Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Theorizing "multicultural" identity has only just begun. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act, passed in July 1988, officially recognizes and promotes the pluri-ethnic composition of Canadian society. The popular assumption that ethnicity and culture might be vital influences on the development of identity has prompted the recent effort by sociologists, politicians and literary critics to outline the manner in which multiculturalism, having first flourished within a relatively weak national identity, might tum around and strengthen the nation's identity with a distinctive, pluralist agenda. Linda Hutcheon's postmodem theory of multicultural identity focuses on the "differences" generated by the ethnic and cultural dialogue that is an inherent condition of a multicultural society, differences that prevent the nation from forming, in postmodem terms, a necessarily exclusive "master-narrative" of cultural identity. Hutcheon's understanding of the aims of multiculturalism differ from the aims described in federal policy which focus, rather, on developing a sense of national unity within cultural and ethnic diversity. This discrepancy suggests room for debate and a need to expose clearly the principles that might underlie a theory of multicultural identity. Postmodemism is first and foremost a theory of "difference" and not a theory of identity. As such it indiscriminately subjects all discourse, including discourses of national and individual identity, and even the very belief in stable, centred identity, to a self-conscious process of deconstruction or, in other words, to a process that demands recognition of "different" ways of seeing the world. After examining the effects of postmodem identity on Daisy Goodwill in Carol Shields's novel The Stone Diaries, it is possible to conclude that, while postmodernism fosters a healthy cultural and ethnic exchange at the national level, it ironically obscures cultural and ethnic roots at the individual level and exposes the individual to the threat of isolation and meaninglessness.
Evans, Sara Megan, "Toward a Posttmodern Multiculturalism?: Issues of Identity in Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6709.
McMaster University Library