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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Race and nation building : a comparison of Canadian Métis and Mexican Mestizos Hill, Samantha


This thesis compares the political positioning of Canadian Metis and Mexican mestizos. The central objective is to determine how the identities of these two groups have been affected by their countries' efforts to establish national identities. The initial assumption is that nationalizing projects, by nature, incorporate some groups, while marginalizing others. The body of the paper contains two chapters, with one chapter devoted to tracing the historical development of each group. The Metis, presented in chapter two, exhibit group cohesiveness during the 1800s and, in fact, begin to consider themselves part of a separate nation as early as 1816. However, after the 1885 Rebellion, the group becomes disenfranchised by Canadian expansionists. They join the ranks of non-status Indians, whose similar plights have meant their coordination ever since. The expansion of the group's associations has been problematic since their 1982 mention in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as establishing their privileges requires their agreeing on a definition of themselves. The mestizos, on the other hand, do not demonstrate the degree of cohesiveness that the Metis do. They are primarily identified by race and status, with no common history or political figures to bind them. In the 1920s, however, the group was used by the federal government to bridge the differences between European and indigenous peoples. As a result of this effort, the mestizo has become the personification of the national ideal, for a mestizo is neither European nor Indian, but Mexican. This has served to marginalize indigenous populations, many of whom consider the "cult of mestizo" the new form of colonialism in Mexico.

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