I am a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario in my second year. My supervisor is Laurel Shire. I research the role of white women in the settlement of the Transvaal Republic in South Africa, in the mid-nineteenth century. White women were important participants in colonial settlements around the world. Beyond the recorded role of women in the domestic sphere, white women often played an important role in asserting European cultural and social values. In the settler colonial context, settler women often negotiated their position as women in a patriarchal power structure with the privileges afforded to their whiteness. They often participated in the extraction of indigenous children from their homes in violent processes of assimilation, and defined morality and motherhood around European standards that disenfranchised and subjugated indigenous peoples.
The South African Republic has a rich historiography, but very little on how women contributed to its development from the Groot Trek in the 1830s, when the Afrikaner population moved inland from the Cape Colony, to its decline in the 1880s. I wish to place the South African Republic in the appropriate settler colonial context, and use a gendered research lens to show that it mimicked the formula of settler colonialism in the global context that is well recorded in places such as Canada and the former Dutch East Indies. In the specific context of the Transvaal, Boer national identity and belonging focused on their relationship to the land: as hunters and as farmers. Their identity often depended on knowledge taught to them by the indigenous population, which they appropriated and rebranded as innately Afrikaner. Using Lefebvre and Bhabha as my theoretical guides, I wish to place women into the history of nation building, to see who they excluded, and how they were included.
This site is where I share my experiences learning to use Mathematica, which I increasingly integrate into my research as my knowledge base expands, and maybe one day, to blog about my research experiences in South Africa. For now, it is my place marker as I learn more about this rich history and people, who are my flawed ancestors.