Contours of the Nation: Making Obesity and Imagining Canada, 1945–1970
Published: September 2017© 2017
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 280 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
280 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.80 in
The obesity epidemic that is said to plague nations around the world, including Canada, is not solely a medical condition to be managed. In Canada, the discourse on obesity emerged during a time of social upheaval in the postwar period.
Contours of the Nation is the first book which historically explores obesity in Canada from a critical perspective. Deborah McPhail demonstrates how obesity as a problem was affixed to particular populations in order to separate true Canadians from others. She reveals how the articulation of obesity contributed to the Canadian colonial project in the North; where Indigenous peoples were viewed as modern Canadians due to their obesity, thereby negating any special claims to northern lands. Contours of the Nation successfully demonstrates how histories can trace the actual materialization of bodies through relations of power, particularly those pertaining to race, gender, and nation.
Chapter 1: "This is the Face of Obesity": Race, Class, Gender, and the Feminization of Fat
Chapter 2: The "Kitchen Demon" and the "Tubby Hubby": Reproductive labour and the nuclear family in obesity discourse
Chapter 3: "Of Missiles and Muscles": Fitness, Masculinity, and Obesity during the Cold War
Chapter 4: "The White Man’s Burden"? Obesity and Colonialism in the Developing North
Conclusion: Asking Different Questions
"In the well-researched and well-argued book Contours of the Nation, McPhail persuasively argues how fatness was portrayed as a modern malady, one that was gendered feminine and white, and thus a concern of white women (who needed to fight their emotional obesity) and white men (who needed to purge themselves of ‘effete’ fatness). This book will be of real importance to the growing field of body and fat studies."Amy E. Farrell, Departments of American Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Dickinson College
"This up-to-date study usefully augments theories of fatness and interrogates the social construction of the obesity epidemic. Contours of the Nation prompts different types of question about this putative public health crisis with the benefit of a historical lens."Lee Monaghan, Sociology, University of Limerick