Producing the Whitestream: Micropolitics and the Persistence of Colonialism in Canada

Title: Producing the Whitestream: Micropolitics and the Persistence of Colonialism in Canada
Authors: Krebs, Andreas
Date: 2011
Abstract: This thesis examines how colonialism shapes the contemporary political landscape in Canada, particularly the daily life of mainstream citizens. I hold that colonialism lies at the root of contemporary issues of identity, diversity, pluralism, multiculturalism, citizenship and belonging in Canada. Canadian scholarly work has examined the problem of colonialism in relation to history, theory, and in terms of justice and the law. However, most of these perspectives disregard the importance of colonialism as a lived experience, and have difficulty explaining its persistence after having been abandoned as official state ideology, following the advent of modern treaties and land claims, the entrenchment of Aboriginal Rights in the Constitution, and the official policy of multiculturalism. Contrary to the dominant trend in this scholarship, colonialism persists in Canadian political life and manifests itself in a variety of ways. To this end, this thesis explores both the reproduction and transformation of colonialism in Canada, arguing that micropolitical processes of subject formation embed colonialism within the Canadian social and political fabric, reproducing the mainstream as a whitestream. I examine these processes through three sites: talk radio, humour, and sport, focusing particularly on how these sites maintain the dominance of the white, male, anglophone subject position. First, I analyze how two nationally broadcast programs with opposing political perspectives -- Sounds Like Canada and Adler Online -- mobilize sympathy and outrage, and how the production of these affective states reinforces a colonial perspective. Next I examine both popular and academic literature and media relating to hockey in Canada. Discourse on hockey in Canada embodies the nation as white and male, positioning history in terms of nostalgia, and space in terms of recreation. Finally, I analyze a series of in-depth interviews with white, male anglophones focusing on how they practice and experience "disparagement humour" in their daily lives. I examine the form that disparagement humour takes in an era marked by official multiculturalism, and how such humour may both reinforce and undermine the persistence of colonialism. I conclude with a discussion linking James Tully's democratic constitutionalism to the Deleuzian concept of the encounter, arguing that micropolitical techniques of the self enable an unsettling of the violence of colonialism.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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