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Plateaus of freedom : nationality, culture and state security in Canada, 1927-1957

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Plateaus of freedom : nationality, culture and state security in Canada, 1927-1957

Kristmanson, Mark (1999) Plateaus of freedom : nationality, culture and state security in Canada, 1927-1957. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between national culture and state security in mid-twentieth century Canada. Using records opened through Access to Information it challenges received interpretations regarding the origins of official multiculturalism and federal cultural institutions. Drawing a distinction between nationalism and nationality, it argues that Canada's 'national culture' evolved continuously with the grid of national security states. The argument proceeds by way of micronarratives and close archival readings of textual and audio-visual sources. Part 1 asks how landscape was inhabited, culturally? Aboriginal artforms and European landscape art are juxtaposed with military reconaissance and 'remote sensing' to trace the formation of a 'citizen-observer' attuned to the nation's need for protective sentience. Painter A. Y. Jackson's 1927 Arctic Patrol marked a limit in that subjective construction; Grey Owl's residencies in National Parks gestured towards an alternative cultural inhabitation of landscape, questing beyond aboriginal or settler stereotypes for a hybrid mode of observation. Part 2 argues that multicultural states are, of necessity, security states. Political theory grounds special rights in cultural specificity but it disavows concomitant security measures directed towards ethnocultural minorities. Liberal and poststructuralist theories are counterposed to inquire why there was no right not to be a citizen. Culture and security formed a conceptual device, sensing and regulating 'alien' phenomena, but also producing a 'state' of anxiety marked by official secrecy and compromised civil liberties. Canadian Multiculturalism derives from wartime security concerns. Idiosyncratic British Intelligence veteran Tracy Philipps embarrasses nationalist historiography by connecting Canada's early multiculturalism policies to an anglomorphic censorship-propaganda-intelligence complex. During the National Film Board's 'red scare' (1948-53), the RCMP misrecognized the NFB's security dimension even as Norman McLaren's 1952 Oscar-winning Neighbours obliquely pointed it out. Whenever culture and security intersect, citizens 'remember-to-forget'. In Part 3, counterintelligence expert Peter Dwyer's amateur play delineates two forms of secrecy and solves a riddle concerning suspected spy Harry Dexter White. Dwyer drafted legislation to found the Canada Council even as he shaped the emerging security state. His role in the 1945-46 Gouzenko Affair suggests that, contrary to prevailing accounts, the defection was a propaganda coup inspired by British Intelligence. Despite catastrophic consequences of Cold War for 'progressivism', the Canadian activities of performer/activist Paul Robeson opened a "third space" between nationality and nationalism.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Kristmanson, Mark
Pagination:482 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm. + 1 sound cassette (ca. 16 min.)
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Humanities Programme
Date:1999
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carr, Graham
ID Code:832
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:14
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:16
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