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Reviewed by:
  • Claiming Space: Racialization in Canadian Cities
  • Nikolaos I. Liodakis
Cheryl Teelucksingh , ed. Claiming Space: Racialization in Canadian Cities. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006. 202 pp. Index. $32.95 sc.

Canadian social science has been long preoccupied with relationships of domination and subordination among and within ethnic and racialized groups. Under present conditions of capitalist globalization, we are witnessing an increase in capital movement and profits on the one hand, and restrictions in the movement of labour and world-wide increased levels of poverty and inequality on the other. Global and local demographics are changing; so is space. Despite the diminishing role of the state in certain areas, the Canadian state has been and continues to be actively engaged in the production, reproduction, and maintenance of hegemonic ideologies like multiculturalism/ interculturalism, in processes of racialization and ever-changing meanings of race, as well as in capitalist material relations and practices. We are also witnessing increasing ethnic/racialized group resistance against the power of the "dominant stakeholders."

Claiming Space is an edited volume consisting of ten well-written chapters, primarily concerned with racialized spaces and the socio-political power/resistance relations that permeate them. It deals with processes of racialization and several urban manifestations of social inequality (13) from a postmodernist/post-structuralist perspective. In Teelucksingh's work (chapter 1), Soja's trialectics (from Lefebvre, Foucault, and contemporary feminist and post-colonialist theories) are coupled with Miles' conceptualization of racialization in order to provide the basic tenets of a flexible theoretical framework, and set the stage to examine issues central to Canadian social sciences: the production, reproduction of, and resistance to dominant [End Page 202] ethnic/racial culture(s), the urban spaces within which social relations operate, and critiques of the ideologies, processes, and material practices by which racialized populations —mainly new immigrants —are othered.

Treating space as a) objective and subjective, b) material and metaphorical, and c) as both a medium and outcome of social life (6), contributors to this volume conceptualize, analyze and criticize various spaces in major Canadian cities, which constitute sites where socio-political and economic struggles occur. Such sites and struggles are both structural and individual (those of socially constituted subjects). In Canadian urban centres there exist many China-towns, Greek-towns, Little Italys and other ethnic neighoubrhoods and spaces within which the "stakeholders of power" act as agents in the reproduction of the particularities of spaces; spaces serve the socio-political and economic interests of power and its agents (9-10). Racial meanings and hierarchies found in those spaces are not treated as fixed or monolithic, but as part of the contexts within which they operate, as part of historical processes. They are historically specific, thus sensitive to context and fluid (4). Spatiality is material and symbolic; it is contested. Space is part of the outcome(s) of a myriad of struggles over its meaning(s) and constitution (8). Conflicts of self and other manifest themselves as conflicts over claims of space.

The book may be divided thematically into two parts. The first treats space as concrete, physical, and objective. It includes chapters by Train (3), Panagakos (4), and Beneventi (8). Train examines the spatial conflicts between Toronto's Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish communities by analyzing how the former carved out their own space by building the Kehila Centre. This work shows that even othered communities are heterogeneous and that struggles over space occur within them as well. It demonstrates how "claiming space is about asserting the recognition and inclusion" (60) of minorized identities within already minorized groups, as well as society at large. As such, this is a very important piece of research, and it is a pity that there are not many qualitative analyses of such differences within other ethnic/racialized groups available in Canada. Panagakos, although referring to the exclusion of minorized subgroups (homosexual people) from mainstream organizations, is mainly concerned with how Calgary's Greek community is reinventing suburban spaces in order to accommodate (hegemonic) notions of ethnicity, patriarchy, age hierarchies, and multiculturalism (79). The role of the state in selling multiculturalism and that of the Greek Orthodox Church in stratifying the community (e.g., in terms of gender...


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