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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.
Chantal Nadeau is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montreal.