Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Sheila McManus's "Both Sides Now"

Sheila McManus is professor of history at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. They are the author of The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender, and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands and Choices and Chances: A History of Women in the US West and coeditor of One Step Over the Line: Towards a History of Women in the North American West and The Line Crossed Us: New Directions in Critical Border Studies.

McManus applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Both Sides Now: Writing the Edges of the North American West, and reported the following:
Page 99 is just over halfway through this slim monograph and about a third of the way through Chapter 4 on “Border Enforcement.” The page itself includes the end of the subsection “Stopping Indigenous Movement” and the start of the “Asian Exclusion” subsection, with several references to both the Canada-US and US-Mexico borders, and brief mentions of the contrast between present-day perceptions of racialized migration at the US-Mexico border and the role White nationalism played in creating racialized policies in the nineteenth century North American West. Page 99 therefore gives some excellent hints about several of my book’s key themes. Readers can then be delightfully surprised about the amount of historiographical analysis in the book, as I pay almost as much attention to how historians have written about these two borderlands as to their intertwined histories, as well as other major topics like the on-the-ground resistance of borderlands communities; smuggling; creating and adapting a host of local, ethnic, racial, and national identities; and the ways that gender intersected with race and nationalism to shape how these two borders functioned and how borderlands communities undermined them. A conclusion which boldly embraces presentism and draws connections between North American and global borderlands will be the final unexpected twist!
Visit Sheila McManus's website.

--Marshal Zeringue