Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Uprooting National Family Trees in Lawrence Hill's Any Known Blood

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range

2010-2011

Abstract

An integral part of Canada's official historical narrative, the Multiculturalism Policy is multi-purpose. As it serves to extol the virtues of a nation that provides refuge to others from far-off lands, it also suggests the national landscape is fertile ground upon which any and all cultures can take root and flourish. In this way, Canada incorporates the international phenomenon of movement between and across borders into its self-definition. An interesting quandary arises when we consider multiculturalism and black history in Canada. Despite its providing refuge to both fugitive slaves and freemen, between the 19th century and the creation of the Multiculturalism Policy at the end of the 20th century the Canadian landscape is oddly devoid of black presence. The benign narrative of Canadian Multiculturalism dismisses a long history of black movement across (what would become) the Canadian/US border, both pre- and post- American slavery. Re-articulating that movement is critical to exploring how cross-border movement reshapes the borders of national identity. In Any Known Blood, Lawrence Hill recalls black life in Canada after the fugitive slaves make it to the "promisedland." I will use Hill's emphasis on the porosity of the Canada/US border to argue movement to be a signal tenet in black diasporic experience in North America. Moreover, I will argue that Hill's work of acknowledging the racist history that both nations share is a signal step to challenging a black Canadian history of erasure and invisibility.

Conference Name

NeMLA 2011 Convention

Conference Location

Newark, New Jersey



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