. By centering Indigenous voices and political organization, Assembling Unity offers a new perspective on the political and constitutional debates of the 1970s and 1980s. Nickel goes beyond relations between the UBCIC and settler governments to unpack the complex interplay between and within the grassroots, Indigenous communities, and the organization.  All told, the book stands as an invaluable contribution to the history of Indigenous politics in their own right and to understanding settler-Indigenous relations in the long 1970s.