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 Featured Title
The Iconic North
Cultural Constructions of Aboriginal Life in Postwar Canada
Joan Sangster  

$95.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 5/21/2016
ISBN: 9780774831833    

$34.95 Paperback
Release Date: 11/1/2016
ISBN: 9780774831840    

336 Pages


About the Book

Recent archaeological discoveries in the polar region have reanimated stock images of the rugged and intrepid explorer who staves off death and despair to bring the light of modernity to a frigid northern wasteland. The Iconic North banishes such well-worn tropes to reveal how a "primitive" North was crafted by cultural productions from the "modern" South in ways that perpetuated, rather than challenged, colonial relationships.

In the postwar era, changing economic priorities and a shift in government strategy -- from policies of assimilation to the integration of Indigenous people as equal citizens -- influenced how northern culture was represented in popular Canadian imagery. Drawing on film, literary, and archival examples, Joan Sangster exposes the nuanced relationships between culture and ideology, showing how relations of race, gender, and colonialism have shaped our understanding of northern peoples, northern economies, and government policy.

The Iconic North redirects current debates about the geopolitical prospects of the North by addressing how women and gender relations have played -- and continue to play -- a key role in northern development. Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s views and ideas influence class, family, and political relationships in a modern age increasingly focused on the circumpolar region -- a region now commanding more of the world’s attention.

About the Author(s)

Joan Sangster is a historian who teaches gender and women’s studies at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she has held visiting fellowships at McGill, Duke, and Princeton universities. She is the author of Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada; Girl Trouble: Female Delinquency in English Canada; Regulating Girls and Women: Sexuality, Family, and the Law, Ontario 1920-60; Earning Respect: The Lives of Working Women in Small-Town Ontario, 1920-1960; and Dreams of Equality: Women on the Canadian Left, 1920-60. A retrospective collection of her essays, Through Feminist Eyes: Essays in Canadian Women’s History, was published in 2012.

Table of Contents


1. Narrating the North: Sojourning Women and Travel Writing

2. The Beaver: Northern Indigenous Life in Popular Education

3. North of Schamattawa: "Indians," "Eskimos," and RCMP

4. NFB Documentary, Indigenous Peoples, and Canadian Northern Policy

5. Irene Baird’s Northern Journeys

6. "Mrs. Bird Flies North": The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in the North



"A thoughtful, innovative, and insightful study of southern perceptions about the Canadian North and its Indigenous peoples in the decades following the Second World War. Exceptionally well-researched, this book is a 'must read' for Arctic scholars in both the social sciences and the humanities."
-- Shelagh D. Grant, author of The Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America

"Given the current geopolitical struggles over the future of the North, this is a timely sophisticated intervention in debates in the field of Aboriginal and colonial history in Canada and internationally."
-- Sarah Carter, author of Capturing Women: The Manipulation of Cultural Imagery in Canada's Prairie West

"The Iconic North is essential reading for anyone interested in the Canadian North. Broad in scope and focusing on an understudied period of our cultural history, the discussion is elegantly written and meticulously researched ... Sangster, one of our pre-eminent feminist historians, has given us a must-read book to savour."
-- Sherrill Grace, OC, author of Canada and the Idea of North

"The Iconic North is a fascinating examination of the ideological construction of the Indigenous North in postwar Canada. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the history -- and future -- of the circumpolar region."
-- Nancy Janovicek, author of Feminist History in Canada: New Essays on Women, Gender, Work, and Nation

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

Northern Studies/Arctic Studies
Aboriginal Studies
Women's Studies
Public Policy

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of The Iconic North from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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