Brock University

Citizenship formation - the making of racialized, ethnicized, and gendered subjects I

This session is informed by a conception of citizenship formation as processes of self-making and being-made by power relations that produce regulated and hierarchical positionalities (Foucault 1989, 1991; Hall 1996; Ang and Stratton 1994; Ong 1996, 2003, 2006). The empirical focus of the session is mostly on racialized, ethnicized, gendered subjects confronting exclusionary practices. Together the papers address the following analytical themes: 1) social, cultural and political conditions in Canada or other contexts that shape citizenship formation processes through the regime of truth such as explicit and implicit racial and ethnic categories and ranking, mode and technology of power such as consent-producing rituals and rules; 2) claims to citizenship that are grounded in enduring notions of white supremacy, civilization, entrepreneurship, but also in other emerging notions of biopolitical capital such as age; 3) struggles over representations and ordering; 4) contesting, internalizing or circumventing practices of self-making in fields of power that include the state, civic institutions, and social groups; 5) pragmatic construction of belonging or solidarity.

Session Organizer: Xiaobei Chen, Carleton University,


Discovering Canada: The making of citizens

Shannon Speed, University of Waterloo,

This paper considers how “Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship,” Canada’s study guide for citizenship applicants, acts as a technology of power that facilitates self-making and being made for potential Canadians. The guide presents definite expectations for citizens that both normalises the associated practices and responsibilises citizens for their own actions. Additionally, a brief summary of Canadian history is imparted, in which current colonial concerns of race and culture are smoothed over. New Canadians are distinguished from old Canadians because of their likelihood to infringe upon national values through practices such as gender violence; subjects from ‘barbaric’ cultures are at risk to be in conflict with Canadian law. Race and ethnicity complicated by Canada’s Multiculturalism Act make subjects that are hierarchically organized even among those holding the same citizenship status. “Discover Canada” is very specific in outlining what is acceptable and unacceptable in order to be a part of the Canadian nation, creating parameters for inclusion and exclusion. Significantly, there are clear power differentials between the ‘prominent’ Canadians and citizenship organizations that helped to develop “Discover Canada,” and those using the guide to assume a new national identity.


Cultural repertoires and citizenship construction : Congolose migrants in Brussels and in Ottawa-Gatineau

Jolana Jarotkova, Department of Sociology and Anthropology University of Ottawa,

Based on a larger doctoral research work conducted in Brussels and in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, this paper wants to examine how, through practices of social participation, Congolese migrants attempt to construct themselves as citizens and to be recognized as such by their respective host societies. Social participation, as a particular way to conceptualise social engagement, is defined as “the time an individual gives to help and support people outside his or her household” (Couton & Gaudet 2008: 25) and outside the contractual (paid) framework of employment. It encompasses a variety of practices, allowing me to observe their articulations and changes. Drawing on data obtained from life stories and observations of associative (community) activities, I argue that those construction and recognition claiming processes are mediated by the place occupied by the Congolese migrants as a group in the two host societies. While in both societies, Congolese migrants encounter a racialized normative definition of citizenship (Creese 2012, Grégoire 2013), they mobilize different cultural repertoires (Lamont & Hall 2009) in their participation practices. In Belgium, the shared colonial past is mobilized for claiming a particular recognition as citizens, while in Canada, the shared immigrant status with other groups is more salient.



Multiculturalism and Identity Formation Among Second Generation Canadian Women of South Asian Origin Through Indian Classical Dance

Palak Dhiman, Carleton University,

The main research question of this article asks: what role does Indian classical dance play in the identity formation of second generation Canadian women of South Asian origin as they negotiate their identities as Canadians living in a multicultural country? The research question is analyzed through the theoretical frameworks of citizenship theory, identity theory, and Bourdieu’s notions of ‘habitus’, ‘field’, and cultural capital.  Semi-structured interviews are conducted with 14 dancers of 2 main dance styles (“Kathak” and “Bharatnatyam”) and of various ages over 18.  Findings indicate that Indian classical dance influences Canadian identity formation in 3 main ways: in the way they negotiate their identities as second generation Canadians of South Asian origin, in the way they reflect on and understand notions of what it means to ‘be Canadian,’ on what ‘Canadian culture” is and on what it means to them that Canada is a multiculturalism country, and lastly on how their unique experiences as well as their identities as Indian classical dancers influence their identities as Canadian citizens.


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