Building Nations from Diversity

Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared

Copyright Date: 2014
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    Building Nations from Diversity
    Book Description:

    Building Nations from Diversity explores the question of whether the Canadian "mosaic" has differed from the American "melting pot" and provides an informative comparison of both countries' historical and present-day similarities and differences. Garth Stevenson examines the origins of Canada and the United States and their past experiences with incorporating selected immigrant groups, particularly Irish, Chinese, and Jews. Establishing the foundational ways in which they placed new groups within their societies, Stevenson then outlines how the US and Canadian systems developed immigration policy and handled difference, detailing their treatment of "enemy aliens" during both world wars, their experience with minority languages, and recent Islamophobia. He also studies the introduction of multiculturalism into the lexicon and policy of the two countries and presents a nuanced analysis of how its meaning is understood differently on opposite sides of the border. An accessible and illuminating work, Building Nations from Diversity highlights the substantial differences between the US and Canada but ultimately concludes that they are more similar than most realize and are probably becoming more alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8320-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    Garth Stevenson
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    Canada and the United States are often said to have more in common with one another than any two countries in the modern world. Whether or not this is true, comparisons between the two countries are a staple commodity of everyday conversation, media discourse, political rhetoric, and scholarly analysis, at least in Canada. (The fact that Americans are less preoccupied with Canada than Canadians are with the United States seems to offend some Canadians, while others take delight in ridiculing American ignorance about Canada, but the disproportion in size and influence between the two countries makes it inevitable.) There is,...

  5. 2 Setting the Patterns
    (pp. 16-41)

    Canada and the United States are both products of the exploration and settlement of the North American continent by peoples from northwestern Europe, a process that began about 1600. European explorers had visited the eastern shores of the continent before that date, and the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks had attracted many Europeans from about 1500 onwards. Several centuries before that date, the Vikings had settled for a while on the island of Newfoundland and possibly at other locations. Jacques Cartier had formally claimed a portion of the continent for the king of France in 1534. However, permanent settlement...

  6. 3 The Irish
    (pp. 42-69)

    The English conquest and colonization of Ireland, a lengthy process that was finally completed during the so-called Glorious Revolution, was the prelude to, or perhaps the dress rehearsal for, their subsequent conquest and colonization of North America. It had begun in the twelfth century when England was ruled by the Norman-French Plantagenet dynasty. Somewhat ironically, Pope Adrian IV (who happened to be the only Englishman ever to sit on the throne of St Peter) had given his blessing to the project in 1155, and some semblance of Norman-English authority and control was established in Ireland by the end of the...

  7. 4 The Chinese
    (pp. 70-94)

    The Chinese were the first non-European ethnic group to come to North America in large numbers as voluntary immigrants. However, they encountered societies that were already divided racially between Aboriginal peoples and settlers and, particularly in the United States, between settlers of European ancestry and the descendants of African slaves. These existing social and ethnic differences influenced the ways in which the host societies responded to the Chinese and also the response of the Chinese themselves to their new environment. Although they represented one of the world’s oldest and most highly developed civilizations, the Chinese were looked down upon in...

  8. 5 The Jews
    (pp. 95-122)

    Hostility to Jews is a phenomenon with very deep roots in Western culture. Anti-Jewish comments occur in the dialogue of Chaucer’sCanterbury Tales. Shakespeare devoted an entire play,The Merchant of Venice, to the subject of anti-Semitism. Jews were expelled from England long before Shakespeare’s time, so it is unlikely that he ever encountered one, although Oliver Cromwell allowed them to return a few decades after Shakespeare’s death. While anti-Semitism is nowadays associated with unemployed and intellectually challenged losers who paint graffiti on walls and overturn gravestones, it must sadly be conceded that some of the most gifted and otherwise...

  9. 6 Ethnic Minorities in Wartime
    (pp. 123-150)

    Winston Churchill, by his own admission, disliked studying Latin in school and never acquired much knowledge of the language, but one Latin expression apparently was lodged in his memory and remained there until late in life. The expression,inter arma silent leges, means that the laws are silent in the midst of war. In his memoirs of World War II, Churchill rather glibly used this aphorism to excuse the invasion and conquest of neutral Iran, which he and Josef Stalin jointly planned and executed in the summer of 1941.¹ The lasting consequences of that event, it might be argued, include...

  10. 7 Immigration Policy: The Rise and Fall of Nativism
    (pp. 151-177)

    In the aftermath of World War I, most Americans were disillusioned with the world outside their own borders and inclined to reject it, insofar as this was possible. The “war to end war” and to “make the world safe for democracy,” as President Wilson had called it, had failed to accomplish either of these goals and had left much of Europe and the Middle East in turmoil. Civil wars in Ireland and Finland, a Russian invasion of Poland, radical movements in Germany and Hungary, boundary disputes everywhere, and ethnic cleansing in the new Turkish republic seemed to be all that...

  11. 8 The Politics of Language
    (pp. 178-205)

    The politics of language has not played a large part in the history of the United States, at least until recently. From the beginnings of colonial settlement in Massachusetts and Virginia, the hegemonic position of English was taken for granted. In contrast to Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, no indigenous language was spoken by enough people at the time of European settlement to play a significant part in shaping the culture and society of the new nation. The European languages that preceded English in different parts of what became the United States – Dutch in New York, Swedish in Delaware, and...

  12. 9 Multiculturalism: The Biography of an Idea
    (pp. 206-233)

    “Multiculturalism” is a term constantly used by Canadians, and the phrase “multicultural heritage of Canadians” has been entrenched in Canada’s Constitution since 1982, but there is no consensus among either its supporters or its opponents about what “multiculturalism” actually means. It is not even clear whether the word is actually of Canadian origin, and it is certainly used nowadays in other countries, particularly in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, it should not be assumed that its meaning in those countries is identical with its meaning, or meanings, in Canada.

    Multiculturalism can be understood in at least...

  13. 10 Islamophobia
    (pp. 234-259)

    People can be suspicious of one another for a variety of reasons. Physical characteristics, especially the colour of the skin, have been a particular obsession among northern Europeans and their North American descendants and have served as a pretext for colonialism, slavery, mass murder, segregation, and restrictive immigration policies. Language, as described in chapter 8 of this book, has been, and still is, a source of conflict among various groups of North Americans, many of whom have held the view that only one language (their own) should be allowed to flourish in the province, state, or country where they live....

  14. 11 Conclusion
    (pp. 260-272)

    What have we learned from this comparative account of the North American experience with immigration and cultural diversity? Are Canada and the United States fundamentally different in their approaches to these phenomena, as many Canadians believe, or are the Canadian and American approaches essentially the same? Have the two North American federations, or either of them, been successful in integrating various minorities into their respective populations, or do they face social disintegration and disaster, as Patrick Buchanan and Samuel Huntington have suggested? Have the immigrants and minorities fared reasonably well on either side, or on both sides, of the border,...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 273-294)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-312)
  17. Index
    (pp. 313-324)