My interest in young people’s texts and cultures began at the University of Winnipeg, where I took courses with historian of childhood Tamara Myers and CRYTC-affiliated U of W English professors Murray Evans, Mavis Reimer, and Deborah Schnitzer. I went on to graduate studies in History at York University, where I used the global Girl Guide movement as a way into bigger questions about girls’ culture, empire, and internationalism during the 1920s and 1930s. Currently, my research program has two main objectives: to investigate how young people in the early to mid twentieth century influenced and were affected by imperialism, colonialism, and war; and to contribute to broader epistemological and methodological conversations about children’s agency and the production of academic knowledge about young people.
Since 2013, I have been Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Lethbridge. I am Director of the U of L’s Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS), where I work with an innovative and playful group of faculty and students from across the humanities, fine arts, sciences, and social sciences. At the U of L, I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of childhood, the global history of modern girlhood, the First World War, historiography, and the history of the emotions.
I am one of the co-editors of the journal Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures and am Co-Chair of the Canadian Historical Association’s History of Children and Youth Group (HCYG).
PhD in History (York University)
MA in History (York University)
BA Hons in English & History (The University of Winnipeg)
Guiding Modern Girls: Imperialism, Internationalism and the Girl Guide Movement
This monograph, based on archival research in Canada, India, the UK, and the US, was published by University of British Columbia Press in November 2017. Whereas previous studies of the Guides have used mainly adult-produced sources and focused on single national contexts, I expand this framework both geographically (by producing a multi-sited analysis of the movement’s workings in early twentieth-century England, Canada, and India) and by asking how girls and young women in these three different places responded to interwar Guiding’s often contradictory ideals and practices. My work traces the global and trans-imperial spread of a particular Western ideal of girlhood (and of related constructs of “Third World” and Indigenous girlhoods), and highlights the ways that girls with a range of racial identities and life experiences negotiated with and sometimes challenged these notions.
Family Letters and the First World War
My new research on Canadian children and families in wartime is motivated by a similar set of concerns: to understand how non-elite people (including the children and adolescents) were affected by global processes and events, and to use new sources and innovative analytical techniques to better understand young people’s thoughts and experiences. I am currently conducting research for a new book project on Canadian children, families, and letter-writing during the First World War. You can learn a little more about this work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fabIUwD4nSY.
Raising Spirit: The Opokaa’sin Digital Storytelling Project
I am also involved “Raising Spirit,” a community-based, participatory research project with Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society, an NGO that supports Indigenous children and families in southern Alberta. Together, U of L researchers, Opokaa’sin, and Indigenous children, Elders and school students are building a digital library of stories and images that promotes resiliency and builds capacity in Lethbridge’s Blackfoot community. You can read more about this project here: https://bildlida.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/raising-spirit-the-opokaasin-digital-storytelling-project/
- Kristine Alexander, Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017).
- Kristine Alexander, “Childhood and Colonialism in Canadian History,” History Compass 14, no. 9 (2016): 397–406.
- Karen Vallgårda, Kristine Alexander, and Stephanie Olsen, “Emotions and the Global Politics of Childhood,” in Childhood, Youth, and Emotions in Modern History, edited by Stephanie Olsen (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015), 12-34.
- Kristine Alexander, “Agency and Emotion Work,” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 7, no. 2 (2015): 120-128.
- Kristine Alexander, “Canadian Girls, Imperial Girls, Global Girls: Race, Nation and Transnationalism in the Interwar Girl Guide Movement,” in Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History, edited by Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry and Henry Yu (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2015), 276-292.
- Brittney Adams, Anastasia Sereda, Karissa Patton, Jesse Couture, and Kristine Alexander, “Feminist Borders and Boundaries of Southern Alberta: Grad Student Activists’ Experiences,” The Feminist Word (Winter 2015): 13-17.
- Kristine Alexander, “Picturing Girlhood and Empire,” in Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950, edited by Kristine Moruzi and Michelle Smith (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 197-213.
- Kristine Alexander, “Generation Lost: Canadian Children and the Great War,” in Canada’s Great War Album, edited by Mark Reid (Toronto: HarperCollins and Canada’s History Society, 2014), 116-125.
- Kristine Alexander, “Education during the First World War,” on www.wartimecanada.ca, a SSHRC-funded website featuring essays and digital images of primary sources
from the First and Second World Wars in Canada (2013).
- Kristine Alexander, “An Honour and a Burden: Canadian Girls and the Great War,” in A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Canadian and Newfoundland Girls and Women and the First World War, edited by Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw (Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2012), 173-194.
- Kristine Alexander, “Can the Girl Guide Speak? The Perils and Pleasures of Looking for Children’s Voices in Archival Research,” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures (Summer 2012): 132-144. To be reprinted in The Difference Kids Make: Bringing Children and Childhood into Canadian History and Historiography, edited by Mona Gleason and Tamara Myers (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2016).
- Kristine Alexander, “Similarity and Difference at Girl Guide Camps in England, Canada and India,” in Scouting Frontiers: Global Youth in the Scout Movement’s First Century, edited by Tammy Proctor and Nelson Block (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars P, 2009), 104-118.
- Kristine Alexander, “The Girl Guide Movement and Imperial Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 2, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 37-63.
- Kristine Alexander, “Une pédagogie des rôles sociaux dans le guidisme canadien anglophone,” in Guidisme, scoutisme et coéducation: Pour une histoire de la mixité dans les mouvements de jeunesse, edited by Thierry Scaillet, Françoise Rosart et Sophie Wittemans (Louvain-le-Neuve: Académia bruylant, 2007), 195-210.