Written by guest blogger, Jatinder Mann.
In the late nineteenth century Canada started to receive large waves of non-British migrants for the very first time in its history. These new settlers arrived in a country that saw itself very much as a British society. English-speaking Canadians considered themselves a core part of a worldwide British race. French-Canadians, however, were obviously excluded from this ethnic identity. The maintenance of the country as a white society was also an integral part of English-speaking Canada’s national identity. Thus, white non-British migrants were required to assimilate into this English-speaking Canadian or Anglo centric society without delay. But in the early 1950s the British identity of English-speaking Canada began to decline ever so slowly. The first steps towards the gradual breakdown of the White Canada policy also occurred at this time. This had a corresponding weakening effect on the assimilation policy adopted towards non-British migrants, which was based on Anglo-conformity.
My article in the International Journal of Canadian Studies is based on my doctoral research which compared the rise of multiculturalism in Canada and Australia between the 1890s and 1970s. The research was interdisciplinary in nature, adopting an historical and political approach. You might think that Anglo-conformity could not be any further from multiculturalism and you would be right. My research took a broad historical perspective and explored the ways in which ideas of national identity changed over time in both Canada and Australia. Along with a focus on changing national identities I also studied shifting immigration policies in both countries. And the third major theme of my research was migrant policy over this quite broad time period in both Australia and Canada. So, my doctoral thesis essentially looked at how shifting ideas of national identity informed migrant policy in both countries. I am currently in the process of publishing a monograph based on my research, and I have also published an article on integration policy in Australia, as well as another comparing the introduction of multiculturalism in Canada and Australia. One of the strengths of my research I believe is the scholarly fruits which emerged from the comparative perspective adopted. There were things which would not have come to light if the two countries had not been compared.
This firm belief in the scholarly benefits of comparative interdisciplinary research has led to me embarking on a new project on ‘The end of the British World and the redefinition of citizenship in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, 1950-1970s’. My project builds on my doctoral research, but the focus on citizenship is new and I am confident that the comparison of Australia and Canada with New Zealand will prove extremely fascinating.
Jatinder Mann's “Anglo-Conformity”: Assimilation Policy in Canada, 1890s–1950s1" can be found in the latest issue of the International Journal of Canadian Studies on Quebec in Canadian Studies. Click Here to Read.