“Women with no femininity”: gender, race and nation-building in the James Bay Project
This paper seeks to gender the nation-state through an analysis of the links between gender, colonial history and governmentality in Québec’s James Bay region. In the early 1970s, a new governmental framework was introduced in Northern Québec with the construction of a large-scale hydroelectric complex. The James Bay project coincided with an intensive period of nation-building by Francophones in the province, which led to the 1980 referendum on separation from Canada. Looking at the space of the labor camps, I explore the differential positioning of men and women in dominant narratives of the nation-state. While both men and women who worked in James Bay were cast as heroes of the nation, everyday geographies in the work camps reveal several axes of difference on the basis of gender, race and class. By looking at the production of these geographies and the dual positioning of women as both “outcasts” and “daughters” of the patriarchal state, I call for a broader understanding of difference in the elaboration of a feminist political geography.