Darren Reid

Darren's research approaches the Aborigines' Protection Society's correspondence network as a microcosm of nineteenth-century British imperial thought, identity, and performance. Rather than evaluate the APS from the perspectives of its members in the imperial metropole, it evaluates the APS from the perspectives of the global network of settler, missionary, traveller, and Indigenous correspondents that provided the APS with information on the conditions of the imperial peripheries.
Who were these people? Why did they feel the need to write to the APS, and what did they think this would accomplish? How did they have to imagine themselves, the empire, and the APS in order to write in the way they did? What kind of knowledge were they producing, and what did the APS do with their knowledge upon receiving it? How do these letters fit into historiographies of imperial networks, criticism, resistance, settler colonialism, etc?
In asking these questions, Darren's research pulls at several different threads constituting modern imperial historiography. It questions the extent to which Indigenous voices and ideas were present in the nineteenth-century imperial episteme. It questions the extent to which settlers, missionaries, travellers, and Indigenous individuals perceived themselves, not only as imperial agents or subjects, but also as active participants in imperial politics. It questions the extent to which the APS acted as a network connecting individuals across the empire and thereby enabling a transimperial epistolary mobility. And it ponders the many meanings of humanitarianism and question the extent to which it played a part in the performance of empire.


Supervisor: Margot Finn 
Working title: "Indigenous and Settler Correspondence with the Aborigines' Protection Society: Negotiating Imperialism from within Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, 1850-1900"
Expected completion date: 2024


  • "The Aborigines' Protection Society as an Anticolonial Network: Rethinking the APS "from the bottom up" through letters written by Black South Africans, 1883–87." Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 22, no. 2 (2021) https://muse.jhu.edu/article/801557
  • "Shadrach Boyce Mama and the 'Kaffir Depot': navigating imperial networks to agitate against the forced removal of Xhosa women and children from Cape Town, May-December 1879." South African Historical Journal (2020): 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2020.1827018
  • "Dispossession and Legal Mentalité in Nineteenth Century South Africa: Grotian and Lockean Theories of Property Acquisition in the Annexations of British Kaffraria and Natalia." Settler Colonial Studies (2020): 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/2201473X.2020.1829423
  • "Distant Reading, 'The Great Unread,' and Nineteenth Century British Conceptualizations of the Civilizing Mission: A Case Study." Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas 8, no. 15 (2019). http://www.ojs.unito.it/index.php/jihi/article/view/3201.
  • "Culture as Imperial Synapse: Pre- and Post-Foucauldian Approaches to Culture in British Imperial Historiography." Le foucaldien 5, no. 1 (2019): 1–26. https://foucaldien.net/articles/10.16995/lefou.59.


  • UCL Graduate Research Scholarship
  • UCL Overseas Research Scholarship
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship


Darren is a research assistant on two SSHRC and CIHR funded projects: 


  • “Can the Subaltern Write? Navigating mediated voices in South African correspondence with the Aborigines' Protection Society in the late nineteenth century.” Distant Communications, virtual conference. 22 July 2021. https://youtu.be/9KYJxD0-uV8
  • “The Aborigines' Protection Society "from the bottom-up": epistolary performances of imperial citizenship(s) in the late nineteenth century.” Britain and the World, virtual conference. 16 June 2021. https://youtu.be/Brzmo-dOtjo