Dialectics of Humanitarian Immigration and National Identity in Canadian Public Discourse

Harald Bauder


Humanitarian immigration is an important element in the construction of Canada’s identity as a liberal and compassionate country. Drawing on Hegelian dialectics, a discourse analysis of newspaper articles published between 1996 and 2001 examines processes of national identity formation through humanitarian immigration in the media. My interpretation of this discourse suggests that Canada’s national identity is constructed on the basis of material inequalities through negation and sublation of refugees. By representing refugees who experience gender violence, children, and victims of natural disaster as deserving, the mediaconstrues an identity of Canada as compassionate. War criminals, supporters of hate crimes, and violent offenders are involved only to a limited degree in this dialectic.

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