March 29, 2023
4:00-6:00 PM (EST)
Lecture by Jennifer Elrick, Associate Professor of Sociology at McGill University
Moderator: Ayelet Shachar, R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies
This talk takes us inside the Department of Citizenship and Immigration (currently Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in the 1950s and 1960s, at time when Canada was facing strong economic and political pressures to change its immigration system. Specifically, it examines the role played by high-level immigration bureaucrats in crafting the move from a selection system centred on national origins to one emphasizing individual merit and social ties. It argues that the overlooked interplay between immigration case processing and policymaking provides new insights into the timing and content of this paradigmatic policy shift. This is especially important for understanding how notions of race and social class shaped new immigrant selection criteria and made Canada multicultural along middle-class lines. The talk concludes with a discussion of the contemporary implications of this historical case study.
Jennifer Elrick is Associate Professor of Sociology at McGill University. Her research focuses on the social construction of state classifications and their material and symbolic effects. Specifically, she examines how race, ethnicity, class, legal status, and gender intersect in census and immigration categories to create particular modes of inclusion and exclusion. Her first book, Making Middle-Class Multiculturalism: Immigration Bureaucrats and Policymaking in Postwar Canada, was published in late 2021 by University of Toronto Press.