White privilege and professionalization: a decolonial and critical feminist perspective on professional nursing





Nursing history, feminism, decolonial feminism, reproductive labor


This article offers a critical perspective linking invisibility with the political foundations of the dominant, Eurocentric model of modern nursing. Using critical feminist and decolonial feminist frameworks, this paper begins by analyzing gendered, reproductive labor in the centuries leading up to the industrial revolution in Britain and Europe and how the current dominant model of nursing was developed. The second part of the paper suggests a critical link between white supremacy, colonial violence and the professionalization of nursing work. Finally this paper calls on nursing scholarship to move beyond the narrow definition of nursing within the professional framework to include people who have done and continue to do the work of nursing despite being denied the title because of segregation and colonial violence.      


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Author Biography

Natalie Stake-Doucet, University de Montreal

Natalie Stake-Doucet is a registered nurse, researcher and activist. She obtained her PhD in 2022 from Université de Montréal. She quit bedside nursing in the spring of 2022 to teach nursing full-time. Her bedside nursing experience is in psychiatry and primary care. She is passionate about nursing history, and studies the socio-political structure of hospitals in relation to nurses and nursing work. Her research and activism have led to her being solicited by unions, community organizations and professional organizations for workshops on developing a political voice for nursing, as well as on feminist issues in healthcare and social services. She is a frequent collaborator on talk shows in Québec to discuss political issues in healthcare. She was president and spokesperson on the Quebec Nurses Association for five years and the Quebec representative on the board of the Canadian Nurses’ Association from 2019 to 2021.



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How to Cite

Stake-Doucet, N. (2023). White privilege and professionalization: a decolonial and critical feminist perspective on professional nursing. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 5(2), 26–38. https://doi.org/10.25071/2291-5796.153