If we consider this official or elite multiculturalism as an ideological state apparatus we can see it as a device for constructing and ascribing political subjectivities and agencies for those who are seen as legitimate and full citizens and others who are peripheral to this in many senses. There is in this process an element of racialized ethnicization, which whitens North Americans of European origins and blackens or darkens their 'others' by the same stroke. This is integral to Canadian class and cultural formation and distribution of political entitlement. The old and established colonial/racist discourses of tradition and modernity, civilization and savagery, are the conceptual devices of the construction and ascription of these racialized ethnicities. It is through these 'conceptual practices of power' (Smith, 1990) that South Asians living in Canada, for example, can be reified as hindu or muslim, in short as religious identities.....We need to repeat that there is nothing natural or primordial about cultural identities - religious or otherwise - and their projection as political agencies. In this multiculturalism serves as a collection of cultural categories for ruling or administering, claiming their representational status as direct emanations of social ontologies. This allows multiculturalism to serve as an ideology, both in the sense of a body of content, claiming that 'we' or 'they' are this or that kind of cultural identities, as well as an epistemological device for occluding the organization of the social....an interpellating device which segments the nation's cultural and political space as well as its labour market into ethnic communities....Defined thus, third world or non-white peoples living in Canada become organized into competitive entities with respect to each other. They are perceived to have no commonality, except that they are seen as, or self-appellate as, being essentially religious, traditional or pre-modern and thus civilizationally backward. This type of conceptualization of political and social subjectivity or agency allows for no cross-border affiliation or formation, as for example does the concept of class.
Himani Bannerji