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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From theory to practice : the Canadian courts and the adjudication of (post-modern) identities McGregor, Cara


In this work, I introduce the concept of identity, outline its importance, and argue in favour of a post-modem conception of identity, underpinned by the principles of contestation, anti-essentialism and hybridity. This notion of identity, which is supported by both theoretical and case evidence, is in tension with the practices of the courts, which are often asked to make determinations that impact identities. The court's conventions and practices privilege a modernist notion of identity; given these restrictions, how are post-modern identities, such as the Metis, to be recognized? Using the case ofK v. Powley, / explore the possibilities and openings for a post-modern concept of identity to be realized in the courts. While there are conflicts and restrictions, judges, courts and the law demonstrate sufficient flexibility to allow for post-modern principles to be realized. I conclude by arguing that the courts should go further in developing a post-modern conception of identity in their work, and explore the issues and implications of doing so. I also reflect on the broader question this work presents, namely the role of the law and the possibilities for change therein.

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