In this lecture, Karen Flynn, PhD (Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will discuss her book, Moving Beyond Borders, which is the first book-length history of Black health care workers in Canada, delving into the experiences of thirty-five postwar-era nurses who were born in Canada or who immigrated from the Caribbean either through Britain or directly to Canada. Karen Flynn examines the shaping of these women's stories from their childhoods through to their roles as professionals and community activists.
Theories relating to gender as performance have led to a proliferation of studies underscoring the notion of gender as an acquired cultural/social category. The work of Judith Butler is especially critical in that she demonstrates how gender identity is not essential or intrinsic, but is a result of everyday actions, such as speech, gestures and representations, dress codes, etc. This also includes those acts that seek to challenge conceptions of masculinity and femininity. The limitation of these studies is that in prioritizing gender as a category of analysis, race and other social identities are often excluded. This presentation integrates race within theories of gender performance to explore how Black Caribbean and Canadian students engaged in gender performance in nursing as a way to mediate and manage the contested terrain of nurse training where ideas about whiteness, womanhood, and femininity underpinned its very core.
Flynn interweaves oral histories with archival sources to show how these women's lives were shaped by their experiences of migration, professional training, and family life. Theoretical analyses from postcolonial, gender, and diasporic Black Studies serve to highlight the multiple subjectivities operating within these women's lives. By presenting a collective biography of identity formation, Moving Beyond Borders reveals the extraordinary complexity of Black women's history.
This lecture is free.
March 19, 2013
2:00 - 3:30 PM
a small reception will be held at the Barbara Bates Center following the book signing
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