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Comparing Canada and the Americas

From Roots to Transcultural Networks

Patrick Imbert

Comparing Canada and the Americas: From Roots to Transcultural Networks covers the Americas in a comparative perspective spanning from the 19th century to the 21st century. It explores socio-cultural dynamics changing considerably in the Americas, which are progressively shedding their original fascination for Europe and slowly recognizing the importance of Indigenous, Afro-descendants, and immigrant cultures. The Americas have many dynamics in common, such as the presence of shared dualistic paradigms, like civilization/barbarism, which is a synonym for self/others. From the invention of the Nation States to globalization, the valorization of taking roots has transformed into the valorization of the legitimacy of geo-symbolic displacements. A comparative study of Canada, Quebec, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the USA reveals both the exclusions and the inclusions that, in literary, artistic, and media productions as well as political essays, are founded on the opposition between interior and exterior. The current era has seen the displacement of these oppositions within the context of the recognition of the others. This recognition is rooted in multicultural, intercultural, and transcultural perspectives. In the current networked and complex contemporary world, literary, artistic, political, and media texts go beyond dichotomous oppositions and historical master narratives legitimating exclusions. Instead, they valorize "chameleoning" and the surprise of encounters with different cultures, thus creating new perspectives linked to a techno-cultural and democratic future based on the desire to share and to belong to oneself.

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Chapter 2. Escaping From Narratives Legitimizing Exclusion

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Escaping from Narratives Legitimizing Exclusion

Escaping From Dualism and the Legitimization of the Causes of Exclusion

In the 19th century, intellectuals in the Americas were well aware of the dualistic oppositions (such as barbarity/civilization) and of their negative impact on socioeconomic organization, even if they often ended up resorting to these oppositions or were controlled intellectually by them. For instance, Francisco Bilbao affirmed that “La América vive en el dualismo. Ese dualismo es el dogma religioso, y el principio político: el catolicismo y la república.”1 He was aware that dualism hindered the development of the Americas, which should have taken into account the concepts of new and multiple situations. However, like many other thinkers aware of this problem, Bilbao proposed the imposition of a single discourse, either that of Catholicism (with all the consequences that it would entail), or “el predominio de la libertad, como en Estados Unidos. No hay otro remedio. Quered lo uno o lo otro, pero con fé, y tendremos fuerzas cómo la Rusia o cómo los Estados Unidos.”2 In other words, Bilbao wanted dualism—which he experienced as permanent contradiction, entailing constant doubt and daily struggle—to give way to a form of monism. Bilbao did not realize that any dualism devolves←67 | 68→ into monism because, as Michel Maffesoli3 points out, one of the principles inevitably dominates the other. Consequently, dualism generates exclusion by producing monism. Monism always excludes and does...

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