Exalted Subjects

Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada

SUNERA THOBANI
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442685666
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  • Book Info
    Exalted Subjects
    Book Description:

    A controversial, ground-breaking study,Exalted Subjectsmakes a major contribution to our understanding of the racialized and gendered underpinnings of both nation and subject formation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8566-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction: Of Exaltation
    (pp. 3-30)

    The figure of the national subject is a much venerated one, exalted above all others as the embodiment of the quintessential characteristics of the nation and the personification of its values, ethics, and civilizational mores. In the trope of the citizen, this subject is universally deemed the legitimate heir to the rights and entitlements proffered by the state. Even when disparaged as a gendered, sexed or classed subject,² and even when recognized to be a subject in the Foucauldian (double) meaning of the word – that is, assubjectto sovereign powerandas an individualized andself-constitutingentity³ – in its...

  5. LAW

    • 1 Founding a Lawful Nation
      (pp. 33-64)

      The foundational narrative of Canadian nationhood is a romance of pioneering adventure, of wild lands and savage peoples, of discovery and enterprise, of the overcoming of adversity through sheer perseverance and ingenuity. Europeans discovered an unknown continent and Europe’s intrepid masses came to it: a new people building a new world.² Certainly some of these settlers might have been unscrupulous. They may have taken unfair advantage of the natives. But the Indians were lawless heathens and warring tribes, their societies hardly evolved since the dawn of humanity. They were invested in violent rivalries with each other, they lacked the necessary...

  6. CITIZENSHIP

    • 2 Nationals, Citizens, and Others
      (pp. 67-102)

      Noting that the ‘control of migration – of immigration as well as emigration – is crucial to state sovereignty,’ feminist philosopher and political theorist Seyla Benhabib tackles the contentious issues of international human rights, national sovereignty and citizenship (that is, membership within a political community), as well as the challenges presented to these by global migrations in her recent Seeley Lectures at Cambridge University.³ Drawing upon Immanuel Kant’s notion of ‘cosmopolitan right’ and Hannah Arendt’s reflections on statelessness and the individual’s ‘right to have rights,’ Benhabib argues that a profound contradiction is to be found between the paradigm of universal human rights...

  7. COMPASSION

    • 3 The Welfare of Nationals
      (pp. 105-140)

      The post-war development of the welfare state in most of the hypercapitalist world, including Canada, has been generally defined as a watershed. Marking a turn away from the social Darwinist ethos of the laissezfaire system towards a more humane and compassionate capitalism, the welfare state has been defined by the ideals of collective social responsibility for all citizens within the polity, including the most vulnerable among them.² Modernist narratives of national progress received a significant boost with the extension of the institution of citizenship to encapsulate social rights, in addition to civil and political ones. As T.H. Marshall rightly predicted,...

  8. DIVERSITY

    • 4 Multiculturalism and the Liberalizing Nation
      (pp. 143-176)

      Respect for diversity and cultural pluralism became emblematic of the Canadian national character with the adoption of multiculturalism as state policy during the tenure of the flamboyant and immensely popular prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The liberalization of immigration policy and citizenship in the 1960s and 1970s that has been discussed in previous chapters was transforming the pattern of immigration into the country. As immigration from the South overtook that from European source countries, the resulting demographic shift compelled a significant – and perhaps irreversible – transformation of the nation’s characterization of itself. The adoption of multiculturalism enabled the nation’s self-presentation on...

  9. REFORM

    • 5 Reforming Canadians: Consultations and Nationalizations
      (pp. 179-214)

      Calling on Canadians to engage in an ‘honest’ and ‘open’ discussion about immigration and the future of the nation, the minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada launched a national public consultation in 1994 to conduct a thorough review of the immigration program.³ The minister of human resource development launched a concurrent review as part of a massive restructuring of social security policies.⁴ The Canadian state has developed something of a tradition of organizing such public consultations regarding changes to key policy areas. These particular reviews, however, were to be much broader in scope and more extensive in their outreach.

      In...

  10. TERROR

    • 6 Nationality in the Age of Global Terror
      (pp. 217-247)

      A photograph of a crowd of chador-clad women, holding signs that read Islam Yes; Seqular [sic] No, appeared in theGlobe and Mail, the older and more reputable of Canada’s two national newspapers. The headline over the photograph read: ‘The West and the Worst.’² These women, who were demonstrating in Tehran against the post–9/11 banning of the headscarf in France, are presented to the reader as ‘the worst.’ The women were rejecting the representations of the ‘west’ as the ‘best’ that have become ubiquitous in the global ‘war on terror.’ Rising concerns about the threat Islamists are said to...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 248-253)

    The historical emergence of the national subject as citizen, with clearly delineated rights and entitlements, is celebrated in hegemonic liberal discourses as emblematic of the advances towards human progress and equality promised by Enlightenment values and modernist projects. In contrast, I have argued that the constitution of the human being as national subject and citizen has had devastating consequences for this subject’s excluded Others, as well as for the interactions among them. I have defined exaltation as the political process that constitutes the national subject as belonging to a higher order of humanity. In the case of settler societies like...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 254-256)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 257-362)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 363-390)
  15. Index
    (pp. 391-410)