Profile: Pamela Moss

Dr. Pamela Moss, Professor, Human and Social Development and Research Affiliate, Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Moss’ current research interests include: women’s bodies, contested illness, invisible chronic illness, feminist theory and methodology, Myalgic encephalomyelitis, combat veterans with operational stress injuries and autobiography.

Pamela Moss earned a double major in Geography and Political Science at Indiana University at Indianapolis (USA). From there she moved to Canada to complete an MA in Geography at the University of British Columbia. After teaching for a year, she returned to earn a Ph.D. at McMaster University. She held an appointment in Geography at the University of Victoria until 1999, when she moved to an interdisciplinary graduate program, Studies in Policy and Practice, and is Professor in Human and Social Development.

What is noteable about Moss’ work is that she focuses on illness, not health. She uses feminist theories of the body to understand how illness gets worked up into categories that then are used to describe women’s bodies. She then is able to trace materially and discursively how women’s identities and bodies are constituted as ill, how women come to understand themselves as ill, and how women live while being ill. To highlight how power is imbued within the social and spatial processes that constitute women’s bodies as ill, she concentrates her efforts on chronic illness that is contested, that is, illness that is dismissed as illegitimate — framed as difficult, psychosomatic, or even non-existent — by researchers, health practitioners and policy-makers operating within conventional paradigms of knowledge. Her books with Isabel Dyck, Women, Body, Illness (2003, Rowman and Littlefield) and Karen Falconer, Al-Hindi Feminisms in Geography (2008, Rowman and Littlefield) provide the conceptual foundation for her current work.

Contesting Illness (2008, University of Toronto Press), edited with Katherine Teghtsoonian, extends her research on conceptualizing the relationship between contestation as a power relation and illness as a diagnostic category. Pamela’s most recent work focuses on the construction of illness categories. She is also interested in the symptoms of fatigue, pain and cognitive impairment and how these articulate into diagnostic categories at various points in time. She is currently working on two book projects. The first, Weary Warriors, with Michael J. Prince, focuses on a feminist Foucaultian understanding of the history of twentieth century soldiers suffering deep emotional trauma in combat; and the second, Fatigue, focuses on a feminist Deleuzean understanding of the symptoms of fatigue and how it has manifest in women’s ill bodies over the last century and a half.

Pamela may be contacted at pamelam@nulluvic.ca.

Updated: January 2011