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Interrogating Race and Racism

Interrogating Race and Racism

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    Interrogating Race and Racism
    Book Description:

    Agnew delves into the public and private spheres of several distinct communities in order to expose the underlying inequalities within Canada's economic, social, legal, and political systems that frequently result in the denial of basic rights to migrant women.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8544-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-32)

    When I was a young woman in the 1970s, I became a feminist, and the words ‘oppression’ and ‘exploitation’ became part of my everyday vocabulary. I was an Indian immigrant, recently arrived in Canada, where I had joined the graduate program at the University of Toronto. Before long, I became enamoured with discussions about gender that were then taking place at many North American universities. The prevailing wisdom at the time among feminists was that gender was the defining force in life, and that the inequities that women were just beginning to discover and name were not new; rather, they...


    • [PART ONE: Introduction]
      (pp. 33-36)

      History provides us with many examples of people who were enticed by dreams of a better life for themselves and their families and voluntarily left their countries of birth for other, more prosperous geographical regions. Yet sometimes the necessity of leaving has been thrust upon people because of environmental disasters, political ideologies, ethnic cleansing, and civil wars. At times, the countries receiving these individuals have opened up their hearts and homes to the newcomers, perceiving them as fellow human beings and hoping to make a better and richer community and society together. But at other times, biases have intervened and...

    • 1 Contradictions of ‘Racial’ Discourse
      (pp. 37-54)
      PETER S. LI

      As ideologies, liberal democracy and racism are contradictory because the former rejects the relevance of ‘race’ in determining the worth of human beings and the latter thrives on the signification of individuals and groups based on ‘racial’ and other superficial features.¹ Liberal democracy is premised upon the principle of equality, under which all human beings are equal. Racism, on the other hand, posits essential differences between peoples, produced either by heredity or by adaptation, which in turn produce further differences in human capacity and achievement. These two ideologies create another contradictory phenomenon. Despite the wide acceptance of the principle of...

    • 2 From Slavery to Expulsion: Racism, Canadian Immigration Law, and the Unfulfilled Promise of Modern Constitutionalism
      (pp. 55-111)

      The primary goal of pre-Confederation Canadian immigration policy was to divest the indigenous population of their sparsely populated ‘wild lands’ and render those lands productive as quickly as possible (Tie 1995). For this reason, the early British and French settlers permitted unrestricted admission to their North American colonies. According to various accounts, the first non-white immigrant to arrive in Canada directly from Africa was a black slave by the name of Oliver LeJeune. He was brought to New France as a six-year-old child in 1628 (Winks 1971, 1). In 1689, the French colonizers in New France received the authorization of...

    • 3 Citizenship, Illegality, and Sanctuary
      (pp. 112-134)

      Formal citizenship, according to James Holston, refers to membership within a nation-state (1998, 50). Substantive citizenship, on the other hand, comprises a variety of rights – civil, political and/or social, which may or may not be accessed through formal citizenship. Formal citizenship, scholars suggest in recent studies, is no longer an integral factor in securing substantive citizenship (Holston and Appadurai 1999; Soysal 1999). Yet studies of illegality in the context of immigration demonstrate the difficulties of exercising substantive citizenship without full legal status or permanent residency in a country. Scholars have examined the ways in which migrants are made illegal, calling...


    • [PART TWO: Introduction]
      (pp. 135-138)

      Racism and racist ideologies are fluid rather than static: they change their contours over time and place, embedding themselves in institutions and in our everyday interactions. Sometimes racism is so natural a part of our everyday life that it seems normal and routine, acceptable rather than contemptible behaviour. Racism based on skin colour is now widely condemned as being misguided and plain wrong. Yet biases associated with the identity of some people continue, with social and psychological repercussions for their well-being. One of the most significant aspects of racism is that it leads to discrimination in employment. Discrimination can manifest...

    • 4 Colour My World: Have Earnings Gaps for Canadian-Born Ethnic Minorities Changed over Time?
      (pp. 139-171)

      The last decade and a half has witnessed a growing flow of research devoted to examining the degree to which people from ethnic minorities are subject to labour-market discrimination in Canada (Akbari 1992a; Howland and Sakellariou 1993; Stelcner and Kyriazis 1995; Christofides and Swidinsky 1994; Baker and Benjamin 1997; Hum and Simpson 1998; Pendakur and Pendakur 1998; Lian and Matthews 1998). While these authors have generally concluded that immigrant groups often face significant labour-market disadvantage, there is debate over the degree to which people from minority groups who were born in Canada are subject to a similar disadvantage compared to...

    • 5 What Does It Take to Achieve Full Integration? Economic (Under)Performance of Chinese Immigrants in Canada
      (pp. 172-205)

      The Chinese have become the largest group of immigrants in Canada, as both landing records and the 2001 census indicate. Between 1980 and 2000, nearly 800,000 Chinese immigrants landed in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2001). They now account for 20 per cent of Canada’s total immigration intake.

      A number of factors have contributed to the accelerated emigration of the Chinese from various points of origin, particularly from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, and Vietnam (Lo and Wang 1997). Many Chinese immigrants are attracted by Canada’s potential economic opportunities in both business and employment. Canada welcomes them, mainly because of...

    • 6 Racial Discrimination in Nursing
      (pp. 206-236)

      Racialized nurses are confronted with a dilemma every day of their working lives when they have to decide how to respond to racial discrimination from patients, colleagues, supervisors, and physicians (Das Gupta 2002). This chapter provides an interpretive reading of selective interpersonal strategies that nurses report having used to deal with the everyday racism they encounter at work. The data come from transcripts of taped qualitative interviews with fourteen racialized nurses, each of whom had previously filled out a survey on ‘Racism in Nursing’ (Das Gupta 2002). The survey was conducted in tandem with a participatory action research project in...


    • [PART THREE: Introduction]
      (pp. 237-240)

      Nations comprise ‘imagined communities’ of traditions or ancestry and seek political expression for them. Nation is not conterminous with state: the state has physical, geographical, and territorial boundaries that do not always coincide with those of the nation. The state may include groups identified by race, ethnic identity, or politics that perceive themselves as a nation and wish to separate from the state, as the Quebecois in Canada sought to in the 1970s. At other times, a racial or ethnic group may be present within the physical borders of the state, as is documented in the chapters in this section,...

    • 7 Borders and Exclusions: Racial Profiling in the New World Order
      (pp. 241-270)

      Throughout its history, the Canadian government has developed and implemented laws, policies, and procedures that are now thought to be racist. These have ranged from the sanctioning of slavery and segregation in education and residential accommodations to the racialization of law enforcement, criminal justice, and immigration and refugee determination processes. Canadian laws and social values have oppressed people of Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian origin and people of African descent, among others. Racialized discourses have constructed these same groups of people in negative ways. This has led in contemporary times to racial profiling, a construct related to criminal profiling that...

    • 8 Racism Masquerading as Nationalism: Wars, Japanese-Americans, and Arab-Americans
      (pp. 271-297)

      Nationalism tinted with racism has been freely articulated in times of war in American history, although such expressions of bias are frowned upon in peacetime. Consider the following two cases: Japanese-Americans in the post–Pearl Harbor period and Arab-Americans (and/or Muslim Americans) in the period following September 11, 2001. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their homes, forced into internment camps, and had their property seized, mainly because they were regarded as potential enemies. This internment included both Issei, first-generation Japanese immigrants, and Nisei, second-generation, American-born Japanese-Americans. Two-thirds of the over 120,000 people who...

    • 9 From Displaying ‘Jewish Art’ to (Re)Building German-Jewish History: The Jewish Museum Berlin
      (pp. 298-320)

      In her introduction to this volume, the editor (quoting Fredrickson 2002) notes that although the concept of racism dates back to ancient times, the term became widely used with the persecution of Jews in Europe in the 1930s. The first museum to be discussed in this chapter opened in Berlin in early 1933, just a few days before Hitler came to power, and struggled to survive and to boost the morale of the city’s Jewish community until it was closed by the Nazis in 1938.

      Theorizing the relation of anti-Semitism to racism is complicated partly because the practices of these...


    • [PART FOUR: Introduction]
      (pp. 321-324)

      Historically, Canadian national identity has been defined as white, despite the presence of racialized people. At Confederation in 1867, the national project was to meld Canada’s different regional identities into a nation with a distinct culture and identity, but this attempt to homogenize and unify was riddled with tensions because it was both elitist and racist. The nineteenth-century Canada First movement believed in the superiority of the English-speaking, Celtic, Teutonic, and Scandinavian people over those who were French-speaking, Métis, and French Canadian. Such a definition excluded some groups from the ‘cultural nation’ (Hoerder 1999, 11). Similarly, farming families were made...

    • 10 The Conundrum of Inclusion: Racialized Women in Public Policy Reports
      (pp. 325-351)

      Equality is an ideal, but inequality is often the experience of many racialized women. Scholars have interrogated inequalities based on race, class, and gender, along with their innumerable intersections, and have documented the theoretical and empirical difficulties of overcoming exclusions and becoming inclusive, as the chapters in this collection indicate. Historically, the rise of nation-states has sometimes led to identifying segments of population as the Other, thereby rationalizing their exclusion from the exercise of the rights of citizenship. In contemporary Canadian society, such invidious distinctions have been eliminated from formal citizenship rights; constitutionally, all citizens are equal, without distinctions of...

    • 11 From Africa to Canada: Bordered Spaces, Border Crossings, and Imagined Communities
      (pp. 352-385)

      Migration to Canada is an unsettling experience, one of leaving familiar worlds behind to create new homes in a strange, sometimes perplexing, and not infrequently unfriendly environment. Migration is a gendered and racialized process that is shaped by class, sexuality, immigration status, country of origin, language, age, presence of close family, and size of ethnic community in local Canadian contexts (Abu-Laban 1998; Agnew 1996, 2003; Boyd 1997, 1999, 2001; Creese and Dowling 2001; Dhruvarajan and Vickers 2002; Dossa 2002, 2004; Dyck and McLaren 2002; Giles and Preston 1996; Lee 1999a, 1999b; Lo et al. 2001; McLaren and Dyck 2004; Ng...

    • 12 Being White and Thinking Black: An Interview with Frances Henry
      (pp. 386-412)
      VIJAY AGNEW and Frances Henry

      In her 1991 book, NoBurden to Carry, Dionne Brand expressed the sentiments of many racialized academics when she wrote that ‘Canadian scholarship overall has been preoccupied with English and French concerns, to the exclusion of Canadian people of non-European origin. This, at best, is xenophobic; it is also racist’ (11). Racism lies in the absence or marginalization of racialized populations in accounts of Canadian history and society, the use of white Canadians as the norm to which others are explicitly or otherwise compared, the denigration of the ‘homes’ and heritages of racialized people, and their individual or collective exclusion...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 413-417)