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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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“A Difference of Race”? Racializing, Difference, and Governance in British Debates About the Colony of Lower Canada, 1828-1837 (Jarett Henderson / Bettina Bradbury)


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“A Difference of Race”?

Racializing, Difference, and Governance in British Debates About the Colony of Lower Canada, 1828-1837



In the most quoted lines from his 1839 Report on the Affairs of British North America, Lord Durham explained that his tenure in Lower Canada had changed his views on the causes of dissension among the colonists. This radical, English Lord reported that he “expected to find a contest between a government and a people”. Instead, he “found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state … a struggle, not of principles, but of races”. Durham argued that the imperial parliament needed to find a way to end the “deadly animosity that separates the inhabitants of Lower Canada into the hostile divisions of French and English” (Durham, 1839, p. 6). Durham’s solution was to promote the amalgamation of those races through more intermarriage, mingling and the legislative union of the two Canadas so that the English would outweigh the French politically, and eventually numerically. Some French Canadians had long contested the idea of such a reunion. Its implementation through the Act of Union of 1841 and the content of his Report have earned Durham an infamous reputation in nationalist Quebec historical writing ever since because of the Report’s assimilationist approach, its denigration of the culture of French Canadians and his denial that the rebellions were part of a national struggle (Bernard, 1983; Ducharme,...

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