Cover image for Just watch us : RCMP surveillance of the women's liberation movement in Cold War Canada / Christabelle Sethna and Steve Hewitt.
Just watch us : RCMP surveillance of the women's liberation movement in Cold War Canada / Christabelle Sethna and Steve Hewitt.
Publication Information:
Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Chicago : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018.

Physical Description:
viii, 300 pages, 18 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
323.44820971 SET Book Adult General Collection

On Order



From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, in the midst of the Cold War and second-wave feminism, the RCMP security service - prompted by fears of left-wing and communist subversion - monitored and infiltrated the women's liberation movement in Canada and Quebec. Just Watch Us investigates why and how this movement was targeted, weighing carefully the presumed threat its left-wing ties presented to the Canadian government against the defiant challenge its campaign for gender equality posed to Canadian society. Based on a close reading of thousands of pages of RCMP documents declassified under Canada's Access to Information Act and the corresponding Privacy Act, Just Watch Us demonstrates that the security service's longstanding anti-Communist focus distorted its threat assessment of feminist organizing. Combining gender analysis and critical approaches to state surveillance, Christabelle Sethna and Steve Hewitt consider the machinations of the RCMP, including its bureaucratic evolution, intelligence-gathering operations, and impact, as well as the evolution of the women's liberation movement from its broad transnational influences to its elusive quest for unity among women across lines of ideology and identity. Significantly, the authors also grapple with the historiographical, methodological, and ethical difficulties of working with declassified security documents and sensitive information. A sharp-eyed inquiry into spy policies and tactics in Cold War Canada, Just Watch Us speaks to the serious political implications of state surveillance for social justice activism in liberal democracies.

Author Notes

Christabelle Sethna is professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. Steve Hewitt is senior lecturer in the Department of History and the American and Canadian Studies Research Centre at the University of Birmingh

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Figures follow pagesp. viii, 104
Introductionp. 3
1 The Red-Tinged Prismp. 18
2 A Revolution Hidden in Plain Sightp. 48
3 On to Ottawa Reduxp. 76
4 The Limits of Global Sisterhoodp. 105
5 Evolution and Declinep. 137
6 The Paradox of the Mountie Bountyp. 170
Conclusionp. 200
Notesp. 209
Bibliographyp. 257
Indexp. 289