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Accepted Paper:

Between Essentialisms and Cosmopolitisms: re-imaging multicultural education  


Daniel Yon (York University)

Paper short abstract:

Inspired by the burgeoning literature on cosmopolitanisms, auto-ethnographic teaching work, and Conley's 'chaosmopolis', this paper interrogates the tensions between strategic essentialisms' desires for 'recognition' and identity as conflicted temporary assemblage, in envisioning multiculturalism.

Paper long abstract:

I bring the findings of ethnographic work in a high school into conversation with contemporary scholarship on cosmopolitanism, cosmo-politics, eco-politics and my current auto-ethnographic work teaching a university course on cosmopolitanisms and questions of belonging, both in the city of Toronto. I explored the tensions that are invoked by the embodied essentialism(s) of a politics of recognition, on the one hand, and the 'tug-of-war' of the everyday workings of identity as partial becomings. I juxtapose the imaginary lens of cultural pluralism, and 'cultures' a pre-existent and discrete entities, with Conley's (2002) 'chaosmopolis' that views the city as continually being created and re-created. I explore what it might mean to re-energize Canadian multiculturalism through these tensions and against a backdrop of populist anti-multicultural rhetoric and sentiment. I argue for the retention of the tension, to engage with the clash of theory and to resist the temptation to domesticate the messiness in the interest of theoretical coherence.

Panel P168c
Contemporary Essentialisms