Session  8: Mending and Fraying the Canadian Fabric

Neoliberal Multiculturalism to White Nationalism: Rethinking Canadian Racial Politics

Dr. Sunera Thobani

Sunera Thobani is Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her scholarship is located at the intersection of the Social Sciences and Humanities. She works within critical race, postcolonial, transnational and feminist theory; South Asian women’s, gender and sexuality studies; representations of Islam and Muslims in South Asian and Western media; Islamophobia and the war on terror; intersectionality, social movements and critical social theory; colonialism, indigeneity and racial violence; and globalization, citizenship, and migration.

The Use, and Possible Abuse, of Multiculturalism: Multiculturalism, Claims Making, & the Advancement of Group Rights

Dr. Vic Satzewich

Vic Satzewich is a professor of sociology at McMaster University and the author of a number of books and articles, including Racism in Canada (Oxford University Press Canada). He is also co-editor of Transnational Identities and Practices in Canada (UBC Press). He is past president of the Canadian Sociological Association and was awarded its Outstanding Contribution Award in 2007.

Hypocrisy or Marketing Strategy: Blacks’ Perspective on Canadian Multiculturalism

Dr. Chrislain Kenfack

The observed opposition between the official Canadian multiculturalism narratives and the dominating systemic racism is an invitation to rethink the concept of multiculturalism. In fact, the concept of multiculturality calls to mind not only the multiplicity of culture within a specific contextual setting, understood in terms of time and space, but also and above all the peaceful cohabitation and mutual respects among those various cultures. In other words, multiculturalism, cultural hegemony, cultural colonialism, and racism (understood as extreme expressions of cultural denigration of specific groups) are fundamentally antithetic. The existence of systemic racism, and specifically black racism, at virtually every sphere of Canadian society, appears to be the very solemn expression of the negation of its long chanted “multiculturalism”. My presentation, drawing from my direct involvement and lived experience as a black scholar in Canada, will question what it means for black people to live in a multicultural context. What does multiculturalism mean for a black person who, because of his blackness and cultural origin and cultural stereotyping, is regarded as a second-zone human being? What does multiculturalism mean for a black person who along the day hears culturally disrespectful expressions? Can the current struggles against racism be viewed as opportunities for Canada to rethink its multiculturalism?

Chrislain Eric Kenfack is a Killam postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. He obtained his PhD in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, in 2018. His current research focuses on environmental racism, global climate governance, climate justice and climate activism, environmental labor studies, indigenous and faith-based environmentalism in Alberta, social cohesion environmentalism, and just transition.