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LIVING TOGETHER: CANADA, 10 YEARS AFTER 9/11 (September 10-11, 2011)
full name / name of organization:
Centre for Canadian Studies of Grenoble (CEC38)
International Conference organized by the Canadian Studies Centre of Grenoble (CEC38), with the participation of the research group on Modes of Representation in English studies (CEMRA EA 3016) and the research group on Public policies, Political action and Territories (PACTE UMR 5194)
Date: September 10-11, 2011.
The September 11 attacks have not only been the catalyst event that marked the beginning of a new era outlined by a redefinition of geostrategic priorities on a global scale. They have also put into question the identities of subnational, national and supranational communities.
In Canada, this questioning can lead us in two directions. The first one relates to the ambiguous relationship the country has had with the United States – a long-standing ally but also a foil to the development of an identity built on opposition (unilateralism vs. multilateralism, melting-pot vs. multiculturalism, private vs. universal health care, etc.).
The Canadians responded to the terrible events of 9/11 with heartfelt sympathy, and swiftly acted by committing to the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. However, this didn’t prevent their neighbours from reconsidering the special relation that had united them for decades. Hence, the United States, unnerved by rumours indicating that the terrorists had planned their actions from Canada, decided to reinforce the Canada-U.S. border, which considerably reduced its permeability but also adversely affected cross-border trade. Canadians, in turn, grew increasingly uneasy about Washington’s inordinate reactions in the campaign against the “axis of evil”, and refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq. To outside observers, the divorce between the two nations, or the two communities, seemed to have been pronounced.
Ten years after 9/11, how are the United States and Canada living together? From a diplomatic or economic standpoint, have the attacks modified the balance of power in a significant way, or have they had, with hindsight, a limited impact compared to the changes brought, for example, by the election of Barack Obama in the United States, or Stephen Harper in Canada?
Looking at domestic policy, how did the main political parties in Canada position themselves in the post-9/11 environment? Did they use the event for political gain? How did reactions differ at the federal, provincial or local levels? Has 9/11 shed new light on the geostrategic importance of the Arctic region?
Another dimension that needs to be taken into account relates to the consequences of the terrorist attacks on the ways Canadians are living together in a society made up of several ethnic groups. This is of course linked to the issue of multiculturalism, since this policy – which was adopted in the 1970s as an answer to the questions raised by pluralism – has progressively become one of the pillars of Canadian national identity, though it has been questioned several times since the 1990s.
While it was proved that none of the September 11 terrorists had operated or come from Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has acknowledged that a great number of terrorist organizations are active in Canada, not only because of the proximity to the United States, but also because of the pluralism of Canadian society. From here, a link is often made between the Canadian policy of multiculturalism, which enables groups to preserve their cultural traits, and the development of religious fundamentalism or terrorist networks, which are said to be more checked in countries based on assimilation. If we also take into account the association of terrorism with religion or ethnic origin in some people’s minds, the general tendency to cultural isolationism, or the debate surrounding demands from specific groups (i.e. the introduction of Sharia law in the Canadian legal system) it is easy to understand why the issue of living together should be of such importance in today’s Canada.
Ten years after 9/11, how are the different communities present in Canada living together? Have community relations, especially between mainstream and Arab/Muslim groups, changed in any way? How do minorities see their integration into Canadian society? Can 9/11 alone explain why multiculturalism is being reconsidered in Canada, or is this phenomenon linked to some deep-seated reasons which may also account for its decline in Europe?
More widely, can we say that 9/11 has had an impact on contemporary issues in Canada? Did it affect in any way the debate on reasonable accommodation in Quebec, or the organization of the Vancouver Olympics, for example?
Please send your abstract (in French or English) before April 11, 2011 to
Registration fees: 50 euros