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The Citizen Insider/Outsider: Governmentality, Citizenship and Quebec's Reasonable Accommodation Commission

Posted: 29 Mar 2010  

Nisha K. Nath

affiliation not provided to SSRN


Citizenship is often described substantively and formally as delineating between insiders and outsiders. Yet the neatness of these boundaries of inclusion and exclusion has been uniquely and heavily tested by recent events in the Canadian province of Quebec. In the spring of 2006, Quebec's media began to report on a number of curious themes, all of which reinforced a growing consensus that cracks were appearing in Canada's multicultural mosaic. Invective language referenced ethnic enclaves, the discourse of tolerance resurfaced with full force, and a powerful Othering discourse, engaging with notions of race and gender, collided with conceptions of religion, culture, and secularism. Perhaps most critically, a discourse on reasonable accommodation - on the extent to which the dominant society in Quebec should accommodate designated 'others' - dominated common parlance while discussions of systemic inequality faded into the background. By February 2007, months of controversy culminated in the establishment of The Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences.By examining media reports, commission submissions, and the commissions final report, this paper explores the idea of the citizen that straddles lines of inclusion and exclusion - the citizen insider/outsider. In addition to unpacking the particular profile of this citizen, this paper explores how a governmentality approach to citizenship may deepen our understandings of what we require from different constituencies of citizens, and how citizen insider/outsiders are cultivated and conducted to act within particular regimes of possibility.

Suggested Citation

Nath, Nisha K., The Citizen Insider/Outsider: Governmentality, Citizenship and Quebec's Reasonable Accommodation Commission. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN:

Nisha K. Nath (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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