Histories, Bodies, Stories, Hungers: The Colonial Origins of Diabetes as a Health Disparity among Indigenous Peoples in Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Dawson, Leslie
  • Indigenous people in Canada suffer disproportionately from health disparities, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and I have explored these health disparities among Indigenous peoples through the lens of embodiment. Framed within the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) model, and applying a biocultural ethnographic approach combining colonial histories, published epidemiological and anthropometric data, and thematic analysis of Tlicho pregnancy and birth stories, I investigated the impact of the injustices of patriarchal colonialism on Indigenous maternal bodies. I have revealed that diabetes as a health disparity among Indigenous peoples reflects the maternal embodiment of colonial injustices and reproductive oppressions. These embodied colonial oppressions are manifest in compromised reproductive biologies and, subsequent intergenerational maternal health disparities, which underlie the explosion of high prevalence of diabetes among Indigenous peoples in Canada. However, a sole focus on measurable health disparities medicalizes the colonial reproductive oppressions and inequities Indigenous women have experienced and as health inequities underlie health disparities, the issue is one of social justice. As reproductive justice was an inherent feature in Indigenous communities reflecting local worldviews and ways of knowing, by applying a reproductive justice lens to Indigenous maternal wellbeing not only may Indigenous maternal bodies begin to heal and end the intergenerational transmission of compromised reproductive biologies, but women’s knowledge and the traditions, ceremonies, and rituals around pregnancy and birth may be reclaimed allowing for a process of maternal self-determination and decolonization of overall maternal wellbeing.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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