I am very pleased to have been elected to begin my term as the President of the Academy of Social Sciences for the Royal Society of Canada at its Annual Meeting in Victoria this November, 2015.
I am proud to be following in the footsteps of our excellent former President, Simon Langlois, who will now begin his two-year term as Past-President. Dr. Langlois accomplished a great deal in his term at the RSC, including a revival of our Academy’s Bulletin. I hope to be able to follow in his able footsteps to continue this impressive work.
Dr. Langlois also served as a notable advocate of the expansion of the size of our Academy. While his persistent efforts have not yet brought an increase in the number of Fellows we have allocated to the Academy of Social Sciences, he has laid the groundwork admirably. I intend to take up this task, hoping to build upon Dr. Langlois’s impressive analysis to convince the RSC Council of the need to create greater balance and fairness in our representation of the Social Sciences.
As of December 2015, our Academy received 94 new nomination files for the English Division, and 12 nomination files for the French Division. The disparity is obvious when you recall that we are allowed only 13 new Fellows in the English Division and 5 in the French Division every year. The disparity is even more obvious when one sees that the other Academies do not have nearly the same disparity between the number of nominations and Fellows. I hope to follow upon Dr. Langlois’s painstaking efforts to convince the RSC that these numbers urgently need revisiting.
In the meantime, I wish to thank the volunteer members of our Selection Committees as they begin their difficult task of ranking the many impressive nomination files we have received this year. Their task is challenging. Their generous support of the ongoing work of the Royal Society of Canada is deeply appreciated.
Louky Bersianik, dans L’Euguélionne, écrit que « la liberté s’éprouve individuellement (…). Ce n’est pas un sentiment que l’on éprouve en groupe ». Pourtant, les mouvements de révolte s’expriment collectivement et avec beaucoup d’émotions et de passion. C’est d’ailleurs ce qui dérange. Ma recherche porte sur le rôle diffus du droit dans l’organisation et le contrôle des mouvements de dissidence. Le droit est souvent utilisé pour limiter la dissidence, même si théoriquement, il vise également à en protéger l’exercice. Après tout, la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés protège la liberté d’expression, la liberté d’association et la liberté de réunion pacifique. Comment analyser ce rôle hybride et cette interaction complexe entre, d’une part, la protection constitutionnelle et, d’autre part, l’utilisation de différentes formes de réglementation qui encadrent ou restreignent le droit de manifester? D’autant plus que plusieurs constatent que le droit est souvent ignoré dans la pratique de la manifestation et le contrôle policier qui la confronte.
Ce qui m’intéresse, c’est donc comment le droit joue des rôles multiples : une protection symbolique, un encadrement pernicieux, sur un fond de scepticisme, voire même d’absence complète d’effectivité. La recherche sur le droit à la dissidence en action est donc un microcosme des tensions qui caractérisent la protection des droits de la personne en général où le langage est ambitieux mais les réalisations souvent très faibles. Le droit promet beaucoup et livre souvent très peu.
Au fil des années, j’ai eu l’occasion d’observer et de cataloguer la manifestation publique dans plusieurs de ses formes. Les manifestations sont maintenant à la fois locales et internationales en raison de l’utilisation prédominante des médias sociaux. Elles sont souvent le site de confrontations entre différents groupes, elles ne sont pas immunisées contre le racisme, le sexisme ou la violence faite aux femmes. Les manifestations publiques de dissidence sont un terreau riche de participation politique mais aussi d’expression de haine, de peur ou de désespoir.
Un premier effort doit donc être fait pour bien comprendre les différentes formes d’organisation de manifestations. Chaque manifestation a un caractère unique, que ce soit le printemps « érable », surnom donné aux contestations étudiantes du Québec , le mouvement des Indignés, le « Idle No More » des groupement autochtones, ou les grands défilés contre l’austérité. Néanmoins, les stratégies médiatiques peuvent se ressembler et les participants se recouper, mais le message diffère. La spécificité du message influe le comportement policier qui est plus ou moins sympathique à la « cause ». Mon travail consiste particulièrement à étudier la réponse policière. Il faut tenter de documenter le déploiement des techniques de contrôle, l’infiltration des mouvements, les tentatives de gérer la cartographie et la progression physique de la marche, les approches visant à décourager les manifestants et le déploiement de technologies. Chaque instrument est réglementé : le régime d’informateurs et de surveillance fait appel à différentes techniques de légitimation et les gaz lacrymogènes et les canons sonores sont également assujettis à certains contrôles.
De plus, il faut également étudier l’environnement juridique des pratiques policières qui peuvent inclure des arrestations massives ou des conditions de remise en liberté des manifestants qui limitent la capacité de retourner à la marche. On utilise de tous côtés de nouvelles techniques de surveillance avant, pendant et après la manifestation : les policiers et les manifestants se prennent en photos les uns et les autres. Cette surveillance et contre –surveillance opèrent dans un cadre juridique flou.
Nous avons également des outils juridiques traditionnels comme la réglementation municipale qui interdit l’utilisation des parcs après certaines heures, la réglementation des voies d’accès automobiles et les dispositions du Code criminel de violations de la paix et de prévention des émeutes. Il ne faut pas oublier l’effet d’autres structures de réglementation comme le droit de l’immigration qui peuvent pénaliser des manifestants dont le statut d’immigration est vulnérable.
Chaque instrument doit être analysé au regard de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés et de l’évolution du droit canadien. Il n’est pas surprenant de trouver des règlements municipaux qui semblent visiblement violer la liberté d’expression. Cependant, c’est surtout dans leur application cumulative qu’on peut constater des violations du droit à la liberté de réunion pacifique. D’une certaine façon, le droit constitutionnel crée un méta-système dans lequel je tente de mesurer l’effet cumulatif de la réglementation et le potentiel d’imposition d’un silence politique. La dimension collective des libertés traditionnelles, comme la liberté d’expression ou de religion, a souvent été négligée. De plus, la liberté de se réunir « paisiblement » et la liberté d’association n’ont pas été beaucoup étudiées. L’expression collective des droits constitutionnels mérite donc d’être mieux théorisée. Cette étude se fait en collaboration avec des partenaires internationaux qui militent pour une meilleure protection de la liberté de réunion pacifique. Un des enjeux est justement l’ajout du qualificatif « pacifique » à la protection internationale : à quel moment est-ce qu’une réunion n’est plus pacifique? Qui décide? Des violations par quelques manifestants rendent-elles la manifestation hors du champ de la protection internationale? Les autres garanties juridiques de présomption d’innocence et de droit au silence continuent de s’appliquer, mais comment sont-elles mises en œuvre dans un contexte de grands déploiements et d’affrontements violents.
Les défis méthodologiques sont importants puisque le « terrain », l’expression concrète de la manifestation, ne peut pas toujours être appréhendé avec rigueur. On ne pas toujours se fier aux reportages médiatiques puisque nous avons été en mesure de voir comment cette couverture n’est pas toujours complète. Des observateurs neutres pour rendre compte de ce qui se passe vraiment dans les manifestations manquent souvent. Les agents de police, les interlocuteurs et les manifestants peuvent également hésiter à témoigner de leur expérience dans le contexte où ils s’exposent à des poursuites.
En parallèle avec cet inventaire de l’encadrement juridique du droit de manifester, je m’intéresse aux efforts des groupes de protection des droits. Il faut mieux comprendre comment bien déployer les stratégies politiques et juridiques pour assurer l’imputabilité des décideurs ou des corps policiers qui ne respectent pas les prescriptions constitutionnelles. Le grand défi de l’effectivité du droit est particulièrement mis en lumière dans le contexte du droit de manifester.
Au cours des dernières années, nous avons vu des manifestations partout dans le monde, souvent sanglantes. On note de plus en plus une internationalisation de la manifestation qui se vit dans la rue et sur Twitter. La solidarité dépasse le local et veut s’affirmer au niveau international de façon instantanée. Les corps policiers oeuvrent également dans un contexte international où les techniques et la formation traversent les frontières. Les enjeux de réforme du droit n’existent pas dans l’abstrait : ils demandent des changements de pratique tout autant que des changements législatifs et une sensibilisation de la communauté. Il faut aussi faire avancer la théorie juridique constitutionnelle : le droit constitutionnel doit intégrer les instruments d’imputabilité dans la conception même de la protection du droit à la dissidence.
C’est Irvin Layton qui disait “une petite fraction de l’humanité veut vraiment la liberté; le reste veut seulement qu’on leur dise qu’ils sont libres”. Mon travail vise à garantir que nous puissions toutes et tous manifester véritablement notre droit à la dissidence. Il n’est pas suffisant d’être rassuré par des paroles creuses.
Since the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada, researchers have been anticipating (with some optimism) that, as promised, he will reinstate the long form census. In fact, as I was in the process of writing this piece, I received an email from a colleague inviting me to sign a petition, titled: “Reinstate the Long-Form Census in time for 2016” which is to be sent to Wayde Smith, Deputy Minister responsible for Statistics Canada, and Justin Trudeau, Leader of Liberal Party of Canada. The idea, I assume, is to demonstrate to the deputy minister and the prime minister designate, that there is widespread support for the “Long-Form Census” because the collected data is not only important to policymakers for developing evidence-based policies related to social services and infrastructure, but also for social scientists: “to track demographic patterns and shifts in the Canadian population . . . ; to shed light on our ethnic, linguistic, racial, and religious make up; to identify disparities in income and education levels, among, for instance, immigrant, second-generation, and aboriginal peoples, and between men and women; and to understand how we think about our identities” (Petition). It is these last two points on the significance of the census data that I wish to focus on here. Specifically, I argue that the re-instated long form census needs to be explicit and deliberate in collecting race date from Canadians – for only in doing so will we be able to fully understand and appreciate the disparities among members of our society, and those of racialized Canadians in particular relating to their workforce participation.
I was a member of a research team that recently completed an SSHRC-funded study on the situation of racialized and Indigenous faculty members in Canadian universities. We faced numerous obstacles, not the least we were unable to obtain reliable quantitative race data from either Statistic Canada or Canada's major universities. In part, this is because in Canada, we do not have a culture of collecting race data, and because of the tendency to aggregate the data for racialized Canadians under “visible minority” – a term which, according to the 1986 Employment Equity Act, refers to “persons, other than peoples who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour” (Driedger & Halli, 2004 Race and Racism: Canada’s Challenge). Furthermore, Driedger and Halli remind us that while the 1996 Canadian Census introduced a question to “enumerate the visible minority population, the word race was never used in the actual question, but it appeared in the instructions for respondents.” In fact, Question 17 of the census asked the question: “What were the ethnic or cultural origins of this person’s ancestors?” It is unlikely that “cultural origin” here refers to “race,” since respondents were instructed that “An ancestor is usually more distant than a grandparent.” But in a society where many Canadians – typically White Canadians of British background – tend not to think of an ancestry beyond Canada, it is understandable that most would indicate “Canadian” (the first example given on the possible list of ancestries). If the new iteration of the census is to collect data which institutions might use to develop equitable and inclusive policies and practices, then it must take “Canadian” as our nationality and not as ethnicity or race. Clearly, ethnicity is not the same as race; and culture cannot be used as substitute for race or ethnicity. While a person’s culture (i.e. values, norms, mores, ideas, behaviours etc.) and related cultural identities are informed by the intersectional relationships of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and many other demographic factors and in relation to context, it is misleading to conflate race and culture, and ethnicity and culture.
Collecting and presenting race data in disaggregated form – as opposed to the aggregated “visible minority” cluster – might help to encourage a practice of recognizing the heterogeneity and particularities of racialized groups, and not treat them as having the same experiences. For instance, Statistics Canada Research Paper by Garnette Picott and Feng Hou (March 2011) on “the determinants of labour market outcomes among the children of immigrants” found that “even after controlling for education and residential location… second generation Blacks tend to earn less while second generation Chinese tend to earn more than other visible minority groups.” The authors suggest that economic returns for education as well as “ethnic capital” – the advantages or disadvantages transmitted to individuals through membership in particular ethnic group – significantly influence outcomes for racialized members of the society. Hence, it is not sufficient for employment equity advertisements to ask that “all qualified candidates, including women, members of visible minorities” apply for jobs in an effort to demonstrate the institution’s commitment “to recruiting a diverse workforce.” This homogenizing of experiences not only obscures the inter-group differences but also the social, historical, cultural, health (or medical) and other differences that exist among the groups. To achieve equitable “visible minority” representation in the workforce, we need disaggregated data not only of the “visible minority” category, but also that of women – for just as women are to be represented in the “visible minority” category, the reverse is also necessary. In the absence of such representation, it cannot be claimed that real diversity exists.
In calling for, and insisting on, the reinstatement of the long form census, members of the academy will have to work to provide appropriate leadership that would change the race-avoidance discourse and culture of the institutions – a culture premised on the colour-blind multicultural neoliberal ethos of society and institutions. Members of the academy need to encourage acceptance (not tolerance) of race as an identity variable that must be explicitly engaged if we are to understand and appreciate the complexities and nuances of diversity , as well as demonstrate how best to ensure equitable representation and accommodation of all society’s members in our workforces. Our research on race and racialization in the academy has found that universities’ impetus to have a more diverse faculty with experiences and scholarship that are responsive to the diverse needs, interests and aspirations of the growing ethnically and racially diverse student body has waned to the point where respondents were feeling that they would unlikely be hired today. Respondents reported that the “good intentions” that might have inspired the introduction of employment equity programs that brought a number of Aboriginal and racialized scholars into the universities was not accompanied by an institutional climate that was ready to accommodate their ‘differences.’ They said that racism, racialization, classism, and discrimination that operated as hurdles or barriers to their participation in these institutions in the first place, contributed to precarious work situations in which they found themselves as they worked to make their colleagues ‘get pass their accent,’ skin colour, and relationships to their communities. Some respondents indicated that they had a sense that universities were reverting to their traditional white homogeneous character, causing them to increasingly feel marginalized – even as universities’ advertisements declare commitment to having an ethnically and racially diverse faculty body.
Essentially, we need the long form census but one that explicitly engages race if universities and other workforces are to become substantively diverse and really inclusive.
I am one of a group of seven social scientists who have recently completed an SSHRC-funded study of the experiences of racialized and Indigenous faculty members in Canadian universities. The book, based on a large number of interviews, analysis of employment equity programs, and analysis of differential data on representation, salaries, and tenure and promotion, is forthcoming. In this brief article, I wish to reflect on some of the issues that arose during the interview process. Recently I was reading through some of the transcripts and it struck me that nearly two years later, after the recordings have been anonymized, coded, and organized several of them stand out because of the clarity or the passion of the words. I have a clear memory of those individuals, and of the many subtle aspects—gestures, facial expressions, expressions of anger, empathy, bewilderment—that do not come across in the depersonalized transcripts. Three themes emerged:
1) The Interview as a Safe Space
Experiences of racialization, and especially the subtle and ephemeral events that Philomena Essed calls “everyday racism,” are not readily divulged. Most of our participants indicated in one way or another that they do not talk about their experiences, that even their most allied white colleagues don’t “get it,” and that administrators certainly don’t get it, and that they are afraid of the repercussions of trying to communicate that which even well intentioned people don’t get. That fear is amplified among those who are untenured or in contractually limited positions. On one occasion, I began an interview with an Indigenous man in the usual manner by presenting him with the letter of intent and consent form that are mandated by our ethics review board and was pulled up short by his assertion that before going any further he wanted to interview me. He was interested in the project overall, but he wanted to know my qualifications to speak to and understand an indigenous person, how much I knew about indigeneity and human rights, what was my commitment to social justice. It took about ten minutes of back and forth before he gave me a broad smile, the first I had seen since he had entered the room, and said “Okay, now let’s talk.” He proceeded to give me a fulsome, politically charged, but very personal account that ranged from the needs and challenges of providing Indigenous education in the university, to his experiences of growing up as an Indigenous person in the city in a white society. It was a soul-baring discussion; I left with a profound sense of the responsibility that I as a researcher carried by receiving his trust.
2) Micro aggressions and subtleties
The subtlety of everyday racism was a frequently raised topic. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges to developing appropriate and effective anti-racism policies and practices in the academy is to address the range of experiences from structural, institutional, and overt racism to everyday microaggressions. These may of course be understood within a structural, institutional context, but they are still very difficult to deal with institutionally. hey tend to be denied by colleagues and administrators who cannot—and often do not want to—see them, and as a result individuals experience the double oppression of the microagressions themselves and the widespread denouncement and denial that they even occur. In short, microagressions make up a large part of what we have called a culture of whiteness.
A culture of whiteness is an environment of “racism that is not racism” (at least in the minds of dominant group microaggressors). Here is a story recounted by one of our participants:
when people see me in a classroom, and ask me what do you teach, and I say “I teach sociology,” and they say "good for you!" ... and one case, not long ago, a woman asked me—I was entering the room, she was leaving the room, … we were talking, … and she said "What do you teach?" and I said theory, and she said “theory in Spanish”? I said, “no I don't teach in Spanish, I teach in Sociology.”
This account is typical of the stories of “racism that is not racism,” but that weighs one down, that creates distances and silences between people who might otherwise have a great deal in common, that represents a form of Othering so profound, and yet so absolutely invisible and inaudible to those who commit it, that many participants express either a sense of hopelessness (“there is nothing the administration can do about it”) or in some cases a sense of guilt or suppression that doubles the oppression.
During interviews, when people started to talk about everyday oppressions, their body language shifted: they became more agitated in their seats; their voices rose a little; they lost the analytical tone that many started with as they discussed policies and practices. One of our biggest challenges, then, is to provide the education that will allow greater numbers of dominant group people to “get” the full spectrum of experiences of racialization, but also to allow them to examine their own microaggressions in a productive manner.
3) Relations with family
Relations with family was not a theme that I started the interviews prepared to discuss, and it came as something of a surprise that it was raised, and that it was one of the most emotional topics. It is one thing to experience unpleasantness or discrimination oneself, but quite another to see it happening to those one loves. Some were a little positive. One individual recounted how on moving to the town in which the university is situated they were welcomed by neighbours who gave their daughter dolls with blond hair. It was not only the giving of the dolls but the overt statements about the beauty of the dolls’ hair that so upset him. But he then went on to talk about how hard he and his partner had worked to instill in their daughter a sense of her own beauty and an unassailable confidence in her own body.
Others spoke of the difficulties for spouses who could not find fulfilling employment, especially in smaller university cities, despite having high level professional qualifications. One individual spoke of having been recruited to the university from a country in Africa:
We have a fourteen year old daughter, and she … had lots of issues. She didn't really want to come to Canada because she already had her own circle of friends back in Africa where we came, so... I guess she was more likely to pick up on things that were not quite the way she expected. … like somebody in her class that was surprised that she could speak English, you know, she said "Duh!" My English is better than yours!
4) The places beyond the university
The examples I have given so far indicate that the university is not an isolated bubble, that it is connected to a larger geographical community; that place matters. As a geographer, I am acutely attuned to the effects of place, and to the spatial interactions between the university and its setting. The issues of the wider community were especially marked in smaller cities, which in Canada are almost all much more white than the larger cities that have over time received a much higher proportion of immigrants of colour. The story to which I now turn is of an individual in a smaller Canadian city with a considerable agricultural industry. The city is demographically one of the whitest in Canada, but the agricultural labour force is dominated by temporary foreign workers, who come to Canada from Latin America and the Caribbean to work for short periods of time for very low wages.
This individual told me that his experiences in the university were quite positive, but that he could never be comfortable in the surrounding city, and he gave many examples. One was his experience at local super markets and gas stations. If he wore jeans and a hoodie, he would inevitably be asked to provide identification at the cash register, and on one occasion that experience sparked a discussion among the cashiers because his ID identified him as a “doctor” and he did not “look like a doctor.” On more than one occasion he was asked which farm he worked for. So he soon learned, he said that when he went out into the town on the weekend to conduct his business, he must wear a suit jacket in order to avoid these confrontations. He also said:
… they called me Carlos, … and my name was not Carlos, and then they say "Oh! Carlos, John, Charles, doesn't hurt," ... I wonder if I was someone else if they would be so careless, you know, just things like that. And they just ... you learn how to deal with that.
We conducted a significant number of interviews in universities in small cities, and heard many similar stories. Some learned to deal with it; others were determined to leave at the first opportunity. The loss of the latter of course would only reduce the representation of racialized and Indigenous faculty and buttress the whiteness of the surrounding community and the university. The loss of good scholars in such contexts is not only a demographic loss, but a lessening of the university’s ability to provide a diverse curriculum and in many cases to provide the kind of anti-oppression pedagogy and research that might help to change the academy and society at large.
I chose these examples because they convey in emotional ways some of the ways in which racialized and Indigenous academics experience the subtle “racism that is not racism” in their everyday lives. These are experiences that are seldom talked about or acknowledged by others; the experiences that others “don’t’ get” in a culture of whiteness; the experiences that lead to the double oppression of occurring/recurring and then being denied; the experiences for which the best defense is often simply the adaptive one: “you learn to deal with that.” These stories represent only one aspect of our overall research project,” but they illustrate the wide range of issues that are manifest in the process of racialization.