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Is Race Political?

  • Debra Thompson (a1)

Abstract. This article demonstrates that though the political nature of race is evident and constitutes an important area of research, there is a dearth of literature on race in English Canadian political science particularly as compared to other social sciences. The article provides explanations for this disciplinary silence, including methodological fuzziness, dominant elite-focused and colour-blind approaches to the study of politics, and the prevalence of ideas and foci about the nature of Canadian politics. In order to avoid the danger of disciplinary lag, it concludes with several ways of addressing this disparity between the political science and the society it purports to analyze.

Résumé. Malgré l'essence politique évidente du concept de «race» et son importance indéniable comme sujet de recherche, la littérature de science politique canadienne-anglaise s'y attarde très peu, surtout en comparaison des autres sciences sociales. L'article explique les causes de ce silence disciplinaire. Celles-ci incluent un flou méthodologique, une approche surtout centrée sur l'élite, une perspective «daltonienne» concernant l'étude de la politique, ainsi que la prédominance de certaines idées quant à la nature de la politique canadienne. Afin d'éviter un danger de lacune disciplinaire, l'article propose des solutions permettant de réduire l'écart entre la science politique et son objet d'étude, soit la société réelle.

Corresponding author
Debra Thompson, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, 3018 Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada,
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Yasmeen Abu-Laban . 2002. “Challenging the Gendered Vertical Mosaic: Immigrants, Ethnic Minorities, Gender, and Political Participation.” In Citizen Politics: Research and Theory in Canadian Political Behaviour, ed. J. Everitt and B. O'Neill . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Himani Bannerji . 2000. “The Paradox of Diversity: The Construction of a Multicultural Canada and ‘Women of Color.’Women's Studies International Forum 23: 536–60.

David Cameron and Jacqueline Krikorian . 2002. “The Study of Federalism 1960–1999: A Content Review of Several Leading Canadian Academic Journals.” Canadian Public Administration 45: 328–63.

Joseph H. Carens 2000. Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Barnor Hesse . 2007. “Racialized Modernity: An Analytics of White Mythologies.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30: 643–63.

Rupert Taylor . 1996. “Political Science Encounters ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity.’Racial and Ethnic Studies 19: 884–95.

Nelson Wiseman . 2007. In Search of Canadian Political Culture. Vancouver: UBC Press.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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