Global Roots: Reflections on Multiculturalism in Toronto

By Marilena Liguori.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper stems from my doctoral research, which focuses on multiculturalism and ethnocultural diversity in Toronto and seeks to explore the everyday lived experiences of newcomers in relation to dominant discourses on ethnocultural diversity. The demographic reality in Toronto is such that immigrants, arriving mainly from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, make up around half of the population. Over the past decade, the increasing presence of ethnocultural diversity has become central to the way in which Toronto defines itself as a “multicultural” city. This celebration of difference is used to promote a global image in order to attract investments and tourists, which is often accomplished by branding exercises showcasing a wide array of “ethnic” neighbourhoods, festivals, and restaurants. However, for recent immigrants, the process of settlement and integration may be more difficult today than in previous decades due to several factors, including rapid social change, globalization, and high unemployment rates, particularly among racialized groups. As a result, a large number of recent immigrants find themselves living in high-rise apartment buildings in the post-war inner suburbs, which have been cited as concentrations of “vertical poverty.” These global neighbourhoods are also sites where “everyday multiculturalism” is put into practice. Based on fieldwork carried out during 2010 and 2011 (including site visits and in-depth interviews with new immigrants), this paper highlights the ways in which racialized newcomers construct their personal imaginaries of the “multicultural” city through their daily practices and explores the relationship between diversity and belonging.

Keywords: Multiculturalism, Diversity, Toronto, Belonging

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.183-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.586MB).

Dr. Marilena Liguori

PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Studies, National Institute for Scientific Research–Centre for Urbanization, Culture, Society, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Marilena Liguori is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Studies at the Centre for Urbanization, Culture and Society at the National Institute for Scientific Research in Montreal. Her dissertation focuses on multiculturalism and ethnocultural diversity in Toronto and seeks to explore the everyday lived experiences of recent immigrants. This work examines the role of urban imaginaries in entrepreneurial city marketing strategies in relation to the consolidation of the competitive city, which involve representations of ‘diversity without difference’ or the commodification of ethnocultural diversity.