The unexpected global rise of intolerant nationalism at the end of the twentieth century has received much attention, and yet intolerance also manifests itself in more subtle ways, even in nations such as Canada, with its mythologized history of tolerance and its official policies of multiculturalism. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with white Canadians and government bureaucrats, as well as an in-depth analysis of national identity and its construction, Mackey explores ideas of racial and cultural difference, multiculturalism, and pluralism. She argues that official policies and attitudes of multicultural 'tolerance' for 'others' reinforce the dominant Anglo-Canadian culture by abducting the cultures of minority groups, pressing them into the service of nation-building without promoting genuine respect or autonomy. The book also contributes to an understanding of how official 'multicultural tolerance' has contributed to the rise of the new right in recent years. Mapping the contradictions and ambiguities in the cultural politics of Canadian identity, The House of Difference opens up new understandings of the operations of 'tolerance' and western liberalism in a supposedly post-colonial era.

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