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CDNS 1000 (99)


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Carleton University
Canadian Studies
CDNS 1000
Peter Thompson

Ian McKay- he argues that there are two conventional ways of studying Canada. o The nationalist paradigm (national histories that are designed to keep the country together shows in things like history textbooks, heritage moments, it relies on the idea that Canada is a positive thing that needs to be maintained. The aim is to bring us into the country. o He argues that in Canadian history what we see over the past 20 years if what moves to a socio-cultural paradigm a series of history, it isnt about keeping the country together but dividing it into a series of categories (race, gender), it is about understanding the difference within society. o He tells us that we need to think of Canada as an ongoing and historically specific project (it isnt this concrete thing that exists, it is an ONGOING project). He argues that the project of Canada is about extending liberalism as far and deeply as possible. The project of Canada is about extending the idea of individual liberty (the individual is the key element of society). It is about extending the idea that we have a liberal sense of quality (everyone is treated the same under the law) and that the project of Canada is about extending the idea of property rights, but the key thing is that the ongoing project of Canada is always resistive by certain segments of the population. That means that Canada is a very incoherent and unfixed idea. What we have to think about is what are the forces of society that are extending and resisting the project of Canada. He adds that Canada is unfinished. Francis: Canadian Identity as a myth He argues that Canadian history and Canadian society are held together by a series of myths about the present. He argues that many of the things that we cling onto in Canadian history in essential elements of our identity (RCMP as being clean and polite representation of the law, multiculturalism), the image that we have of many of these things are not rooted in reality. The key thing about his study is not that myths are lies or that they are false, he argues that myths serve a very important purpose in our understanding of Canada in the sense that they hold everything together for us. For Frances a myth is not a lie, but something that represents a deeper truth (it doesnt matter if its true or not, it matters why that make sense to us, how they circulate through society) he argues that there are core myths in every society, ones that come up again and again that contain within them many different ideas, they tell us what our values are as society, about our ideals. They make history coherent for us. History is a very complex, contradictory elusive thing and they make this very understandable for us (comprehensible) they allow us to organize events and figure out where we are positioned within these events/histories. Even though many of our myths are rooted in history, they are very much about the present, and what we want to see within ourselves at the present time. We take a set of values that are important to us (being polite) and we project the backwards into the past, so when we encounter something like contact or settlement we are reading that event through the lens that we already know we are polite and tolerant, we see what we want to see through that. Myths orient our understanding of history and make it seem coherent to us. He argues that these myths are very important elements of the imagined community, he is building on Andersons idea, and myths are one of the major ways with how we insert ourselves into this imagined community. Myths are not designed to be an accurate series of events, but they are about interpreting events. He also argues that myths have a flipside (negative myths within society) and we can use them to demonize certain groups of people that we may not like, we can use them to define enemies within the country (the general strike in Winnipeg), these simplify history, we also need to remember that when we think about history and memory and myths that our society deliberately forgets things (we choose what we remember and what we forget). In the case of settling Canada we forget the brutal aspects of that history and he argues that settlement in Canada is very easily the most important event in Canada but we have paid little attention to. Civic ideology related to what Nimijean talks about, Francis argues that civic ideology is the idea that we express our values not just in our myths but also in our public policies and public institutions. Something like health care isnt just mutual but it shows our values as caring and sharing as a community. The ideas that are attached to public institution are ones that need to keep being reinforced, therefore identity doesnt emerge naturally they come out of a very deliberate set of actions. We encounter national identity through these myths and other things.
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