Remaking the Nation-State: Multiculturalism, Neoliberalism, and Urban Revitalization
Rosa, Vanessa Anne
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My dissertation, Remaking the Nation-State: Multiculturalism, Neoliberalism, and Urban Revitalization, investigates the revitalization of two low-income housing projects in Toronto, Canada: Regent Park and Lawrence Heights. I situate my investigation at the intersection of nation-state/nationalism studies and urban studies and argue that processes of urban revitalization are an important site for the production of national identity and state practices. I examine links between revitalization projects and the construction of the Canadian nation-state by tracing how discourses of multiculturalism and neoliberalism gain currency in urban revitalization projects. In particular, I investigate the links between historical urban processes of development and revitalization and North American projects of nation-state formation. I explore this entanglement by tracing what I identify as three distinct technologies that shape and are embedded in the revitalization planning process: discourses of diversity, surveillance, and consultations. I argue that the emphasis on participation of both culturally diverse and entrepreneurial subjects in community consultations and community policing integrates residents into rituals of democracy that are enmeshed with national ideals. My investigation maps this set of social processes to show how they ultimately reproduce exclusion and disparity by regulating diversity, normalizing community policing, and mandating consultations. Through my ethnographic research, I also trace how residents negotiate these processes and make meaning of participation that creates space for their own understandings of surveillance and consultation. My exploration locates the Canadian context in relation to broader examinations of nation-state making and as such can help us to understand the management of sociocultural difference and the neoliberal production of inequality in the contemporary moment.