The Sanitized Sensorium



ABSTRACT  Based on 24 months of fieldwork in Pakistan and Canada with Pakistani women who migrated for work, this article examines the politics of multiculturalism and the construction of the “sanitized body.” I found two contradictory strains of multicultural practice in Canada: on the one hand, the erasure of “difference” with regard to immigrant bodies, on the other, the simultaneous recognition of that very difference. Public discourse in Canada on multiculturalism describes a relinquishing of cultural imperialism and a celebration of “multiness” as demonstrated by cultural festivals or other public celebrations, yet I found an imposition of a dominant culture through government-funded settlement services that institute new ideals of bodily comportment on immigrants by teaching them how to dress and act. This dual mode of interpellation puts immigrants in an impossible situation in which they must sometimes suitably display their Otherness, and at other times efface their cultural difference. [multiculturalism, immigration, labor, Toronto]