The "Paris Problem" in Toronto: The State, Space, and the Political Fear of "The Immigrant"
Zafarghandi, Parastou Saberi
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The Paris Problem in Toronto addresses contemporary debates on place-based urban policies in the immigrant neighbourhoods of Western metropolitan centers. Taking the ideologically constructed figure of the immigrant seriously, I emphasize the need to examine the relational formation of urban and imperial policies and politics of intervention. Focusing on Toronto (Canada), a city celebrated for its diversity management and tolerance, the central thesis of this dissertation is that the material force of the ruling classes political fear of non-White working-class populations and neighbourhoods is central to the formation of place-based urban strategies. This political fear feeds upon a territorialized and racialized security ideology that conceives of non-White working-class spaces as potential spaces of insecurity, political disorder and violence. It is based on this security ideology and its link to race riots that the Paris problem has become a common reference point in policy circles in Toronto since 2005. I show how this territorialized and racialized security ideology is camouflaged within a liberal humanitarian ideology that renders non-White working-class spaces as spaces simultaneously in need of securitization and tutelage. Such a rendition parallels the perceptions of ungoverned spaces in the war on terror. I examine major place-based social development policies (Priority Neighbourhoods, Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy 2020), place-based housing redevelopment policy (Tower Renewal), and national and urban policing strategies, providing the first comprehensive socio-historical analysis of place-based urban policy targeting non-White poverty in Toronto that began in the 1990s. I have traced the ideological formation and transformation of major policy techniques like mapping and policy concepts such as: poverty, security, policing, development, empowerment, social determinants of health, equity and prevention across various scales and temporalities. Instead of eradicating or reducing poverty, the goal of such policies is to constitute a liberal post-colonial poor, one who is eminently less threatening to the political stability of imperialist capitalism. My research shows that the state can mobilize place-based policy as a modality of neo-colonial pacification. Not reducible to a product of neoliberalization, such a policy recomposes colonial relations of domination by moderating violence and pacifying perceived threats to the existing order.