Capital Structure Article Review

Capital Structure Article Review

Order Description
Review the article in detail and provide responses to the below requirements.

1. Describe how the capital structure decision can create value for the firm
2. Discuss the author’s evidence on the relationship between the size of the firm and its credit rating
3. Explain the stated relationship between capital structure and risk management

Evaluation of Research Article
Order Description

Read and and review the article I will upload.

Bokhorst-Heng, W. (2007). Multiculturalism’s narratives in Singapore and Canada: Exploring a model for comparative multiculturalism and multicultural education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 39(6), 629-658.

Then addresses the following questions about the Bokhorst-Heng article below:

1. Which paradigm do the researchers adhere to? Why did you assign that particular paradigm (i.e., What made you think that the researcher followed that paradigm)?

2. What are the research questions the study addresses?

3. What type of quantitative or qualitative research design is each study?

4. Were theoretical or procedural sampling methods used?

5. What specific type of theoretical or procedural sampling method did the study use? Was it a cross-sectional or longitudinal design?

6. Given the particular sampling method used in the study, evaluate the degree of generalizability or transferability. Address who or what is the target of the sampling method (population, groups, theory, etc.) Do the researchers provide a reasonable justification for the chosen sampling method? Could the researchers have reasonably used better sampling methods to address the research question? For example, if they used non-probability sampling, why might the researchers have used probability sampling instead?

7. Describe the type of data and the methods used to collect the data. If quantitative methods were used, identify the level of measurement and type of test used.

8. Given the research question or aim of the study, evaluate if the type of data and method of data collection were appropriate. Would other types of data have substantially enhanced your understanding of the findings or research question? What questions did the type and method of data leave unanswered?
J. CURRICULUM STUDIES, 2007, VOL. 39, NO. 6, 629–658
Journal of Curriculum Studies ISSN 0022–0272 print/ISSN 1366–5839 online ©2007 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/00220270701506324
Multiculturalism’s narratives in Singapore and Canada:
exploring a model for comparative multiculturalism and
multicultural education
J012TOwWo0aCrdue.02iyb1Ugnr027lnh0iod-0Snae8r0y0a ln02Ba& 2lAgo/ 7n0oA@f 2dF0kC2r r72h(gFt5aipu2omrcn0ra0rlirc4asenn2iit9icst7-l9)u.iH0c/s.l17s oueL3g0nmt6m1gd 65S-0t5u68d33i29e4s (online) This paper examines the diverse nature of multiculturalism. Although there is no lack of
literature on multiculturalism, it is dominated by a Western paradigm and perspectives. This
paper offers a model that takes a pluralistic perspective on diversity by locating multiculturalism
within the imaginings of the nation. This model uses the concept of narratives with its
ideological bases to invite dialogue among various multiculturalisms and to examine the
processes by which particular multicultural narratives emerge within their socio-political and
historical locations. The Canadian and Singaporean multicultural narratives are explored to
tease out some of the nuances of this model.
Keywords: Canada; comparative education; cross-cultural studies;
multicultural education; Singapore
Rarely is the diverse nature of multicultural discourses and practices given
attention in discussions of multiculturalism and multicultural education.
Ironically, against the very logic of multicultural discourse, these diverse
perspectives are not talking to each other. I offer a model by which to begin
to explore diversity’s diversity. My starting point is the location of multicultural
education within the state-power education and nationalism trajectory.
The location of multiculturalism and multicultural education within the
unique ‘imaginings’ of the nation (Anderson 1991) creates the space for
dialogue among the various definitions, discourses, and practices of
multiculturalism. Some questions to be explored include:
? How is multicultural education defined?
? How does this definition (or definitions) come to be dominant?
? What are the goals and objectives of multicultural education?
? How does multicultural education intersect with multiculturalism at
the societal and political levels?
? How does multicultural education intersect with the ‘imagined
? What are the practices of multicultural education?
? How do these practices relate to its ideological meanings?
Wendy D. Bokhorst-Heng (e-mail: [email protected]) was an assistant professor in the
Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Her research focuses on multiculturalism and multicultural education, language ideology
and multilingualism, and literacy. Her recent papers have appeared in Multilingua and
in J. Blommaert (ed.), Language Ideological Debates (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1999).
In that context, I turn to Blommaert and Verschuren’s (1998) work on
‘debating diversity’, Linde’s (1993, 2001) concept of ‘institutional narratives’,
and ideas of discourse, discourse analysis, and semiotics (Thompson
1984, Gal and Irvine 1995, Bokhorst-Heng 1998, Blommaert 2005). I
suggest that the concept of ‘statal narratives’ (Wee and Bokhorst-Heng
2005), with its ideological bases, is a means by which to explore diversity’s
diversity, to invite dialogue among various multicultural narratives, and to
examine the processes by which particular multicultural narratives emerge.
Singaporean and Canadian multicultural narratives will be explored to
examine some nuances of this model.
Diversity’s monologues
Much of the literature on multiculturalism and multicultural education
stems from debates in Canada, Australia, the UK, the USA, and elsewhere
in the ‘Western’ world.1 This dominance is not surprising, given that the
multicultural ‘movement’ originated in the USA in the 1960s and certainly
has had an impact throughout the Western world. However, it is ironic that
while these bodies of literature are aware of each other, there has been little
effort to compare systematically their histories and meanings and to examine
how these differences could inform an understanding and pedagogy of
multicultural education. As Troyna (1993, cited in May 1999: vii) noted in
his review of two accounts of multicultural education in the UK and the
USA, each would have benefited from knowledge of the other. He
concluded that ‘the need for dialogue between the two is plain for all to see’.
Even outside ‘Western’ conceptualizations of multiculturalisms, there is
little comparison or dialogue among their different manifestations. For
example, an analysis (Bokhorst-Heng and Gervais-Sodani 2002) of ~ 50
papers on multicultural education2 demonstrated that none explored
systematically a comparative perspective. Mitchell and Salsbury’s (1996)
international guide to multicultural research, policies, and programmes
provides basic summary histories of multicultural education in 42 countries,
but made no synthesis or comparative analysis part of its agenda. Similarly,
Banks and McGee Banks’s (2004) Handbook on Multicultural Education
includes three chapters under a section titled ‘International perspectives on
multicultural education’, but there is no suggestion of any comparative analysis.
Although Banks (2001: 40) acknowledges that educational developments
in other Western countries occur at different times and ‘reflect the
cultural, political, and historical context of the nation in which they occur’,
he nonetheless unproblematically places them all on the same path in terms
of their processes and trajectories. Ironically, given his call to link multicultural
and global education, there is nothing outside the US experience that
informs his paradigm and analyses. Similarly, Bennett (1999) puts forward
the ‘existence of an interconnected world’ and global dynamics as a reason
for why multicultural education is essential, yet is silent on global perspectives
of multiculturalism.3
One of the few exceptions in the literature is Parekh’s (1997, 2005)4
work on multiculturalism and political theory which argues for a pluralist
perspective on cultural diversity and its impact on political theory. In developing
a theoretical basis of multicultural societies, he distinguishes five kinds
of multiculturalism: isolationist; accommodative; autonomist; critical or
interactive; and cosmopolitan (he acknowledges there could be even more).
As Parekh (1997: 185) correctly points out, a failure to appreciate this
diversity of multicultural perspectives often results in a simplistic and impoverishing
conflation of different forms of multiculturalism that fails to
‘capture the full range of multicultural movements’. Parekh’s own analysis
is more integrative, although unfortunately (as he himself admits), it focuses
primarily on Western traditions of thought.
These authors, it should be noted, never claimed to set out a comparative
agenda, and were very much focused on the multicultural debates and
on defining the theory and practices of multicultural education within their
own socio-cultural settings. Their contribution has been significant, pushing
educators and policy-makers to think more seriously about critical and
inclusive pedagogy within a multicultural framework. However, if one is
talking about accepting and appreciating diversity, about inclusive
education, about developing multiple historical perspectives, about being
responsible global citizens, about combating all forms of prejudice and
discrimination, about strengthening cultural consciousness—to name but
just a few of multicultural education’s stated goals (Bennett 1999)—it makes
sense in a globalized world to think beyond the debates and experiences
within one’s national borders.
What I propose here is specific attention to the development of a
systematic framework by which to develop a dialogue: a framework within
which to explore a more richly nuanced view of the diverse nature of multiculturalisms
and multicultural education, and a framework that invites
dialogue across experiences and allows researchers to unpack diversity’s
Statal multicultural narratives
The researchers already mentioned make central to their analysis the
profoundly political and ideological nature of multiculturalism. The multicultural
debate in the US, Cornbleth and Waugh (1995: 4–5) suggest, ‘is a
debate about what it means to be an American and which vision of a redefined
America should be passed on to the next generation’. Anderson’s
(1991) notion of ‘imagined communities’ suggests how national and citizenry
identities—including notions of multiculturalism—are forever in
process and are ideological (Bokhorst-Heng 1998). Giroux (1992: 53) also
notes how national identity ‘is always a shifting, unsettled complex of historical
struggles and experiences that are cross-fertilized, produced, and transacted
through a variety of cultures. As such it is always open to interpretation
and struggle’. As part of national identity, diversity and multiculturalism are
thus also open to multiple views and interpretations. Both within nations
and across nations there is no one paradigm by which to understand
multiculturalism. In addition, the ideological nature of imagining the nation
suggests such imagining is steeped in power relations (Bokhorst-Heng
1998). ‘Multiculturalism in any form, shape, or colour’, Torres (1998: 175)
contends, ‘relates to the politics of difference and the emerging social
struggles over racialized, gendered, and classist societies’.
Torres (1998: 14) also observes that ‘[p]articularly during the twentieth
century, education has increasingly become a function of the state’.5 Regardless
of the particular type of state or its strength, he notes, ‘the state is said
to play a major role in providing for the socialization of the citizenry and in
creating the appropriate symbolic conditions for nurturing the political
culture of the people’ (p. 15). Participants at a 2003 Southeast Asian workshop
on multicultural education noted the central role that education plays
in the dynamics of multiculturalism, calling education the ‘practical
dimension of multiculturalism’, and that multicultural education is ‘an
implementation dimension of multiculturalism as normative doctrine or
ideology’ (Sunarto et al. 2004: 160–161), regardless of the particular
‘normative doctrine’ at play. I would go further than mere implementation,
and suggest that education is both implicated in and implicates the ideological
processes of multiculturalism.
Current theorizing the state-multiculturalism and identity-education
nexus focuses on the ‘debates on diversity’, that is ‘the empirically observable
side of the processes constituting public opinion, policy-making and
legitimation’ (Blommaert and Verschueren 1998: 4). Using the tools of
linguistic pragmatics, researchers examine those debates as ideologically
and discursively constructed in specific discourse types (the language of a
training programme for police officers), in a single text (a brochure
educating the public in multicultural matters), and in the rationale for
specific ‘anti-racist’ policies. Thus, they consider the actual processes of
ideology formation, as well as the relationship between these particular
ideologies and policy. This allows them to examine, for example, the ways
in which the discourse on diversity in Belgium is ‘an instrument for the
reproduction of social problems, forms of inequality and majority power’
(p. 4).
As a way to map this complex relationship among the state, multiculturalism
and identity, and education, and to understand the diverse nature of
the meanings and practices of multiculturalism(s), I draw upon Linde’s
(1993, 2001) study of ‘institutional narratives’ and its application to the
state: ‘statal narratives’ (Wee and Bokhorst-Heng 2005). Linde (2001)
contends that an analysis of narratives in institutional contexts, which
includes the narratives produced by nations, centres attention on the
ideological and discursive work that narratives perform to: reproduce the
institution/nation; reproduce or challenge its power structures; induct new
members; create the identity of the institution/nation and its members/citizens;
adapt to change; and to deal with contested or contradictory versions
of the past. As Linde summarizes, ‘We may understand this as the way an
institution uses narrative to create and reproduce its identity by the creation
and maintenance of an institutional memory’ (p. 519).
However, why statal narratives, when there are so many other narratives
at play in the discourses of multiculturalisms and multicultural identities?
Often embedded in imagining the nation are multiple narratives,
each representing different voices competing to realize particular visions
of the ideal multicultural identity. Yet, Blommaert (2005: 220) argues
are good reasons to attribute a special position to the state as an actor in the
construction and reproduction of orders of indexicality within stratified
polycentric systems, enormous differences between states with regard to effectiveness,
scope and range of activities notwithstanding.6
That is, whether a state is strong and effective, or whether it is weak, it
remains a critical actor in creating, reproducing, and disseminating the official
narrative. All other actors, such as non-government organizations, civil
society, and individuals, generate their narratives in relation to the official
narrative; they react to the statal narrative. As Blommaert (2005: 220) maintains,
the statal narrative becomes a point of reference from which others
There will be cases where the state’s authority appears to be overruled by that
of the others: the real centres to which people orient can be religion, political
organizations, neighbourhoods, media, or other civil society actors. … This
should not be denied, but my point is that the actions of such non-state actors
need to be understood with reference to the state, which remains a centring institution
at one particular level. … Even very ‘weak’ states can be very strong as
frames of reference and points of contrast (and, hence, as meaning-attributing
centres) for all sorts of non-state activities.
Furthermore, the state, by being the state, has a unique capacity to exert
substantial control over ‘access to symbolic resources, and access to spaces
of interpretation and value-attribution’ (Blommaert 2005: 220). Statal
narratives are thus discourses of power ‘by the state or its apparatuses [in this
context, especially education] about the (ascribed) ethno-linguistic identity
of its citizens’ (p. 220; emphasis in original). Hence, the attention on statal
Applying these ideas to a discussion of statal narratives, and to a framework
of comparative multiculturalism, three levels of analysis emerge:
(1) National identity: a focus on statal narratives allows researchers to
examine the processes of imagining the nation and national identity in
relation to diversity and multiculturalisms. What is it that government
leaders regard as the ideal conceptualization of the nation and
its citizenry? In particular, how do its multiculturalism narratives
work with this identity? How does the narrative represent the past
and develop a statal memory? How does this narrative adapt to
global and national change? How does this narrative operate within
the dynamic global/transnational–local/national nexus.
(2) Power relations: how does this statal narrative reproduce the power
structures within the nation? Who benefits from this particular story
of national identity and of multiculturalism? What are the purposes
of multiculturalism? Are there other multiculturalism narratives
(Blommaert’s ‘identity repertoires’) that challenge the statal narrative,
and in what ways?
(3) The relationship between ideology and practice: what does education do
to reproduce the narrative and induct new citizens into the statal
narrative? What are the pedagogical practices of multicultural education
in the various levels of school policy and practice? What is the
relationship between educational policy and that statal multicultural
The statal narrative is a framework by which to understand the identity and
practices of multicultural education in a particular imagining of the nation;
and it is a framework that allows researchers to compare across multiculturalisms
and to explore the dynamic nature and practice of multicultural
Finally, a fundamental character of a statal narrative is its ideological
bases. As Blommaert and Verschuren (1998: 26) contend, ‘the most
tangible manifestation of ideology is discourse’, the ‘observable instance of
communicative behaviour’. It stands to reason then that empirical ideology
research almost necessarily must involve at least some significant component
of discourse analysis (e.g. Blommaert and Verschuren’s (1998) ‘materialist
perspective’, or Thompson’s (1984) ‘depth-interpretative procedure’). The
most rudimentary component of discourse is language. As described by
Blommaert and Verschuren (1998: 32), language is the ‘central medium of
discourse, as a way into ideology’. A discourse-analytical approach will
encourage a focus on how meaning is produced through discourse.7
In the following sections, I examine the nuances of this model of statal
narratives and the ways in which it allows researchers to explore diversity’s
diversity, employing some of the tools of discourse analysis and the processes
of ideology formation. My focus will be on the statal multicultural narratives
in two multicultural societies, Singapore and Canada.
Singapore’s statal multicultural narratives
Multiculturalism: unity in diversity
Singapore is a multicultural nation, with a unique ethnic mix, given its
geographic location. According to the 2000 Census of Population
(Singapore 2000), its population of 3.2 million is ethnically comprised of
76.8% Chinese, 13.9% Malay, 7.9% Indian, and 1.4% ‘other’, while being
surrounded by predominantly Malay and Islamic neighbours in Indonesia
and Malaysia. Given these ethnic categories, there are four official languages
in Singapore: Malay, which also carries the status of national language
(although spoken with any degree of proficiency primarily by Malays),
Mandarin, Tamil, and English. Of these linguistic categories, Malay, Tamil
and Mandarin are considered mother-tongue languages, with growing instrumental
value, while English is given only instrumental status (Wee 2003)
with no mother-tongue status.
From the nation’s inception, racial, religious, and linguistic diversity,
and the vulnerability it creates, have been central to imagining Singapore. A
key factor leading to the separation of Singapore and Malaysia was very
different visions of multiculturalism. Whereas the former central government
preferred a form of affirmative action that favoured the ethnic Malays,
Singapore was against any policy that gave preferential treatment to a particular
ethnic group. Singaporeans argued for a Malaysian Malaysia, rather
than a Malay Malaysia. Thus, when Singapore became an independent
state, to maintain its political legitimacy, it was essential that it be committed
to envisioning a Singaporean Singapore, rather than drawing attention to
Singapore’s dominant Chinese population through preferential policies.
National and social cohesion has therefore been at the top of the agenda.
To this end, Singapore has pursued a form of multiculturalism that
discursively places all ethnic groups on parity with one another under the
motto of ‘unity in diversity’. Policies concerned with housing, national
service, community development programmes, and so forth, have all been
framed by the rhetoric of national cohesion. Politics are de-racialized in
Singapore in that there are no ethnic-based political parties (as there are in
Malaysia). And because the leaders have stated their commitment to multiculturalism,
there are no race-based affirmative action policies: one cannot
argue institutional racism as ‘race’ has been taken care of as social category
and ‘problem’ by the government. Furthermore, religious diversity is
tolerated and inscribed in the country’s national calendar. Each of the main
religions, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity, are given two
national holidays.
Every year, Singapore celebrates ‘racial harmony week’, which reinstates
and re-imagines these components of its multiracial nation: on the one hand,
it reminds Singaporeans of the vulnerabilities associated with its racial diversity,
and at the same time, it crystallizes its racial quadric population. ‘A
“fantastic” night as 5000 feasted in perfect harmony’ read the front page
headline of The Straits Times (Singapore’s main English-language daily
newspaper) (Quek 2004) during the 2004 annual racial harmony week. The
article highlighted how participants wore ethnic dresses from ethnic groups
not their own, and how the guests were entertained by ethnic dances and
songs. The Ministry of Education’s (2004) ‘Racial Harmony’ website bears
a distinctive logo (see figure 1, with children wearing their ethnic dress.
Figure 1. Quadrant multiracialism. This view of ‘multiculturalism’ involves what Weaver (2000) calls ‘surface
culture’, illustrated by the one-tenth part of an iceberg that is above the
surface. This would entail such matters as art, music, drama, dance, dress,
cooking, and other cultural artifacts, and stands in contrast to the nine-tenths
of the iceberg below the surface, or ‘deep culture’—the often unconscious
assumptions, values, and understandings that people hold. In education, a
Figure 1. Quadrant multiracialism.
deployment of surface culture is manifested in what Banks (2001), Nieto
(2000), and others call a ‘food and festival’ or ‘heroes and holidays’ approach
to multicultural education. Typically, these areas are non-threatening and
often readily shared and celebrated by others, but do not get at the heart of
cultural meanings; in fact, they often perpetuate stereotypes and water down
the real issues in cultural meanings, difference, and inequality.
In some respects, Singapore’s education policies reinforce this ‘iceberg’
model in the schools. Whereas the different language/race schools characteristic
of pre- and early-independence were replaced by English medium of
instruction for all, leading to more integrated classrooms, students are still
required to attend separate ‘mother-tongue’ classes. Moral education is
taught in these separate language classes as well. As a result, multiculturalism
has actually concretized ethnic differences and widened the gap among races
(Lai 2004), rather than encouraging integration and shared understandings.
Several statements from Minister for Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s
speech on 22 November 2005 at a Junior College ‘Harmonyworks!’
conference capture the main themes in Singapore’s statal multicultural
narrative. First, he provides a rationale for multiculturalism embedded in the
discourse of vulnerability.
The values of multiculturalism that [our young] learn and practise in school
and in the community are critical in securing Singapore’s future. They are how
we prevent racial intolerance and strife, such as what we experienced in our
own history and see elsewhere in the world. … For the generations of young
Singaporeans now going through our schools, for whom the racial riots four
decades ago are learnt through textbooks and accounts handed down from
earlier generations, there is always a vivid, real-time reminder in the world
around us. (Shanmugaratnam 2005: sec. 2 and 4)
Leaders frequently evoke the racial riots of the 1960s as a way to legitimize
present-day policies regarding race. A recent example comes from an incident
involving the sentencing of two bloggers who posted racist remarks
about Muslims and Malays on their blogs. The judge made reference to the
1964 race riots, saying:
Young Singaporeans, like the accused persons before this Court, may have
short memories that race and religion are sensitive issues. They must realize
that callous and reckless remarks on racial or religious subjects have the potential
to cause social disorder. (Asia Media 2005)
Tharman also alludes to the ‘unity in diversity’ motto that characterizes
the multicultural model in Singapore, evoked in the notion of ‘common
space’: ‘[W]e try to entrench the gains we make in each generation, and
expand the common space that all communities share in Singapore—in our
schools and in the community’ (Shanmugaratnam 2005: sec. 7). The ‘unity
in diversity’ model places all ethnic groups on parity with one another. Then
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong used the metaphor of four overlapping
circles in a speech in Parliament in May 1999 to capture this concept of
Each circle represents one community. The four circles overlap each other.
What we can do is maximize the overlapping area. This is the area where all
Singaporeans, whatever their race, work and play together. It is an open, level
playing field, with English as the common language and equal opportunities
for all. Outside this common area, where the circles do not overlap, each
community has [its] own playing field. In this separate area, each community
can retain and speak its own language and practise its own culture and
customs. This practical approach of nation-building whereby every community
has two playing fields has given us multi-racial harmony. This approach
helps us to build a harmonious nation of diversity. (Goh Chok Tong 1999)
This suggests a multicultural model that is reductive and accomplished
through a homogenization that is achieved through two distinct semiotic
processes in ideology formation (Gal and Irvine 1995, Gal 1998): erasure
and recursiveness. Erasure refers to a process in which ‘references to peoples
or activities [or relationships] may be omitted in the course of ideological
construction’ (Wee and Bokhorst-Heng 2005: 162). For example, in his
speech at the launch of the 1991 Speak Mandarin Campaign (an annual
campaign since 1979 to promote the use and status of the Chinese
language), Goh summarized his speech by saying: ‘The Chinese community
should aim to be a single people with Mandarin as its common language and
sharing a distinct culture, a shared past and a common destiny for the future’
(Gohn Chock Tong 1991), erasing Singapore’s divergent immigrant past.
Recursiveness ‘involves the projection of a distinction made at one level onto
some other level(s)’. Leaders frequently evoke a straw-man argument, using
a widely debunked definition of the nation-state—‘a group of people having
a common origin and common institutions, including language’—to equate
unity with homogeneity. In so doing they (like Goh) are able to problematize
racial diversity and to re-inscribe vulnerability into the national narrative, as
well as lay the groundwork for their solution to the ‘problem’. The net result
is the reduction of Singapore’s rich multicultural diversity into a tidy quadrant
package: Chinese, Malay, Indian, and ‘Other’ (CMIO), diminishing
(and managing) the rich diversity within these categories. This quadrant also
presents the four racial categories as neutral and equal, and, through erasure,
minimizing the minority–majority relationships among them.
Minister Tharman evokes the national pledge in developing another
powerful theme in the statal multicultural narrative: equality, realized
through meritocracy. ‘The Government is committed to ensuring that every
Singaporean has the opportunity to realize his [sic] full promise in life,
regardless of race, language or religion’ (Shanmugaratnam 2005: sec. 8).
Race-based self-help organizations, racially- and class-integrated public
housing through a quota system, and educational (and hence social)
streaming by ‘objective’ standardized tests, operate to level the playing field
among the races. The decision to make English the inter-racial language of
communication, and of education and the economy, is also rationalized on
the grounds of meritocracy (Bokhorst-Heng 1998, Moore 2000).
Tharman brings in the instrumental rationale for multiculturalism, as a
way to attract economic capital (Singapore as the ‘gateway to Asia’) and
tourist capital (‘instant Asia’):
But multiracialism is not just a defensive set of beliefs. It is also how we secure
a bright future for Singapore, as a diverse society and global city, open to
people from all over Asia and the world. Diversity is a strategic advantage for
Singapore, not just a source of potential cleavages or frictions. It is how we
distinguish ourselves from most other Asian cities, and what attracts people to
Singapore. (Shanmugaratnam 2005: sec. 3)
There is a sense, already alluded to slightly in Goh’s comments above and
made explicit by Tharman, that common physical space designed to encourage
inter-racial interaction is a key means by which to achieve racial
Multiracialism only comes about when each generation takes advantage of the
common spaces in our schools and communities, to interact with each other,
develop a sense of comfort and friendships with each other (Shanmugaratnam
2005: sec. 10).
The ‘common spaces’ in the school are achieved through co-curricular activities
How do we provide more opportunities for students of different races to mix
with each other? In all my conversations with school leaders, CCA comes up
as a major opportunity. We can do a lot more to exploit the potential of CCA
(Shanmugaratnam 2005: sec. 13).
Tharman then spends the rest of his speech talking about how existing
CCAs, such as dance, orchestra, and sport, can actively encourage the
involvement of all students to break their ethnic moulds. This argument is
built on the notion that greater interaction in these events will lead to greater
racial harmony, measured by a lack of conflict.
Singapore’s statal narrative concerning multiculturalism thus assumes
? the dominant status of the Chinese community is non-problematic;
? the four ethnic groups in the CMIO model are seen as equal partners
in the imagining of the nation, with each community taking up the
same amount of socio-political and power space;
? in contrast to the ‘common area’, the languages and cultures of the
ethnic communities are ‘closed’ areas, and the different cultural
groups do not overlap into each other (i.e. the meeting ground is
outside, in the common area);
? the conflation of race and culture;
? one will identify with one of the four ethnic circle; and
? co-existence means harmony.
Bilingual education within a multicultural framework
‘Multicultural education’ is not a phrase used in Singapore. Instead, multiculturalism
is realized through the bilingual education policy (Lee Kuan
Yew 2005). In many ways, language policy is the central characteristic of
Singapore’s education policy. ‘Bilingualism and learning the mother
tongue’, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (2004) argued, ‘will remain
the cornerstone of our education policy’. And according to the then Acting
Minister for Education, Tharman Shanmugaratnam (2004), ‘Bilingualism is
a central piece of Singapore’s education system’. Thus, to get at the full
nuances of multiculturalism in education, it is necessary to consider the
discourses structuring Singapore’s bilingual education policy—‘bilingualism
within a multicultural framework’, playing on Canada’s 1971 multicultural
model of ‘multiculturalism within a bilingual framework’ (see below).
Singapore’s language policy is justified by two arguments directly related
to Singapore’s wider statal narrative (Wee and Bokhorst-Heng 2005). The
first is an emphasis on economic development, which suggests a need for
English-language proficiency to attract foreign investment and to make
Singapore a viable player in the global market. However, the government is
also concerned about the potentially negative effects of ‘decadent’ westernization
and globalization on its population, and about the need to keep
Singapore nationally distinct. It therefore established the ‘mother-tongue’
policy, institutionalizing the three mother-tongue languages in bilingual
education. Hence, at the national level, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil are
the official mother-tongue languages. At the individual level, mother tongue
is ascribed based on one’s father’s ethnicity, and individual bilingualism.
In his Speak Mandarin Campaign speech, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan
Yew (1984) unequivocally stated: ‘One abiding reason why we have to
persist in bilingualism is that English will not be emotionally acceptable as
our mother tongue’. To achieve both the national and individual forms of
multi/bi-lingualism, a bilingual education policy has been put in place,
whereby students are required to learn their ‘mother tongue’ as a second
Consider the following statements from Singapore’s first Prime Minister,
Lee Kuan Yew’s (1972) inaugural speech on language. In the first
extract, Lee positions language squarely in the imagining of the nation:
I am convinced that this effort [of bilingualism] has to be made, if we are to
survive as a distinctive society, worth the preserving. Or we will become
completely deculturalized and lost. If we become like some societies speaking
pidgin English, mindlessly aping the Americans or British with no basic values
or culture of their own, then, frankly, I do not believe this is a society or nation
worth the building, let alone defending. (p. 5)
The message and words used are strong: ‘convinced’, ‘effort’, ‘survive’,
‘distinctive’, ‘worth the preserving’, ‘deculturalized’, and ‘lost’. At stake here
is the value of the nation. His use of hypothetical conditionals frame the type
of society Singapore might well become. This is intensified later in his
speech when he says (again, using a hypothetical conditional statement): ‘If
we fail to resolve effectively our problem of languages, and preserve what is
best in our respective cultural values, we could become an even more enfeebled
version of the deculturalized Caribbean calypso-type society’ (p. 6).
According to Lee, Caribbean society’s defining feature is that it has no
culture of its own. That society tries to imitate the Americans, it speaks only
a debased pidginized form of English, and it has no basic values of its own.
It has no rigorous economic agenda. Its only achievement is leading an
‘island-in-the-sun, steel-drum-beating and rum-brewing-and-drinking,
happy-go-lucky life’. Such a ‘calypso-type’ society is, in his view, not worth
building or defending. This then is the scenario Lee placed before
Singaporeans. If this were to happen, if Singapore were to become an
English-knowing monolingual society, then, Lee told parliament, ‘we are in
deep trouble’ (Lee Kwan Yew 1977: 29). What he is suggesting is that, it is
only through a single common language (in this case Mandarin, and not
dialects, reflecting the earlier emphasis of the Speak Mandarin Campaign)
that identity can emerge.
Lee also presents his view that bilingualism is not just a matter of
learning languages; rather, languages are to be learned for different
purposes. English is for gaining ‘access to science and technology’ while the
mother-tongue languages are intended to help Singaporeans ‘understand
themselves’, ‘what they are’, and ‘where they came from’:
Please note that when I speak of bilingualism, I do not mean just the facility of
speaking two languages. It is more basic than that, first, we understand
ourselves: what we are, where we came from, what life is, or should be about,
and what we want to do. Then the facility of the English language gives us
access to the science and technology of the West. (Lee Kuan Yew 1972: 8)
In a televised speech, he summarized it this way: while English is for new
knowledge, to support the development of a modern industrial nation,
mother tongue is for old knowledge, an accumulation of a few thousand years
of wisdom (No administrative measures 1980).
Lee Kuan Yew also emphasizes his view that the mother-tongue
languages are associated with distinct values, and play a distinct role in
establishing Singapore’s unique identity:
And it is not just learning the language. With the language goes the fables and
proverbs. It is the learning of a whole value system, a whole philosophy of life,
that can maintain the fabric of our society intact, in spite of exposure to all the
current madnesses around the world. … Only when we first know our traditional
values, can we be quite clear the Western world is a different system, a
different voltage, structured for purposes different from ours. (Lee Kuan Yew
1972: 9–10)
Fast forward to 2004. Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is giving
his reasons for why the government remains committed to the mothertongue
In a fast-changing world and in an age of mass communications, we need a
sturdy values system to define who we are and to anchor us to a place called
‘home’. The English language enables us to plug into the global grid and access
the latest science, technology and fashion. But mother tongue helps us access
what is critical in us: our roots, culture and identity. Otherwise, we will be
mocked as ‘bananas’—yellow on the outside but white on the inside. … Our
Asian heritage and values give us confidence in ourselves and provide the
ballast in our society. I believe that without deep roots in our Asian culture and
without a clear identity of our own, we will drift like a piece of flotsam in the
sea of globalization, following mindlessly the latest trends and fads. We will be
less confident of ourselves. But if we are anchored in our Asian culture, we will
be like a tall tree, rooted to the earth which nourishes us, while at the same
time, reaching up for the sky. (Goh Chok Tong 2004)
There is the same underlying theme noted earlier, although now the issue is
not the ‘decadent west’ but rather the fear of anonymity and non-distinctiveness
in a globalized world. However, the link between culture and values and
language remains distinct. In an earlier speech at the launch of the 1991
Speak Mandarin Campaign, Goh Chok Tong (1991) made this relationship
between values and language even more distinct: ‘Values and language
cannot be easily separated. They are intrinsically linked to each other’. And
this view has been continued by the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien
Loong (2005) in his speech at the launch of the 2005 Speak Mandarin
If we use only English, and allow our mother tongue to degenerate, we will, in
time, lose our values and cultural heritage. The nature of our society will
change for the worse. Ultimately, our self-confidence as a people will be undermined.
Hence … we cannot afford to lose our mother tongue. (Lee Hsien
Loong 2005: sec. 3)
Later in his speech, he broadened this discourse of identity and values to the
other mother-tongue groups as well:
I have focussed today on Chinese, as this is the launch of the Speak Mandarin
Campaign. But, in fact, the Malay and Indian communities also face similar
concerns in the learning and speaking of their mother tongues. Each ethnic
community wants to retain its culture, language and its links to its roots.
Ultimately, it is these roots and values that give Singapore our diversity,
identity and unique strength. (Lee Hsien Loong 2005: sec. 16)
What Gal and Irvine (1995) call the semiotic processes of iconization—
‘qualities that may otherwise be seen as incidental or contingent come to be
interpreted instead as reflecting essential or inherent properties of individuals
or groups’ (Wee and Bokhorst-Heng 2005: 161)—are at play here. For
in Lee’s argument, the mother-tongue language is ‘not merely contingently
linked to one’s ethnic identity but is instead treated as inalienable and
essential’ (p. 167).
In Lee Hsien Loong’s speech,8 there is an ambiguous transference from
ethnic identity to national identity—that somehow, with all the races focused
on their own unique histories and languages, culture, and values, a pan-
Asian Singaporean definitive identity will emerge:
Being bilingual in our mother tongues allows us to flourish as an open, cosmopolitan
society, without losing our Asian heritage and roots. By nurturing these
special traits that characterize our multi-racial and multi-religious society, we
can widen the common ground which we all share together, and work towards
a shared vision and future for Singapore. (Lee Hsien Loong 2005: sec. 16)
Speaking at The Chinese High School Anniversary celebrations, Goh Chock
Tong (2004) talks about ‘our Asian’ heritage and culture in the singular,
even while acknowledging Singapore’s growing cosmopolitanism:
‘Singapore is not an Anglo-Saxon country, nor are we situated in the West.
Our neighbours are Asian. Moreover, our society will become more cosmopolitan.
Hence, it is essential that we retain our Asian core’ (Goh Chok Tong
2004). And then he goes on to talk about having ‘deep roots in our Asian
culture’. Once again he traverses between Chinese culture, identity and roots,
and Asian.
This brief analysis of the multicultural narrative in Singapore presents a
view of multiculturalism that centres on unity through homogeneity within
each of the three racial (politically) categories, and that centres on a national
identity vis-à-vis the West and vis-à-vis the globalized world. In so doing, it
minimizes the majority status of the Chinese, and presents a somewhat
romanticized notion of unity in diversity. It is a narrative of pragmatic and
political utility, providing a framework within which to manage Singapore’s
diverse population and to define the boundaries of racial discourse, and a
framework within which to manage the divergent needs of Singapore’s
‘glocal’ identity—using Goh’s terminology, rooted in Singapore while at the
same time reaching into the sky.
Canada’s statal multicultural narratives
Multiculturalism within a bilingual framework
Canada is a country with 10 provinces and three territories, each with their
unique geographic, demographic, and socio-political characteristics. Federal
policies promoting cultural diversity have existed in Canada since the 1940s
(Joshee 2004), with different responses and adaptations from the various
provinces. In broad strokes, one can think of three major phases in Canada’s
demographic history (Leman 1999). The first consists of aboriginal peoples,
about 3.7% of the total population. The second force consists of the colonizing
groups, or ‘charter’ groups, who are seen as the ‘founding’ members
of Canadian society, including both the French- and English-speaking
communities. The third comprises those racial and ethnic minorities who
fall outside the charter groups: native and foreign-born Canadians with
some non-French and non-British ancestry. In 2002, almost one-quarter
(23%) of Canada’s population of 31.4 million people were not born in
Canada (Statistics Canada 2003a). Nearly half of these (46%) had non-
European ancestry (other than British or French). The 2001 census
(Statistics Canada 2003b) documents more than 200 ethnic origins represented
in the Canadian population. Approximately 4% of the population
identified themselves as part of the aboriginal population, representing 50
different languages. Of the total population, 13.4% identified themselves as
members of a ‘visible minority’, the majority being Chinese, South Asians,
Black, and Filipino. On its Department of Canadian Heritage website
(Canadian Heritage 2006), the Government estimates that by the year 2016,
close to 20% of the adult population will fall into this category. Of the total
population, 22% reported mixed ethnic heritages, and 16% were nativespeakers
of neither English nor French. Of these, Chinese is the most
frequently reported native language, followed by Italian, German, Punjabi,
Spanish, and Polish. Like Singapore, then, Canada is a nation characterized
by rich multiculturalism.
Canada’s first official policy of multiculturalism, entitled Multiculturalism
within a Bilingual Framework was announced by then Prime Minister
Pierre Trudeau in 1971. This policy was developed in part as a response to
the 1963 Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (Trudeau
1971), which some saw as prioritizing the British and French charter groups
over other ethnic groups. Pressure from these other groups led to a shift from
biculturalism to multiculturalism (Breton 1986, Bibby 1990, Reitz and
Breton 1994), but this shift was also a response to the liberalization of
Canada’s immigration policy in the 1960s, signalling an acceptance of a new
non-European ethnic diversity. At the same time, this document established
multiculturalism as a national symbol for Canadians and fulfilled the need
for a distinctive Canadian identity—particularly vis-à-vis the US (Breton
1986, Bibby 1990, Esses and Gardner 1996). In 1982, multiculturalism was
referred to in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Later the Act for
the Preservation and Enhancement of Multiculturalism in Canada (The Multiculturalism
Act) (Bill C-93) (Government of Canada 1988) was proclaimed in
1988. And in 1997, after a programme review, a Renewed Multiculturalism
Program (Canadian Heritage 1997) was announced by the Department of
Canadian Heritage (with slight revisions in 2003). As a result of these policies,
all federal and provincial governments have the legislative responsibility
to promote multiculturalism throughout their departments and agencies.
The historical framing of ‘multiculturalism within a bilingual framework’
(Trudeau 1971) has meant both possibility and constraint in the statal
narrative. On the one hand, it provided an immediate framework within
which to respond to the rapidly increasing diversification of the Canadian
population in the 1960s while respecting the two founding charter groups.
Through processes of recursivity (Gal and Irvine 1995), Trudeau (1971)
presented the multicultural framework as an expansion of previous cultural
policies towards the Francophone and ‘native’ communities. However, on
the other hand, the multicultural framework established ‘multiculturalism’
to be about ‘the other’, exclusive of those with British or French heritage,
while at the same time suggesting equality to be something about ‘sameness’
(Broad and Antony 1999). Embedded in the narrative is thus a tension,
resulting in variable emphases on different themes at different times in the
In broad strokes, Canada’s statal narrative is one that sees multiculturalism
as ‘the Canadian approach to forging a socially cohesive country based
on liberal democratic values’ (Canadian Heritage 2004a). The Preamble to
The Multiculturalism Act (Government of Canada 1988) serves as a preamble
to this discussion:
[T]he Government of Canada recognizes the diversity of Canadians as regards
to race, national or ethnic origin, colour and religion, as a fundamental characteristic
of Canadian society and is committed to a policy of multiculturalism
designed to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Canadians
while working to achieve the equality of all Canadians in the economic, social,
cultural and political life of Canada.
Embedded in this quote are the predominant archaeological layers in
Canada’s statal multicultural narrative—first articulated and developed in
Trudeau’s (1971) speech on multiculturalism and then in subsequent policy
documents and annual reports. These key themes, which will be explored
below, are: preserving human rights (social justice), strengthening
citizenship participation, developing Canadian identity, social cohesion, and
multiculturalism as a national resource (instrumentalism). One can think of
the different themes as translucent discursive ‘archaeological layers’ (Bascia
2001), all the while present in the narrative but at times in the spotlight and
at times in the shadows. Not only have the themes themselves varied in
focus, but their meanings have also changed in response to the ongoing reimagining
(re-imaging) of the nation.
I begin with article 3(1) of The Multiculturalism Act (Government of
Canada 1988) which enshrined multiculturalism in the statal narrative, and
which establishes a point of reference in the following discussion:
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Government of Canada to
(a) recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism
reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and
acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to
preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage;
(b) recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism is a
fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and
that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada’s
(c) promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and
communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of
all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of
any barrier to such participation;
(d) recognize the existence of communities whose members share a
common origin and their historic contribution to Canadian society,
and enhance their development;
(e) ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection
under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;
(f) encourage and assist the social, cultural, economic and political
institutions of Canada to be respectful and inclusive of Canada’s
multicultural character;
(g) promote the understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction
between individuals and communities of different origins;
(h) foster the recognition and appreciation of the diverse cultures of
Canadian society and promote the reflection and the evolving
expressions of those cultures;
(i) preserve and enhance the use of languages other than English and
French, while strengthening the status and use of the official
languages of Canada; and
(j) advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the
national commitment to the official languages of Canada.
Preserving human rights (social justice)
Multiculturalism is fundamental to the Canadian belief that all citizens are
equal, and equality is fundamental to the Canadian narrative of multiculturalism.
Equality, expressed in and through multiculturalism, has come to be
regarded as a core ‘Canadian value’ (Goldman 2004: 12). This centrality of
human rights and equality to multiculturalism appears in The Multiculturalism
Act (Government of Canada 1988) in a few places (article 3(1)(a), (d),
and (e)), and is highlighted on the government’s Canadian Heritage multiculturalism
Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are
equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can
take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. (Canadian Heritage
This view of multiculturalism suggests the intertwined notions of individualism—
the protection and guarantee of every Canadian citizen’s right and
freedom to maintain their cultural heritage—and equality. As Goldman
(2004: 2) notes, multiculturalism in Canada ‘facilitates and encourages the
individual’s search for and observance of their unique ancestry, religious and
ethnic heritage. It enhances the link between the individual, their group
heritage, and the broader society in which they live’. While this has similar
overtones to Singapore’s call for ethno-cultural roots, unlike Singapore’s
sense of prescribed racial and cultural identity, Trudeau (1971) suggested
that cultural and ethnic identity is something that one can choose:
The royal commission was guided by the belief that adherence to one’s ethnic
group is influenced not so much by one’s origin or mother tongue as by one’s
sense of belonging to the group, and by what the commission calls the group’s
‘collective will to exist’. The government shares this belief.
The individual’s freedom would be hampered if he [sic] were locked for life
within a particular cultural compartment by the accident of birth or language.
Trudeau (1971) made this argument even stronger in his concluding statements
to the House:
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize the view of the government that a policy of
multiculturalism within a bilingual framework is basically the conscious
support of individual freedom of choice. We are free to be ourselves. But this
cannot be left to chance. It must be fostered and pursued actively. If freedom
of choice is in danger for some ethnic groups, it is in danger for all. It is the
policy of this government to eliminate any such danger and to ‘safeguard’ this
What he seems to suggest is that movement towards assimilation, unless
by choice, would be the expression of freedoms violated. What he fails to
acknowledge in his ideological construction of individual freedom and
choice is that, in many ways, such choice is a ‘white privilege’, and that for
many visible minorities, they are locked into their cultural identities by virtue
of their visible ‘difference’ (McIntosh 1988). However, at the same time, the
strong individualistic basis for cultural identity allows for a discourse on
human rights and anti-racism (see below) in the multicultural narrative.
National unity if it is to mean anything in the deeply personal sense, must be
founded on confidence in one’s own individual identity; out of this can grow
respect for that of others and a willingness to share ideas, attitudes and
assumptions. A vigorous policy of multiculturalism will help create this initial
confidence. It can form the base of a society which is based on fair play for all.
(Trudeau 1971)
This framework thus stands in contrast to the Singapore narrative, where
one’s prescribed and essentialized cultural identity supersedes the individual
in the interests of preserving the state, in keeping with a more Confucian
framework. It follows then that there is also no discourse in Singapore’s
statal multicultural narrative of rights or anti-racism, but rather a focus on
ensuring national stability.
Yet, as in Singapore, there is a sense in the Canadian narrative of social
equity as being an important component of multiculturalism, and of creating
a level playing field. At several points in The Multiculturalism Act (Government
of Canada 1988) reference is made to ‘equality’, such as ‘equitable
participation’ (article 3(1)(c)) and ‘equal treatment and equal protection’
(article 3(1)(e)). And in recent years, particularly in The Renewed Multiculturalism
Program (Canadian Heritage 1997) the goal of social justice has
been defined in terms of anti-racism. The revised programme guidelines
(Canadian Heritage 2003a: 1) state the following:
(2) Communities and the broad public engage in informed dialogue and
sustained action to combat racism:
? Increase public awareness, understanding and informed public dialogue
about multiculturalism, racism and cultural diversity in Canada.
? Facilitate collective community initiatives and responses to ethnic, racial,
religious, and cultural conflict and hate-motivated activities.
The government describes multiculturalism’s focus on giving everyone a
sense of belonging in Canada as a key strategy to combat racism:
Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making
them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures. The Canadian experience
has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony
and cross-cultural understanding, and discourages ghettoization, hatred,
discrimination and violence. (Canadian Heritage 2004b)
In the context of multicultural education, the social justice focus is
most clearly represented in anti-racist education and formed the basis for
many of the multicultural education policies developed in the 1980s
(Wright 2000, Joshee 2004). For example, the Council of Ministers of
Education Canada (1997: 7) required all provincial ministries and departments
of education to develop policies and processes to ‘review curriculum
and learning resources to ensure they are free of racial, ethnic, cultural,
gender, and socio-economic bias’.
Finally, as in Singapore, Trudeau (1971) sees language as playing an
important role in providing access to equal opportunity. ‘It is vital, therefore,
that every Canadian, whatever his ethnic origin, be given a chance to learn
at least one of the two languages in which his country conducts its official
business and its politics’. The role of language in multiculturalism will be
examined in the subsequent discussion on heritage languages.
Strengthening citizenship participation
The underlying objective of human rights and social justice is the right to full
civic participation in society, and the removal of all barriers to full participation
(The Multiculturalism Act, article 3(1)(c) and (f) (Government of Canada
1988)). As described by Leman (1999: 8), The Multiculturalism Act ‘sought
to preserve, enhance and incorporate cultural difference into the functioning
of Canadian society, while ensuring equal access and full participation for all
Canadians in the social, political, and economic spheres’. Trudeau (1971)
defined this objective in terms of helping all groups overcome cultural
barriers to participation, including linguistic barriers:
[T]he government will assist members of all cultural groups to overcome
cultural barriers to full participation in Canadian society. … [T]he government
will continue to assist immigrants to acquire at least one of Canada’s official
languages in order to become full participants in Canadian society.
This discourse has been criticized by some (Broad and Antony 1999, Joshee
2004) as smacking of liberalism’s tendency to define equality as ‘sameness’
in that it is comparative to the dominant group who then sets the standard.
The Renewed Multiculturalism Program (Canadian Heritage 1997) takes
this notion of civic participation further, to not just helping people overcome
barriers but to place the responsibility on government and public institutions
actively to eliminate systemic barriers to full civic participation. According to
the programme guidelines (Canadian Heritage 2003a: 1):
(1) Ethno-racial minorities participate in public decision-making: Assist in the
development of strategies that facilitate full and active participation of ethnic,
religious, and cultural communities in Canadian society. …
(3) Public institutions eliminate systemic barriers: Improve the ability of public
institutions to respond to ethnic, religious and cultural diversity by assisting in
the identification and removal of barriers to equitable access and by supporting
the involvement of these communities in public decision-making processes.
In this narrative, then, there is a strong sense of the intertwined concepts of
identity, social justice, and civic participation, brought together in the multiculturalism
programme mandate statement:
Strengthening Canada by fostering an inclusive society in which people of all
backgrounds, whose identities are recognized as vital to an evolving Canadian
identity, feel a sense of belonging and attachment to this country and participate
fully in Canadian society. (Canadian Heritage 2005)
In the Canadian multicultural narrative, then, the ideal society is one
that recognizes, respects, and reflects a diversity of cultures so that citizens
of all backgrounds can feel not so much a sense to their own cultural heritage,
but develop a sense of belonging and attachment to Canada. This logic
would follow Taylor’s (1994) ‘politics of recognition’—the thesis that argues
our identity, as individuals or groups, is partly shaped by the recognition (or
non-recognition) we receive from others.
Developing Canadian identity
As mentioned earlier, multiculturalism’s statal narrative positions diversity
as a fundamental Canadian value, central to Canadian citizenship (The
Multiculturalism Act, article 3(1)(a) and (b) (Government of Canada 1988)).
There are three aspects to this view. In the first place, there is the notion of
parallel identities. What this means in the statal narrative is that the state
recognizes and accepts differences in the cultural heritage and ethno-racial
origin of its citizens, and, as discussed under the section on ‘human rights’,
encourages this policy (The Multiculturalism Act, article 3(1)(a), (b), (d), (h),
and (i)). It does not assume a need to be a ‘single people’ forming ‘The
Nation’, but rather, that citizens can still share citizenship privileges and
duties while at the same time maintaining their own unique identities.
Consider the Government response to Trudeau’s (1971) statement:
The more secure we feel in one particular social context, the more we are free
to explore our identity beyond it. … Ethnic loyalties need not, and usually do
not, detract from wider loyalties to community and country.
Donaldson (2003) refers to these parallel identities as an ‘intersections
approach’ to identity in the Renewed Multiculturalism Program (Canadian
Heritage 1997)—an approach that takes into account differences within
communities as well as among communities. He goes on to note that:
in the parlance of social capital, the new identity goal provides the programme
with the opportunity to focus on projects that are designed to promote ‘bridging’
(inclusive) forms of social capital across communities, along with its traditional
focus on ‘bonding’ (exclusive) forms of social capital.
He goes on to say that:
‘Bridging’ social capital projects will provide the programme with an opportunity
to link more identities to multiculturalism and in this way meet the goal
of building a greater attachment to Canada through building a greater attachment
to the larger community.
This view suggests a much stronger concern in recent years in the narrative
on social cohesion.
As in the Singapore narrative, these expressions of identity are most
often framed by the cultural components that lie in the tip of the iceberg,
above the water—articulated in federal support for the arts, language
education, and history projects, gesturing to the ‘heroes’, and additive
approach to diversity. A focus on the superficial aspects of folklore or heritage
depoliticizes diversity, allowing it to have a celebratory hold on the
imagining of the nation. Thus, in the Canadian statal narrative, diversity
itself becomes the marker of national identity, as in the Government
response to Trudeau’s (1971) statement: ‘Indeed we believe that cultural
pluralism is the very essence of Canadian identity’. Elsewhere, Trudeau is
quoted by Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert (2002) in a speech to the
Hindu Society of Saskatchewan as saying, ‘multiculturalism is the very
cornerstone of our identity as a people’. Public opinion research consistently
shows that the majority of Canadians embrace this narrative (Kalin and
Berry 1994, Jedwab 2002).
As in the Singapore narrative, there is a sense in this celebratory Canadian
narrative that cultural diversity will give Canada a unique identity—particularly
vis-à-vis its southern neighbour. Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker,
cited in a booklet introducing the introduction to The Multiculturalism
Act (Government of Canada 1988), alludes to this when he says:
[Canada is not] a melting pot in which the individuality of each element is
destroyed in order to produce a new and totally different element. It is rather
a garden into which have been transplanted the hardiest and brightest flowers
from many lands, each retaining in its new environment the best of the qualities
for which it was loved and prized in its native land. (Canada, Department
of the Secretary of State 1987: 9)
In a document describing Canada’s culture and heritage, the
Department of Canadian Heritage (Canadian Heritage 2003b) makes this
even more transparent: ‘Canada’s insistence on its own cultural space
and on the importance of cultural diversity has as much to do with living
next door to the most powerful economic and cultural dynamo in the
Furthermore, cultural diversity is said to protect Canadians from the
anonymic tendencies of mass society and globalization. For example, in
describing one of the purposes of multiculturalism, Trudeau stated in 1972
that ‘We become less like others; we become less susceptible to cultural,
social or political envelopment by others’ (quoted in Bibby 1990: 49). And
in response to Trudeau’s earlier 1971 speech, the federal government noted
Cultural diversity throughout the world is being eroded by the impact of
industrial technology, mass communications and urbanization. Many writers
have discussed this as the creation of a mass society—in which mass-produced
culture and entertainment and large impersonal institutions threaten to denature
and depersonalize man. One of man’s basic needs is a sense of belonging.
… Ethnic groups are certainly not the only way in which this need for belonging
can be met, but they have been an important one in Canadian society.
Ethnic pluralism can help us overcome or prevent the homogenization and
depersonalization of mass society. Vibrant ethnic groups can give Canadians
of the second, third, and subsequent generations a feeling that they are
connected with tradition and with human experience in various parts of the
world and different periods of time. (Trudeau 1971)
Rather than being a goal, homogenization is to be aggressively avoided.
Social cohesion
Social cohesion received only minimal and indirect attention in Trudeau’s
1971 speech. It appears briefly in his third implementation strategy, where
he suggests that somehow greater interaction among groups will foster unity:
‘Third, the government will promote creative encounters and interchange
among all Canadian cultural groups in the interest of national unity’
(Trudeau 1971). And it appears more indirectly in the federal government’s
response to his speech when they talk about harmony, respect, and understanding:
As Canadians become more sensitive to their own ethnic identity and to the
richness of our country, we will become more involved with one another and
develop a greater acceptance of differences and a greater pride in our heritage.
… The government has made it very clear that it does not plan on aiding individual
groups to cut themselves off from the rest of society. The programmes
are designed to encourage cultural groups to share their heritage with all other
Canadians and with other countries, and to make us all aware of our cultural
diversity. (Trudeau 1971)
However, since the release of the 1997 Social Cohesion Research
Workplan (Canadian Heritage 2004c), there has been increased attention
given to social cohesion in the statal narrative. The Workplan identified
diversity as a ‘fault line’ in Canadian society, and defined social cohesion as
‘the ongoing process of developing a community of shared values, shared
challenges and equal opportunity within Canada, based on a sense of trust,
hope, and reciprocity among all Canadians’. Jenson (1998) regards the
increased attention given to social cohesion as a response to the
consequences of neoliberal policies, including a perceived lack of national
identity as a result of multiculturalism. Respect for diversity and multiculturalism
continue to be part of the social cohesion framework—but, using
Gal and Irvine’s (1995) notion of erasure, minimizes any emphasis on
social justice, with the result being a weaker version of multiculturalism
(Joshee 2004).
Multiculturalism as a national resource
Like Singapore, Canada’s statal multicultural narrative also has placed
instrumental value on diversity. As a resource, the narrative suggests that
diversity promotes creativity, i.e. skills are provided, understanding is
increased, is a resource in shaping Canada’s future, and overall, Canadian
society is richer because of its multicultural heritage (The Multiculturalism
Act, article 3(1)(a), (b), (d) (e), (g) (Government of Canada 1988)). For
Trudeau (1971), multiculturalism is what gives structure and vitality to
Canadian society:
The government will support and encourage the various cultures and ethnic
groups that give structure and vitality to our society. They will be encouraged
to share their cultural expression and values with other Canadians and so
contribute to a richer life for us all.
The federal government response to Trudeau’s speech captures the
broad view of multiculturalism’s contribution to Canada:
It believes the time is overdue for the people of Canada to become more aware
of the rich tradition of the many cultures we have in Canada. Canada’s citizens
come from almost every country in the world, and bring with them every major
world religion and language. This cultural diversity endows all Canadians with
a great variety of human experience. The government regards this as a heritage
to treasure and believes that Canada would be the poorer if we adopted assimilation
programmes forcing our citizens to forsake and forget the cultures they
have brought us. (Trudeau 1971)
Particularly since the mid-1980s when the government, under then
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, campaigned for ‘Multiculturalism means
Business’ (Joshee 2004), and in the context of globalization, this instrumental
discourse has become more pronounced, with a distinction being made
between multiculturalism (the basic principles of tolerance, pluralism,
community, and nationhood) and diversity (instrumental, a means to
increase the competitive ability of Canada to compete in the global markets).
For example:
Our diversity is a national asset. Recent advances in technology have made
international communications more important than ever. Canadians who
speak many languages and understand many cultures make it easier for
Canada to participate globally in areas of education, trade and diplomacy. …
The ethnocultural diversity of Canada’s population is a major advantage when
access to global markets is more important than ever to our economic prosperity.
(Canadian Heritage 2004b)
Quoting the then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in June 2000, the Canadian
Heritage report on Canadian diversity makes the same point:
Canada has become a post-national, multicultural society. It contains the
globe within its borders, and Canadians have learned that their two international
languages and their diversity are a comparative advantage and a source
of continuing creativity and innovation. Canadians are, by virtue of history and
necessity, open to the world. (Canadian Heritage 2004c)
His view echoes that of the Singapore narrative, when Tharman, quoted
above, declares in the context of multiculturalism that ‘Singapore is open to
the world’.
In addition to the linguistic and cultural value of multiculturalism, the
processes of multiculturalism are also identified as an asset. The government’s
multicultural website states:
Experience with diversity has taught us to accept and respect diverse views.
Canadians welcome debate and are willing to listen, discuss, negotiate and
compromise for the common good. This has made us effective international
mediators. We understand the virtues of accommodation and respect, and the
importance of negotiation in peaceful conflict resolution. (Canadian Heritage
Like Singapore, then, multiculturalism provides Canada the ideological
language to carve for itself a place on the world stage as a meeting point and
negotiator of difference.
Multicultural education and heritage language
As put by Joshee (2004: 127), ‘Issues of cultural diversity and citizenship
have been part of the educational agenda of Canada throughout its history.
This agenda comes in part from recognition of the need to consider cultural
diversity and citizenship as part of the on-going task of nation-building’, or,
imagining the nation. Although there is no federal department of education,
the federal government is significantly involved in aspects of education
related to national interests, including multiculturalism (Joshee 2004). The
1963 Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism’s report, which
was the impetus for The Multiculturalism Act, focused on the connection
between language and culture, and ultimately led to the government’s
explicit goal to encourage learning and retaining ‘heritage languages’.
Heritage languages are defined as languages other than First Nations’
languages or the two official languages. This definition parallels the distinctions
made in multiculturalism, which also stands apart from the dominant
French/English cultural duality and that of First Nations.
My brief focus here will be on Saskatchewan’s Heritage Language
Education. Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada where the majority
of the people have neither British nor French backgrounds, was the first
province to adopt a multicultural policy, is the province that houses the
Canadian Heritage Languages Institute (established in 1989), and has an
active Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages. Heritagelanguage
instruction happens both in and out of the public school system,
with more than 25 languages being taught with government support. These
programmes are concerned with the language component of multiculturalism,
and are seen by the Department of Education as an inherent part of
multicultural education. Although government support for heritagelanguage
education has been steadily declining since the late 1990s (Joshee
2004), reflecting changing foci in the statal narrative, it is nonetheless
instructive to examine this archaeological layer as it so clearly demonstrates
the ways in which language education is embedded in the statal multicultural
The Government of Saskatchewan’s (Saskatchewan Education 1994)
policy statement on Heritage Language Education makes very transparent
the intimate relationship between language and multiculturalism, repeated
in three different ways:
Inherent in federal and provincial legislation and policies is a recognition that
heritage languages are fundamental to the multicultural nature of our province
and our country.
An educational system which values the cultural diversity of its students and
makes heritage language learning accessible enhances multiculturalism in
Saskatchewan and Canada.
This province’s strength and uniqueness come in large part from its linguistic
and cultural diversity. Language instruction is integral to the maintenance of
culture and thus to Saskatchewan’s identity.
As in Singapore’s statal narrative, language and culture are seen to be inherently
linked, not so much that one will acquire their culture through
language, but that language diversity is an expression of the cultural diversity
that embodies Canadian national identity. Given the statal narrative on
multiculturalism, providing access to language is thus also premised on the
values of human rights. Once again, through the semiotic processes of recursiveness
in ideology formation, the logic of access to language being an
expression of human rights and civic participation as applied to the two official
languages is applied here: access to the heritage languages means access
to/participation in Canada’s multicultural identity. Language thus captures
the intersection of identities inherent in the Canadian multicultural narrative,
and captures the essence of ‘multiculturalism within a bilingual framework’.
Finally, as in the broader statal narrative on multiculturalism, not only
are heritage languages (mother-tongue languages) valued for their cultural
contribution, but also for the access they give to economic opportunity:
Teaching a variety of languages facilitates individual and societal participation
in the global economy. Because Saskatchewan’s economic well-being is
dependent on the rest of the world, language learning has an economic value
as well as a cultural one. (Saskatchewan Education 1994)
I am reminded of Singapore’s sentimental and instrumental distinction
between languages, a dichotic strategy by which Singapore manages their
glocal identities.
What this discussion of Heritage Languages demonstrates is the close
relationship between the broader statal narrative and multicultural education,
of which heritage language education is but one part. Analyses of the
discourses around anti-racist education would show a similar relationship,
as does the declining support for multicultural education in the face of
neoliberalism (Joshee 2004), demonstrating the lights and shadows of
Canada’s archaeological layers in its multicultural statal narrative.
Pulling it all together
I have attempted to make a case for a comparative and pluralistic approach
to multiculturalism. I have suggested the notion of narratives as a way to
encourage dialogue among different experiences and understandings of
multiculturalism, and as a way to focus on its discursive and ideological
constructions. Linde’s (2001) work on institutional narratives suggest that
narratives work to reproduce (imagine and re-imagine) the nation, induct
new members, create a national identity, and adapt to change. By positioning
multiculturalism within the statal narrative, it is possible to establish a
framework within which to examine the processes of ideological formation
around difference, to examine why particular narratives become dominant,
and to examine their power bases. The focus thus is not so much on comparing
the particular definitions of one over the other, but on comparing how
the construction of their narratives suggest different responses to the inward
and external needs of the nation as it stands at the glocal nexus. The lens
becomes each particular nation’s own narrative, rather than any one model
by which to understand the other. By positioning an analysis within the
rubric of statal narratives, researchers are therefore able to explore the diversity
of multiculturalism as it operates within its particular national contexts.
To explore the possibilities of such analyses, I have considered aspects
of the multicultural narratives in Singapore and Canada. What stand out
most clearly from this discussion are the ways in which these two narratives
stand at the local-global nexus, providing ideological space for each nation
to define itself looking inward within the context of its own statal narratives
in the imagining of the nation while at the same time looking outward to
establish its own unique position and relevance within the global community.
Singapore’s statal narrative on multiculturalism is central to managing
its unique diversity within its unique geopolitical contexts, to respond to
change as a result of its economic development and globalization. It does so
through discourses of vulnerability, a sense of the prominence of nation
before self and the need to conform to one of the four racial blocs with
underlying tones of homogeneity, through a conflation of values, culture and
language, and through distinct views of language. Canada’s statal narrative
is steeped in its liberal democratic values of individualism and human rights,
operating within the larger dynamics of its British–French cultural duality
and its First-Nations cultures, and within the shadow of its very dominant
neighbour. It is also a response to its own changing cultural constitution
brought about through liberalized immigration policies as well as to the
changing global economy. The differences between the narratives are thus
different responses to the unique geopolitical and demographic circumstances
of the nation, and different frameworks within which to imagine the
Thus, the dialogue on the pluralist nature of diversity is open, dialogic
narratives waiting to be told.
I want to thank Margery Osborne for her invaluable encouragement and
1. E.g. Banks (1993), Banks and Lynch (1986), Giroux (1992), Giroux and McLaren
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4. See also Kivisto (2002).
5. See also Blommaert (2005), Carnoy (1992), Freire (1993), and McLaren (1994).
6. See also Ferguson and Gupta (2002).
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Rubric for Module 4 Group Assignment

Criteria Excellent Performance Adequate Performance Poor Performance
Identifies the research paradigm used by the study’s author
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identifies the research paradigm of the author and explains where in the study this paradigm is indicated Correctly identifies the research paradigm of the author, but does not explain how this determination can be made from reading the article Incorrectly identifies the research paradigm of the author
Identifies the research questions the study addresses
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identifies all of the research questions addressed by the study Incorrectly identifies the research questions, but selects questions that reflect the research paradigm of the study’s author Incorrectly identifies the research questions, selecting questions that do not reflect the research paradigm of the study’s author
Identifies whether the study is quantitative or qualitative
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identifies whether the study is quantitative or qualitative, and explains why this can be determined Correctly identifies whether the study is quantitative or qualitative, but does not explain why this determination was made Incorrectly identifies whether the study is quantitative or qualitative
Identifies whether theoretical or procedural sampling methods were used in the study
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identifies whether the study used theoretical or procedural sampling methods, and explains why this can be determined Correctly identifies whether the study used theoretical or procedural sampling methods, but does not explain why this determination was made Incorrectly identifies whether the study used theoretical or procedural sampling methods
Identifies the specific type of theoretical or procedural sampling method used
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identities the type of theoretical or procedural sampling method used, and whether the study has a cross-sectional or longitudinal design Correctly identities the type of theoretical or procedural sampling method used, but does not correctly identify whether the study has a cross-sectional or longitudinal design Incorrectly identities the type of theoretical or procedural sampling method used
Identifies the target of the study’s sampling method
(10 points, assessed from group submission) Correctly identifies the target of the study’s sampling method, and evaluates whether or not the researchers used the best possible sampling method to address the research question Correctly identifies the target of the study’s sampling method, but does not evaluate whether or not the researchers used the best possible sampling method to address the research question Incorrectly identifies the target of the study’s sampling method
Identifies the type of data and the methods used by the study to collect data
(10 points, assessed from the group submission) Correctly identifies the type of data and also identifies the level of measurement and type of methods used Correctly identifies the type of data, but does not identify the level of measurement and type of methods used Incorrectly identifies the type of data and the level of measurement used
Evaluates if the type of data and method of data collection are appropriate for the study
(10 points, assessed from the group submission) Extensively evaluates whether the type of data and method of data collection are appropriate, including a comparison with other types of data that could have been used and identification of the questions left unanswered by the data Evaluates whether the type of data and method of data collection are appropriate, but does not compare with other types of data that could have been used and does not identify questions left unanswered by the data Restates the type of data and method of data collection without adequately evaluating whether it was appropriate for that study.
Writes a fair proportion of the group’s final paper
(25 points, assessed through the group discussion forum) Devotes substantial time and effort to write multiple sections of the group paper Writes a section of the paper that is equal in length and detail to that of other group members Writes significantly less material for the paper compared to other members of the group
Helps other members of the group with their sections of the paper
(25 points, assessed through the group discussion forum) Takes a leading role in collaborating with other group members, offering constructive feedback on their sections and helping improve the quality of the entire paper Provides some support and feedback to other group members on their sections, but offers minimal suggestions for improvement Does not contribute to improving sections of the paper written by other group members, with no feedback or involvement for sections not assigned to write

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