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Discourse, difference, and dehumanization: justifying the Canadian Japanese internment, 1940-1949

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posted on 2021-05-23, 13:14 authored by Alexandra Marcinkowski
This thesis argues Canadian Members of Parliament used the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour as an opportunity to enforce a dominant “us versus them” narrative in order to justify the internment of approximately 22,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry. National and local newspapers reinforced this narrative through uncritical and biased reporting which negatively framed the Japanese against a more idealized and white “Canadian” identity. Critical discourse analysis was applied on several debates in the House of Commons and news articles in the Daily Colonist and the Globe and Mail between 1940 and 1949, to examine the articulation of social relations – in this case, race and ethnicity – with the goal of uncovering the power relations embedded within the discourse. The findings reveal a clear “us versus them” narrative, whereby Canadians of Japanese ancestry were constructed as “yellow,” “bad,” and “unwanted,” as opposed to white Canadians who were “good” and “loyal.”





Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type