In Downwardly Global, Lalaie Ameeriar examines the transnational labor migration of Pakistani women to Toronto, which has produced a form of multiculturalism that privileges whiteness while using race, gender, and cultural difference as a scapegoat for the failures of Canadian neoliberal policies. Please join us for a conversation between the author and renowned feminist historian Joan Scott.
Despite being trained professionals in fields including engineering, law, medicine, and education, Pakistani women in Toronto experience high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rather than addressing this downward mobility as the result of bureaucratic failures, in practice their unemployment is treated as a problem of culture and racialized bodily difference. In a city that prides itself on multicultural inclusion, women are subjected to two distinct cultural contexts revealing that integration in Canada represents not the erasure of all differences, but the celebration of some differences and the eradication of others. Downwardly Global juxtaposes the experiences of these women in state-funded unemployment workshops, where they are instructed not to smell like Indian food or wear ethnic clothing, with their experiences at cultural festivals in which they are encouraged to promote these same differences.
Lalaie Ameeriar is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Joan Wallach Scott’s groundbreaking work as a feminist historian has influenced generations of scholars. She is Professor Emerita at the Institute for Advanced Study and the author of many seminal books, including Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man; Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism; The Politics of the Veil; and The Fantasy of Feminist History. Scott is a founding editor of History of the Present, a journal of theoretically-informed history.