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Strategic Spatial Essentialism Textbook Note.docx

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Ryerson University
GEO 793
Cynthia Mason

Strategic Spatial Essentialism: Latin Americans’ Real and Imagined Geography of Belonging in Toronto - Veronis:  Latin American immigration to Canada  Latin Americans in Canada: 304,245 (2006 Census)  Latin Americans in Ontario: 147,135 (2006 Census) - Place and Identity:  Essentialist and anti-essentialist approaches to ethnicity, identity, culture and place  Place-making as a strategy for identity-creation and resistance  Hybridity and Diaspora as anti-essentialist notions - Latin Americans in Toronto:  Latin Americans in Toronto: 99,290 (2006 Census)  New immigrants  Internally diverse  Arrived in different waves  Socially, economically and politically marginalized - Canada’s Multicultural Policy:  Multiculturalism became official policy in Canada in 1988  The policy is based on essentializing and stereotyping of ethnic groups  Yet it offers the tools for resistance and for developing a sense of belonging through territorialization - Latin Americans in the City:  Efforts to create: 1. A barrio Latino: a visible Latin American neighborhood of retail and residences 2. A community center (casa Para los Latino Americanos) as strategies for constructing a shared identity for Latin Americans - Spatial Essentialism:  Spatial essentialism as a tool 1. To negotiate intra-group diversity 2. To establish a sense of belonging within the host society - The production of ethnic places contributes to construct identities that are territorialized (tied to specific spaces) but not necessarily essentializing (statics) - Transnational immigrant identities are strategically fixed and essentializing (when so required by the dictates of the multicultural policy) while also being fluid and flexible - Latin Americans have not managed to acquire a space for their own community center because of their lack of economic resources - Ethnic community, they struggle to belong and feel at home in Toronto- do not have a “real”, material place to call their own but they do have “imaginary ones” - Latin Americans are a relatively recent group of immigrants in Canada and that they are very diverse- encompassing over 20 nationalities from North, Central, and South America - Ethnic places can become places of creation and resistance - The focus identities as cultural spaces underplays the role of the political and material domains in power relations  Neglecting political economy can be problematic for understanding why social groups occupy certain positions within society - The tendency to celebrate the transgressive elements of each notions and to romanticize immigrants’ experiences over-looks the consequences of other forms of exclusion and difference such as gender, class, and sexuality - Latin American immigrants to Canada differs significantly from the US experience: Latin Americans are a relatively new immigrant group and they are very diverse - Latin Americans like most immigrant groups concentrate in the three largest CMAs- Montreal, Toronto,
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