“The National Gain is Nil”: Talking About Infant Mortality in Interwar Alberta

Amy Kaler


This paper uses the concept of biopolitics to analyze the ways in which infant mortality was talked about in Alberta between the beginning of the first world war and the beginning of the second. Material is drawn primarily from small-town newspapers. Infant mortality is understood as a form of perverse reproduction, in which life and death are unnaturally juxtaposed, threatening the integrity of the emergent polity of Alberta. The two main tropes in talking about infant mortality are military and economic, contingently linked to Alberta's experience of the first world war and of economic stress in the postwar years.


Alberta; infant mortality; biopolitics; biopower; population

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