This thesis examines how public health nurses (PHNs) racialize and ‘other’ mothers during the postpartum period. This study was conducted over seven months in urban, western Canada. Ethnographic methods included participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, and gray literature analyses. They helped to uncover the multifaceted ways public health nursing praxis reproduces and reifies racialized notions of ‘Chinese’ mothers in breastfeeding promotion contexts. I find that the historical professionalization of nursing, the medicalization of breastfeeding, and health promotion protocols shape how PHNs ascribe ‘race’ to women in relation to infant feeding. Further, racialized stereotypes and acts of ‘othering’ are concretized in nursing praxes. Even as nurses sometimes actively resist and regret these stereotypes, they nevertheless create contexts of exclusion that reinforce boundaries of citizenship and belonging for postpartum mothers and their infants. Most significantly, clinical practices pervasively mired in raced ideas of ‘others’ lead to differential care for mothers and their infants.
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Thesis advisor: Erikson, Susan
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