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Intercultural Citizenship, Civic Nationalism, and Nation Building in Québec: From Common Public Language to Laïcité

Authors

  • Jean-François Dupré

    1. The University of Hong Kong
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    • Jean-François Dupré is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong. The present article is based on research done as part of the M.Sc. programme in Nationalism Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and an earlier version of this paper was presented at the conference ‘Canada as Refuge’, organised by the Centre of Canadian Studies, University of Edinburgh.

Abstract

This article analyses the current citizenship-nation building nexus in Québec in light of government publications and recent public discourses on ethnocultural pluralism and immigrant integration. First, the article surveys the changing relationship between Québécois nationalism and citizenship according to political circumstances in Québec, suggesting that debates over immigrant integration have played a central role in the creation of a civic Québécois identity, initially based on French as the public language and interculturalism. The article then analyses recent public debates surrounding ‘reasonable accommodation’ in Québec, and identifies a growing emphasis on laïcité – the secularisation of the public space – as identity marker. This article attributes this growing focus on secularism to dissatisfied nationalists seeking to reclaim the cultural prominence of the French Canadian majority in provincial institutions and press for measures aimed at enhancing Québec's distinctiveness and autonomy within the Canadian institutional framework. On a more normative note, the article argues that while language nationalism is reconcilable with ethnocultural pluralism, recent discourses on the secularisation of the public space constrain the emergence of an openly pluralistic stance on national belonging in the province, and undermines the legitimacy of Québec interculturalism.

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