The Importance of Being Bored: An Historian’s Adventure in Rethinking Colonialism in the Archive

Event hosted by: Friends of the BC Archives

Guest Speaker: Laura Ishiguro

When most historians discuss their archival research, they talk about finding something. Laura Ishiguro is not most historians. In this talk, she shares her archival adventures in finding nothing. This is the story about how an historian started researching early colonialism in British Columbia, and got lost in the personal dramas and banal concerns of everyday lives that occupied settlers’ family letters between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These were among the most widely produced and circulated sources on this foundational period, and yet she found they contained almost nothing about the subjects that dominate histories of it. Instead, they tell a different story – one that shows colonialism has never been only about overt violence and the most prominent politicians, but also about how ordinary settlers came to feel at home, even a little bored, in British Columbia. This is a story about how boredom can change everything.

Dr. Laura Ishiguro is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and affiliated faculty with the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver). An historian of settler colonialism in northwestern North America, she is the author of Nothing to Write Home About: British Family Correspondence and the Settler Colonial Everyday in British Columbia (UBC Press, 2019). Her current work seeks to reimagine how we might tell and teach histories of people of Asian descent in northern North America, with an emphasis on Nikkei or Japanese Canadian histories.

Tickets: This event will be held virtually over Zoom. Attendees are required to register virtually at


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