Multiculturalism and security: Debating the dichotomy
Has the relationship between multiculturalism and security shifted since 9/11? That’s one of the many questions UFV political scientist Dr. Rita Dhamoon is examining. “The connection,” she explains, “while recently intensified, has always been there.” Largely focused on exploring the relationship between multiculturalism, security, and nation-building in Canada and elsewhere, Dhamoon’s program of study is topical and current.
One of her most recent works, “Dangerous (Internal) Foreigners and Nation-Building: The Case of Canada” delves into the topic further. Co-authored with the University of Alberta’s well-known scholar on multiculturalism, migration and citizenship, Dr. Yasmeen Abu-Laban, the authors posit that “political scientists may potentially deal better with the challenges posed in our time by being analytically attuned to racialized discourses of foreignness, nation and security.”
The authors’ research highlights the issue with reference to the case of Maher Arar, a dual citizen of Canada and Syria. While traveling through the United States in 2002, American officials accused him of being a member of Al Qaeda. After being deported to Syria, he was imprisoned and tortured for more than one year. The aftermath of Arar’s deportation resulted in public pressure to form a fact-finding commission, which eventually found him innocent of any illegal or terrorist activity.
Dhamoon’s research suggests that the way the case was handled both illustrated and impacted the way we conceive of multicultural and security related policies: “In western liberal democracies, whether intended to or not, ‘foreignness’ and especially the construction of ‘internal dangerous foreigners’ seem to coincide with discourses of nation-building, security, and race thinking”.
When discussing her work, Dhamoon is quick to assert that these issues are closely related to other over-arching questions of identity and difference politics, which happens to be the topic of her first book, Identity/Difference Politics: How difference is produced and why it matters (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009).
With the creation of ‘ethnically inclusive’ security roundtables and other such ‘multi-cultural’ initiatives, Dhamoon’s chosen topic is on the forefront of Canadian research. Her critical perspective invites us to question how we perceive threats to national security, the notion of diversity and the Other.
Read more about�Dr. Dhamoon's research work.