On Being Not Canadian: The Social Organization of “Migrant Workers” in Canada

Authors


  • *I would like to acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, award no. 756–2000–0011. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers or the CRSA for their helpful suggestions in helping me to strengthen my arguments. Of course, final responsibility for any errors or oversights remains with me. This manuscript was first submitted in January 2001 and accepted in August 2001

Abstract

Se fondant sur la méthode d'ethnographie institutionnelle de Dorothy E. Smith, l'auteure étudie l'organisation sociale de notre connaissance des gens catégorisés comme non-immigrants ou « tra-vailleurs migrants ». À la suite de l'étude du Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program (NIEAP) du gouvernement canadien (1973), elle montre l'importance de la pratique idéologique raciste et nationaliste des États à l'endroit de l'organisation matérielle du marché du travail compétitif « canadien » dans le cadre d'un capitalisme mondial restructuré de même que la réorganisation qui en résulte des notions d'esprit national canadien. Elle montre aussi que la pratique discursive des parlementaires qui consiste à considérer certaines personnes comme des « problèmes » pour les « Canadiens » ne provient pas de l'exclusion physique de ces «étrangers » mais plutôt de leur differentiation idéologique et matérielle des Canadiens une fois qu'ils vivent et travaillent dans la société canadienne.

Utilizing Dorothy E. Smith's method of institutional ethnography, I investigate the social organization of our knowledge of people categorized as non-immigrants or “migrant workers.” By examining Canada's 1973 Non-immigrant Employment Authorization Program (NIEAP), I show the importance of racist and nationalist ideological state practice to the material organization of the competitive “Canadian” labour market within a restructured global capitalism and the resultant reorganization of notions of Canadian nationhood. I show that the parliamentary discursive practice of producing certain people as “problems” for “Canadians” results not in the physical exclusion of those constructed as “foreigners” but in their ideological and material differentiation from Canadians, once such people are living and working within Canadian society.

Expressions such as…“foreigner”… and so on, denoting certain types of lesser or negative identities are in actuality congealed practices and forms of violence or relations of domination… This violence and its constructive or representative attempts have become so successful or hegemonic that they have become transparent—holding in place the ruler's claimed superior self, named or identified in myriad ways, and the inadequacy and inferiority of those who are ruled.

— Himani Bannerji.

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