Publications - History

British Humanitarianism, Indigenous Rights, and Imperial Crises: Assessing the Membership Base of the Aborigines’ Protection Society, 1840–73

A confluence of societal changes, particularly hardening racial attitudes following the Indian Mutiny in 1857 and the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865, resulted in widescale disillusionment with imperial humanitarian projects in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. As this article demonstrates, however, the membership and income of the Aborigines’ Protection Society (APS) increased at precisely the moments when this disillusionment was at its sharpest. This article combines quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the nature of the Society's mid-century membership base, demonstrating that, rather than a monolithic decline, a humanitarian polarization took place in response to imperial crises that led some (largely Tories) to disillusionment and others (largely Whigs) to entrenchment. Furthermore, by attending to discursive trends within speeches at APS annual meetings as well as in private correspondence between members and the secretary of the Society, I explore how APS members explained the connection between their own lives and the treatment of distant Indigenous peoples in the colonies. Finding that British Indigenous rights activism was only seldomly expressed in terms of Indigenous peoples themselves, I show that support for the APS was most commonly related to concerns for friends and family living in the colonies, along with disquiet about the impact of colonial injustices on international competition. This enabled Indigenous rights activists to continue their efforts in the face of disillusionment with the capabilities of racialized “others.”

Reid, Darren. "British Humanitarianism, Indigenous Rights, and Imperial Crises: Assessing the Membership Base of the Aborigines’ Protection Society, 1840–73." Journal of British Studies (2024): 1-18.

Video Game Development as Public History: Practical Reflections on Making a Video Game for Historical Public Engagement

Public historians have recently directed significant attention toward video games as a media form for engaging diverse audiences with participatory historical representations and arguments. Yet despite the availability of easy-to-use game creation tools, historians have been slow to adopt game development. I developed a video game, Ab Uno Sanguine, based on my PhD research to assess the practicality of game design as a venue for public history practice. This article reflects on my experiences in historical game development along the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) process of game production. This paper connects game studies, historical game studies, and digital public history scholarship to demonstrate how historians can become historian-developers to disseminate their research without a large budget or a professional game design team.

Reid, Darren. “Video game development as public history: practical reflections on making a video game for historical public engagement.” The Public Historian 46, no. 1 (2024): 74-107.

“Compound Dispossession” in Southern Ontario: Converging Trajectories of Colonial Dispossession and Inter-Indigenous Conflict, 1886–1900

Abstract: Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, two First Nations groups—the Chippewa of the Thames and the Six Nations of the Grand River—attempted to evict two other First Nations groups—the Munsee of the Thames and the Mississauga of the Credit—from the Thames and Grand River reserves in southern Ontario. These land disputes were successfully resolved by the turn of the twentieth century and no evictions did take place, but the 20 years of conflict are revealing of the complexities, contingencies, and evolutions of dispossession in Canada over the nineteenth century. This article presents a narrative of these attempted evictions and proposes the concept of “compound dispossession” as a means of grappling with these complexities. It is argued that compound dispossession not only captures the snowballing complications of historical dispossessions over time, but also captures the imbrication of multiple disparate trajectories of dispossession as the pressures of settler land hunger and encroachments on Indigenous sovereignty in the late nineteenth century bore down on four neighbouring First Nations groups simultaneously. Rather than interpreting these conflicts through a binary of assimilation/resistance, compound dispossession suggests the pervasiveness of dispossession as a discourse and the agency of dispossession as an adaptation to the unfolding settler-colonial paradigm.

Reid, Darren. "'Compound Dispossession' in Southern Ontario: Converging Trajectories of Colonial Dispossession and Inter-Indigenous Conflict, 1886–1900” Journal of Canadian Studies (2022).

"The Aborigines' Protection Society as an Anticolonial Network: Rethinking the APS "from the bottom up" through letters written by Black South Africans, 1883–87"

Abstract: Histories of the Aborigines' Protection Society (APS) often take for granted that the APS was principally a metropolitan organization, existing primarily in the minds and actions of its members in London. This paper presents a new perspective, highlighting that the APS also existed in the minds and the actions of its global network of settler, missionary, traveller and Indigenous correspondents that provided the APS with information on the conditions of the imperial peripheries. Case studies of letters written by three Black South Africans—John Tengo Jabavu, Mqikela, and Samuel Moroka—to the APS between 1883 and 1887 are examined. Jabavu wrote from Cape Town, challenging Cape encroachments on African voting rights. Mqikela wrote from Pondoland, challenging Cape encroachments on Mpondo territory. Samuel Moroka wrote while visiting London, challenging Orange Free State interference in his succession dispute in Thaba Nchu. Placing these letters within a framework of epistolary mobility, this paper demonstrates how the correspondents used writing to the APS as a tool of anticolonial resistance. More than simply "attempting" resistance, Jabavu, Mqikela, and Samuel Moroka occasionally succeeded in their attempts, convincing the APS to raise their questions in the House of Commons, set up interviews between them and Members of Parliament, and publish their articles in daily newspapers. Yet these successes were always conditioned by an unequal balance of power. The APS could censor and control the voices of Jabavu, Mqikela, and Samuel Moroka when assisting them was no longer in the APS's interest. Approaching the APS from the perspectives of Black South African correspondents offers a new perspective not only on the APS as an anticolonial network, but also on colony-metropole relationships in late nineteenth-century South Africa.

Reid, Darren. “The Aborigines’ Protection Society as an Anticolonial Network: Rethinking the APS ‘from the Bottom up’ through Letters Written by Black South Africans, 1883–87.” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 22, no. 2 (2021).

"Dispossession and legal mentalité in nineteenth-century South Africa: Grotian and Lockean theories of property acquisition in the annexations of British Kaffraria and Natalia"

Abstract: British and Afrikaner governments used different types of legal arguments to legitimize their acquisition of African land in the early nineteenth century. Using Pierre Legrand’s concept of legal mentalité, I explore the legal mythologies that conditioned Britons’ and Afrikaners’ methods of land acquisition. I adopt two instances of land acquisition to use as case studies: the British annexation of Kaffraria in 1835 and the Afrikaner annexation of Natalia in 1839. I show that the annexation of British Kaffraria was conditioned by a legal mythology influenced by Lockean ideas of property theory, in which property could be legally obtained through a framework of improvement. Meanwhile, I show that the annexation of the Republic of Natalia was conditioned by a legal mythology influenced by Grotian ideas of property theory, in which property could be legally obtained through a framework of conquest.

Reid, Darren. “Dispossession and Legal Mentalité in Nineteenth-Century South Africa: Grotian and Lockean Theories of Property Acquisition in the Annexations of British Kaffraria and Natalia.” Settler Colonial Studies 11, no. 1 (January 2, 2021): 69–85.

"Shadrach Boyce Mama and the ‘Kaffir Depot': Navigating Imperial Networks to Agitate against the Forced Removal of Xhosa Women and Children from Cape Town, May–December 1879"

Abstract: On 15 May 1879, 60 Xhosa – primarily women and children – were forcibly removed by the Cape government from an indentured labour market in Cape Town called the ‘Kaffir Depot’. The Xhosa interpreter who worked at the Depot, Shadrach Boyce Mama, was present at their removal and witnessed one of the women screaming and attempting to kill herself rather than be ripped from her children. In response to this moment of intense colonial violence, Mama fought throughout 1879 to publicise the Cape government's cruel actions. This paper tells the story of Mama's campaign on the behalf of the women and children expelled from the Depot, and demonstrates how Mama moved fluidly through local newspapers, colonial politics and imperial humanitarian spaces to demand justice for those so brutally ejected from Cape Town.

Reid, Darren. “Shadrach Boyce Mama and the ‘Kaffir Depot’: Navigating Imperial Networks to Agitate against the Forced Removal of Xhosa Women and Children from Cape Town, May–December 1879.” South African Historical Journal 72, no. 4 (October 1, 2020): 561–78.

"Distant Reading, ‘The Great Unread’, and Nineteenth Century British Conceptualizations of the Civilizing Mission: A Case Study"

Abstract: Franco Moretti's work on ‘the great unread’ raises serious questions for any field. In the field of new imperial history, I am especially interested in how the use of distant reading to access “the great unread’ can inform our study of imperial and colonial discourses. To stimulate research in this direction, I conducted a small-scale case study to explore the methodological considerations of applying distant reading to imperial discourse analysis. I performed a distant reading on a small sample of the British Library’s collection of digitized nineteenth century monographs to trace how understandings of the idea of a ‘civilizing mission’ changed over the century. My findings indicate that a core understanding of the civilizing mission as related to agriculture, education, and peace remained constant throughout the century, while peripheral concepts of the civilizing mission appear to have changed from tangible social values such as commerce and rule of law to intangible values such as honesty and liberty. Based on the methodological choices I made, primarily due to the small scale of this case study, these findings should be approached with caution. However, they illustrate how probing ‘the great unread’ can generate new research questions and provide nuanced contexts of conceptual change in which to locate the study of civilizing discourses.

Reid, Darren. “Distant Reading, ‘The Great Unread’, and 19th-Century British Conceptualizations of the Civilizing Mission.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas 8, no. 15 (December 15, 2019).

"Culture as Imperial Synapse: Pre- and Post-Foucauldian Approaches to Culture in British Imperial Historiography"

Abstract: The study of British imperial culture is heavily attributed to the field of "new imperial history" that became defined in the 1990s, yet theories of imperial cultures date back to at least the 1950s. Furthermore, a recent cadre of new imperial historians has broken away from what might be called "new imperial history proper" to suggest a revised theory of imperial culture. This paper compares the theoretical influences and the methodologies of these three approaches, which I have termed the materialist approach, the discursive approach, and the localized approach, in order to show how pre-Foucauldian and post-Foucauldian imperial histories are not so diametrically opposed between materialism and culturalism as is commonly perceived. Instead, this paper argues that these three approaches all adopt a theory of imperial culture, each different and yet each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Reid, Darren. “Culture as Imperial Synapse: Pre- and Post-Foucauldian Approaches to Culture in British Imperial Historiography.” Le Foucaldien 5, no. 1 (June 20, 2019).

"Racial Transformations: Approaching Early Twentieth Century Racial Boundaries Through Buffalo Child Long Lance and Grey Owl"

Abstract: This paper contends that understanding Buffalo Child Long Lance’s and Grey Owl’s racial transformations from non-Indigenous to Indigenous is crucial for our understanding of racial boundaries in early twentieth century Canada, and in the British Empire as a whole. Yet it also recognizes that few historians have been drawn to the subject. To facilitate further research, this paper explores the three historiographical approaches that have been applied to Long Lance and Grey Owl, materialist, psychoanalytical, and discursive, and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each. This paper also identifies three key areas for further research: centring Indigenous voices, analyzing Long Lance’s and Grey Owl’s afterlives, and expanding the discursive approach to address intersectionality.

Reid, Darren. “Racial Transformations: Approaching Early Twentieth Century Racial Boundaries Through Buffalo Child Long Lance and Grey Owl.” Strata 9, no. 1 (January 1, 2019): 3–28.

"Classy Subversions: Rethinking Grey Owl as a Subversive Character"

Abstract: While Grey Owl’s ethnocultural transformation has been dismissed as failing to subvert settler-colonial power structures, I challenge scholars to begin to rethink Grey Owl’s subversion in terms other than settlercolonialism, or, even better, to think about how his subversion reveals intersections between settlercolonialism and other discourses. I argue that Grey Owl’s working-class perspective structured his environmentalist message so that it included and addressed the working-class in a way that other contemporary environmentalists did not. In doing so, I suggest that scholars move past an exclusively racial analysis of Grey Owl and towards an intersectional approach that includes class.

Reid, Darren. “Classy Subversions: Rethinking Grey Owl as a Subversive Character.” In/Versions 1, no. 2 (2019): 9-14.

"'Religion is the opium of the people': The political intentions behind the Bolshevik anti-religion campaign of 1917-1929"

Abstract: This paper challenges the prevailing assumption that the 1917-1929 anti-religion campaign, carried out by the Bolsheviks in the Russian countryside, was primarily intended to secularize the peasantry. Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, this paper analyzes the two main tactics of the anti-religion campaign within the context of spiritual belief in rural Soviet Russia: the persecution of the clergy and the seizure of religious property. I argue that the campaign was not designed to secularize the peasantry, but to undermine the political autonomy of Russian villages.

Reid, Darren. 2018. “‘Religion Is the Opium of the people’: The Political Intentions Behind the Bolshevik Anti-Religion Campaign of 1917-1929”. the Ascendant Historian 5 (1), 58-67.

"Imperial or Settler Imperative? Indigenous Reserves as a Case Study for a Transcolonial Analysis of British Imperial Indigenous Policy"

Abstract: My paper presents a comparative analysis of the development of Indigenous reserve systems in British North America and Western Australia across the nineteenth century. The existing historiography seeks to comprehend the relationship between the British metropole and the colonial periphery, and two opposing frameworks of colonial governance have been developed. One holds that the British Empire operated as an interdependent system, in which colonial Indigenous policies were determined by overarching imperial imperatives based upon imperial capitalism and liberal humanitarianism. The other holds that the explosive growth of settler communities undermined these imperial imperatives and facilitated governance guided by the settlers' need for land, labour, and security. This paper seeks to end the tension between these two frameworks by using Indigenous reserve systems as a case study for understanding colonial governance. Through an analysis of correspondence between local and imperial administrators, this paper argues that the development of Indigenous reserve systems reveals an entrenched conflict between imperial and local administrators lasting throughout the nineteenth century, a conflict in which the local governments of British North America and Western Australia subordinated imperial imperatives of imperial capitalism and liberal humanitarianism to local concerns of security and sovereignty. 

Reid, Darren. “Imperial or Settler Imperative? Indigenous Reserves as a Case Study for a Transcolonial Analysis of British Imperial Indigenous Policy.” The Arbutus Review 8, no. 1 (October 30, 2017): 55–71.

"On the Origin of Thuggee: Determining the Existence of Thugs in Pre-British India"

Abstract: The thugs of India have captured Western imaginations since their crimes were discovered by British administrators in the early 19th century. Since that time, the thugs have been represented in various ways within Western historiography, ranging from the trope of ‘thugs as a satanic cult’ to the conception of ‘thugs as the imagined constructions of British orientalist colonizers.’ This paper challenges both representations by searching pre-British Indian primary sources for evidence of the existence of thugs before the arrival of the British in the late 18th century. Locating thugs in these primary sources illustrates that the thugs were neither an imagined construction of British imaginations nor a demon-worshiping cult dedicated to human sacrifice, but rather a group of highly fraternal, highly superstitious criminals dedicated to highway robbery and murder.

Reid, Darren. 2017. “On the Origin of Thuggee: Determining the Existence of Thugs in Pre-British India”. the Ascendant Historian 4 (1), 75-84.

Publications - Sociology

Heuristic responses to pandemic uncertainty: Practicable communication strategies of “reasoned transparency” to aid public reception of changing science

Abstract: Scientific uncertainty during pandemic outbreaks poses a challenge for health communicators. Debates continue over the extent to which health officials should be transparent about uncertainty and the extent to which they should suppress uncertainty and risk losing the public’s trust when information changes. The middle ground, the concept of “reasoned transparency,” proposes that communicators focus on interpreting uncertainty to the public in ways informed by risk research. However, little guidance exists for health officials on how to do so in this context. After conducting a series of one-to-one interviews about people’s coronavirus disease 2019 information habits, we identified significant trends in the heuristics that people depended on to process uncertainty. Based on those trends, we propose health communicators use narratives of science as evolving to set expectations for change, and that when changes do occur, health communicators note divergences from the past and avoid simply replacing old information with new information.

Hodson, Jaigris, Darren Reid, George Veletsianos, Shandell Houlden, and Christiani Thompson. "Heuristic responses to pandemic uncertainty: Practicable communication strategies of “reasoned transparency” to aid public reception of changing science." Public Understanding of Science (2022): 1-14.

"An Evaluation of a Microlearning Intervention to Limit COVID-19 Online Misinformation"

Abstract: As part of a design-based research project, we designed, developed, and evaluated a web-based microlearning intervention in the form of a comic into the problem of COVID-19 online misinformation. In this paper, we report on our formative evaluation efforts. Specifically, we assessed the degree to which the comic was effective and engaging via responses to a questionnaire (n = 295) in a posttest-only non-experimental design. The intervention focused on two learning objectives, aiming to enable users to recognize (a) that online misinformation is often driven by strong emotions like fear and anger, and (b) that one strategy for disrupting the spread of misinformation can be the act of stopping before reacting to misinformation. Results indicate that the comic was both effective and engaging in achieving these learning objectives.

Veletsianos, George, Shandell Houlden, Jaigris Hodson, Christiani P. Thompson, and Darren Reid. “An Evaluation of a Microlearning Intervention to Limit COVID-19 Online Misinformation.” Journal of Formative Design in Learning 6, no. 1 (June 1, 2022): 13–24.

"Design Principles for an Educational Intervention Into Online Vaccine Misinformation"

Abstract: As part of a design-based research effort into disrupting the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, we have iteratively designed, developed, and evaluated a learning intervention intended for public audiences. In this paper we describe the design principles we created to guide our applied research into education on the topic of online misinformation. The six principles guiding our design are: microlearning; equity; relevance and appeal to learners; interventions that do not inadvertently spread misinformation; effective counter messaging; and engagement on an emotional level. These principles are grounded on equitable design, anti-misinformation design, and emotional design.

Veletsianos, George, Shandell Houlden, Darren Reid, Jaigris Hodson, and Christiani P. Thompson. “Design Principles for an Educational Intervention Into Online Vaccine Misinformation.” TechTrends, July 4, 2022.

"COVID-19 health misinformation: using design-based research to develop a theoretical framework for intervention"

Abstract: Because health misinformation pertaining to COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health, the purpose of this study is to develop a framework to guide an online intervention into some of the drivers of health misinformation online. This framework can be iterated upon through the use of design-based research to continue to develop further interventions as needed. Using design-based research methods, in this paper, the authors develop a theoretical framework for addressing COVID-19 misinformation. Using a heuristic analysis of research on vaccine misinformation and hesitancy, the authors propose a framework for education interventions that use the narrative effect of transportation as a means to increase knowledge of the drivers of misinformation online. This heuristic analysis determined that a key element of narrative transportation includes orientation towards particular audiences. Research indicates that mothers are the most significant household decision-makers with respect to vaccines and family health in general; the authors suggest narrative interventions should be tailored specifically to meet their interests and tastes, and that this may be different for mothers of different backgrounds and cultural communities. While there is a significant body of literature on vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation, more research is needed that helps people understand the ways in which misinformation works upon social media users. The framework developed in this research guided the development of an education intervention meant to facilitate this understanding.

Houlden, Shandell, George Veletsianos, Jaigris Hodson, Darren Reid, and Christiani P. Thompson. “COVID-19 Health Misinformation: Using Design-Based Research to Develop a Theoretical Framework for Intervention.” Health Education 122, no. 5 (January 1, 2022): 506–18.

"Inoculating an Infodemic: An Ecological Approach to Understanding Engagement With COVID-19 Online Information"

Abstract: As the global COVID-19 pandemic has been concurrently labelled an “infodemic,” researchers have sought to improve how the general public engages with information that is relevant, timely, and accurate. In this study, we provide an overview of the reasons why people engage and disengage with COVID-19 information. We use context-rich semi-structured interviews which invited participants to discuss online COVID-19-related content they encountered. This qualitative approach allows us to uncover subtle but important details of influences that drive online engagement. Participants both engaged and disengaged with content for individual and social reasons, with seven themes emerging connected to their engagement including actions in response to information, reasoning for engagement, content, motivating concerns, frequency of engagement with information, site of exposure, and given reason for not engaging. Many of these themes intersected and informed each other. Our findings suggest that researchers and public health communicators should approach engagement as an ecology of intersecting influences, both human and algorithmic, which change over time. This information could be potentially helpful to public health communicators who are trying to engage the public with the best information to keep them safe during the pandemic.

Houlden, Shandell, Jaigris Hodson, George Veletsianos, Christiani P. Thompson, and Darren Reid. “Inoculating an Infodemic: An Ecological Approach to Understanding Engagement With COVID-19 Online Information.” American Behavioral Scientist 65, no. 14 (December 1, 2021): 1990–2013.

"The health belief model: How public health can address the misinformation crisis beyond COVID-19"

Abstract: This paper proposes an intervention into health misinformation that relies upon the health belief model as a means to bridge the risks associated with health misinformation and the impact on individual health, beyond the current recommendations for fact checking and information literacy. Misinformation researchers and public health practitioners and communicators can benefit using the infrastructures afforded by public health offices to mobilize the health belief model as a site for misinformation education.

Houlden, Shandell, Jaigris Hodson, George Veletsianos, Darren Reid, and Chris Thompson-Wagner. “The Health Belief Model: How Public Health Can Address the Misinformation Crisis beyond COVID-19.” Public Health in Practice 2 (November 1, 2021): 100151.

Conference presentations

Book Reviews


"Colonial saboteurs? Settler-led Indigenous rights organizations in the Anglo World, 1840-1940"

Postdoctoral research project, upcoming. Department of History, McGill University. Supervisor: Elizabeth Elbourne. Expected completion date: 2025.

"Imperial or Settler Imperative? Indigenous Reserves as a Case Study for a Transcolonial Analysis of British Imperial Native Policy"

BA thesis, 2017. Department of History, University of Victoria. Supervisor: Elizabeth Vibert.

Research Assistantships

Religion, Spirituality, Secularity, and Society in the Pacific Northwest

SSHRC-funded project out of the University of Victoria investigating microhistories of Pacific Northwest families who transitioned from religious belief to secularism in the late twentieth century. My work involves transcribing oral history interviews and coding interviews with Nvivo.

Four Stories About Food Sovereignty: Transnational Crises and Local Action

SSHRC-funded project out of the University of Victoria investigating global challenges of food sovereignty and connections with legacies of colonialism. My work involves making print and online maps, developing websites, conducting literature reviews, writing historiographical papers, and providing technical assistance.

Inoculating Against an Infodemic: Microlearning Interventions to Address CoV Misinformation

CIHR-funded project out of Royal Roads University investigating the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and how it can be suppressed. My work involves conducting literature reviews, writing briefing papers, conducting semi-structured interviews, coding interviews with Nvivo, and developing educational resources.