Lecture 8: Asian Migration and Canadian Miscenegation Policies in the late 1800s.
Over the last few decade academics such as Dei and Stasiulus have theorized the
relationship of race, gender, and class, and more recently, sexuality and differently abled
bodies. Each have also attempted to show how central these issues of identity are in
shaping our lives.
The main contributions of both an intersectional analysis and an integrative anti-racist
analysis has to offer is that they:
1) identify the multiple oppressions that people encounter based on their multiple social
2) recognize the simultaneity of oppression and struggle;
3) recognize that accounts of the lived experiences of racialized women and men of
• Such theorizing has prompted a re-examination of earlier analyses of social inequality
based on race, gender and class.
• As a result of this kind of work, social historians and social scientists have had to
rethink some of the old ways of conceptualizing and understanding history paying
particular attention to the ways in which social locations of race gender, class and
sexuality structure the economic institutions of our lives.
1 Material Analysis
• Today’s reading provides us with a material analysis of immigrant women’s exclusion
through inclusion in the building of a Canadian National Identity.
• While anti-racist feminist have debated the influence of class issues and the role of the
political economy on racialialized groups, most agree that we need to locate race and
gender in a particular history—this history, they argue is the history of post-colonial
white settler society.
• Today’s lecture is about racialized and gendered representations and how we come to
understand and view different representations of the female gender in society.
• while gender is not static and is experienced differently depending on our social,
economic, geographic, racial as well as generational location.
• there are nonetheless social constructions of gender that become entrenched within
society providing a benchmark for the ‘ideal’ norms for a particular society within a
particular historical period.
These gender norms are perpetuated and maintained:
• through everyday practices, rules and regulations and policies within social institutions
such as religious, educational as well as state institutions and social structures within
• through ideologies about gender and gender roles;
• and through knowledge formation such as disciplines of science, psychology, social
• Today I would like to focus on social institutions to help understand more fully how
gender is socially constructed—how it is shaped and given meaning— within the social
2 institutions of society.
Materialist or Socialist feminists
• Materialist or socialist feminists use the notion of social relations to examine how
gender is socially constructed.
• They see gender differences between men and women as rooted in social relations
which give rise to social practices that produce and reproduce gender inequalities.
• That is, people are made into social men and women by the particular positions that
they are allocated in the social structures.
• These structures are the systems of power and control, which give rise to these sets of
• Within a patriarchy the social relations of gender are ones in which women are treated
as inferior and subordinate to men and thus gender divisions are exploitive and
• For example, socialist feminists such as Meg Luxton, Roberta Hamilton, and Michelle
Barrette illustrated how women’s labour force participation had been much less about
individual choice than a matter of institutional and structural shifts in the economy and
capital’s need for women’s labour. During the war women provided with daycare and
social services so that they were able to work, when the war was over these social
services are withdrawn
One aspect of the social construction of women’s gender that we have come to take for
granted is motherhood.
• When we think of motherhood we tend to think of it as a natural phenomenon;
something that women just naturally know how to do.
• As Pamela Courtenay Hall states: “Motherhood is represented as essential to their being
—an engagement of love and instinct that is utterly distant from the world of paid work
and formal education” (22).
• The ideology of motherhood as natural/instinctual is, as Hall argues, based on myth
making—mothering and how we perceive it today is based on values, norms and beliefs
within our culture that have transformed mothering from social and cultural practices into
something that is natural—a purely biological function of the female sex.
The Role of Social Institutions in Perpetuating Gender Norms
How do norms, such as those of mothering, come to be seen as “natural” rather than
socially constructed? Social institutions such as the state play an important role in
perpetuating notions of gender and, in this case, motherhood. But our notions of
Motherhood are also highly racialized.
As Enakshi Dua discusses in her article, the state or rather the Canadian state and its role
in perpetuating the nuclear family and the ideology of motherhood began to emerge in the
late 18 century.
• In her analysis of the needs of an emerging capitalist industrial society, Dua provides us
4 with an account of how the emergence of a white settler Nationalism with the expansion
of Canadian state and capitalism
• Around the mid-19th to early 20th centuries, Canada and especially British Columbia
was in a period of tremendous economic growth.
• The expansion of Canadian Capital especially in the logging, coal mining and fishing
industries and the need for a transnational railway required a huge labour force
• Canada didn’t have the population to support such the labour needs of these industries.
• This portrayed Canada as a place of opportunity and settlement for Asians whose
homelands were becoming overcrowded. Sadly, the early pioneer years were extremely
difficult for Asian immigrants due to the exte