New Academic Affiliate Jarett Henderson Explores the History of Sexuality and Colonialism in Canada

June 26, 2023

As we wrap up Pride Month, Canadian Studies is pleased to announce a new external academic affiliate whose research grapples with the complex intersection of sexuality and colonialism in 19th-century Canada.

Dr. Jarett Henderson is a lecturer in history at UC Santa Barbara, where he coordinates the Gender + Sexualities Research Cluster and directs the UCSB Undergraduate Journal of History. Dr. Henderson earned his Ph.D. in Canadian history from York University in Toronto, and his MA and BA in history from the University of Manitoba. Before arriving in California, he was an associate professor of history at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Dr. Henderson's research seeks to rethink 19th-century Canadian settler colonial histories within a transnational and trans-imperial framework. He is interested in how the trans-colonial project of settler self-government across the British colonies that became Canada was enmeshed with larger empire-wide debates about whiteness, masculinity, sexuality, and political independence.

Dr. Henderson's work has appeared in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Histoire sociale/Social History, Archivaria, and online at Notches: Remarks on the History of Sexuality and theGraphic History Collective. His current book project, A Queer History of Straight State Making in Early Canada, explores the history of sex between men and settler self-government in the British North American colonies between 1790 and 1860. It asks whether a queered man could do the political and masculine work of reproducing empire. In examining the colonial and metropolitan debates over the implementation of white settler self-government alongside efforts to re-criminalize sex between men, Dr. Henderson's work promises to recalibrate the history of responsible government in Canada as one that conceived of queerness as a threat to the new definitions of settler and public manhood that were taking hold in the mid-decades of the nineteenth century as settler-colonial structures were consolidated and systematically excluded most Indigenous peoples, marginalized the working classes, and confirmed the exclusion of women as voters.

In addition to his research, Dr. Henderson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on sex, gender and sexuality, and the comparative histories of British settler colonialism. In June 2023, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentorship, bestowed annually upon one faculty member at UC Santa Barbara with a distinctive record of mentoring undergraduate students in their research endeavours. He is also completing a teaching module on sodomy in nineteenth-century Canada for Queer Pasts (Alexander Street/ProQuest), a collection of primary source exhibits for students and scholars of queer history and culture.