The Making of a Colonial Archive: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women

Benita Bunjun

Abstract


The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (RCSW), embedded in liberal hegemonic feminist ideology, is largely the landscape that influenced and continues to influence the simultaneous politicising and depoliticisation of the mainstream women’s movement in Canada since the 1970s. The testimonies and recommendations of the RCSW predominately represented the needs and voices of white, heterosexual, Anglophone and Francophone, able-bodied, middle-class women. Using an intersectional critical race feminist framework, this article analyses the “making” of RCSW “against the grain” in relation to discourses of nation-building and racialisation. Drawing on extensive historical archival data and relevant in-depth expert interviews, I argue that the RCSW as a colonial archive furthered nation-building projects while crystallising Indigenous women and women of colour as the Other. The article illustrates how the feminist organisation, Vancouver Status of Women, is embedded in the colonial archive of the RCSW, one that reproduced nation-building discourses of essentialism, racialisation, and exclusion.


Keywords


hegemonic feminism; colonial archive; nation-building; Royal Commission

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/1947-9417/3609

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