Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Historical Consciousness and Being Quebecois: Exploring Young English-Speaking Students' Interactions with Quebec's Master Historical Narrative

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Historical Consciousness and Being Quebecois: Exploring Young English-Speaking Students' Interactions with Quebec's Master Historical Narrative

Article excerpt


In revisiting a dataset of secondary school students' historical narratives on Quebec's past, this article's exploratory study examines five English-speaking youths' historical consciousness as members of a French-speaking society. Given their community's simplistic portrayal in the province's school history program, the study attempts to understand the impact of transmitting a Franco-centric collective historical identity that differentiates and distances Anglophones on these students' structuring of group boundaries and negotiations of national belonging. A repertory of ideal-type tendencies of historical consciousness is operationalized as an open-ended interpretation key for reading students' interactions with Quebec's master narrative. In relying on pre-given significations of the past, the only Traditional-leaning student seeks a hybrid sort of national identity and thereby structures boundaries softly. In contradicting pre-given significations, the remaining Critical-leaning ones seek fuller understandings of being Quebecois and structure boundaries more rigidly, either seeking to overcome important narrative gaps or amend the proffered storyline's perceived shortsightedness. As these five students can think the nation in its intended terms, their affective appropriation of Quebec's narrative varies. Despite preserving boundaries, they betray a desire for inclusion and acceptance. Further research is, however, called for to verify these findings' generalizability and to expand on their other potential variations.


En revisitant une base de donnees des recits estudiantins sur l'histoire du Quebec, cet article examine la conscience historique de cinq jeunes de langue anglaise vivant dans une societe majoritairement francophone. Vu la representation simpliste de leur communaute dans le programme d'histoire quebecois, cet article essaie de mieux comprendre l'impact de la transmission d'une identite collective historique, qui confine les anglophones dans une categorie d'alterite, sur leurs structurations des frontieres groupales et leurs negociations d'appartenance nationale. Un repertoire des ideaux-types de la conscience historique sert comme grille de lecture ouverte pour interpreter les interactions de ces etudiants avec le recit national. En se basant sur des significations preetablies du passe, un de ces etudiants de tendance traditionnelle cherche une identite nationale hybride et structure ses frontieres souplement. En contredisant ces significations, ceux de tendance critique visent des comprehensions du Quebec plus completes et structurent leurs frontieres rigidement, soit pour surmonter des lacunes dans le recit ou pour amender sa vision etroite. Les cinq peuvent penser la nation selon la trame collective, mais leur connexion emotive envers elle varie. Malgre le maintien des frontieres, ils cherchent a etre inclus et accepte. D'autres recherches sont toutefois necessaires pour verifier et elaborer ces donnees.


This article addresses the complexity of history teaching and the construction of national identity among English-speaking youth in Quebec. (1) It attempts to grasp the impact of the province's national history program on Anglophone students' sense of inclusion and identification as representative members of an historic minority community. Currently, English-speaking youth are offered the Francophone majority's collective historical experiences as the main guiding narrative framework for integrating into society. Their language group's diverse realities are largely absent from the program's national storyline, and their community is portrayed rather conventionally as the general antagonist to Quebec's survival and nationhood (Commins 2009; McAndrew 2010; Jedwab and Perrone 2012). Seeking to comprehend the consequences of transmitting a Franco-centric historical identity, this article aims to examine how English-speaking students interact with aspects of the Francophone collective narrative that simplify understandings of their language community. …

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