Apr. 2nd, 2013

ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
I recently read a report by a group of Canadian academics and community activists on immigration and citizenship policy in the post-9/11 period, called Security and Immigration, Changes and Challenges: Immigrant and Ethnic Communities in Atlantic Canada, Presumed Guilty? (link to PDF). It was an enlightening report, not merely because I know next to nothing about Atlantic Canada. (Let's be real: like most North Americans, my mental image of Canada basically stops at Montreal, and east of that point I have only a vague notion of bears, trees, and Anne of Green Gables.) Much of what was in the report was profoundly similar to immigration politics and policy in the past decade-and-change in the US: Muslim and Arab communities being targeted for state surveillance, an increased securitization of migration policy, and anxiety from migrant communities about what future changes will mean for their ability to remain in Canada, or remain in status.

However, there was an angle that was new to me: the context of the US/Canada relationship. One of the major complaints of the immigrants and immigrant service organizations surveyed by the team was that Canadian immigration policy was becoming more like the US's during this decade. This was particularly disheartening because these new Canadians defined themselves as Canadians-not-Americans. Canada was not supposed to act like the US; it was supposed to prioritize human security and human rights, both in its migration policy and in its treatment of immigrants once they arrive in Canada.

The framework in which I locate my work is that of transnational migration, meaning not just migration that crosses international borders, but migration where people, ideas, and material goods flow back and forth between 'sending countries' and 'receiving countries.' However, this report suggests the importance of third-party countries to migrants' understanding of their own political movements and frameworks. They don't merely form the discourses that structure their political actions from the dialogical relationship between their experiences 'back home' and their experiences in diaspora; instead, they imagine other interlocutors against whom they define their discourses. This is new to me in the literature on transnational migration (which, incidentally, isn't the perspective this report takes--it's firmly rooted in domestic Canadian politics). I'd posit that this is because the literature on transnational migration has been largely about US/Latin America migratory circuits--and that American politics doesn't, very often, define itself against politics in other countries, certainly not the way that Canadian politics positions itself against US politics.

The report also deals in a very interesting way with how freedom is defined and understood by members of Atlantic Canadian immigrant communities; the researchers aimed to elicit meaningful definitions of freedom from their participants, and paint a picture of a very substantive working notion of freedom, which emphasizes fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of movement. It would be interesting to develop a comparative notion of how freedom is defined among dominant and subaltern communities in the US and Canada, considering how both countries make 'freedom' central to self-development.

In any case, I recommend the report if you're interested in ethnic politics in Canada, or broadening your lens on the security state and migration policy outside of either a Eurocentric or American lens. It also has an excellent methods section, which is clear, detailed, and explains enough to really ensure that readers who care about methods understand how the data was collected.


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

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