new citation: literary geographies of Toronto

Tavares, David, and Marc Brosseau. 2013. “The Spatial Politics of Informal Urban Citizenship: Reading the Literary Geographies of Toronto in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For.Zeitschrift Für Kanada-Studien 33: 9–33.

Abstract: This article offers a geographical reading of Dionne Brand’s novel What We All Long For (2005), which provides readers with an ambitious portrayal of everyday life in contemporary multi-cultural Toronto. The article considers how the places and spaces of Toronto, and their quotidian inhabitation by characters in the novel, play a key role in structuring the urban lives and identities of Brand’s immigrant characters and their second-generation children alike. Through a discussion of generational differences, the article highlights the relationships between space and the politics of identity central to the novel’s portrayal of the city. More concretely, it argues that What We All Long For generates and circulates a powerful representation of the politicized socio-spatial processes through which ‘informal urban citizenship’ is contested in Canada’s most culturally diverse city. The focus on informal urban citizenship is intended to capture the embeddedness of this and other novels in the ongoing definition and redefinition of social and cultural identities in contemporary multi cultural cities. At the same time, the article hopes to illustrate the potential of the concept of informal urban citizenship to inform research in the sub-field of literary geography and the potential of literature as a point of departure for exploring the socio-spatial dimensions of this fascinating concept.

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