The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings/Daily Struggles: The Deepening Racialization and Feminization of Poverty in Canada

By Todd, Roy | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2009 | Go to article overview

The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings/Daily Struggles: The Deepening Racialization and Feminization of Poverty in Canada


Todd, Roy, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Barrington Walker (ed.), The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2008), 304pp. Paper. £22.99. ISBN 9781551303406.

Maria A. Wallis and Siu-ming Kwok (eds), Daily Struggles: The Deepening Racialization and Feminization of Poverty in Canada (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2008), 307pp. Paper. £22.99. ISBN 9781551303390.

These two books focus on different aspects of racism in Canada. One takes a historical perspective and the other deploys sociological approaches to examine contemporary Canada. They are both based upon previously published material and are organised as undergraduate student texts, with introductory chapters, succinct overviews of each section, annotated guides to further reading, and lists of relevant internet sources. The publisher's website (http://www.cspi.org) provides a link to sets of questions for tutors or students which might provide a basis for essays or class discussion.

Barrington Walker's collection on immigration and racism is organised on broadly chronological lines with its first section beginning with the pre-European period and running to about the end of the eighteenth century and its last section bringing the reader to the end of the twentieth century. At the outset Walker argues that 'issues of race and immigration are not merely obscure sub-fields in Canada's social and cultural histories, but are integral to understanding the country's history as a whole' (p. 11). Part I begins with a chapter by Olive Dickason about the history of the Indigenous peoples prior to contact with Europeans. Other chapters include accounts of slavery in English Canada during the late eighteenth century (Robin Winks) and the experiences of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. Part II is thematically organised around the concepts of racialisation and space, including a chapter on the segregation of black students in Canada West in the nineteenth century and another on government responses to Chinese immigrants. Part III begins with a chapter outlining the ways in which the Canadian government allocated land for farming by First Nations and then impeded their agricultural development. The remaining three chapters cover urban developments and include discussion of the political context of industrial action and anti-semitism. The key metaphor for Part IV is 'gatekeeping', in particular with regard to immigration policies at the beginning of the twentieth century. Two chapters here, with contrasting arguments, analyse the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Part V, on the postwar era, is mainly about the experiences of women workers in the latter part of the twentieth century. Dionne Brand draws upon oral history to recount the experiences of Black women (1920s to the 1940s), while Franca Iacovetta covers the transitions of immigrants from agricultural southern Italy to postwar Toronto, and Daiva Stasiulis and Abigail Bakan provide a comparative analysis of West Indian and Filipina women's experiences of domestic work in Toronto. …

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