Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism

By Howells, Coral Ann | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism


Howells, Coral Ann, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Cynthia Sugars (ed.), Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2004), xxv + 382pp. Paper. £12.99. ISBN 1-55111-437-2.

Always on the look-out for a good critical anthology to use for Canadian studies courses, I welcome Cynthia Sugars's collection of 28 essays which focus on Canadian postcolonial theory, drawing in issues of nationalism, identity, multiculturalism, race and ethnicity. The book is concerned to illustrate some of the central arguments which have marked debates around Canadian narratives of nationhood since the mid 1960s to 2000, so these analyses of what Sugars calls 'the Canadian dis-ease' introduce both the historical dimension and the contemporary (often conflictual) pluralities of postcolonial Canada. The overall impression is of 'unhomeliness' in the sense of unbelonging or not quite knowing 'Where is Here' together with hints of the Freudian unheimlich, where the nation's history is haunted by the ghosts of a deliberately forgotten past.

These essays and book chapters (all previously published) are arranged in 8 sections, beginning with the foundational texts for Canadian postcolonialism (among which are extracts from Grant's Lament for a Nation and Atwood's Survival). The book includes sections on settler-invader theory, First Nations subjects, immigrant and Africadian accounts of alienation, as together they trace the shifts of emphasis toward a politics of race and ethnicity in critiques of Canadian postcolonialism since the late 1980s. …

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