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Far from belonging: Race, Security, Dissent and the Canadian Citizenship Story after 9/11

  • Author / Creator
    Nath, Nisha K
  • Have Canadian citizenship discourses and practices fundamentally changed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? This is the question driving this study. While dominant accounts suggest that 9/11 was wholly transformative, there is no clear consensus both in and outside the academy as to whether we can characterize 9/11 as a fundamental rupture in time. Moreover, amongst those who do posit this moment in time as causally transformative, there is no firm consensus as to the nature of that transformation. To answer the question, this dissertation draws on print media accounts as well as Canadian Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Canada decisions between 1980 and 2010. These are used to track three key areas in which the assumptions around governing and citizenship were subject to intense contestation in the post-9/11 context: 1) discourses of multiculturalism, the issue of reasonable accommodation, and the anxiety over the veiling practices of some Muslim women; 2) discourses of civil liberties and the suppression of academic freedom in the context of organizing for Palestinian rights at Canadian universities, and; 3) discourses of security and Canada’s controversial security certificate program. By identifying parallels and continuities across the pre- and post-9/11 periods, this project challenges the dominant understanding that 9/11 constitutes a fundamental shift in politics. I argue that empirically, the historical lineage of each case study demonstrates that the intense forms of regulation non-normative, marginalized and dissident citizens are subject to in the post-9/11 period are not unique to this period. Put differently, these forms of regulation were not made possible by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 9/11 moment does not fully give us the tools to make sense of these cases, and the case studies are literal reiterations of discursive and regulatory moments that significantly predate this moment in time. Second, I argue that in the Canadian context, liberal theories of differentiated citizenship do not help us analytically understand this continuity, and instead suggest that the 9/11 attacks interrupted a presumed trajectory of liberal progression. The study’s findings have broader theoretical implications for citizenship and change. In Canadian Political Science, liberal theories of differentiated citizenship have dominated academic accounts. By and large, these approaches understand citizenship as a status, an institution or an assemblage of rights and responsibilities. Drawing on the work of David Theo Goldberg, Giorgio Agamben, Holloway Sparks and Rita Dhamoon, this dissertation treats citizenship as a form of regulation, and demonstrates how processes of racialization, securitization and ideas of ‘dissidence’ are integral to how we are governed as citizens. By focusing on these processes, this research offers an alternative understanding of citizenship that accounts for the experiences of marginalized groups, and in doing so exposes how accounts of time, crisis and change are deeply political. Moreover, the account offered here disrupts the presumption that 9/11 interrupted a history of uncomplicated liberal progress. This has several consequences for how Canadian political scientists theorize citizenship including: re-evaluating the conventional ‘cues’ or signals used to measure or assess citizenship and progress; accounting for the differential nature of citizenship regulation; complicating how we theorize the relationship between citizens and non-citizens; taking account of the transnational nature of the regulation of citizenship; and, ultimately, reconsidering the value of frameworks of belonging in analyzing citizenship.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2016
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3D50GD4D
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.