Baby Trouble in the Last Best West: Making New People in Alberta, 1905-1939

Baby Trouble in the Last Best West: Making New People in Alberta, 1905-1939

by Amy Kaler


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Reproduction is the most emotionally complicated human activity. It transforms lives but it also creates fears and anxieties about women whose childbearing doesn't conform to the norm.

Baby Trouble in the Last Best West explores the ways that women's childbearing became understood as a social problem in early twentieth-century Alberta. Kaler utilizes censuses, newspaper reports, social work case files, and personal letters to illuminate the ordeals that women, men, and babies were subjected to as Albertans debated childbearing. Through the lens of reproduction, Kaler offers a vivid and engaging analysis of how colonialism, racism, nationalism, medicalization, and evolving gender politics contributed to Alberta's imaginative economy of reproduction. Kaler investigates five different episodes of "baby trouble": the emergence of obstetrics as a political issue, the drive for eugenic sterilization, unmarried childbearing and "rescue homes" for unmarried mothers, state-sponsored allowances for single mothers, and high infant mortality. Baby Trouble in the Last Best West will transport the reader to the turmoil of Alberta's early years while examining the complexity of settler society-building and gender struggles.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442613942
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 02/08/2017
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Amy Kaler is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


List of Figures


Chapter 1 — Introduction

Chapter 2 - The Little Immigrant Who Comes Into Our Homes: The Material Conditions of Childbirth

Chapter 3 - Treasures: Multiple Economies of Reproduction at the Beulah Rescue Home

Chapter 4 - Mothers' Duties: Eugenics, Sterilization and the United Farm Women of Alberta

Chapter 5 - "Perhaps You May Think Me Independent": The Right to a Mothers' Allowance

Chapter 6 — Unless the Infant Lives, the National Gain is Nil: Infant Mortality as Failed Reproduction




What People are Saying About This

Fiona Nelson

"Amy Kaler's scholarship in Baby Trouble in the Last Best West is impressive. The author has produced a very well written, interesting, and accessible work that makes excellent use of the vast array of data and literatures available."

Claudia Malacrida

"Baby Trouble in the Last Best West contributes greatly to our understanding of Alberta's settler society history. Amy Kaler connects a number of seemingly disparate instances of political, moral and social responses to women's reproduction in order to illuminate the ways the state and its moral entrepreneurs value, devalue and attempt to extract women's reproductive labour."

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