Canadian Politics / Politique canadienne
Session: A14(a) - Political Science at the Margins: Micro-paper Roundtable
Chair/Président: Matt James (University of Victoria)
Participants & Authors/Auteurs: (Click titles for Abstract and Paper.)
Andrew (Drew) Brown (University of Alberta) : A Neurotic Nation: the 'Canadian Question' in Canadian Political Science
Abstract: What is Canada? Obsessing over our identity has been a popular exercise for Canadians going back to Confederation in 1867, and most of the ongoing political struggles in the country are rooted in trying to work out (or unilaterally impose) an answer to this question. Likewise, we can see this same anxiety over Canadian identity played out in the literature of Canadian political science. There are three visions of Canada traditionally embodied in its institutions: an imperial, British vision of 'One Canada'; the Trudeauvian vision of an individualistic and multicultural Canada; and a vision of Canada as a multinational community united in a federal system. Canada's political history-; particularly the constitutional battles of the past 50 years-is demarcated by struggles over which of these visions will define the Canadian political community. I argue that Canada is best understood as essentially multinational, giving privileged position to indigenous nations, decolonization, and popular sovereignty.
Margot Challborn (University of Alberta) : Autonomous Mothers: Freedom, Individuality, and Institutional Barriers to Parenthood
Abstract: The family, and mothers in particular, are perplexing subjects for liberal theories of freedom, individuality, and autonomy. I hypothesize that women's interconnection with children and with men in the procreative scene reveals a persistent assumption about the "natural" connection between mothers, fathers, and children - which is often reproduced in policies that assume that a particular family (nuclear) form is inevitable (Chodorow 1978) or at least desirable - and that the social norms associated with autonomy differ for women and men (Friedman 2003). As such, my research asks: if women are now understood as autonomous subjects, how is women's autonomy expressed and governed in the context of motherhood? This project explores a central conundrum in the expression of women's autonomy. On the one hand, an important outcome of feminist struggle is women's enhanced ability to shape their lives as they see fit, including whether to have children and whether to do so autonomously or with a partner. On the other hand, forms of governance ranging across the social, legal and policy realms render sole parenting a less desirable option. To explore this tension, I examine legal decisions regarding parentage, custody, and access (Zegota v. Zegota-Rzegocinski; Chartier v. Chartier; G.E.S. v. D.L.C) (Kelly 2009); social and tax programs concerning childcare, and income replacement policies, including the GST rebate, parental leave, and social assistance to test Fiona Kelly's (2009) hypothesis that the law works to maintain the nuclear family form, is resistant to "fatherless families", and has particular ideological aims.
Alexa DeGagne (University of Alberta) : Queering Political Science
Abstract: Based on my academic research, and my experiences as an activist in Edmonton's queer communities, I consider how radical and robust queer politics and activism have developed, stubbled and flourished in this notoriously conservative province, and how the discipline of Political Science can be used to understand and analyze the relationship between such radical communities and their conservative governments.
Kelly Gordon (University of Ottawa) : The Study of Gender and Ideology in Canadian Political Science
Abstract: Perhaps more so than ever before, political actors and observers understand the role and importance of women in contemporary North American politics. When even Speaker of the House John Boehner admits the GOP has a "woman problem" (HuffPost Politics December 5, 2013), it is clear that the relevance of gender and politics has become accepted by the mainstream. Despite the applied and academic interest in this area, however, many questions remain unanswered. As a discipline, mainstream Canadian political science has tended to focus on a number of key questions - primarily examining the level of participation and representation of women in formal political processes and political parties and analyzing the causal factors which explain the relative under representation of women in these domains. While this research is indispensible in mapping out the gender landscape of Canadian politics, it often falls short in explaining how gender informs Canadian politics - and specifically of interest to me, political persuasion - in more subtle and nuanced ways. Drawing on my doctoral research, this presentation will argue in favour of a more robust approach to the study of "gender" in Canadian political science. By approaching gender as socially scripted, discursively constructed, and dialectical, my presentation will highlight how the framing of gender can lead to the exclusion of women - as well as certain kinds of men - from democratic processes.
Shelley Moore (University of British Columbia) : The 'Other' Students: Students with Developmental Dis/abilities, Citizenship, and Inclusion
Abstract: Canadians have a reputation for finding strength in, and embracing, diversity - or at least, value the illusion of this reputation. The nod to diversity, however, is not reflected in many educational settings that often separate students by cognitive ability (Downing, 2008; Willis, 2007). As students with developmental disabilities (SWDD) move into secondary schools it is even less likely that they will be included into content area (CA) classes (like science, social studies, and language arts) with their peers. Instead, SWDD are typically taught in separate settings without access to CA specialists or conceptually rich curriculum (Milsom, 2006). Curiously, research indicates that SWDD provide meaningful roles in the development of empathy, acceptance, and problem solving in their peers (Copeland et al., 2004, Peck et al., 2004), and yet, SWDD are rarely integrated meaningfully in 'mainstream' classes. As a special education teacher, I see firsthand the extraordinary challenges that students, and their families, face as a result of provincial funding budget cuts to special education programs; negative moral judgments about SWDD and their abilities; and, the lack of public and government support for teachers and educational assistants in special education classrooms. I argue that in increasingly neoliberal political and economic environment, SWDD are both marginalized and constructed as citizen-others. Drawing on debates in education, political science, public policy studies, and my own experiences as a teacher, I test Engin Isin's (1999) categories of citizenship in the context how SWDD are produced as 'others' in their classrooms.
Daisy Raphael (University of Alberta) : Belonging, Race and Nation in Canadian Political Science
Abstract: Centring marginalized voices within the discipline, I foreground questions of race, Indigeneity, gender, and sexuality in this discussion of the state of the field of Canadian political science (CPS). By foregrounding race, I imply that the concept is key to current issues and debates in the field. To the contrary, critical-race scholars have demonstrated a lack of attention to race in CPS. I argue, however, that in the face of a growing body of literature that raises important questions surrounding race, nation, and belonging in Canada, CPS scholars can no longer feasibly ignore race. More broadly, I argue that the notion of national belonging is at the centre of key issues and debates in the field. To note that a field that names as its focus the nation-state centres on national belonging is uncontroversial and, perhaps, self-evident. Yet, I argue that this question of belonging has often been underlying, subsumed beneath CPS's traditional focus on questions of state over those of nation. In this analysis of the state of the field of CPS, I adopt an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon scholarship from within the "mainstream" of the discipline, but also from History, Canadian Studies, Philosophy, Law, Sociology, Gender Studies, and from political activists. This interdisciplinary approach, I contend, is not only reflective of much contemporary feminist, anti-colonial, critical-race, and queer CPS scholarship but also of a broad, feminist conception of what constitutes 'the political'.
Lena Saleh (Carleton University) : Popular Identities: Popular Culture and Identity Politics in the Muslim World
Abstract: Every political question can be reduced to questions of who 'we' are, who 'others' are, and how these differing conceptions of identity shape human interaction. This understanding of the political world has served to inspire my graduate research. While the study of identity may not be entirely marginalized within political science, the locales in which political scientists have chosen to engage it certainly are, often confining identity to studies of formal political systems, voter behavior, and civil rights. My own research, however, highlights the production (and re-production) of identity in unconventional locales outside the realm of formal, institutionalized politics and within the realm of popular culture. My M.A. thesis examined an articulation of Arab-Muslim feminine identity contained within the 'Muslim Barbie' doll, Fulla. I argued that Fulla served as an example of the process of 'creolization,' whereby non-Western peoples transform Western-made consumer goods into new products more hospitable to local customs and traditions. My research further connected Fulla to processes of primary socialization and nation building in the Arab world. Building on this, my current research examines the Pakistani cartoon program, Burka Avenger, and its reproduction of Pakistani national identity and critical response to the Pakistani Taliban's stance against female education. By locating and engaging identity in popular culture, political scientists can not only 'open up' our understanding of what constitutes the 'political,' but also produce knowledge with a more direct and genuine connection to the very individuals, groups, and cultures we endeavor to understand.
Maya Seshia (University of Alberta) : Racialized Territorial Foreignness: The Case of Air India
Abstract: This presentation, which is part of the micro-paper roundtable entitled "Political Science at the Margins", examines what the 1985 Air India bombings reveal about nation, race, citizenship, and territory. The research questions ask: What does Air India reveal about the relationship among nation, race, citizenship, and territory? How does the articulation of nation, race, citizenship, and territory shift over time? In this presentation I explore the term 'racialized territorial foreigness'. Racialized territorial foreignness is a process of meaning making which associates certain people of certain 'races' to particular territorial places. This racial spatial logic results in a colour-coded mapping of the world, a mapping that fuses certain populations to particular territorial places whilst simultaneously invisibilizing Indigenous peoples' territorial ties. I argue that in order to critically and comprehensively understand Canada's reactions and responses to the Air India catastrophe we must account for processes of racialized territorial foreignness. Cutting edge research on foreignness exists; yet, few academic studies interrogate how notions of citizenship collide with notions of nation, 'race', foreignness, and territory. The study of Canadian Politics, and the very discipline of Political Science, overtly and covertly pivots on these concepts; however, critical inquiries on 'race', foreignness, and territory continue to reside on the margins of the discipline. The centrality these concepts play in real world politics, as well as the discipline of political science, is persistently ignored by mainstream scholarship. This presentation aims to interrogate this marginalization. It is hoped that this discussion will contribute to innovative thinking on nation, race, citizenship, territory, foreignness and the study of political science.
Leigh Anne Spanner (University of Alberta) : Politicizing the Plate: Feminism and Food
Abstract: This paper employs a feminist lens to interrogate the ways food and food processes are inherently political. Rather than being private, individual and apolitical, food and food processes are deeply imbedded in the politics of gender identity, the internal dynamics of the family, and the structure of the global political economy. *Please note that this paper is intended to be presented in the micro-paper round table entitled "Political science at the margins"