Hockey and multiculturalism are often noted as defining features of Canadian culture; yet, rarely are we forced to question the relationship and tensions between these two social constructs. This project examines the growing significance of hockey in Canada’s South Asian communities. It begins by discussing issues surrounding “race” and racism in Canadian sport, before moving to consider the popularity of the Hockey Night Punjabi broadcast and the value of ethnic (sports) media in challenging dominant discourses. This serves as an entry point for a broader consideration of South Asian experiences in hockey culture based on field work and interviews conducted with South Asian Canadian hockey players, parents, and coaches in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Drawing on the methodological frameworks of critical race theory, postcolonial feminism, and intersectionality, this project seeks to inject more “colour” into hockey’s historically white dominated narratives and representations. My goal is to encourage alternative and multiple narratives about hockey and cultural citizenship by asking if, how, when, where, and which citizens are able to contribute to the webs of meaning that form the nation’s cultural fabric. Some of the themes discussed in the study include: a tendency to dismiss on-ice racial slurs as gamesmanship; a reluctance to name any particular incident or instigator as racist; the perception of resentment from white hockey parents directed at upwardly mobile racialized citizens; and a consistent erasure from institutions of public memory. The research also considers whether generational change is enough to secure equal representation and access by examining how different forms of capital work to institutionalize racism.
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Thesis advisor: Gruneau, Richard
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