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The Search for a New National Identity

The Rise of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1890s–1970s


Jatinder Mann

This book explores the profound social, cultural, and political changes that affected the way in which Canadians and Australians defined themselves as a «people» from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. Taking as its central theme the way each country responded to the introduction of new migrants, the book asks a key historical question: why and how did multiculturalism replace Britishness as the defining idea of community for English-speaking Canada and Australia, and what does this say about their respective experiences of nationalism in the twentieth century? The book begins from a simple premise – namely, that the path towards the adoption of multiculturalism as the orthodox way of defining national community in English-speaking Canada and Australia in the latter half of the twentieth century was both uncertain and unsteady. It followed a period in which both nations had looked first and foremost to Britain to define their national self-image. In both nations, however, following the breakdown of their more formal and institutional ties to the ‘mother-country’ in the post-war period there was a crisis of national meaning, and policy makers and politicians moved quickly to fill the void with a new idea of the nation, one that was the very antithesis to the White, monolithic idea of Britishness. This book will be useful for both history and politics courses in Australia and Canada, as well as internationally.
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The writing of this book has been a journey that has taken place in different countries and continents, and I would like to thank those who have supported me throughout this venture. This book grew out of my doctoral thesis, which extended into further research on the themes explored herein. I thank Peter Lang Publishing for agreeing to publish my monograph, and in particular I acknowledge the support received from Michelle Salyga as well as Jackie Pavlovic. Additionally, I thank the editors of the series, “Interdisciplinary Studies in Diaspora,” Professors Irene Maria F. Blayer and Dulce Maria Scott, for their guidance and inclusion of this book in the series. I also thank the Foundation for Canadian Studies in the UK for their generous subvention, which contributed to the publication of this monograph.

An article based on Chapter One entitled “‘Anglo-Conformity’: Assimilation policy in Canada, 1890s–1950s” was published in the International Journal of Canadian Studies. An article based on Chapter Five entitled “‘Leaving British Traditions’: Integration Policy in Australia, 1962–1972” was published in the Australian Journal of Politics and History. An article based on parts of Chapters Three, Six and Nine entitled “The Introduction of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1960s–1970s” was published in Nations and Nationalism. I would ← xi | xii → like to thank the publishers of these three journals for their permission to publish these sections of the book.

I owe thanks to many people and institutions for their assistance during...

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