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Xenoracism and the Crisis of Multiculturalism: Is Canada Exempt? Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McCoy, John S.
Supervisor and department
W. Andy Knight
Examining committee member and department
Mahdavi, Mojtaba, Department of Political Science
Knight, W. Andy Department of Political Science
Haggerty, Kevin, Department of Sociology
Castro-Rea, Julian, Department of Political Science
Foster, Cecil, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
“Multiculturalism” is in crisis, or so we are told by some of the world’s most powerful political leaders. According to the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, multiculturalism has “failed utterly”; for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, the “doctrine of state multiculturalism” has not only failed as public policy but has also opened a space in which extremism can flourish among minority communities. Alana Lentin & Gavin Titley (2011) have described this narrative as the “crisis of multiculturalism”; Paul Ryan (2010) as “multicultiphobia”; Ben Pitcher (2009), Geoffrey Levey and Tariq Modood (2009) have carried out similar studies. According to Liz Fekete (2009) and her associate Ambalavaner Sivanandan of the London based Institute of Race Relations, such narratives are “shot through” with institutionalized racism – or, as they have conceptualized it - xenoracism. It is a form of racism situated in what is presented publically as concerns over public security and the social threat of non-integrated minorities. In this ideology newcomers and even long-standing residents are portrayed as “the enemy within”, under the re-imagined “monocultural” state. To date, a majority of the scholarly work in this area has taken place in the context of Europe. Recognizing the potential interconnection between xenoracism that targets Muslim communities and the crisis of multiculturalism narrative, this dissertation will seek to critically examine these trends in the state that first adopted state multiculturalism – Canada. The dissertation will explore the life experiences of the primary target of xenoracism - Muslims - and through doing so critically examine what has been portrayed as the relative success of the Canadian model of state multiculturalism. It will pose the following question: Is xenoracism that targets Muslims present in Canada, and what can the life experiences of Canadian Muslims tell us about the relative success of state multiculturalism in Canada?
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