Multiculturalism and it’s alternatives


Principal Investigator - Dr. Handel Kashope Wright

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Community-University Research Alliance (SSHRC-CURA, 2007-2012) :

"Promised Land: The Freedom Experience of Blacks in the Chatham and Dawn Settlements"
Principal Investigator - Dr. Boulou Ebanda de B'béri (University of Ottawa); Co-investigators - Professor David Divine (Dalhousie University), Dr. Nina Reid-Maroney (University of Windsor), Dr. Handel Kashope Wright (University of British Columbia); Community Organization Co-investigators - Mrs. Gwen Robinson (Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society) and Mrs. Marie Carter (Dresden Community Development Association)

This SSHRC funded Community-University Research Alliance brings together a team of community and university researchers to explore and further record the lost narratives of Black people in a number of identified settlements spanning from 1775 to the present. Specifically, the project's goal is to recover, document, analyze, and disseminate the fullness, interconnectedness and significance of Black history in the Promised Land Communities. The project also seeks to highlight the historical importance of these Promised Land Communities as an unrecognized yet pivotal story in Canada's past, which continues to have relevance as a model of multiculturalism that predates the discourse of multiculturalism in our current global age. The research team spans provincial, national and international boundaries and includes the following individuals and community organizations: Boulou Ebanda de B'beri, University of Ottawa; Gwen Robinson, Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society; Marie Carter, Dresden Community Development Association; Nina Reid-Maroney, University of Windsor; David Divine, Dalhousie University, and Handel Kashope Wright, University of British Columbia, together with the support of a variety of national and international partners and collaborators from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom (De B'béri, excerpts from Project Summary). More information forthcoming on this project.

Multiculturalism With(out) Guarantees: Comparative Multiculturalism and it's Alternatives

Principal Investigator - Dr. Handel Kashope Wright. Sponsored by CCIE and David Lam Chair of Multicultural Education.

Project Summary: This project involves rethinking multiculturalism both within Canada and internationally and includes theoretical comparisons of multicultural discourse with alternative discourses such as integrative anti-racism, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism. The project has a number of subthemes and focal points. These include Expressing and Exploring Youth Identities in a Multicultural Context, Transnationalism as an Alternative to Multiculturalism, The Integrative Anti-Racism Alternative. See below for details on each of these sub-themes and for more information on activities associated with this research project.


Multiculturalism Without Guarantees: Glocal Models for Addressing Sociocultural Difference in Liquid Communities
October, 2009 Ongoing
Dr. Handel Kashope Wright, Principal Investigator
A SSHRC funded research project

This dual (theoretical and empirical) cultural studies of education research project aims to contribute to the discussion of how sociocultural difference is to be addressed progressively in contemporary societies in general and in educational systems as a concrete example. Today liberal multiculturalism as preferred social and educational policy and discourse for addressing sociocultural difference is waning, if not on its deathbed. This project grapples, therefore, with the crucial question of the viability of multiculturalism in various national and local contexts in the face of recent attacks on it (e.g. the post 9/11, post 7/7 backlash) which depict it as dangerously divisive and a threat to social cohesion and national identity and the ascendancy of alternatives which threaten to render it passé.


Expressing and Exploring Youth Identities in a Multicultural Context
2007 - Present
Dr. Handel Kashope Wright
Sponsored by CCIE and David Lam Chair of Multicultural Education

Vancouver is readily recognizable as a city characterized by a rich and complex sociocultural diversity and a pervasive, positive popular and official discourse of multiculturalism. The overarching problem this study addresses is the expression and representation of contemporary youth identity in contexts characterized by multiculturalism (Kelly, 2004). The study will focus on how a set of secondary school youth in Vancouver articulate and represent their identities and their relationship to real and “imagined communities” (Anderson, 1991) utilizing creative artistic media such as essays, drawings, photographs, short stories, oral narratives, paintings, skits, multimedia texts, and how they position themselves in relation to multiculturalism and multicultural education. This involves addressing contributory questions. In what ways and to what extent, for example, do youth in Vancouver think of themselves as belonging in various real and imagined communities such as school, neighbourhood, ethnic group, the city of Vancouver, the Canadian nation, cyber communities (Nakamura, 2002), continental youth identity, globalized youth communities? How do mixed raced and multiethnic youth navigate racial and ethnic identity (Hill, 2001)? How does socio-cultural difference play out in friendships and romantic relationships? In what ways do Canadian youth identify with and see themselves as distinct from American youth (Adams, 2003)? In what ways do youth see multicultural education affecting academic success? How would youth express their identities and their relationship to community through various media?

Transnationalism as an Alternative to Multiculturalism
Forthcoming 2009
Dr. Handel Kashope Wright and Professor Meaghan Morris (University of Sydney, Australia and Lingnan University in Hong Kong)

Dr. Wright and Professor Morris are co-editing a special issue of Cultural Studies on the topic of Cultural Studies and Transnationalism. In particular, the special issue will consider transnationalism as an alternative to multiculturalism. See Cultural Studies for more details.

The Integrative Anti-Racism Alternative
April 2007
Dr. Handel Kashope Wright

This day long symposium explored both the possibilities and limitations of integrative anti-racism as an alternative discourse to multiculturalism. The symposium opened with remarks by UBC Associate Vice President, Tom Patch and CCIE Director & David Lam Chair, Dr. Handel Kashope Wright. This was followed by a key note address by Professor George Sefa Dei, who offered some critical points in theorizing “integrative anti-racism," as well as drew attention to the pressing need for new questions. Dr. Leslie Roman then provided a response paper in which she spoke about the importance of relational genealogies as a crucial component of integrative anti-racism. In addition, the symposium featured panels on the intersection of indigeneity and anti-racism; anti-racist teacher education and classroom practice; UBC administration’s anti-racism efforts; and faculty and staff anti-racism activism.

Exploring and Promoting Multiculturalism and Related Discourses
March 2006
Dr. Handel Kashope Wright and NCIE

This town hall served as an exploratory and planning meeting on multiculturalism and related discourses and brought together UBC faculty and graduate students from such research areas as multiculturalism, anti-racism, interculturalism, transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, cultural studies, social cohesion and identity/identification politics. The purpose of the town hall was to share research projects and interests, plan activities, identify potential collaborators in multiculturalism and related discourses. In addition to the general discussion that took place, the town hall featured three guest presenters: Professor Peter Seixas, Canadian Research Chair and Director of the Centre for Study of Historical Consciousness, who spoke on his current SSHRC project, “Benchmarks of Historical Literacy.” Karen Rolston and Jack Lee from the Centre for Intercultural Language Studies, who discussed “town/gown” work, and Yvonne Brown, who presented on “African and Diaspora Literature for Children Project.


De B’beri, B., Reid-Maroney, N. & Wright, H.K. (Eds.). (2014). The Promised Land? History and Historiography of Black Experience in Chatham-Kent’s Settlements and Beyond. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Wright, H.K., Singh, M. & Race, R. (Eds.). (2012). Precarious international multicultural education: Hegemony,  dissent and rising alternatives. Sense Publishers.

The Freire Project talks to Handel Wright

Handel Wright talks to the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy about interculturalism versus multiculturalism, youth in Canada, USA and Europe, his relationship with Project founder Joe Kincheloe and critical pedagogy’s influence on his own work. (10 June, 2009)