Diasporic Experiences of Everyday Multiculturalism: Navigating Race and Space Through African Women's Beauty Practices

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Chimhanda, Rumbidzai




Abstract This thesis examines how everyday multiculturalism and the African diaspora mutually interact to shape racialization processes in multiple spaces, both public and private, through an exploration of African women's beauty practices. Five main social spaces relevant to African women's diasporic experiences of everyday multiculturalism are analysed throughout the thesis including the self, the home, the church, social media, and the workplace. Blending analytic categories of everyday multiculturalism with the African diaspora while incorporating concepts from critical race theory, the public-private dichotomy, the women-as-nation premise, and feminist insights on agency, this thesis makes three central arguments. Firstly, I argue the dynamic interplay between everyday multiculturalism and the African diaspora simultaneously reconstitutes social spaces by creating rich combinations of complex experiences that challenge and redefine what the "public" and "private" mean in various spaces through new meanings of race, beauty, class, pan-African nationalism, multiculturalism, sexuality, and gender. Secondly, I argue everyday multiculturalism and the African diaspora simultaneously structure racialization processes so that African women's racialized identities are layered, formed, and informed by a new African diaspora community within Canada, local nationalist and postcolonial racial formations, Canadian discourses of multiculturalism, and globalized meanings of Blackness. Furthermore, racialization processes are constantly shifting across social spaces so that women creatively juggle different racialized identities by creating hybrid iterations, of being African and Black, that are complex and multilayered. Lastly, I argue everyday multiculturalism and the African diaspora interact in paradoxical fashion to produce a conception of agency reflective of simultaneous articulations including accommodation and resistance. The ways women use their beauty practices to navigate race and space thus reveal the context dependent manifestations of different expressions of agency in the public and private. This complex dynamic makes it difficult to neatly generalize African women as either completely agentive or completely oppressed in any given space. Keywords: African Diaspora, Agency, Beauty, Canadian Society, Everyday Multiculturalism, Race, Social Spaces


Political science




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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