all towns are one, all men our kin.
|Home||Whats New||Trans State Nation||One World||Unfolding Consciousness||Comments||Search|
NATIONS & NATIONALISM
Post-Post Nationalism: Identity Projects, Politics
Prof. Catherine Murray
21 April 2009
To belong or not to belong: that is
Bonjour. C'est pour moi un grand plaisir et un grand honneur d'�tre parmi vous au Mus�e canadien de la guerre aujourd'hui. Je regrette beaucoup de ne pas pouvoir vous adresser la parole dans les deux langues officielles mais je tiens � vous r�sumer en quelques mots les grandes lignes de ma pr�sentation qui s'intitule "post-post nationalisme: projets identitaires, politiques et le tournant vers l'�conomie cr�ative". Je veux remettre en question (remettre en cause) la proposition que le Canada soit un �tat-nation post-national et post-moderne. Cette proposition est, � mon avis, d�fectueuse. Elle nous oblige � confronter le paradoxe existentialist de la nouvelle logique du r�alisme cosmopolite telle que postul�e par Ulrich Bech (2003) �faire partie ou ne pas faire partie?�la question est l� .
(It is a pleasure to join you today. The title of my talk is �Post-post nationalism: identity projects, politics and the creative economy turn�. I want to address specifically the proposition that Canada is a post-national, post-modern state, a view best associated with Richard Gwyn�s treatise in the mid-1990s about the unbearable lightness of being Canadian, but encouraged by this decade�s emphasis on globalism. I suggest that this proposition challenges us to reconcile the existential paradox, as Ulrich Bech (2003) suggests, To belong or not to belong? That is the cosmopolitan question.)
To set the stage, I will relate a story.
Last month, Simon Fraser University shut down its Canadian Studies program. Born at the height of Canadian left-nationalism in the '60s and ' 70s, interdisciplinary Canadian Studies at SFU became a victim of pluralisation and de-territorialization. Post-modern theory devastatingly criticised the very roots of cultural authority . The �essential� colonial English Canadian identity was contested. Formative myths like Frye�s garrison mentality, Friedenberg�s will to deference and Atwood�s survival began to unravel.
Urgent claims to recognition and representation by Quebec sovereignty and aboriginal self-government movements (creating Founding Peoples� Myths) were compounded by new immigrants from different countries (creating Settling Peoples� Myths).
Symbols like the flag, the Mountie and the beaver became so well known or taken for granted that they were bought and sold. The Canadian identity project morphed into commodity form�the Molson Rant I AM CANADIAN (2000) or CTV�s format CANADIAN IDOL�in new theories of consumption, but largely failed to gain purchase.
A more elaborate national identity was created by fusing nationalism with social policy values, especially after universal healthcare (Brodie). Surveys of Canadians� perceptions of diversity, belonging and shared citizenship often found bigger cleavages among English, French and Aboriginal founding peoples than among new ethnocultural minorities (Banting et al: IRPP, 2007) except on issues of social policy.
Under the impact of new theories of cultural studies and new communication flows, it became fashionable to emphasize the pluralism and hybridity of Canadian identity, rather than its unity and fixity. At Simon Fraser, other line departments began to offer Canadian courses, and this horizontal migration proved difficult to manage. The forces which structured globalization seemed to suggest that the nation-state�s regulatory powers were weakened in the neo-liberal tide, and put a new focus on international events and transnational processes. Universities tripped over themselves to pursue global status : to attract A-list academics, recruit lucrative foreign students, set up important research centres on globalization even as Canadian Studies were hollowed out.
The assumption that globalization would destroy identities was replaced with the empirical reality that it could create and proliferate them, contributing to an upsurge of local culture. Production of Canadian identity through market-based cultural activity expanded to a surprisingly large 8% of GDP. Less public spending on arts, culture and heritage, deregulation and an ethos of popular choice made it pass� to frame collective identity in either defensive or assertive majoritarian terms.
In the neo-liberal spirit of the age, Canadian identity became what individuals chose to do (The Individualist Myth). If, as Zigmunt Bauman suggests, the market dissolves the bonds of social interaction and reciprocity�necessary ingredients of collective identity (Brodie)�then it is not surprising that texts, courses, popular tracts on Canadian identity fell away. Canadian history and collective myth-making were not killed so much as voluntarily evacuated, left to dissolve.
Academe�s new focus on science, business and technology skills sucked resources from Canadian Studies� arts and humanities core.
Not surprisingly, Canadian Studies found it difficult to attract young people choosing majors. As popular culture became increasingly international, youth interest in purely local musical referents, books or symbols declined. Their interest in debates over the need to �protect� Canadian culture waned. Crowd sourcing or new forms of user-generated content challenged traditional models of production and exchange of cultural contents. Some wanted to upload free mobile media to Youtube to signal the market, hoping to make money later. Other young altruists found creativity and community more important than monetary incentive.
SFU�s �closure� of Canadian Studies is still hotly caught up in campus politics in Senate. In microcosm, the story shows the pressures unravelling simple top-down or push models of Canadian identity-building. It shows that the new face of Canadian nationalism has yet to lodge itself in the national psyche, even among the symbolic analysts charged with its intergenerational transmission.
Some thinkers argue that this abdication stemmed from a false reading of history -- could not adjust to contemporary identity politics or the forces of globalization.
I think it was consistent with what I call a period of cultural cosmopolitanism in Canadian identity. It signalled a shift away from the substantive definition of identity (shared values, symbols, cultural products, cognitive repertoires of civic association and allegiance) to the process of identity-building�interaction and reconciliation.
Canadians like Will Kymlicka made an international splash with theories of multicultural citizenship. Attention to how different minority cultural groups get along, welcome others, live in peace, and intervene collectively in multilateral foreign policy (in forging an international criminal court, the responsibility to protect doctrine or the Convention to Protect the Diversity of Cultural Expressions) rose. Political tracts by such thinkers as Jennifer Welsh, John Raulston Saul, Michael Byers rationalized the extension of Canadian liberal values beyond borders, what I call the Myth of Diversity Embrace. The recent public condemnation of repressive and sexist legislation in Afghanistan is typical of this attractive global ideology of Canadian cosmopolitanism.
Paradoxes surfaced, however, when rhetoric met reality. Despite globalization, foreign news bureaus were fewer. More foreign-language TV services were imported but efforts to incorporate them in self-regulation of news culture failed (Arabic Al Jazeera). Despite innovation in multicultural formats involving many third-language producer groups, subtitling or cross-cultural program acquisition was prohibited. Despite so-called �heroic� historic progress on symbolic redress for racist incidents, the third-language media seem to cover little outgroup news, perhaps lacking the context to do so. Finally, despite efforts by many funding councils and other agencies to redirect public subsidy or make venture capital available to new immigrant and third-language producers, funding did not kept pace with population growth. In response, certain immigrant groups counselled their children not to study the arts, afraid they would not make a living or new cultural entrepreneurs were forced to go ahead without public subsidy. Either way, fuel was given to critics who feared that cosmopolitan Canadianism acted as a kind of �race manners�, failing to enable the production of alternative identity narratives or create a space for meaningful cultural encounter for difference and sharing.
The problem was that this period of cosmopolitan Canadian identity focused on either the individual consumer or the universal citizen. It neglected social solidarity�the ties of blood, faith and belonging�that Edmund Burke claimed is the first principle of public affection. It overlooked the existential paradox: where do I belong? The flashpoint became the idea of non-exclusive allegiance, what I call the Myth of the Sojourner. Rates of immigrant naturalization were higher in Canada than many other countries, but incidence of returning immigrant investors or dual citizenship (apparently opposed by some 40% of Canadians) challenged typical conceptions of loyalty, commitment or allegiance.
In reaction, historians and theorists like Rudyard Griffiths of the Dominion Institute began to ask Who are we? Are we failing to assert the symbols, shared objectives and values that defined our common identity for our forebears?
But Griffiths then makes two errors. He does not go on to ask if we have failed to assert how the symbols have changed, accommodating settlers and sojourners.
He makes identity coterminous with citizenship�a dangerous fallacy. He asks: Should the Canadian model of diversity call for longer periods of residency before citizenship can be claimed, mandatory voting, stronger assertions of allegiance? It is a mistake to link this debate solely to the controversial C-37 legislation to reform immigration law. But it does seem to suggest a view of Canadian identity as a safeguard against transnational identities, hybridities, non-exclusive allegiance.
My point is that the logical corollary to Griffith�s position also asks: How can thick versus thin citizen identities be constructed? What happens in the swing away from post-nationalism, post-modernism? While entirely valid and even dialectically inevitable, such queries framed as Griffiths frames them are too easily dismissed as nostalgic of a white majority past, overwritten by the politics of H�rouxville or the post 9-11 challenge to come to terms with �the Muslims within�. For some on the cosmopolitan left, Griffiths� proposals suggest a frightening return to Canadian Anglo majority essentialism, or two-class citizenship. But they are also typical of an organic, conservative, perhaps even revived Red Tory philosophical tradition in Canada, which has always sought this fine balance between cosmopolitanism and cultural nationalism. The struggle has been to articulate precisely what the new communitarian, Red Tory-tinged vision now is.
The global recession is fundamentally unsettling our expectations of capitalism and the public institutions of democracy, rescaling our conception of where the global meets the local (Andrew). Is globalization dead? The G-20 is making heroic efforts to define new multilateral global economic institutions that many outside Bay or Howe streets thought already existed. Is it too little too late? Will the focus on economic protectionism lead to a collapse of the people and idea flows on which transnational/intercultural understanding is based? This fear has real consequences for identity, trust and belonging. Can we assure our citizens of their basic security and right to well-being? Canadians are aware of their privileged vantage point on this world crisis, but this recession brings a whole new conceptual emphasis on economic and cultural security, protection of spaces for cultural expression and creative work for them. It brings the social welfare rights of citizens and creators to the fore.
If you accept, as I do, that times of psychic and global upheaval mean a return to solidarity, to blood and belonging, this also implies a return to the importance of material culture: the building blocks, the infrastructure, the concrete resources and productions of meaning that construct identities. Providing the citizen with the tools to decide to commit to belonging or not to belonging, the weak spot of cosmopolitanism (Calhoun) needs instead a place-based/material approach. Inevitably, this implies a return of the cities agenda, of the local/urban imagination. The irony is that just as attention switches to the local, the locally oriented private media and the galleries, small museums and arts groups in small to mid-size markets are on the verge of collapsing, weakening the supportive cultural and communication infrastructure that links majority and minority immigrants, their service associations and other actors in the city. Theoretically, empirically, the challenge is to build a new, Red Tory vision of cultural urbanism, anchoring national identity in the concrete and particular.
If scale is inversely related to identity and solidarity, as the 2007 IRPP volume Belonging? Diversity, Recognition and Shared Citizenship in Canada seems to suggest, then it is in the work of Leonie Sandercock, Meric Gertler, Jon Hannigan, Tom Hutton, Richard Florida, Jane Jacobs, Neil Bradford and others who talk of the creative mongrel city, the experience of ethnic enclaves as spaces of transit or territory or meaningful encounter, that we see a vision of the creative power of difference, identity and sharing. The focus is on how the building of ethnic spaces, place-making, the claim groups make to public parades, the insinuation of multiple networks (ethnic, immigrant serving, media) define the experience of engagement and belonging (Vaisaikh) among diverse publics. The resurgence of urban planning re-introduced debates over improving quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems
. How does that buzz of healthy pro-social interaction take place? What symbols electrify the local Canadian imagination? How can freedom and belonging coexist and mutually enrich each other?
This new urban Canadian literature is emerging outside of the typical neo-liberal celebration of competitive global cities. The first, market-driven wave of this so-called creative cities movement focused on branding, building major cultural amenities and cultural capital programs to attact investment and global tourists. In its hedonism, affluence and unsustainability, this early global cities/creative economy theory is now in disrepute. The entrepreneurial cities of the post-modern imagination (Barcelona, Dublin, Dubai, -- even Toronto?) have been the hardest hit with recession, property devaluation, contraction of tourist amenities.
Attention is now moving to edge cities, ordinary cities and the everyday cultural processes of the neighbourhood in smaller communities to explore how they manage complex identities , adapt to social and cultural change and improve quality of life. This actually embedded theory of the creative economy focuses on sustainable initiatives, viable local development, intra-regional tourism and the interaction of social and creative policy to foster new social enterprises, live/work and other alternative cultural spaces and practices to temper the forces of gentrification, overspeculation and bust.
Such creative creative city thinking will prove resilient for three reasons: First, it signals a new horizontal integration among the visual and performing arts, traditional cultural industries and heritage and related design sectors that has eluded previous generations of policy makers yet in many ways reflects the changing contemporary fusion of artistic practices on the ground. It recognizes the new importance of provinces and municipalities in the cultural ecology (which now spend most of the public dollar and have absorbed most of the population growth). It calls for vertical, multi-level coordination. It signals the return to holism in cultural policy. And it just may work, given the crisis many of the mature, twilight cultural industries are facing in finding new business models, new ways to monetize their products on the web.
As governments seek stimulative measures for the new and not old economy, creative economy thinking is gaining prominence in the think tanks of Ontario and Nova Scotia, and indeed other provinces. At the federal level, Canada has been slow to get on board�but our large cities (MTV), a surprising number of our mid-size cities (like London, Kitchener-Waterloo or Calgary) and small communities (like Prince Edward County) have in some cases a 20-year head start. Canada is building impressive case studies of new urban cluster development:
Quebec City�s Quartier St. Roch, Vancouver�s Yale Town, Tohu, la cit� des arts du cirque in Montreal, Laval�s biomedical museum. Different municipal stances�creative city (Toronto), creative class (Calgary) or progressive (Winnipeg, Montreal, Vancouver)�are emerging.
Creative cities are dynamic locales of experimentation and innovation, where new ideas flourish and people come together to make their communities better places to live, work and play.I believe that these trends signal a renaissance for material culture. They are often allied with the disciplines of urbanism and cultural geography, and focus on construction of creative spaces, investment in public cultural infrastructure, a shift to place-based urban identity, not necessarily bohemian branding, but unique, conditioned by history, circumstance and choice. Participatory urban planning processes (Think Vancouver and its relationship to Vancouverism) bridge visual culture, mapping and collaborative articulation of identity in spaces and scale. They make the case that preoccupation with physical infrastructure or facilities for creative space needs to be balanced by policies which enable social infrastructure. They seek to articulate authentic local identities, watching people flow ,congregate and hangout in built and natural landscapes, cultivating local love of place. They give order to the continuity between past and present.
Finally, they introduce an impressive new repertoire of policy instruments�the most important being policies to promote creative clustering and policies for creative labour, making flexicurity a harbinger of the creative turn in the economy and requiring new multi-level governance, especially federal-provincial cooperation to re-engineer social welfare standards for the new age. Around the world, the creative sector is promoted through human capital investment in education and training, awards and contests, business support, and tax and social security policies. All too often there are largely uncoordinated and selective policy measures. Short-term training and business/entrepreneurial support turn out to be the preferred instruments. In the past decade, social and income security for the often precariously employed and only informally organized creative labour force have been fatally underdeveloped. (Nordic Green Paper, 2007, cited in Gollmitzer and Murray, 2008).It is too soon to say if creative city/economy thinking can fashion a new spirit of capitalism, deliver on the promise of well being, or bring a new fine balance between urban cosmopolitanism, and cultural nationalism. I do not yet see much evidence of the arts culture or heritage sector making a case for equal share of stimulative investment (the 10% rule American mayors called for from Obama�s package). But inasmuch as creative economy thinking is grounded in the local, focused on material allegiance and a local place-based approach to identity, equally based in the creative productivity of its workers and their economic security, it will be sustainable, integrating past and present. This is the post post national vision of my title.
Let us fast-forward. To prepare for 2017, the thinkers and creators in this room need to understand how the forces of identity, culture, belonging and transnationalism will work on the Sesquicentennial celebrations in very different ways from Expo 67.
Resurgent cultural nationalism, through its new urban frame, needs a whole new policy repertoire. In 2017 I will argue we will not construct Expos, buildings or monuments or invent symbols of national convenience typical of the bifurcation of the state-led or market-led regimes like we did in 1967. That is a thin conception of material culture. We need more.
After several decades of federal experimentation with various cultural policy styles, it is time to re-articulate a Red Tory value basis for cultural policy through a policy framework that concentrates on a place-based approach to identity, actually embedded cultural innovation and new awareness of multilevel coordination, selective specialisation and even division of labour.
Between the market of the late neo-liberal era of capitalism, and the paternal, Keynesian era of state-directed institutions and identity projects, an enormous middle ground is opening up, with open, voluntary models at one end and classic closed models at the other. New hybrids will appear, mixing collaboration and commerce, community and corporation, open cultural cosmopolitanism and closed cultural nationalism. That middle ground will be messy, confusing and creative. But it will be peculiarly, defiantly Canadian, its citizens� newly confident about what brings us together to improvise the actions of our lives.
I would like to thank Jan Marontate, Associate Professor of the School of Communication and advisory Board member of the Center for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities, for helping me develop these ideas, and producing the elegant introductory translation.
 Ironically, attention to the �Canadian style� waned. In a study guide about visual artists, which can be found on the Department of Canadian Heritage�s website under �Artistic Life in Canada,� one finds a surprisingly narrow set of names: Homer Watson, Group of Seven, Emily Carr, Paul �mile Borduas, Bill Reid, Thaddeus Holownia.
 C-37 aside, the question becomes if immigration reforms are establishing new classes of citizenship, repugnant to the equality of rights tradition.
 For Red Tories, monarchy, public order and good government - understood as dedication to the common good - precede, moderate and balance an unequivocal belief in individual rights and liberty. The golden rule is balance between the common good and rights of the individual. Converting the Red Tory vision into cultural policy involves summonsing the era of value in public institutions, for Bennett introduced the public broadcaster against all odds in the Depression, restoring the value placed on heritage, libraries and local museums, or other communitarian institutions from the left of the Conservative party, with the Alliance value from the right of the party placed on the role of the state in the provision of public goods (education) and corrections of market failure. What is missing from this view is an attachment to the role of the voluntary sector, and commitment to making it sustainable. What is also missing is the commitment to a single overarching symbol. It is possible that Mr. Harper may use the North in this way, and there are signs that Mr. Ignatieff is pre-emptively moving to make the myth of the North one that can be shared by all Canadian peoples.
 A creative city is a dynamic locale of experimentation and innovation, where new ideas flourish and people come together to make their communities better places to live, work and play. Such places solve the perennial urban problems of housing, congestion, inclusion, preservation and development in innovative ways. They make beautiful spaces. They give order to the continuity between past and present. As Sir Peter Hall said, such cities �have throughout history been the places that ignited the sacred flame of the human intelligence and the human imagination.� (Bradford, 2004).
Canadian creative city thinking is heavily influenced by Jane Jacobs� seminal The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961. She celebrated the innate vitality of cities driven by unplanned, seemingly chaotic development. From her close daily observation on the streets, creativity turned on human-scale interactions and multiple interconnections in neighbourhoods. The culture sector creates a sense of place by fostering community and individual development, building connections, local identity and sense of belonging, and contributing to liveability and improved quality of life.
This tradition is built upon by The Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. SIAP conducted research on Philadelphia neighbourhoods and documented links between arts, culture and heritage and cultural engagement, social diversity and community capacity building, as well as economic regeneration. Their plan for creative cities focuses on the neighbourhood, entirely within the community museum and arts tradition. This progressive tradition is still strong in urban planning, and the Canadian variant is gaining international recognition. In very good recent books on Canadian municipal policies and planning traditions (Lightbody, 2006 and Grant, 2008), a range of cultural development strategies in play across Canadian cities can be identified, from entrepreneurial (Calgary with its innovative focus on public art installations) to creative class (Toronto with its $1 billion investment in cultural infrastructure) to progressive (Winnipeg and Vancouver, the latter with its focus on subsidy of live/work space, public housing and methods to restrain gentrification, fraught with difficulty in areas like the Downtown Eastside) (See Grodach and Loukaitou-Sideris, 2007). 
 Probably due to a succession of minority governments, jurisdictional ambiguity, a reluctance to move away from the cultural diversity paradigm within UNESCO which culminated in 2004 under the federal Liberals, or an inability to effectively bridge the alliance and Red Tory wings of the federal Conservatives into a coherent cultural policy.
 Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Canada�s so-called A-list cities, have long track records (well over a decade and, in Vancouver, 30 years) in attracting cultural/creative labour and enterprises, using creative enterprise strategy, zoning, special tax abatements or amenity-density bonusing schemes, and constructing creative districts and incubators. Since 2000, Toronto has twinned with London in creative city research and development, commissioning exploration of cultural mapping of facilities and cultural enterprises, and is developing an expressly creative global city strategy, winning top-ten mention in world rankings based on indicators that include cultural activityMore than $1 billion was recently invested in major cultural institutions in Toronto, including new homes for the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet School, the Toronto International Film Festival and Soulpepper Theatre and expansions or renovations at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Gardiner Museum. See NS report Building the Creative Economy, 2009, 26.
 I define material culture less rigidly than an archeologist, including material physical artefacts, objects, forms, sites, knowhow and techniques, within a bounded geographic area. Material cultural policy techniques take objects as the centre of analysis and often use visual techniques of cultural mapping, archiving, curating. Material culture means production, work, craft.