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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

The Centre for Media and Culture in Education (CMCE) Presents:

The 2013—2014 Works in Progress Seminar Series, Session 5


FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2014, 2 - 4 pm

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education | University of Toronto

252 Bloor St. West | (@St. George Subway Station) 
11th Floor | Room 11 - 164

This event is wheelchair accessible.


Mapping Liberal Muslims and the Colonial Canadian State

Dr. Salima Bhimani

Since 9/11 the focus of critical scholarship on Muslims in Canada has necessarily been about the racialized, orientalist and Islamophic constructions and experiences of Muslim bodies.  Questions and issues about citizenship, terror response, risk aversion, and accommodation have been engaged. Very little attention however has been paid to the more ambiguous ways in which Muslims are relationally and asymmetrically managed and constituted through the colonial settler multicultural Canadian state. In this framework Muslims are not a threat to the state or those on its peripheries, but rather are aligned and in support of the state in its liberal and multicultural politics of managing racialized and minoritized religious communities. Through a year long ethnographic study on the Ismaili Muslims in Toronto (a minority Shi’a Muslim community), this paper will examine how this community is becoming integral through its ties with the Canadian government in rebranding Canada as a neomulticultural state, through the concept of pluralism. It is not the expulsion of these Muslims but rather their very incorporation and inclusion that reveals the necessity of Muslim bodies, particular versions of Islam, in this case liberal humanist Islam, in reiterating the Canadian state as tolerant, liberal and inclusive, a cosmopolitan model to be exported around the world.  Thus, the Ismailis are Muslims of exception who allow us to reconsider what the work of Muslim bodies are in these times defined by discourses of terror and global threat in multicultural states such as Canada.

Dr. Salima Bhimani’s academic work focuses on the affective, spacial and discursive outcomes of encounters between minoritized bodies and communities, colonial nation states and gender, race, class and religious processes of difference making. Salima has worked as an educator, community activist, and cultural producer over the last 20 years.  She has worked with NGOs, various levels of government, schools, and community organization across Canada and abroad focusing on issues of social injustice and inequity at the intersections of gender, race and class.  Currently working as a researcher, Salima is examining the experiences of mixed race, interfaith and intrafaith couples in Muslim community contexts in relation to issues of equitable community building.



Bullies and Blackmail: Finding Homophobia in the Closet on Teen TV

Dr. Wendy Peters

Assistant Professor | Gender Equality & Social Justice | Nipissing University

Visiting Scholar | CMCE | OISE/UT


Between June 2010 and June 2011, teen TV series set in high schools featured more non-straight teen characters in one year than had been depicted in the preceding decade. Focusing on this noteworthy season, I offer a discursive textual analysis of five scripted American and Canadian teen TV series that aired between June 7, 2010 and June 6, 2011: 90210, Degrassi, Glee, Pretty Little Liars and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Each series contrasts a closeted teen with a peer who is already out or “post-closet” to use Becker’s (2009) term. I highlight the discourses that enable the production and containment of such characters, particularly the minoritizing discourse of sexuality that provides the scaffolding for the metaphors of “the closet” and “coming out.” I argue that representations of post-closet and closeted teens coalesce into neoliberal narratives that characterize being out in high school as greatly preferable to being closeted. I highlight four tropes that dramatize the closet: the homophobic and closeted bully; the blackmail of a closeted character; the literal sidelining of closeted characters; and the ease and importance of coming out in high school. Teen series employ homophobia and the closet as issues of significance in teen lives, while neoliberally ascribing their existence to individual characters. Some versions of this pattern reflect a media trend identified by Bergman (2004) in which “the only people who have trouble with homosexuality are gay” and “there is no homophobia except in their own minds” (15). These narrative patterns are, arguably, examples of homophobic discourse reflected and reinvented.

Wendy Peters is Assistant Professor of Gender Equality and Social Justice at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. She is presently a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Media and Culture in Education at OISE/UT. Her work has been published in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Journal of Lesbian Studies and Canadian Woman Studies / les cahier de la femme.