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Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Daniel Coleman

Language

English

Abstract

Canadian multicultural policy today serves to define Canadian national identity to both its citizens and the international community at large. In 1971, the federal government officially began to implement an ideology of cultural pluralism, which today serves to guide all Canadian policies, program initiatives, and laws. But while Canada enjoys a reputation as a country free from the racism plaguing the United States and other competing Western nations, numerous activists, academics, historians and politicians have questioned official multiculturalism's ability to truly eradicate racism. In fact, they
argue, the policy has quite the opposite effect, entrenching racist ideology under a veneer of liberal inclusion, and masking the asymmetrical relations of power governing
interaction between whites and non-whites in this country.

While several excellent materialist criticisms of Canadian multiculturalism are available today, these studies have confined their analyses for the most pati to structural forms of racism engendered through legislative and popular discourses. This study seeks to build upon the work begun by these theorists by offering an analysis of the psychic or affective effects of racism upon racialized minority subjects and a reconsideration of the way in which marginal subjectivities are engendered through racist discourses. In order to achieve this end, this study traces the history of legislative and popular racism against a particularly marginalized ethnic group, the Chinese, from their arrival in the midnineteenth century up to their current position in multicultural Canada. In order to explore fully the psychic dimensions of racism, this study also includes an examination of select Chinese Canadian literature in English by Wayson Choy and Fred Wah. These texts not only lend voice to the history of exclusion faced by the Chinese in Canada, but theorize about alternative hybrid subjectivities that offer both sites of individual and cultural expression, and valuable anti-racist politics.

McMaster University Library

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