Research

Broadly, I am a social historian of settler colonialism and empire in northern North America (Canada) and the British Empire, with a particular specialization in the history of British Columbia. My recent research primarily seeks to understand the making of a settler colonial society in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century British Columbia by investigating the local and trans-imperial stories, ideas, relationships, and experiences of white British families. Both deeply rooted in place and transnational in its framing, my work is situated at the intersections of a number of fields including British Columbian and Canadian colonial historiography, the new imperial history, and settler colonial studies. Underpinning my research and its various interventions in these fields is my broad contention that everyday lives, family relationships, and societal formation are critical parts of settler colonial projects – political, intimate, foundational histories with enduring legacies that continue to structure British Columbia, Canada, and other settler colonial sites around the world today.


Current projects

My first book, Nothing to Write Home About: British Family Correspondence and the Settler Colonial Everyday in British Columbia, was published by UBC Press in 2019.  A detailed study of thousands of British family letters written between the United Kingdom and British Columbia between 1858 and 1914, this work elucidates the critical, entwined, and otherwise unexamined role of trans-imperial families and the everyday in the making of a white settler society.

I am also actively working on a new research project, which will be a biography of one family, the Greers, whose dramatic and revealing story connects Ireland, Quebec, Sweden, the United States, and British Columbia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Interrogating the concept of a settler colonial order by considering its boundaries and limits, this work aims to explicate the formative role of social, legal, political, economic, and personal disorder in early settler colonialism. I spoke to the Vancouver History Society about part of this research in 2019; you can find a video of my presentation here.

I am a Wilson Associate of the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University (2017-2020).


Selected publications

Books

Journal articles and book chapters

Guest-edited special issues

  • Laura Ishiguro, ed., “Histories of settler colonialism,” special issue of BC Studies 190 (Summer 2016).
    • Introduction – Laura Ishiguro, “Histories of Settler Colonialism: Considering New Currents,” BC Studies 190 (Summer 2016): 5-13.
  • Esmé Cleall, Laura Ishiguro, and Emily J. Manktelow, eds., “Imperial relations: histories of family in the British Empire,” special issue of Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 14, 1 (April 2013).

Public engagement, reports, and other writing