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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Metro Vancouver's Koreatown : mediating places of belonging within the politics of multiculturalism Lee, Jane Hwajoo


Canada is one of the first countries to establish and maintain state sponsored policies of multiculturalism to address multiple identities, cultures, and mass migration within its national borders and under a singular national identity. As a way to examine how these state ideologies and policies inform the everyday notions and practices of multiculturalism at the local level, this thesis examines the emerging space of ‘Koreatown’ in Metro Vancouver to highlight how multicultural spaces are constituted and contested within discourses of ‘accommodating difference and diversity’. This paper also explores how multicultural tensions within this space are articulated and mediated to contribute to further discussions around the meaning of home and belonging within multicultural spaces in Canada. Situating the discussion within theories of liberal multiculturalism and its criticisms as well as social space theories, this research highlights the complex and interconnecting local, national, and global dimensions of multiculturalism and its discourses. This thesis also uses local newspaper coverage of a local leasing dispute and interviews with individuals working within the ‘Koreatown’ area to highlight how local actors strategically mediate these discourses to develop the space in its current location and associated meanings of representation. Although there is currently no civic recognition of a ‘Koreatown’ in Metro Vancouver, this thesis maps a strong argument for its existence through the narratives of key actors who have initiated and developed the space. While seeming to illustrate multicultural tenants of ‘difference and diversity’, ‘Koreatown’ in fact represents a complex and dynamic space where local actors are negotiating contradictions and tensions of multiculturalism to constitute spaces of meaning in everyday local spaces. It presents a case study to illustrate how local actors are mediating multiculturalism within spaces to (re)create and (re)define spaces of belonging in Canada.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada