Darren Reid (he/him)

Nominated by member scholarly associations of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the 2022 Congress Graduate Merit Awards recognize exceptional graduate students who will be presenting their work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I am a history PhD student at University College London, where I study nineteenth-century Indigenous rights activism through letters written from British settler colonies to the Aborigines' Protection Society. Through these letters, I explore how colonial subjects imbricated themes like humanitarianism, settler colonialism, and imperial citizenship. 

At which conference(s) will you be presenting and/or attending? 

Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting 

What is the title of your Congress 2022 presentation?  

Participatory journalism in the imperial press system: subverting local discourses through letters to the editor in the late nineteenth century 

How would you describe the research you will be presenting at Congress 2022?

My research explores letters written by settlers from Quebec, New Zealand, and the Cape Colony to British newspapers between 1860-1885. This was a period when settler societies increasingly rejected imperial governance and established racialized states informed by discourses of "eliminating of the native." Historians use settler newspapers to trace these developments, but my research suggests that such newspapers may not be as representative of settler society as previously imagined. I argue that settlers' letters to British newspapers reveal dissent from incipient settler regimes, and therefore have important implications for our understanding of settler colonialism. 

How does the research you will be presenting connect with the Congress 2022 theme, Transitions

My research revolves around the settler transition, a paradigmatic shift in the mid to late nineteenth century that replaced some of the more egalitarian ideals of imperial colonialism ("more egalitarian" being a relative term) with some of the more oppressive structures inherent in settler colonialism. A new paradigmatic shift is needed to replace those oppressive settler structures that persist into the present, and I seek to contribute to this shift through an interrogation of the original settler transition. More specifically, by exploring how the settler transition took place despite dissent from settler humanitarians, I hope to learn from the failings and contradictions of nineteenth-century Indigenous rights activism and contribute to modern practices of Indigenous allyship. 

Share your hopes for Congress 2022. 

I have three overarching hopes for Congress 2022. First, I am excited to escape the bubble of my own studies and glimpse a snapshot of all the important Canadian research of which I have not a grain of awareness. Second, I hope to reconnect and forge new relationships with Canadian scholars with whom I hope to work in the future, and from whom I have been disconnected while studying abroad. And third, I of course hope to gain some critical feedback on my presentation that will help me plan my postdoctoral research next year.