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«by Matthew D. Chin A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Social Work and ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Enacting politics through art: Encounters between queer and trans of color organizers and the

Canadian City

by

Matthew D. Chin

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Social Work and Anthropology)

in the University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Professor Lorraine M. Gutiérrez, Co-Chair

Associate Professor Damani J. Partridge, Co-Chair

Professor Alaina M. Lemon

Associate Professor Elizabeth F.S. Roberts Professor Richard M. Tolman © Matthew D. Chin, 2016

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am profoundly grateful to those that I worked with over the course of this project. ILL NANA DiverseCity Dance Company, BlacknessYes!/Blockorama, Unapologetic Burlesque and Asian Arts Freedom School, thank you for your willingness to allow me to witness, take part in and document your important work. I am also deeply thankful for the generosity of all of the individuals who shared their knowledge, experiences, thoughts, insights and feelings with me in the process of carrying out this study.

Thank you to my dissertation committee members who have supported me during my time at the University of Michigan, especially my co-chairs Dr. Damani Partridge and Dr.

Lorraine Gutiérrez who graciously offered mentorship and guidance in navigating the challenges of graduate school.

Thank you to my friend and mentor Dr. Izumi Sakamoto who suggested that I apply to the Social Work and Anthropology program at the University of Michigan. I would otherwise never have considered this as a possibility.

Thank you to my family, my friends and my community for nurturing me and giving me the space to do this work.

This dissertation was made possible through financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan ii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………………. ii Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………...iv Introduction...………………….....……………………………………………………………....1 Toronto, Canada……………………………………………………………………………3 Theoretical Contributions…………………………………………………………………..7 Positionality………………………………………………………………………………..34 Dissertation overview……………………………………………………………………...39 Chapter One: Creating affective boundaries: “Safe space” and the gendered politics of feelingsbased work ………………………………………………………………………………………44 Chapter Two: Sacrificial entrepreneurship: Queering modes of neoliberal governance………...76 Chapter Three: Reconfiguring love, money and time: Adjusting chronotopic realities………..103 Chapter Four: On affect, violence and (un)making humanity: The limits of anti-oppression and the turn to transformative justice ………………………………………………………………132 Chapter Five: Making queer and trans of color counter-politics: Disability, accessibility and the politics of inclusion……………………………………………………………………………..158 Conclusion: Visioning what comes next................…………………………………………….181 Appendix One: An extended note on method………………………………………………….194 References Cited………………………………………………………………………………..208

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This ethnographic study investigates the role of the arts in the relationship between urban governmental institutions and queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) community organizations. Toronto is a fitting site for this project given that the city is intensively mobilizing the arts to foster urban economic development and that it is uniquely emblematic of Canada’s regulatory embrace of racialized, gendered and sexual minorities. The findings from this study are derived from two years of ethnographic fieldwork and 63 semi-structured interviews carried out between 2012 and 2014 among state arts institutions, funding bodies and community arts initiatives. Drawing from the fields of social work, anthropology, queer studies, and critical ethnic studies, I argue that the arts operate as a means of constructing the neoliberal welfare state through the incorporation of QTPOC. These inclusionary creative citizenship practices enable QTPOC to engage in a feelings-based mode of community development in ways that are nevertheless constrained by how state institutions administer the programs that fund these initiatives. Each chapter of this dissertation is organized around an ethnographic dilemma that brings into focus how the arts surface as the solution to the diverse challenges that government institutions and minority community organizations face. As a uniquely elastic mode of social action, the arts serve as the linchpin between QTPOC efforts to counter the intertwined mechanisms of racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia, and municipal imperatives to promote economic growth and address the social exclusion of marginalized populations. By

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collectives, this study demonstrates how questions of space, time, feelings, humanity and political economy are deeply implicated in the politics of making racialized, gendered and sexual difference.

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In this dissertation, I argue that the arts serve as the means through which the neoliberal multicultural welfare state is produced through the incorporation of the figure of the queer and trans person of color. Given the establishment of neoliberalism as political economic orthodoxy in the majority of putatively “Western” nation states, the significance of this study lies in its ability to illuminate tensions that arise from the uneasy relationship between neoliberalism and forms of governance designed both to care for national populations and assimilate various modes of social alterity. As a political ideology, neoliberalism emphasizes the primacy of the autonomous individual in fostering economic growth and advocates for the distribution of public resources through the market place as opposed to state institutions. While neoliberal theory stands in contrast to principles of welfarism that are premised on state support for the wellbeing of its people, it has a more contradictory relationship to multiculturalism as its enactment does not necessarily preclude the benefit of subaltern groups that multicultural programs aim to empower. In this dissertation, I thus argue that neoliberal modes of state incorporation enable the formation of simultaneously racialized, gendered and sexed modes of sociality. As a domain of social action traditionally considered to be outside of economic calculations, art serves as an important medium through which to examine the workings of multicultural welfarism under neoliberalism.

Canada is the site par excellence to undertake this investigation given its international reputation as the quintessential progressive multicultural welfare state. In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy in the attempt to affirm the value of all Canadians regardless of their racial or ethnic origins (among other dimensions of social difference). In 2005, it also became the first country in the Americas to legalize marriage between same sex individuals. In addition to actively marking its progressive approach to questions of sexual and ethno-racial difference, Canada also takes great pride in its public health care system under which transgender people are (theoretically) able to access gender confirming health care. While there are certainly valid criticisms of these national achievements and while some might argue that Canada is perhaps more appropriately recognized by, for instance its contribution to the environmental movement, it would appear that Canada's sterling international reputation is at least partly premised on its incorporation of raced, gendered and sexualized difference. In this case, the queer and trans person of color serves as an iconic figure through which the understand the way in which Canada is constituted as the exemplar progressive multicultural welfare state.

This Canadian study is centrally concerned with how the arts figure into the relationship between mechanisms of state governance and the construction of social relations among racialized, gendered and sexual minority populations. It is situated in the city of Toronto given that municipal government officials are increasingly turning to the arts in order to foster urban economic development by pushing its status as a “Creative City”. Its reputation as “the most multicultural city in the world” and its renown for accepting gender and sexual minorities, such that it was the first North American city to host World Pride, also mark Toronto as a prime site for this investigation. By examining how the arts surface as the solution to many of the challenges that both government institutions and minority community organizations face, this project attempts to unpack a set of ethnographic dilemmas using the theoretical tools furnished by social work, anthropology, queer studies and critical ethnic studies. It is through marshalling the insights provided by these disparate fields that this study is able to use the arts as a productive site through which to analyze the workings of both minority community organizations and government institutions.

This introductory chapter is divided into four sections. In the first section, I situate this study in Toronto, Canada and provide readers with a brief background of the city in order to orient them to the chapters to come. The second section outlines the theoretical contributions of this project to three specific fields: the study of race, gender and sexuality; the politics of art; and the social analysis of “feelings”. I then describe my own relationship to this study and conclude with an overview of the dissertation as a whole, providing brief summaries of each of the chapters to follow.

Toronto, Canada The city of Toronto was established in 1834. It is located in the eastern part of Canada in the southeastern region of the province of Ontario, on the shores of Lake Ontario. With a population of approximately 2.8 million, it is the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest city in North America (City of Toronto, 2015). It is consistently ranked as one of the most desirable cities in the world to live based on a number factors including safety, economic development, environmental health, creativity, and multiculturalism and tolerance of diversity (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014; Intelligent Community Forum, 2014; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014). In this brief background, I focus specifically on the city’s relationship to the arts and to racialized, gendered, and sexual minorities.

Toronto’s reputation as one of the most multicultural cities in the world is not surprising given the municipality’s demographic makeup. Based on 2011 census data, more than half of the city’s population was born outside of Canada and respondents indicated more than 213 different countries of birth (City of Toronto, 2013). These demographic realities were made possible through the transformation of Canada’s immigration system in 1967 whereby entry was no longer premised (at least explicitly) on considerations of race and ethnic origin but rather on assessment according to a “points system” measuring applicant’s ability to contribute to the Canadian economy (Kelley, N., & Trebilcock, 2010). The 1967 Immigration Act brought about a significant change in the ethno-racial make-up of Canadian immigrants as immigrant source countries shifted away from Europe and toward Asia, Africa and the Caribbean (Hierbert, 1994).

These racial transformations are quite evident in Toronto as the city has drawn and continues to draw the majority of Canadian immigrants. 2011 census data indicate that almost 50 percent of the city’s population identify as a visible minority (City of Toronto, 2013). It is important to note however that simply noting the co-existence of variously constituted ethno-racial groups does little to explain the relationships among them. For instance Canadian scholars have noted a significant gap in labor market outcomes between white Canadians and Canadians from visible minority groups (Block & Galabuzi, 2011; Cranford & Vosko, 2006; Fuller & Vosko, 2008).

Urban geographers have also pointed out the increasing spatialization of these racialized economic realities in Toronto such that visible minority status and low economic earnings are taking on perceivable patterns among certain neighborhoods (Hulchanski, 2012; H. Smith & Ley, 2008; Walks & Bourne, 2006).



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