Earlier this spring, the Osaka University RESPECT (Revitalizing And Enriching Society Through Pluralism, Equity And Cultural Transformation) Summer School in Multicultural Studies was held in Toronto. Sponsored by the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, the 9-day program aimed to provide Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Master’s students from Osaka University with ethnographic training and a stronger comparative understanding of multiculturalism to complement their studies in Osaka and gain practical experience in an international setting.

The course, “Critical Engagements with Diversity and Inequality,” was organized by Professor Shiho Satsuka and featured three clusters offered by professors in the Department of Anthropology. Professor McElhinny, reviewed recent literature on multiculturalism. Professor Daswani, looked at the various dimensions of transnationalism, and the idea of “home” for both migrants and citizens. Lastly, Professor Barker led an Ethnography of Kensington Market to ask questions about the social fabric of Toronto in one of the city’s most celebrated sites of multiculturalism.

The clusters were accompanied by four field trips around Toronto. Students visited Naadmaagit Ki (an Indigenous Land/Water Restoration Project on the Humber) to discuss indigenous history, practices, and recent transformations. Followed by a visit to the Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations’ Cultural Exchange and Support Initiative (NMC-CESI) on campus. This is a student-led initiative at the University of Toronto to support recently arrived Syrian youth with English language skills, and offer a cultural exchange as they resettle and begin to adjust to life in Canada. Students also went to the Pentecost International Worship Centre (a Ghanian Church) to observe and/or participate in a service, and the Charismatic Church (in Priority Neighbourhood of Kingston-Galloway and Orton Park) for a conversation with the pastor.

Osaka University Lecturer Steve Muller who accompanied the group remarked that, “the RESPECT students class of 2017 were able to experience both in the classroom and in the field a true sense of the state of diversity and multiculturalism as it sells itself in Canada enabling them, through comparison, to further their understanding of the developing concept of kyosei.”

Students from Osaka valued the experience tremendously. Wang Yi Qiong observed that, “multiculturalism is used as an effective tool to make a profit in Kensington Market. Some stores also advertise themselves as a symbol of multiculturalism.”

Another student Manami Yamaguchi said, “We were inspired and could discuss problems and ideas to solve them critically at both the abstract and concrete level. In contrast to multiculturalism in Canada, kyosei isn’t a policy set out by the government, but is perceived through concrete examples. We have obtained much material to think more deeply about ‘kyosei’ from Canada, and we will continue to think [about] and struggle with the concept of kyosei to establish it as a concrete principle.”


To read more about the students’ experience, please visit the page here.