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The House of Difference: Cultural Politics and National Identity in Canada

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Overview

The unexpected global rise of intolerant nationalism at the end of the twentieth century has received much attention, and yet intolerance also manifests itself in more subtle ways, even in nations such as Canada, with its mythologized history of tolerance and its official policies of multiculturalism. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with white Canadians and government bureaucrats, as well as an in-depth analysis of national identity and its construction, Mackey explores ideas of racial and cultural difference, multiculturalism, and pluralism. She argues that official policies and attitudes of multicultural 'tolerance' for 'others' reinforce the dominant Anglo-Canadian culture by abducting the cultures of minority groups, pressing them into the service of nation-building without promoting genuine respect or autonomy. The book also contributes to an understanding of how official 'multicultural tolerance' has contributed to the rise of the new right in recent years. Mapping the contradictions and ambiguities in the cultural politics of Canadian identity, The House of Difference opens up new understandings of the operations of 'tolerance' and western liberalism in a supposedly post-colonial era.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Despite its vaunted tolerance, Canada is not immune to the bigotry exemplified by extreme nationalism. Even national forums like Expo 67 serve as majority "pedagogies of patriotism" according to Mackey (cultural anthropology, Charles Sturt U., Australia), who pairs interviews with white Canadians with an analysis of the country's development. In deconstructing the "Benevolent Mountie Myth" (represented on the cover), the author argues that official support of pluralism actually serves to reinforce Anglo-Canadian identity as per a World War I Canadian Patriotic fund poster quoting an Indian: "My skin is dark but my heart is white ...." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802084811
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 6/8/2002
  • Series: Anthropological Horizons Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Eva Mackey is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University.
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Table of Contents

List of figures
Acknowledgements
1 Introduction: unsettling differences: origins, methods, frameworks 1
2 Settling differences: managing and representing people and land in the Canadian national project 23
3 Managing the house of difference: official multiculturalism 50
4 Becoming indigenous: cultural difference, land and narratives of nationhood 71
5 Localising strategies: celebrating Canada 91
6 Crisis in the house: the constitution, celebrations and 'populism' 107
7 The 'bottom line': 'Canada first' and the limits of liberalism 141
Notes 168
Bibliography 176
Index 191
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