Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

One Step over the Line: Toward a History of Women in the North American Wests

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

One Step over the Line: Toward a History of Women in the North American Wests

Article excerpt

Elizabeth Jameson and Sheila McManus (eds), One Step Over the Line: Toward a History of Women in the North American Wests (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2008), xxvii + 446pp. Paper. ISBN 9780888645012.

In June 2002, the first major conference to emphasise 'Comparative and Transborder Histories of Women' in the Canadian and US West took place at the University of Calgary. One of the goals of the conference was to generate conversations linking and comparing women's histories of Western North America, and their journeys across the borderlands of Canada and the United States in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. One Step over the Line, an anthology of 16 articles written by women, is the outcome. There is emphasis on pushing the boundaries, crossing borders, comparing the experiences of women on both sides of the 49th parallel. More importantly, writing histories from a woman's perspective, not adding on women to histories written by men and about men, is a very refreshing situation. Although gender issues are the main thread through the articles, race and class also play an integral part in the debates. Articles on First Nations and Native American women challenge legal and social constraints, going some way to begin to alter perceptions. Race is covered with essays on the relationships between the indigenous people, immigrants and the colonisers; class issues are debated in articles on the Women's Club of Calgary, prostitution, factory workers, and educationalists.

The book does not reflect or represent the full diversity of women and their pasts but in an emerging field of study provides an important beginning for future research and scholarship on women's histories, and the ways in which history is viewed from a women's perspective. …

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