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Maggie Cummings

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Week 9 Notes
Urban Portraits
Question of culture, race and identity, against a backdrop of globalization and
Diaspora, among students in a Toronto high school
oDifference within are flattened out and made secondary to difference between
visible groups
Cultural pluralism and the belief that if one knows the culture of
Others, then it will be possible to tolerate them, accommodate them,
join them, or simply stay away from them
Cultural pluralism is critiqued on the ground by the everyday practices,
identifications and inter-subjectivities
oWhen the desire to know cultures is made rigid, cultural practices are
stripped of ambivalence and, in the process, the complexity and fluidity that
characterize emergent cosmopolitan cultures in these global times are lost
Elusive culture opens possibilities for engaging the multiple and often competing
oYouth demonstrate tremendous flexibility in their capacity to make
identifications, to experiment, take risks, discard and create ideas and in
these processes they resist an understanding of culture as something to
simply embody, apply, or force others to have
Positive Peer Culture group with a designated teacher for the purpose of exploring
personal and social concerns
Portraits indicates that these ethnographic snapshots are only meant to capture a
moment, a particular pose, and their likeness
oDiaspora space mingling of diverse backgrounds, of native and diasporan
Space wherein individual subjectivities are forged, not only through
relationships with one another, but also through the multiple place
associations that are invoked in their everyday encounters in the
relational ways by which they name themselves in their respective
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Multiple subject positions and identity claims are proclaimed and
disavowed, and where what it means to be belong and/or other are
Making identities is strategic and adventurous and where the unity of
chance and necessity comes into play
Claiming identity became a passion
These ethnographic snapshots may in some sense be a microcosm of
the urban change and movement in the GTA
It works against the exoticism of multiculturalism and the
cultural diversity that is invoked by cultural pluralism by
insisting on multiculturalism the inscription and
articulation of cultures hybridity
Diasporic identities change under conditions of globalization
oEx. Ones friendships and career aspirations are intimately bound up with
the trips one makes back home
Ambivalence, in the sense of opposing feelings coexisting, is central to the making
of identities and culture in these portraits
oresides in the inadequacies of the identity categories to convey the complexity
of experience that they are assumed to reference
naming ones identity is also a moment of recognizing the limits of the name and of
being open to the contests that naming produce
hybridization the fragmentation and mixing of social collectives that used to
organize cultural systems; the deterritorialization of cultural symbols and symbolic
processes the expansion of impure cultural genre
many of the signs and symbols of the new global cultures with which many of these
youths identify dress codes and various musical genres are often racialized in
specific ways
owhat signifies race also shifts with context and time
oculture is racialized but it is not always fixed in bodies and therefore racial
identities are also made more open
oopportunities for identifying with racial signifiers that this openness suggests
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