The African Diaspora in Canada: Negotiating Identity and Belonging

The African Diaspora in Canada: Negotiating Identity and Belonging

The African Diaspora in Canada: Negotiating Identity and Belonging

The African Diaspora in Canada: Negotiating Identity and Belonging

Synopsis

This book addresses the conceptual difficulties and political contestations surrounding the applicability of the term "African-Canadian." In the midst of this contested terrain, the volume focuses on first-generation, black continental Africans who have immigrated to Canada in the last four decades, and have traceable genealogical links to the continent. The rationale behind highlighting the experiences of the first generation of African immigrants within Canadian society is to address the empirical, conceptual, and methodological gaps in the literature that tends to homogenize all black people and their experiences. The book, thus, seeks to highlight the peculiar characteristics of continental Africans which may not be shared by other blacks or non-black Africans. The chapters examine the social constructions of African-Canadians and their experiences within the political and educational systems, as well as in the labour market. They also explore the forms of cooperation and tensions that characterize the communities, and how they negotiate and adapt to the multiple transnational spaces that they occupy. The book also explores the circumstances of their children, as they try to define their identities vis-a-vis their parents and the larger Canadian society.

Excerpt

Over the last few years, the world has witnessed an unparalleled intensification of, and expansion in, transnational migration. It has been estimated that by the mid-1990s, more than 100 million people had taken up residence in countries different from those in which they had been born (The Economist 1997, 81; Wiener 1996, 128). As we enter the twenty-first century, indications are clear that the trend will continue. Figures for Canada point to the fact that, by the close of the last century, the country was recording about 200,000 immigrants annually, the highest since the early 1900s (Ley 1999).

As the processes of globalization simultaneously constrain and open up opportunities for Africans, they have responded in ways that have turned them into active participants in this phenomenon of transmigration. Economic mismanagement by governments, the structural location of the continent in the global capitalist system, and neo-liberal policy prescriptions from international financial . . .

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