From the Census to the city: Representing South Asians in Canada and Toronto

Ishan Ashutosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the 2006 Canadian Census, "South Asians" have constituted both Canada's and Toronto's most populous "visible minority group." This article investigates the term "South Asian" along two lines of enquiry. First, through an examination of the Canadian Census, this article sheds light on how the state produced the term "South Asian." The second aspect focuses on how this state classification has been used as the basis for antiracist activism and is inhabited and transformed as a critical transnational identity. I begin by tracing the emergence of the category "South Asian" in light of previous categories used in the Canadian Census since the migration of South Asians to Canada began in the early twentieth century. I then turn to narratives based on interviews with South Asians in Toronto to examine contemporary representations of this category. As a state category, I argue that the category "South Asian" homogenizes the diversity of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, and yet, as a diasporic identity, the term challenges the national divides of postcolonial South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. I conclude by suggesting that South Asian identities represent complex and multiple identities that should not be reduced to a simple and artificial category of the state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-148
JournalDiaspora
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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