Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism

By Paul Barrett

© 2015

Focusing on the work of black, diasporic writers in Canada, particularly Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, and Tessa McWatt, Blackening Canada investigates the manner in which literature can transform conceptions of nation and diaspora. Through a consideration of literary representation, public discourse, and the language of political protest, Paul Barrett argues that Canadian multiculturalism uniquely enables black diasporic writers to transform national literature and identity. These writers seize upon the ambiguities and tensions within Canadian discourses of nation to rewrite the nation from a black, diasporic perspective, converting exclusion from the national discourse into the impetus for their creative endeavours.

Within this context, Barrett suggests, debates over who counts as Canadian, the limits of tolerance, and the breaking points of Canadian multiculturalism serve not as signs of multiculturalism’s failure but as proof of both its vitality and of the unique challenges that black writing in Canada poses to multicultural politics and the nation itself.

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  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Focusing on the work of black, diasporic writers in Canada, Blackening Canada investigates the manner in which literature can transform conceptions of nation and diaspora.

Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism

By Paul Barrett

© 2015

Focusing on the work of black, diasporic writers in Canada, particularly Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, and Tessa McWatt, Blackening Canada investigates the manner in which literature can transform conceptions of nation and diaspora. Through a consideration of literary representation, public discourse, and the language of political protest, Paul Barrett argues that Canadian multiculturalism uniquely enables black diasporic writers to transform national literature and identity. These writers seize upon the ambiguities and tensions within Canadian discourses of nation to rewrite the nation from a black, diasporic perspective, converting exclusion from the national discourse into the impetus for their creative endeavours.

Within this context, Barrett suggests, debates over who counts as Canadian, the limits of tolerance, and the breaking points of Canadian multiculturalism serve not as signs of multiculturalism’s failure but as proof of both its vitality and of the unique challenges that black writing in Canada poses to multicultural politics and the nation itself.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Blackening Canada is an invaluable addition to black literary criticism and necessary reading for scholars working in the field.’


    Darcy Ballantyne
    University of Toronto Quarterly vol 86:03:2017

    ‘Blackening Canada is an insightful addition to the discourse on critical multiculturalism. Barrett’s argument is interdisciplinary, critical, compelling and wide-ranging.’


    Sharon Morgan Beckford
    Topia Number 36: Fall 2016

    ‘In this brilliant book, Barrett manages to confront important issues of race in Canada…. This is a volume for those interested in race and multiculturalism anywhere, not Just in Canada. Highly recommended.’


    B Almon
    Choice Magazine vol 53:04:2015

    Blackening Canada offers terrific and original readings of Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, and Tessa McWatt. Written with clarity and concision, it takes up the question of multiculturalism through a series of accomplished analyses of black Canadian writing.”


    Lily Cho, Department of English, York University

    “This book is a well-written, engaging, and intelligent examination of recent writing in Canada by black writers who concern themselves with questions of diaspora and multiculturalism.”


    Kit Dobson, Department of English, Mount Royal University
  • Author Information

    Paul Barrett is a Banting postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Texts and Contexts of Blackening

    1. Temporalities of Becoming in Dionne Brand’s thirsty

    2. “I’m Running For My Life”: Mobility in Austin Clarke’s Recent Fiction

    3. Writing Life-Worlds: Canadian History and the Representation of Albert Johnson

    4. Race, Heritage, and Recognition in Tessa McWatt’s Out of My Skin

    5. Concluding

    6. Re-Beginning: “Blah, Blah, Blah.” Emergent Critical Multiculturalism in Brampton, Ontario

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