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Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History

Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 448
  • Book Info
    Contesting Bodies and Nation in Canadian History
    Book Description:

    In this first collection on the history of the body in Canada, an interdisciplinary group of scholars explores the multiple ways the body has served as a site of contestation in Canadian history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6315-2
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction: Contesting Bodies, Nation, and Canadian History
    (pp. 3-28)

    The body as a signifier or metaphor of the nation has been used by twentieth-century historians to represent connections between people and the project of nation building.¹ The birth of the nation and the fathering of Confederation, for example, function as figurative language that implicitly uses the (White, female, heterosexual) body to describe the origins of the nation.² Such significations, however, perpetuate “the body” – uniform, whole, uncontested – as a central organizing fiction of the nation. On many levels, bodies figure nation; we aim, instead, to “re-figure” both categories as contested. As Carolyn Hamilton, Verne Harris, and Graeme Reid...

  7. Part One: Contested Meaning(s) of Bodies and Nations

    • Exploring the Writing of the History of the Body

      • 1 Epiphany in the Archives
        (pp. 31-48)

        In the mid-1990s, I was a doctoral student in history at McGill University. Part of the requirements for attaining what is referred to in academic parlance as a “terminal degree” involved spending many hours warming the seat of one of the cane chairs in the McCord Museum’s library while my white-gloved hands busied themselves pulling file folders from banker’s boxes. Fingering documents became my raison d’être as I attempted to gather “evidence” for my dissertation on the museum’s founder, David Ross McCord.

        After about a year of this kind of activity, it was assumed I was ready to move on....

      • 2 Following the North Star: Black Canadians, IQ Testing, and Biopolitics in the Work of H.A. Tanser, 1939–2008
        (pp. 49-68)

        The Underground Railroad has always played a key role in shaping English Canadians’ sense of their history. Kent County, Ontario, was an important destination for U.S. fugitive slaves from the 1820s until the outbreak of the American Civil War. Harry Ambrose Tanser, the superintendent of schools for Chatham in Kent County in the 1930s was also taken by this legacy of the Underground Railroad (UGRR). Like others, for him the proud history of the Underground Railroad era was tangible evidence of national progress – British colonial civilization and benevolence towards the less fortunate – all of which were part of...

    • Defining (Canadian) Bodies:: Race and Colonialism

      • 3 Embodying Nation: Indigenous Sports in Montreal, 1860–1885
        (pp. 69-96)

        In the summer of 1860, a meeting was held in St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto to resolve a difficulty that had arisen in connection with preparations for the upcoming visit of Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales. The group of notable gentlemen who had organized the meeting averred that “His Royal Highness … should be able to say, on his return to his native land, that he had seen Canadians. This he could do if the people turned out in one uniform mass, without banners to distinguish those who were born in Canada from those who were not.”¹ However, the...

      • 4 The Boer War, Masculinity, and Citizenship in Canada, 1899–1902
        (pp. 97-114)
        AMY SHAW

        In 1899, Britain declared war on the South African republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Canada followed Britain into the conflict. Having its beginning in the chauvinistic close of Victoria’s reign, and its completion, after numerous unforeseen disasters, in a more uncertain world, the Boer War, symbolically as well as chronologically, linked the nineteenth with the twentieth century. The Canadian response to the war acted in a similar way, with early evocations of imperial loyalty shifting to the more nationalist sentiments later expressed in Wilfrid Laurier’s evocation of the twentieth as “Canada’s century.” An examination of the...

  8. Part Two: (Re)fashioning the Body

    • Fashion, Clothing, and Bodies

      • 5 Packing and Unpacking: Northern Women Negotiate Fashion in Colonial Encounters during the Twentieth Century
        (pp. 117-133)

        In June 1960, the Toronto newspaperStylefeatured an article that proclaimed “Inuvik, Near Arctic Ocean, Holds First Fashion Show.” Fashion journalist, Marilyn McLean described how the community members of Inuvik, the new seat of government administration only fifty miles south of the Arctic Ocean, had mobilized for their first ever fashion show. “Models wear mukluks,” the headline declared. McLean went on to say, “The clothes worn by the shy teen-agers – Eskimo, Indian and a few whites – were gay cotton shirtwaists, blouses, bouffant skirts, and slim jims. The native girls showed a strong preference for bright colours. A...

      • 6 The Domesticated Body and the Industrialized Imitation Fur Coat in Canada, 1919–1939
        (pp. 134-154)

        After the First World War, the fur coat clothed the Canadian woman’s body and became a means by which women negotiated their place in a society grappling with modernity. Worn by greater proportions of women, even year-round,¹ the fur coat can add to understandings of the body’s history in Canada,² particularly since “Milady’s fur” came to have a myriad of meanings in the context of rapidly expanding urban growth, industrial capitalism, gender relations, and labour unrest of the 1920s and 1930s. As women within new class-oriented and consumerist societies entered employment or took advantage of more liberal sensibilities around sexual...

    • Contesting Representations of the Body/Sexuality

      • 7 An Excess of Prudery? Lilias Torrance Newton’s Nude and the Censorship of Interwar Canadian Painting
        (pp. 155-179)

        When Lilias Torrance Newton submitted her large oil paintingNude(see Figure 7.1) to the 1933 Canadian Group of Painters exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto,³ figurative painting was enjoying a newfound popularity in eastern Canada.⁴ Following the dominance of landscape painting ushered in by the Group of Seven in the 1910s and 1920s, portraits, social themes, and nudes became common in Toronto and Montreal exhibitions in the 1930s. Yet, although the exhibiting group initially accepted Newton’s submission, the gallery board pulled the canvas from exhibition at the last minute. Writing in the progressive magazine theCanadian Forum, art...

      • 8 The National Ballet of Canada’s Normative Bodies: Legitimizing and Popularizing Dance in Canada during the 1950s
        (pp. 180-202)

        As an art form that uses corporeality as its main mode of communication, dance provides an opportunity to study how attitudes towards subjectivity and social norms have been reinscribed or challenged through performers’ bodies. Indeed, the issue of embodiment has been of interest to dance historians since the late twentieth century, although Canadian case studies have received relatively little attention.¹ This chapter adds to the scholarly conversation by examining how normalcy was defined and conveyed through the bodies of the National Ballet of Canada’s dancers during the 1950s. Specifically, this chapter argues that the newly formed troupe led by Celia...

      • 9 Gender, Spirits, and Beer: Representing Female and Male Bodies in Canadian Alcohol Ads, 1930s–1970s
        (pp. 203-225)

        Alcoholic beverage advertisers used the female and male forms in various ways in Canadian print media from the 1930s to the 1970s. Alcohol ads, and how bodies were used in them, were representative of Canada’s ambivalent response to alcohol. Producers associated their beverages with pleasure, while regulators reflected society’s continued anxieties about products and practices associated with immorality, danger, and health risks. These anxieties paralleled the findings of Smith and Wakewich on the female “citizen body” during the Second World War, and Syperek’s discussion of the female nude in Canadian art and the concept of “gendered codes.” The gendered marketing...

    • Bodies in Contests

      • 10 Nudity as Embodied Citizenship and Spectacle: Pageants at Canada’s Nudist Clubs, 1949–1975
        (pp. 226-246)

        Over the past fifteen years, the seemingly trivial beauty contest has become the subject of academic study. Scholars have highlighted how the beauty pageant has served as a platform for the staging of dominant cultural ideals and norms of femininity, race, and sexuality. But they have also demonstrated how beauty contests, “by choosing an individual whose deportment, appearance, and style embodies the values and goals of a nation, locality, or group, expose these same values and goals to interpretation and challenge.”¹ Building on both of these currents of analysis, I explore how, after the Second World War, nudist clubs and...

      • 11 Modelling the U.N.’s Mission in Semi-Formal Wear: Edmonton’s Miss United Nations Pageants of the 1960s
        (pp. 247-266)

        The crowning of Miss United Nations 1963, Anita Pearl, a high school student and contestant representing the Scandinavian benefit society Sons of Norway was supposed to symbolize Canada’s commitment to internationalism, Edmonton’s embrace of multiculturalism, and the inclusivity of women within the United Nations. Edmonton’s United Nations Association created the pageant to increase the participation of young women in their association and to generate public awareness and support for the United Nations. Women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five living in Edmonton and its environs competed based on their beauty, personality, poise, and most importantly, their knowledge of the...

  9. Part Three: Regulating Bodies

    • Transformations, Medicalization, and the Healthy Body

      • 12 Obesity in Children: A Medical Perception, 1920–1980
        (pp. 269-285)

        Healthy children represent a strong future for a nation; unhealthy children threaten it. The failure of many young men to pass a medical test in order to fight for their country during the First World War raised fears in Canada that the bodies of young people were less than robust. Today, the focus is on overweight and obese children and the cost to society of responding to the perceived physical and social problems obesity causes and will cause when those children reach adulthood and demand help in fighting their lower life expectancy.¹ In 2004, approximately a quarter of all Canadian...

      • 13 Public Body, Private Health: Mediscope, the Transparent Woman, and Medical Authority, 1959
        (pp. 286-304)

        In 1959, the physicians of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) stagedMediscope, an exhibition designed to instil public confidence in scientific medicine by demystifying the professional care of the body. Billed as the first exhibition of its kind in Canada,Mediscopefeatured “graphic demonstrations of the workings of the human body, from the development of a baby to the illnesses of old age.”¹ Physicians from across the province of Ontario planned and orchestrated the entire event from designing the large-scale exhibits, fundraising, and advertising to manning the displays over the course of the exhibition. The Woman’s Auxiliary of the OMA...

      • 14 Trans/Forming the Citizen Body in Wartime: National and Local Public Discourse on Women’s Bodies and “Body Work” for Women during the Second World War
        (pp. 305-327)

        During the Second World War, the Canadian national ideal of gendered citizenship and its accompanying anxieties were inscribed in distinctive ways on, and through, the female body. Consequently, representations of the female body and women’s “body work” for the national war effort function as a historical record of those ideals and anxieties. For this essay, we emphasize the function of the home as the site for protecting and restoring the body’s integrity during the war, when there was the need for a more flexible gender order. We draw on the materials featured in a national health periodical, theCanadian Public...

    • Re/Producing Productive Bodies

      • 15 “Flesh, Bone, and Blood”: Working-Class Bodies and the Canadian Communist Press, 1922–1956
        (pp. 328-346)

        Canadian workers shivering through the winter of 1924 may have experienced an additional shudder not entirely attributable to the January temperatures when they opened their weeklyWorkernewspaper to the terrifying headline, “Glands Stolen by Highwaymen.”¹ Reading on, they discovered that a “robust” twenty-six-year-old Chicago taxi driver on his way home from work had been kidnapped at gunpoint, then chloroformed, by “medically trained students working in the pay of some surgeon and some decrepit millionaire.” The victim, Charles Reims, emerged from the effects of anaesthesia and made his way to a hospital where doctors determined that certain unnamed glands were...

      • 16 “Better Teachers, Biologically Speaking”: The Authority of the “Marrying-Kind” of Teacher in Schools, 1945–1960
        (pp. 347-367)

        In the early twentieth century, the ideal woman teacher was married to her school and community. This changed following the Second World War. School boards lifted bans on married women’s employment and campaigned for the return of women who left for family obligations. This shift was due, in part, to a shortage of teachers and a growth in state reforms for public entitlements.¹ In larger part, the newfound authority of the “marrying-kind” of woman teacher was a strategy of “domestic containment” in Canada after the Second World War. Franca Iacovetta defines “domestic containment” as state-sanctioned efforts “to police not only...

      • 17 Contesting a Canadian Icon: Female Police Bodies and the Challenge to the Masculine Foundations of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the 1970s
        (pp. 368-386)

        In the early morning of 23 January 1978, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)¹ Constable Candace Smith lay on the pavement outside of room 20 at the Countryside Inn in Virden, Manitoba. Smith had just been shot by Herbert Archer who, moments earlier, had fatally shot her partner Constable Dennis Onofrey. Smith was injured in the thigh by a blast from Archer’s shotgun before being hit a second time by a .308 rifle bullet that also struck her thigh before entering her abdomen.² After Archer fled the scene, Smith regained consciousness and crawled along the sidewalk towards the safety of the...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 387-416)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 417-422)
  12. Index
    (pp. 423-428)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 429-430)