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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Mann, Jatinder. Title: The search for a new national identity: the rise of multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1890s–1970s / Jatinder Mann. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2016. Series: Interdisciplinary studies in diasporas; vol. 2 ISSN 2378-0975 (print) | ISSN 2378-0983 (online) Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2015047364 | ISBN 978-1-4331-3369-5 (hardcover: alkaline paper) ISBN 978-1-4539-1825-8 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Multiculturalism—Canada—History. Multiculturalism—Australia—History. National characteristics, Canadian—History. National characteristics, Australian—History. Minorities—Government policy—Canada—History. Minorities—Government policy—Australia—History. Acculturation—Canada—History. Acculturation—Australia—History. Canada—Ethnic relations—History. Australia—Ethnic relations—History. Classification: LCC F1035.A1 M356 2016 | DDC 305.800971—dc23 LC record available at

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2016 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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