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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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Remembering Canadian Slavery. Black Subjects in Historical Quebec Art (Charmaine A. Nelson)

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Remembering Canadian Slavery

Black Subjects in Historical Quebec Art

Charmaine A. NELSON

The construction of Canada as a gendered body, victimised by external and more powerful others, creates a fiction of a homogenous and unified body, an image that elides the way the Canadian nation can victimise internal “others” on the basis of race, culture, gender or class. (Mackey, 2002, p. 12).

The transformations, translocations, exchanges and deracinations within the Atlantic world, often inhuman and degrading, are not simply historical; to enquire how the production of history and visual culture—in formulating, representing and surrogating circum-Atlantic identities—was complicit in, or resistant to, the Atlantic slave trade is still sadly relevant to the present. (Quilley & Kriz, 2003, p. 9)

Canadian history, insofar as its Black history is concerned, is a drama punctuated with disappearing acts… Black history is treated as a marginal subject. In truth, it has been bulldozed and ploughed over, slavery in particular. (Cooper, 2006, p. 7)

Each of these quotes centres the examination of Quebec art that follows. First, Mackey (2002) poses a challenge to the mainstream idea of Canada as a nation without a race problem. Contrary to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assertion that Canada has no colonial history (G20 Summit, Pittsburgh, 25 September 2009), Mackey reminds us that the erasure of Canadian colonialism and our historical heterogeneity is a dangerous manoeuvre that produces an internal racial marginalization...

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