Domestic citizenship and Disability in Saskatchewan in the 1930's
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This paper is based on a diary written from 1937 to 1942 by my great aunt, Hilda Butcher, a white upper middle class English immigrant to Canada. Impaired by achondroplasia (“dwarfism”), Hilda used a wheelchair for the early part of her life, and was described as “a cripple with a fine mind”. A member of a large extended family including many relatives and her housekeeper Tillie, Hilda was also a friend to many people in the community of Punnichy Saskatchewan, where her family were early immigrants. In addition, Hilda was an active churchgoer and president of the women’s auxiliary. Veena Das and Renu Addlakha, in their 2001 paper on “Disability and Domestic Citizenship”. call for the displacement of domesticity from its conventional place in the private sphere and the displacement of “citizenship” from its association with publics defined through “civility”. Citizenship is performed with regard to both the state and the domestic sphere. Hilda’s diary displaces domestic labour from the private sphere and articulates community labour as a responsibility of citizenship. In this paper I will engage with Hilda’s diary and Das and Addlakha’s ideas in order to argue for a feminist, domestic and fully embodied concept of citizenship.