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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec


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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Anthropology and the Study of Ethnicity in Quebec (Deirdre Meintel)


← 78 | 79 →

Anthropology and the Study of Ethnicity in Quebec


Anthropology has long been associated with studies of remote, homogeneous societies such that, in Canada, they are allied with studies of the Inuit (Balikci, 1989) and other First Nations, such as the James Bay Cree (Salisbury, 1986) rather than with urban ethnic groups. Yet anthropologists have been turning their attention to contemporary societies for quite some time; for example, in 1939 the American anthropologist Horace Miner published an ethnography of the Québec village of St. Denis1. Even in contemporary societies, it has been more usual for anthropologists to study ethnicity elsewhere in the world rather than in their own society. For instance, the Swedish anthropologist, Ulf Hannerz, known for his work on globalization and culture, began his career with the study of Black culture in the U.S. (Hannerz, 2004/1969).

Today anthropologists remain something of a minority in the field called “Ethnic Studies” in Quebec, as elsewhere, apart from several notable exceptions such as Denise Helly and Micheline Labelle. Among younger cohorts, one notes the works of Josiane Le Gall, Mauro Peressini and several others cited herein. Nonetheless, as I will try to show in the pages that follow, certain attributes that distinguish anthropology as a discipline among the social sciences have allowed it to make important contributions to the study of ethnicity in complex societies that are relevant for Quebec and the rest of Canada as well. ← 79 | 80...

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