L’évitement comme politique de gestion des débats au Conseil des arts du Canada

Le cas de l’appropriation culturelle et du racisme systémique

(Avoidance as Debate Management Policy at the Canada Council for the Arts: The Case of Cultural Appropriation and Systemic Racism)

By Edith Brunette
Article published in Éthique publique, vol. 22, nº 1
(in French)

“Canada’s arts community has been shaken in recent years now by debates surrounding cultural appropriation and systemic racism—debates which, often involving sharp and individualized criticism, have had a polarizing effect and tended to result in players withdrawing from the public sphere. Against this backdrop, this paper looks at how the Canada Council for the Arts, the backbone of public arts funding, is engaging in these debates. We put forward the following hypothesis: that the Council, rather than trying to bring these discussions back into a public space, is in fact creating a public-private sphere division by confining debates to 1. impenetrable spaces and decision-making processes; and 2. confidential peer committees without specific mandates or training.
       This paper argues that the Canada Council’s dismissal amounts to a form of evasion that has the potential of weakening democratic processes. Drawing on critiques advanced by Chantal Mouffe, this paper presents the hypothesis that the repression of these debates could foster reactive affects more liable to exacerbate social divisions rather than to reduce them. The paper further claims that such evasion is emblematic of the Council’s modus operandi when managing antagonisms, which is characterized by a restricted participationism that hinders the circulation of speech in the artistic community.”