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Strategies of the self: Negotiating cultural identities in anglophone and allophone Montreal

Alissa Gail Sklar, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The various elements that make up the individual's sense of cultural identity require a certain amount of negotiation and management in even the most straightforward of circumstances. This is particularly true for people who have multiple and/or contrasting identity claims. Group interviews with 72 allophone and anglophone Montreal residents were used to find patterns in strategies for negotiating these claims, given that these populations must contend with competing discourses about nation, language, ethnicity/race, religion, etc. A number of strategies were located and discussed, including modification of memory and performativity, strategic blindness, constitutive contradiction, constitutive contrast, and identification through exclusion. Individuals facing greater degrees of contradiction required increasing levels of cognitive labour and more sophisticated strategies of negotiation to make sense of their cultural identities; failure to do so was marked by feeling of isolation and alienation. Issues of “difference” and “authenticity” marked participants' discussions of identity, and a passionate attachment to Montreal was revealed to transcend for many any feelings of belongingness to either Canada and/or Québec.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Cultural anthropology|Canadian studies

Recommended Citation

Sklar, Alissa Gail, "Strategies of the self: Negotiating cultural identities in anglophone and allophone Montreal" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136779.