Anglo-Canadian Identity, State Mediation and Symbolic Violence

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Patricia CORMACK, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada
This paper picks up on the Congress themes of power, violence, and justice and explores the construction of (Anglo-) Canadian identity in the context of state mediation – especially state communication organs that seek to manage Canadian identity and heritage. Canadian identity has long been posited as one of “crisis” in that it purportedly stands against the dominant cultural influences of the US and gains identity by way of holding off American popular culture. State intervention in cultural production has, since at least the 1920s, been justified as the insulation against this apparently overwhelming influence and cultural “other”. This negative justification has been used to support the existence of both cultural content providers like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and content regulators like the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission. Ironically, the threat ultimately lies within, as Canadian audiences show a strong desire for such "foreign" content, and become the object of constant disciplining by way of state cultural apparatuses.

This paper argues that the Canadian state, understood as a benevolent protector of heritage and identity, has managed its own symbolic violence and hidden its real historical and colonial violence as the “content” of media is the sheer mediation of state itself. This "contentless" appearance of the state allows the state to appear and disappear at the same time in the seemly benign administration of culture.