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Condemned to rootlessness: the loyalist origins of Canada's identity crisis

Kaufmann, Eric P. (1997) Condemned to rootlessness: the loyalist origins of Canada's identity crisis. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 3 (1), pp. 110-136. ISSN 1353-7113.

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Few observers have sought to explain why French Canadians, Metis and even Anglo‐Americans developed a sense of indigenous ethnicity while English‐Canadians failed to do the same. Fewer still have sought to connect this to the national ‘identity crisis’ often mentioned in the discourse of English‐speaking Canada. This article asserts that English Canada's perception of a ‘Canadian’ identity crisis is really an English‐Canadian one which has its roots in English Canada's Loyalist ethnic core. In contrast to most nations, English Canada never developed an indigenous ethnic core. Instead, its ‘non‐ethnic’ identity, from its Loyalist beginnings, remained split. On one side was a repressed American folk culture, which outsiders used to recognize the English‐Canadians. On the other was an exalted set of British myths, symbols and narratives, to which English‐Canadians attached themselves. The pattern of English‐Canadian cultural history is therefore unsurprising: it involves a tension between American and British influence, with seemingly no exit. Thus the ‘Canadians’, deprived of a distinct founding people, were, from the beginning, ‘condemned to rootlessness’.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2011 13:46
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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