Fur Nation: From the Beaver to Brigitte Bardot

Fur Nation: From the Beaver to Brigitte Bardot

Fur Nation: From the Beaver to Brigitte Bardot

Fur Nation: From the Beaver to Brigitte Bardot

Synopsis

Fur Nation traces the interwoven relationships between sexuality, national identity, and colonialism. Chantal Nadeau shows how Canada, a white settler colony, bases its existence and its nationhood on a complex sexual economy based on women wrapped in fur.Nadeau traces the centrality of fur through a series of intriguing case studies, including:* Hollywood's take on the 330 year history of the Hudson Bay Company, founded to exploit Canada's rich fur resources* the life of a postwar fur fashion photographer* a 1950s musical called Fur Lady * the battle between Brigitte Bardot's anti-fur activists and the fur industry.Nadeau highlights the connection between 'fur ladies' - women wearing, exploiting or promoting furs - and the beaver, symbol of Canada and nature's master builder. She shows how, in postcolonial Canada, the nation is sexualised around female reproduction and fur, which is both a crucial factor in economic development, and a powerful symbol through which the nation itself is conceived and commodified. Fur Nation demonstrates that, for Canada, fur really is the fabric of a nation.

Excerpt

If history is in the details then there can be no history because who could ever know these details unless he was actually there? But it is possible to grasp the whole, which must be the way the poet works, I should think, being a lawyer myself.

Vidal (1998)

Fur Nation explores the liminalities of the conceptualization of nation, as well as its marketability within and beyond theories of sexuality, within and beyond the containment of the national. the ways that nations are sexualized, are touched and secured historically and politically, evoke a "culture of nations" (Williams 1983). Crucially, this reasserts the importance of material and economic culture in the construction of the national. in other words, the business of the transnational and the intranational is a business of sex and sexuality. This fur journey is my call for a better understanding of nationalist politics as intimately implicated with that of sexuality. What national imagery tells us, and how it speaks to us, transforms the commodified and political value of the female body as a sexualized and ethnic locus carrying a specific resonance and peculiar representation within the transethnic and transsexual dimensions of the national. the concept of the fur nation does not so much respond to an Andersonian 'imagined community' as to a careful regime of circulation and commodification of female skin as a national resource and desireable subjectivity.

The fantastic journey that the many crossings between fur and skin brings allows me to move away from the dominance of the imaginary in the constitution of nations, so as to further investigate the sexual economies that delimit, and often disrupt, the narrative of the nation. Somewhere, somehow, between the contingencies of capital and the seduction of the imaginary, there emerge the sensational and sexual edges of the seamless ties and tales that unite women, fur, sexuality and nation. This holds whether we are encountering such traditional tales of fur ladies as those of the Native country wives in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the European and Canadian ladies of

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