Dangerousness and Difference: The Representation of Muslims within Canada's Security Discourses

Title: Dangerousness and Difference: The Representation of Muslims within Canada's Security Discourses
Authors: Slonowsky, Deborah
Date: 2012
Abstract: This paper presents the results of a critical discourse analysis of a selection of Canada’s security texts and argues that the country’s security discourses construct Muslims as dangerous and different from the normative Canadian. The research relies on a social constructionist understanding of discourse and the recognition that our state’s representatives and agents, operating from positions of discursive power, wield disproportionate influence in directing the national conversation and managing the signals that shape our social attitudes and imaginaries. By persistently qualifying terrorism with Islam, portraying the terrorist figure as a religiously and ideologically-motivated actor opposed to ‘Western values’ and by casting suspicion on the ordinary behaviour of Muslims, Canada’s security discourses produce a mental model in which Islam and its followers are associated with a propensity for terrorist violence. The discourses also naturalize the idea that Muslims are in need of surveillance, not only by the state’s agents, but by the public itself. When examined alongside a body of research illustrating Canada’s ‘visible minority’ population continues to be negatively affected by dominant group discrimination, the results of the study raise questions about the culpability of state representatives in the reproduction of ideas of difference which continue to inform the country’s social imaginary and hinder the equality and inclusivity of minority groups within the national collective.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23529
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -