Item – Theses Canada

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McPhail, Deborah,1977-
Canada weighs in : gender, race, and the making of "obesity," 1945-1970
Ph. D. -- York University, 2010
Ottawa : Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, [2011]
5 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
<?Pub Inc> This dissertation brings together feminist history, feminist geography, feminist political economy, and feminist embodiment theory to explore discourses of Canadian obesity from the immediate post-war era to 1970. Employing the concepts of Cartesian Dualism, performativity, abjection, and fetishism gleaned from feminist embodiment theory, I focus in particular on conversations about obesity in the medical and popular presses, federal government documents, and insurance company publications. I analyze how obesity was defined and categorized in complicated and often contradictory ways that reestablished the dominance of white, middle-class male subjects and reified Canada as a white, patriarchal nation. The dissertation further shows that conversations about obesity helped establish post-war colonial-capitalism through the mobilization of normative raced and classed gender roles. Relatedly, I suggest that the psychic and discursive processes of performativity, abjection, and fetishism helped to organize a "national obesity problem," and worked in part to ease the social tensions created by shifts in the gendered division of labour, the feminization of the public sphere, the supposed breakdown of the nuclear family form, and changing immigration patterns that characterized post-war Canadian society to 1970. Through historical example, this dissertation calls into question current health policy, medical research, and popular opinion that assume obesity to be a biological category bereft of any socio-cultural foundations.