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BHM Student Work Feature: "Of Segregation, Surveillance and Suppression: The Power of the Press in 18th Century Canada" by Madeleine Ronan

In honour of Black History Month, the Department of History is featuring undergraduate student research that addresses Black histories, Black cultures, and Black experiences. Throughout the month of February, we will post the eight essays deemed to be the strongest of the many exceptional projects we received during our open submission call. We hope you enjoy reading our students’ work.

The Selection Committee would like to thank all of those who submitted their work for consideration.

Our sixth selection is Maddie Ronan's essay “Of Segregation, Surveillance and Suppression: The Power of the Press in 18th Century Canada," written for the first-year History course, HIST 104: Pre-Confederation Canada.

Maddie's cumulative term project explores the 18th Century Black Lives Matter movement. Using a collection of primary sources housed in the Nova Scotia Archives, Maddie argues that the "irrefutable racist tones" of the press increased Canada's role in the transatlantic slave trade and exacerbated the oppression experienced by Black people in the pre-Confederation period. Maddie demonstrates how "the media's dehumanizing voice and criminalizing language towards Black people" during that time created an "enduring source of trauma in 21st century Black communit[ies]."

As Maddie explains,

Although Canadian society proudly portrays the celebratory façade as a player in the pre-Confederation Black liberation campaign, this era in Canadian history is masked by the present merit of diversity and inclusion in Canadian culture and disguises a dark past of racism, white superiority and hegemonic tradition ... [News] documents promoting the sale of slaves and the apprehension of fugitive runaways demonstrate the intense white supremacy and hegemony present within Canadian society during this time.

Maddie is a first-year student at Queen's University.

Read the full essay here


Madeleine Ronan

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.