Consequences of Categorization: National Registration, Surveillance and Social Control in Wartime Canada, 1939-1946

  • Author / Creator
    Thompson, Scott N
  • This dissertation takes up the question of how socially constructed bureaucratic classifications can become central elements in governing individual action, shaping everyday life and mediating the performances of individual identity. Drawing on the work of Foucault, Butler, Bowker and Star, this work demonstrates the link between classification, governing rationalities, technologies, performative acts and identity formation. In particular, it approaches the role of technologies through a conceptualization of classifications as the means through which the content of governing rationalities can be taken up and expressed through implemented technologies. It argues that this can be done in such a way as to mediate, or tighten, classifications and their related performances onto individuals and populations. By adopting the concept of performativity and sedimentation, this work demonstrates how the repeated governed acts, or forced performances, related to conscription in Canada during the Second World War ultimately resulted in the formation of a particular identity for NRMA or Zombie soldiers within popular culture and within this population of mobilized men. This dissertation will focus on two key branches of investigation – first on the technologies themselves, encompassing the historical moments of their generation, their adoption of particular classifications informed by set governing rationalities and their relative effectiveness in tightening the classifications of the National Registration system onto targeted individuals and populations. Second this dissertation demonstrates the impact that the forced performances of acts related to the category of “conscripted soldier” had on the men who were called into service. The goal of this work is not only to review this historical period in Canadian history, but also to draw this knowledge into contemporary debates about national ID cards, immigration and status cards, citizenship papers, and population management.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Sociology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Haggerty, Kevin (Sociology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Himka, John-Paul (History)
    • Moure, Kenneth (History)
    • Marx, Gary (Sociology)
    • Aitkin, Rob (Political Science)
    • Clement, Dominique (Sociology)