Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared

Article excerpt

Garth Stevenson, Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), 336 pp. Cased. $100. ISBN 978-0-7735-4385-0. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4386-7.

Garth Stevenson's Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared studies the population growth of Canada and the United States and its impact on diversity from the early colonial era to the early 2000s. Stevenson compares how both Canada and the United States dealt with Irish, Chinese and Jewish immigrants.

Stevenson's analysis relies upon the Path Dependence theory which refers to a historical sequence of events that causes a society to make choices about its practices and institutions which sets in motion a chain of events that persist over time, either because their results are positive or because the effort required to make other choices is too great. Through utilising this theor y, Stevenson argues that 'the responses of both the United States and Canada to immigration and ethnic diversity over the years were powerfully influenced by formative circumstances ... that set them on particular paths' (p. 10). In other words, he argues that both countries established diversity policies early in their development that limited desirable as well as possible alternatives. He also argues that both significant events and circumstances altered these existing patterns of behaviour, often preventing the expected outcomes from occurring. Over time, Stevenson contends that cultural similarities, geographic proximity, and mutually-shared circumstances have influenced Canada and the United States on convergent 'historical trajectories' (p. 11). Stevenson also incorporates discussions on enemy-alien, language, and immigration policies. With regard to immigration, Stevenson explains that the United States gave their largest immigration quotas to England, Germany, and Ireland while Canada was less restrictive during the post-Second World War era. …

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