Divided Cities: Governing Diversity

Divided Cities: Governing Diversity


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Combining peace and conflict studies with public administration research, Divided Cities critically investigates the roles of public administration and civil servants in resolving issues that are potentially conflictual in divided societies. Zooming in on nine cities with very different legacies and democratic development—Copenhagen, Malmö, Toronto, Belfast, Mostar, Cape Town, Mitrovica, Nicosia, and Jerusalem—the contributors analyze the tools, strategies, and understandings of conflict resolution that are available in different stages between conflict and stability. Exploring how contested issues have been addressed, by whom, and to what effect, this collection of essays examines how public institutions and citizens have interacted to agree on the best course of action for progress in their respective cities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789187675454
Publisher: Nordic Academic Press
Publication date: 07/01/2015
Edition description: None
Pages: 275
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Annika Björkdahl is a professor of political science at Lund University and the editor in chief of Cooperation and Conflict. She is the author of Rethinking Peacebuilding: The Quest for Just Peace in the Middle East and the Western Balkans and War and Peace in Transition, and her work has been published in the Journal of European Public, Peace and Change, and Security Dialogue, among other publications. Lisa Strömbom is an assistant professor of political science at Lund University, where she serves as the director for peace and conflict studies, and is currently part of the editorial team for Cooperation and Conflict. She is the author of Israeli Identity, Thick Recognition and Conflict Transformation, and her work has been published in journals including European Journal of International Relations, the European Legacy, Mediterranean Politics, and Peacebuilding.

Read an Excerpt

Divided Cities

Governing Diversity

By Annika Björkdahl, Lisa Strömbom

Nordic Academic Press

Copyright © 2015 Nordic Academic Press and the authors
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-91-87675-45-4


The 'good enough' multicultural city?

Managing diversity in Toronto

Neil Bradford & Paul Nesbitt-Larking

Toronto enjoys a global reputation as a liveable and diverse multi-cultural city. In contrast with many of the other cities under consideration in this volume, such a generalisation seems reasonable, even if in need of qualification. Despite its origins as an outpost of the British Empire – its dominant white Anglo-Saxon Protestant character once led people to refer to it as 'the Belfast of Canada' (Goonewardena and Kipfer, 2005: 670) – the city has emerged in the post-Second World War era as a fundamentally well-functioning polity that embraces its own diversity. Toronto's official city motto is 'Diversity is Our Strength'. Unlike other cities under consideration here, there are no walls between neighbourhoods, no communities divided in parallel societies through long-standing and intractable conflicts, and there are no ethno-racial or religious ghettoes or townships. As with English Canada in general, Toronto has experienced an anxious search for identity, a collective need for reassurance that it is considered by others to be a 'world-class city'. It is this very cultural lacuna, this sense of openness and possibility in which everyone is an immigrant, along with the associated impossibility of any claims to cultural hegemony among the communities of Toronto, that conditions the possibility for rich civic solutions to those tensions that inevitably arise across the city. Where no ideology or creed can claim hegemony and where representation is balanced by justice and the rule of law, politics is the pragmatic, incremental, and often messy process of coming to collective decision. Our central claim is that it is precisely this style of accommodative and pragmatic incrementalism that characterises how Toronto deals with settlement and immigration as 'the good enough multicultural city'.

In this chapter, we provide an outline of how political actors in contemporary Toronto have come to recognise the conflicts and respond to the challenges of living with increasing diversity. In so doing, we argue that the particularity of the Toronto experience, and the roots of its relative success in expressing and managing difference, reside in a dynamic interplay among three modes of collective action crossing state and societal boundaries in the city. First, local political and economic elites have practised a self-reflexive construction of multiculturalism as a core component of Toronto's civic identity. Second, municipal administrators and community organisations have partnered to institutionalise this identity through policy innovations, facilitating progress for newcomers or at least limiting their exclusion and marginalisation. Third, efforts at multilevel collaboration among federal, provincial, and municipal representatives have evolved an inter-governmental framework to support multiculturalism through investment and regulation. To characterise Toronto from the perspective of settlement and integration as a 'contested city' is to misrecognise the way politics and governance have been operative in the city. As we shall see, Toronto has its share of prejudice, ethno-racial discrimination, and inter-community tensions that are incipient sources of conflict. The fact that these have not erupted into matters of contestation is testimony to the range of interventions that have taken place at all levels of the polity. In making this argument, we must be clear that Toronto has not 'figured out' multiculturalism. Rather, our position is that Toronto's multi-pronged engagement with diversity meets a standard of civic commitment, institutional innovation, and policy performance that is usefully labelled 'good enough'. In the good enough city, structural conflicts rooted in the economy or demography do not disappear, but their destructive impacts on community are mitigated through strategic intervention. Conflicts are constructed politically as challenges: complex and urgent, but amenable to pragmatic problem-solving on the part of efficacious organisational actors and a mobilised citizenry. Toronto's success as a good enough multicultural city relies on the daily hard work of complex networks of people as well as the vigilance of those whose institutional and associational positions allow them to monitor conflicts and take action.

The chapter is organised in three parts. We begin with a contextual discussion of multiculturalism in English Canada, underscoring how issues of diversity and the management of ethno-racial conflict increasingly find their most profound expression in the country's largest metropolitan centres, where the overwhelming majority of immigrants choose to settle. Analyses of Canadian multiculturalism must now link national and urban scales, and we make the connection by exploring how the ideals and federal frameworks of Canadian multiculturalism actually play out on the ground in cities through intercultural practices that variously engage diverse communities and residents in immigrant settlement work. This section introduces our own theoretical and empirical extension of approaches to multiculturalism in the context of innovative urban institutional and community practices – a theme which we extend throughout the chapter. Reviewing controversies surrounding the decentralisation and devolution in federal immigration policy, the second section of the chapter uses the concepts of recognition, redistribution, and representation to interpret several decades of diversity work in Toronto. Tracking innovations across municipal administrations, civic networks, and inter-governmental relations, we conclude that the city's overall performance has been good enough. Of course, the viability of Toronto's pragmatic and incremental approach is always an open question, dependent on the goodwill and motivation of multiple actors. The chapter's closing section points to an uncertain future in a shifting political and policy environment.

Multiculturalism in Canada – national policy, local practice

Canada is a country long viewed as an exception to the now-familiar 'crisis of multiculturalism' trope (Biles, Burstein and Frideres, 2008). One of the world's most diverse nation-states, Canada has been an immigrant society open to new arrivals from a wide range of places and cultures. It is often held up as a model of a vibrant multicultural nation-state, managing a complex equilibrium between diversity and unity. The Canadian ideal of multiculturalism places ethno-cultural diversity at the heart of society and envisions a political community where all citizens, no matter their origins, can express their traditions or values without discrimination as long as these practices do not infringe constitutionally protected individual rights. While there have been critical accounts of the multicultural vision and immigration experience, revealing their racist and classist strains (Henry and Tator, 2009; Triadafilopoulos, 2012), a Canadian nation-building narrative has evolved not simply about accommodating multiple identities, but celebrating such differences as a source of cultural vitality and economic productivity.

Canada's approach to multiculturalism emerged in the early 1970s, as immigration flows to Canada grew rapidly and began to include substantial numbers of non-Europeans. In this period, the federal government officially overhauled an outdated image of Canada as a British colony, asserting a revamped national identity more in tune with the country's cultural make-up and responding to new political movements. The 1971 federal multicultural policy statement set out the principals and goals: the recognition and accommodation of cultural diversity; the removal of barriers to participation by new Canadians; the promotion of intercultural exchange and acquisition of official languages. From its origins as public policy, multiculturalism was envisaged as a matter of co-operation, collaboration, and communication among various communities as a project of civic nationalism as well as the granting of collective rights to specified communities. The 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirmed the national value of multiculturalism and extended protections against discrimination through affirmative action for racial and cultural minority groups. In 1988, the Mulroney Conservative government legislated the commitments with passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

While Canada receives relatively few refugees and asylum seekers (20,461 in 2012 – see CIC, 2012), it is among the countries with the highest levels of immigration. Over the past three decades, Canada's immigration profile has shifted to predominantly non-white immigration from the Global South. This has led to a series of settlement and integration challenges. Economic outcomes among recent newcomers, especially racial minorities, have been declining. They have been working in occupations below their skill levels and experience, despite having higher levels of education than earlier immigrant cohorts (Sweetman and Warren, 2008). Unemployment rates for recent immigrants (those arriving after 2001) now hover around twice that of Canadian-born residents, while income levels of university-educated immigrants are less than half that of their Canadian-born counterparts. A further challenge is that immigrant settlement has become overwhelmingly metropolitan. In recent decades, two-thirds of all newcomers to Canada landed in the three largest cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver (FCM, 2011). There has been a significant increase in racial minorities in the largest Canadian cities, and a growing spatial concentration of immigrants in high-poverty neighbourhoods (Heisz and Macleod, 2004; Walks and Bourne, 2006). While researchers agree there is not yet evidence of ethno-racial ghettos in Canadian city-regions (Walks, 2014), the problems of social exclusion are evident as newcomers find themselves isolated not only from economic opportunity, but also other forms of civic and social engagement crucial to the sense of belonging (Andrew et al., 2008). Political representation at federal, provincial, and municipal levels in the large Canadian cities dramatically under-represents visible minorities (Andrew et al., 2008). The immigrant settlement sector is called on to deliver comprehensive and customised services to increasingly diverse population groups. Added to these factors, immigration to Canada has taken place in an increasingly securitised global environment, which has resulted in a hardening of borders and an essentialisation of political identities (Nesbitt-Larking, 2015).

The federal government has not been passive in the face of these trends and forces. Beginning in the 1990s, Ottawa introduced significant adaptations to the multicultural framework. A major thrust involved governance arrangements, specifically federal decentralisation of immigration policy authority and responsibility to the provinces, with new opportunities for consultation with municipalities, employers, and settlement sector organisations (Bradford and Andrew, 2011; Seidle, 2010). Given the centrality of multiculturalism to Canadian politics and policy, it is hardly surprising that these shifts in authority and responsibility attracted considerable attention from both diversity scholars and immigrant settlement networks (Stasiulis et al., 2011). Official federal discourse proposed that greater provincial responsibility and community involvement could better align settlement services with regional and local labour markets, while also facilitating immigrant access to provincially controlled social programmes and municipal services crucial to integration. But larger questions remained about whether provincialisation or localisation constituted an appropriate response. Two quite divergent responses emerged.

Those scholars critical of neoliberalism saw in decentralisation an offloading of federal responsibilities for Canadian well-being and unity either to weakly equipped local actors or to power-building provinces ready to divert resources away from immigrant needs toward other regional priorities, resulting in a patchwork of services across the country, threatening pan-Canadian citizenship rights (Kent, 2010: 1; Richmond and Shields, 2004; Scott, 2003).

Certain liberal scholars regarded the same decentralisation and devolution differently through the lens of the new localism, focusing on a mobilised civil society ready to emerge from the shadow of the central state (Broadbent, 2009; Stren and Polèse 2000). Guided by the subsidiarity principle, the new localism privileged the informal knowledge of residents over the technical knowledge of governments. They argued that decisions about resources and services should be made by representative community networks and municipal bodies, expressing direct citizen engagement. Advocates of the new localism called for a 'double devolution' moving federal authority downwards, through provinces to local communities (External Advisory Committee, 2006).

From national multiculturalism to local interculturalism

The critique of neoliberalism and celebration of new localism are polarised. Supporters of each tend to talk past one another. In Canadian multicultural debates, a middle ground has emerged (Kymlicka, 2003; Sandercock, 2004), connecting multiculturalism at the level of the nation-state (constitutions, institutions, laws) with interculturalism at the level of the individual citizen (knowledge, dispositions, practices). Arguing that the multicultural state must be built and maintained through intercultural citizenship, Kymlicka suggests that Canadian policy and practice have drifted apart (Kymlicka, 2003: 156). The result is a multicultural state wherein groups live a kind of parallel co-existence with insufficient interaction or opportunity for mutual learning. 'The state', Kymlicka observes 'has become more just, inclusive and accommodating, but inter-group relations remain divided and strained' (Kymlicka, 2003: 156). National laws, principles, and symbols are not sufficiently embedded in the day-to-day interactions of individuals and routines of organisations (Sandercock, 2004).

Kymlicka emphasises the need for citizens to practice their inter-cultural skills to 'become comfortable dealing with diversity in his or her individual interactions' (Kymlicka, 2003: 158). The focus should be on pragmatic problem-solving among neighbouring groups in localised settings, grounded in everyday challenges that immigrants face in adapting to their new societies including employment and educational opportunity, affordable housing, and transportation. By focusing efforts on feasible goals, different groups build trust through the small victories of tangible joint solutions. While local interculturalism may appear prosaic, its significance resides in the opportunities for dialogue and engagement that give meaning to the high ideals of national multiculturalism. Given the overwhelmingly urban nature of immigrant settlement in Canada, it is in the largest cities where intercultural problem-solving most needs to happen (Richmond and Omvidar, 2003).

From this perspective, we recast the polarised debates about the 'local turn' in Canadian multicultural policy. Beyond the optimism of the new localism and the pessimism of the critique of neoliberalism, a pragmatic set of questions arises about intercultural relations. Are municipal governments, on the front lines of immigrant settlement, implementing their own diversity agenda to recognise newcomer needs? Are local institutions available to engage immigrant organisations and host communities in removing obstacles to inclusion in housing or labour markets? Are federal and provincial governments adequately representing diverse communities in their efforts to find policy solutions? Put simply, the lines of contestation in large-scale immigration and integration in cities such as Toronto are those to do with the politics of recognition (cultural, symbolic, and status-related matters associated with racism, discrimination based on ethnic group, and associated policy challenges in civic spaces including workplaces, housing, and schools); matters of economic equity and redistribution (job-related and credential-related challenges of income, workplace equity, and ethno-racial inequality); and ethno-racial representation (the degree to which ethno-racial minorities are present as candidates, elected officials, public servants, and activist citizens). In practice, of course, the individual challenges – and the opportunities – are interdependent and mutually reinforcing (Fraser, 2000, 2007). The consequences of growing economic inequality among ethno-racial groups accentuate a range of social problems and cultural exclusions. Newcomers most in need of community support and political representation lack the resources or networks to ensure voice, opportunity, and rights. Viewed relationally, then, recognition, redistribution, and representation enable analyses of whether localised policy and governance deliver greater responsiveness to diversity or mask a withdrawal from state responsibility that intensifies the vulnerability of newcomers (Richmond and Omvidar, 2003).


Excerpted from Divided Cities by Annika Björkdahl, Lisa Strömbom. Copyright © 2015 Nordic Academic Press and the authors. Excerpted by permission of Nordic Academic Press.
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Table of Contents

About the Authors 7

List of abbreviations 11

Acknowledgements 13

Introduction - Governing contested issues in divided cities Merging conflict resolution and public administration Annika Björkdahl Lisa Strömbom 15

I Consolidated Democracies

1 The 'good enough' multicultural city? Managing diversity in Toronto Neil Bradford Paul Nesbitt-Larking 41

2 Multiple meetings in Malmö; The challenges of integrative leaders in local integration Birgitte Poulsen 63

3 'Wonderful' Copenhagen Coping with segregation and ghettoisation Annika Agger 87

II Consolidating Democracies

4 'Two schools under one roof': Unification in the divided city of Mostar Annika Björkdahl 109

5 Retelling the city: Competing spaces of social engagement in Cape Town Stefanie Kappler 131

6 Belfast - Troubles after the Troubles? Tomas Bergström 151

III Unconsolidated Democracies

7 Resistance in divided Jerusalem: Contesting urban planning policy Lisa Strömbom 175

8 Nicosia Master Plan: Planning across the divide Anita Bakshi 197

9 Contested democrac(ies): Disentangling understandings of democratic governance in Mitrovica Ivan Gusic 215

Conclusion - Contestation in divided cities Annika Björkdahl Lisa Strömbom 235

References 247

Index 269

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