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Valerie Korinek

Valerie Korinek

The Canadian Committee on Womens and Gender History English Language Book Prize


Valerie KorinekPrairie Fairies : A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

This year’s winner of the Canadian Committee’s Women’s and Gender History (CCWGH) Book Prize is Valerie Korinek’s Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer People and Communities in Western Canada, 1930-1985. The prize is awarded on a bi-annual basis to the best scholarly book published by a Canadian historian in women’s or gender history. Dr. Korinek’s book explores same-sex desire in five major western Canadian cities: Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Bringing together a rich collection of oral testimony and textual documents, Dr. Korinek paints a rich and sensitive portrait of the everyday lives, places, communities, and activist organizations of queer women and men. By historizing same-sex desire among women, Prairie Fairies fills a major gap in the field of Canadian women’s and gender history, as well as Canadian history more broadly. We congratulate Dr. Korinek on her important contribution.

Honourable Mentions 

Julie GuardRadical Housewives: Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Dr. Guard’s book examines the history of the Housewives Consumers Association (HCA), a national organization of activist consumers that advocated for fair pricing and a more responsive government when it came to the needs of working-and-middle class Canadians. Active from 1937 until the early 1950s, the HCA drew on maternalist rhetoric and leftist politics in the fight against food insecurity. Dr. Guard’s analysis provides important new insight into the interconnected ways in which direct action and women’s activism shaped broader societal debates about citizenship rights and the responsibilities of the state.

Christabelle Sethna and Steve HewittJust Watch Us: RCMP Surveillance of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Cold War Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018.

Drs. Sethna’s and Hewitt’s book draws on the surprisingly rich RCMP surveillance files regarding the women’s liberation movement in Canada. By contextualizing these files within the larger framework of the “red prism,” Drs. Sethna and Hewitt explore the nature of state surveillance during the Cold War and the particular ways that this impacted women’s organizations fighting against gender inequity. In a broader sense, their book makes clear the shocking extent to which women’s groups were watched, highlighting both the frustrating realities of state repression and the tremendous potential for resistance from those deemed politically dangerous.