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REPRODUCING ETHNICITY IN CULTURALLY RELEVANT SPACES

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Abstract

This paper explores intra-community tensions experienced within a small, rural, Francophone community in their efforts to secure a new community centre in 2017. Pomquet, Nova Scotia, is an Acadian village with approximately 900 people that has experienced numerous significant changes over the last decade that evoke feelings of loss. These changes include: the resident French-language priest leaving their Catholic parish; the local school is increasingly catering to students from outside Pomquet; ageing facilities; and economic development on the margins of the community. This paper details how a new community centre in Pomquet would replace several of the former social institutions that supported cultural and ethnic reproduction in the community. Participants in this study described the need for a new community centre with a sense of urgency. They have experienced cultural and linguistic loss due to a lack of proper institutional supports in the past. Residents seemed relieved to have an upcoming space that would meet community needs; however, it did not come without contention. There were tensions over its location, what it would house, and what governmental and organization affiliations it held. Overall, this paper highlights the role of space, community-based (often gendered) labour, and politics in the reproduction of ethnicity. I demonstrate the importance of exploring tensions and concerns around the institutionalization of culture and language and the significant role culturally relevant spaces can play in the reproduction of ethnicity.

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2021-10-08