The CLR James Journal


published on December 16, 2021

Daniel McNeil

What Do They Know of Canada Who Only Canada Know? An Immigrant’s Guide to Multiculturalism and Shy Elitism

This article examines how multiculturalism has overflowed from its governmental and policy articulations into Canadian society and culture more broadly. In doing so, it brings together three fields of research that are often separated and disarticulated from each other. Firstly, it draws on oft-overlooked archival material from agencies, departments and ministries of anti-racism, heritage, human rights, immigration, labour, multiculturalism, race relations, settlement and the status of women between 1971 and 2001. Secondly, it engages with the political and academic careers of “immigrant women” who navigated the credentialism, anti-intellectualism and “shy elitism” that courses through official and corporate forms of multiculturalism, and were recognized by prize-giving institutions for their contributions to Canadian society. Finally, it thinks with and through Black Atlantic intellectuals and an “anti-hierarchical tradition of thought that probably culminates in C.L.R. James’s idea that ordinary people do not need an intellectual vanguard to help them to speak or to tell them what to say” (Gilroy 1993, 79).

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