N08(a) - Resilience, Recognition, Vulnerability, Apology: Logics and Politics of Care in Neoliberal Canada
Date: Jun 5 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 305
Chair/Président/Présidente : Lois Harder (University of Alberta)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Lisa Mills (Carleton University)
Session Abstract: The papers in this panel extend social reproduction feminism by taking its questions about care work as a site of struggle in some new directions. In different ways, the papers focus on how the relationships between family, state, and capital are configured within regimes of neoliberal governance. Jennifer Henderson asks how the increasingly normative project of enhancing resilience plays out in settler-colonial contexts in particular ways, with Indigenous populations occupying a paradoxical positioning in relation to this trope of adaptability. Margot Challborn asks how a politics of recognition deploys an expanded legal definition of family and parent to re-absorb non-biological, non-nucleated, and/or queer kinship organization into governable forms. Miranda Leibel asks how the model of the provincial child-welfare inquiry functions in relation to scandal as spectacularized moral event and as crisis in settler-state legitimacy. Fiona MacDonald explores the implications of a newly legitimated speech act, the medical apology issued by medical professionals to patients and family members following an adverse event.
Resilience, Indigeneity, and Human Capital as a Nexus of Neoliberal Governmentality: Jennifer Henderson (Carleton University) Abstract: This paper contributes to the growing critical literature on the social policies and programs organized by the discourse of resilience, which stresses individual capacities for adaptation in what are taken to be unalterable contexts of adversity and precarity. I argue that this neoliberal paradigm for interventions to optimize human capital works in specific ways in settler-colonial contexts. Here, Indigeneity signifies, paradoxically, as both gap and surplus, within the registers of damage as well as biovalue. My paper uses an expanded theory of extractivism to demonstrate how specific forms of knowledge-production constructed resilience as an objective variable in life outcomes through research that was focussed on Indigenous populations in the 1970s. The paper then illuminates the process through which resilience was taken up, subsequently, as a resource for non-Indigenous vitality and generalized in policy and governance which now loops back onto Indigenous peoples through programs of capacity-formation. Specifically, by turning to the Aboriginal Head Start programme initiated by Health Canada in 1995, I examine the way the resilience paradigm has been applied through programs to ‘close the gap’ in measures of socio-economic success. AHS initiatives involve two levels of government in collaboration with agencies within the Indigenous not-for-profit sector, promising to put ‘Aboriginal communities’ in control. This paper asks whether they do so within the structural and ideological constraints of a paradigm of human capital optimization that is keyed to parenting skills, employability, and ‘lifelong learning,’ as opposed to the redistribution and indeed return of resources.
Intimacy, Conjugality, and the Canadian State: An Analysis of British Columbia’s Approach to Recognizing Diverse Family Forms: Margot Challborn (University of Alberta) Abstract: Introduced in 2013, British Columbia’s Family Law Act was amended to outline the legal definitions of parents, a change that was prompted by the increased use of assisted reproductive technologies (including insemination by donor and in vitro fertilization). However, the gaps in British Columbia family law created a great deal of uncertainty about who then – in the case of a mix of biological and social contributors to a child – became a legal ‘parent.’ By applying Critical Policy Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis frameworks to the Act itself and surrounding public/political discourse, I argue that the changes in the Act fall short in creating possibilities to redefine and reconfigure ‘the family’ in Canada. This project explores questions of kinship and citizenship that are central to political life in Canada; of particular interest to this project is the extent to which recent legal attempts to recognize the diversity of intimate arrangements in Canada differ enough from the status-quo to transform the foundations of family politics in Canada. Additionally I ask: what are the limits and necessities of state recognition? In turn, what are, or what ought to be, the limits of the state’s recognition of intimate life? What are the consequences to us as people, and members of social and political communities, when the range of possibilities for our intimate lives, care networks, and intimate commitments are so heavily impacted by the state?
Manufacturing Scandal: Problematizing Child Death Inquiries in the Age of MMIWG and the Truth and Reconciliation.: Miranda Leibel (Carleton University) Abstract: This paper is a critical examination of the ways in which Indigenous families, marked by both settler-colonialism as incapable of proper care, and by neoliberalism as evidence of the dangers of a bloated welfare system, are constructed and problematized through the use of child death inquiries. This case study focuses specifically on the report “Honouring their Spirits: The Child Death Review” (2006), which was launched by the Government of Manitoba following the death of Phoenix Sinclair, a Nehiyaw/Cree girl with a history of child welfare involvement. Using a two-part qualitative mixed methods approach, I examine how Phoenix Sinclair’s death in 2005 was constructed as a government scandal by mainstream media, leading to the creation of a province-wide inquiry into the deaths of all children in welfare custody in Manitoba. The first part of this study uses a critical discourse analysis methodology to interrogate how popular media constructed the death of Phoenix Sinclair as a public scandal. This is followed by a critical policy analysis of the resulting public inquiries and reports. The thrust of this paper is an analysis of the relationship between media scandal and public inquiries, defined by the scandal of state case and purportedly resolved by inquiries run by the state itself. Ultimately, I argue that the pathologization of the Indigenous family, narrated through the Child Death Review, is used to legitimize the settler state (in this context, the Government of Manitoba) as the appropriate manager of Indigenous children and families.
Apology as Care: Exploring the Impact of Apology Legislation in Health Care: Fiona MacDonald (University of the Fraser Valley) Abstract: Ten provinces and territories in Canada have recently adopted ‘apology legislation’ allowing medical professionals to apologize to patients and family members following an adverse event. Similar legislation exists in the US, UK, and Australia. Apology legislation prevents an apology from being used as evidence of fault or liability in a subsequent lawsuit and is intended to promote transparency, learning, and accountability following a medical error or mistreatment.?The potential meaning(s) and impact of medical apologies are complex, especially in a context of neoliberal funding cut backs, restructuring, and privatization. Reception to the legislation has been mixed. Supported by patient safety groups, it has been seen by legal scholars as serving to protect the apologizer.?Medical apologies may contribute a range of benefits to patients and/or families which are consistent with ethics of care. They are centered on the relationships between medical professional and patient and families as people and fellow citizens well beyond any consumer–supplier of service models recognize.?However, it is not yet known what the outcomes of medical apologies are. This paper will share initial findings on the impact of medical apology as experienced by various stakeholders shared through trauma-informed qualitative research interviews.