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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec

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Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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Introduction. Approaches to the Study of Ethnicity, Belonging and Diversity (Danielle Juteau)

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Introduction

Approaches to the Study of Ethnicity, Belonging and Diversity

Danielle JUTEAU

The following articles on the study of ethnicity, belonging and diversity in Quebec adopt, predictably enough, different viewpoints. History, anthropology, sociology, each discipline entertains a particular relation to this elusive object, carrying its own box of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological tools. Moreover, each author has examined the study of ethnicity through her own lens: the historian provides a broad historiography of the field, the anthropologist outlines how the holistic approach characteristic of anthropology offers a specific contribution to the understanding of ethnicity, both overall and in Quebec, while the sociologist argues that a critical epistemic project is essential to ethnic studies, a sine qua non of its relevance.

Yet, over and above the differences between the disciplines, what strikes me are their commonalities, which I will discuss and seek to explain. By locating their findings within a broader historical and political context, I will indicate how the study of ethnicity constitutes a discursive formation that cannot be disassociated from its material underpinnings.

Specificities and Commonalities

It is worth mentioning that none of the authors attempts to define ethnicity and ethnic group as concepts and contested sites, nor do they address the fuzziness that often besets them. Furthermore, these articles on the study of belonging, diversity and ethnicity in Quebec focus mostly on how it has evolved in Francophone Quebec, the Anglophone literature...

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