Underdeveloped Identities: the Misrecognition of Aboriginality in the Canadian Census

Mon, April 8, 2013 | Normandy Scholars Library CLA 2.206

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Underdeveloped Identities:  the Misrecognition of Aboriginality in the Canadian Census

After more than a century of enumerating Aboriginality as a form of ethnic ancestry, in 1986 Statistics Canada added an Aboriginal ‘self-identification’ question to the census, effectively creating two populations: one based on ‘Aboriginal ancestry’, the other on ‘Aboriginal identity’. This article argues that the legitimacy of the new Aboriginal ‘identity’ population stems not from its ability to measure Aboriginal identity more accurately than previous enumerative strategies, but from the fact that its ‘self-identification’ categories better produce the kind of data used by officials to implement development-based policies in their attempts to improve Aboriginal quality of life in Canada. Using interviews from Aboriginal census field agents, this talk explores how and why such policy classifications have come to be so deeply misrecognised as exhaustive or acontextual categories of Aboriginal identity, and the kinds of Aboriginal sociality they potentially foreclose upon in doing so.  

Chris Andersen is Métis from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, part of the large Arcand family in the region. He completed an undergraduate BA (Hons) and an MA in Sociology at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) and a PhD in Sociology from the Department of Sociology here at the University of Alberta.

Today, Chris is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Chris has published widely in domestic and international peer reviewed journals, as well as editing two well-known collections on indigeneity and race. He is currently writing a book tentatively titled Mixed by law: Métis and the misrecognition of Canadian indigeneity.

Please visit here for more information about Professor Andersen

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