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«Everyday Enchantments and Secular Magic in Montréal By Ian Alexander Cuthbertson A thesis submitted to the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies in ...»

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Everyday Enchantments and Secular Magic in Montréal

By

Ian Alexander Cuthbertson

A thesis submitted to the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies in conformity with

the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Queen’s University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

June 2016

Copyright © Ian Alexander Cuthbertson, June 2016

Abstract

In this thesis I argue that dominant ways of imagining modernity constitute

a modern imaginary that carries with it particular expectations concerning modern places, spaces, emotions, and affects as well as expectations concerning the place of religion and enchantment in the modern world. I argue that this modern imaginary and the expectations it entails works to conceal and trivialize suprarational beliefs and behaviours in scholarship but also in the lives of individuals. I focus on one particular subset of the supra-rational beliefs and behaviours that modern imaginary conceals and trivializes, namely beliefs and behaviours associated with lucky and protective objects. I also focus on the ways the modern imaginary conceals the presence and prevalence of these objects and the beliefs and behaviours they entail in one particular context, namely Montréal, Québec. I argue that these supra-rational beliefs and behaviours constitute a subjunctive mode for understanding and experiencing daily life and describe how the modern imaginary works to discredit this subjunctive register. Finally, I argue that scholars must begin to recognize and examine this subjunctive mode and the playful engagement with half-belief it involves.

i Acknowledgements I am gratefully indebted to many people for the completion of this thesis. I would like to thank my committee members Dr. Caroline-Isabelle Caron and Dr.

Anne Godlewska who provided me with excellent guidance and feedback; Dr.

Pamela Dickey Young and Dr. William Morrow who offered valuable advice and who thoughtfully engaged with this and other projects over the course of my doctoral studies; my mother Sonia De Paoli and my sister Jessica Cuthbertson who have supported me throughout my life and academic career; Jen Lemche and Justina Spencer for their friendship, advice, and for helping me maintain sanity as I completed this degree; and my endlessly enchanting wife Virginia Noel-Hodge for her wonderful patience and constant support. Finally I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. James Miller for his support and guidance, his timely and helpful criticisms, and for his continued interest in both this project and in my academic career more broadly. Without Dr. Miller’s extraordinary support, this thesis would never have been written.

–  –  –

Modern Times................................................... 20 2.1.

Modern Places / Modern Spaces................................ 23 2.2.

Modern Emotions / Modern Affects.............................. 30 2.3.

Secular, Secularization, Secularism(s), Secularity............... 40 2.4.

Disenchantment................................................. 67 2.5.

Imaginaries....................................................... 83 2.6.

Conclusion....................................................... 90 2.7.

Chapter Three: The Modern Imaginary in Québec and Montréal........... 98

Historical Overview.............................................. 99 3.1.

Religion in Québec Today..................................... 116 3.2.

Secularism in Québec....................................... 132 3.3.

The Modern Imaginary in Québec........................... 150 3.4.

Religion in Montréal Today..................................... 154 3.5.

Imaginaries....................................................... 83 3.6.

Conclusion....................................................... 90 3.7.

–  –  –

Bibliography.................................................................. 287 Appendices................................................................... 305 A: Survey Questions................................................... 305 B: Interview Questions................................................ 309 C: Survey Letter of Information........................................ 311 D: Interview Letter of Information...................................... 313 E: Research Ethics Board Approval................................... 315

–  –  –





List of Figures

1. Government of Québec Infographic Providing Examples of Nonostentatious and Ostentatious Religious Signs................... 145

–  –  –

2. Survey Results – Examples of Objects Divided into Categories...... 177

3. Interview Results – Summary of Survey Participants Listing Pseudonym, Age, Sex, Religious Self-identification, and Objects.............. 214

–  –  –

Chapter 1: Introduction This project explores the ways dominant conceptualizations of modernity work to encourage certain ways of understanding and experiencing the world while discouraging and dismissing others. I argue that despite recent debates concerning the precise nature of modernity and its value as an analytical category, the idea of modernity remains both coherent and operative in contemporary society. Central to my argument is the notion that this idea of modernity, or modern imaginary, involves both descriptions of what modernity is and also normative statements concerning what modernity ought to be.

1.1. Modernity Modernity is one of the most contested, debated, and “muddled” terms in the scholarly lexicon (Chakrabarty 2011). In what follows, I use the word ‘modernity’ to describe both our current social situation and also a dominant, coherent, and often contested program for social life. Importantly, I view the program of modernity as one that strives for universality. Thus although modernity is often associated with ideas that arose in a particular period (sometime after the Enlightenment) and in a particular context (Western Europe) the social program of modernity extends both forward in time and outwards in influence. Central to the program of modernity is the assertion that modernity is the potential (and perhaps inevitable) endpoint for all persons and places.

1 This very broad definition of modernity lacks precision and this is inevitable. In part, this stems from the fact that I am unwilling to view modernity as something around which clear boundaries can be confidently drawn. I am unwilling to do this because any concise definition of modernity ignores modernity’s status as a deeply contested concept. I will not, therefore, attempt to describe what modernity really is, assuming that final pronouncements on this subject are even possible. Nor will I take sides as to whether our current social situation is best viewed as constituting modernity, late-modernity, advanced modernity, or post-modernity. For although there is disagreement as to whether modernity is plural (Eisenstadt 2000), entangled (Göran 2003), liquid (Bauman 2000), reflexive (Beck et al. 1994), or valid at all as an analytical category (Wolin 2011; Chakrabarty 2002), I am reluctant to join in these discussions for two reasons. First, because a comprehensive survey and assessment of contemporary debates surrounding the concept ‘modernity’ would require a volume of its own; and second, because my primary concern is not modernity itself, but rather how the concept of modernity works to privilege some social arrangements while concealing or discouraging others. In other words, I am interested in the idea of modernity.

Yet I do not mean to suggest that there is any single or universally applicable ’idea of modernity.’ As my brief reference to contemporary debates concerning the nature of modernity demonstrates, multiple conceptualizations of modernity co-exist and in fact compete with one another. Nevertheless, I contend 2 that the concept ‘modernity’ nevertheless carries with it certain dominant associations interpretations and, as I argue below, expectations. In section two I trace the contours of these associations, interpretations, and expectations and provide more detailed overview both of scholarly work on modernity and of the ‘modern imaginary’ as I conceive it.

1.2. Imaginaries and the Social Construction of Reality.

This project assumes that reality is socially constructed (cf. Berger and Luckmann 1966). According to this view reality is always refracted through the prism of culture and is shaped by shared interpretive frameworks. While there is disagreement among social constructionists as to exactly which shared interpretive frameworks are involved in the social construction of reality, ‘discourse’ (cf. Foucault 1995 [1975]) has become a particularly influential term for social constructionism (Hjelm 2014, 5). Yet I am also interested in nondiscursive and pre-discursive orientations, commitments, and beliefs that may never be fully articulated. For this reason I explore the social construction of reality through the concept of imaginaries.

The concept of an imaginary or of imaginaries has been gaining popularity in cultural studies and other associated fields in recent years (Strauss 2006).

Developed in different ways by Cornelius Castoriadis in The Imaginary Institution of Society (1998), Benedict Anderson (1983) in Imagined Communities, and 3 more recently by Charles Taylor in his Modern Social Imaginaries (2004), the term has been used in association with a wide variety of adjectives and nouns in recent scholarship. In the last decade, for instance, scholars have described political imaginaries (Adams et al. 2012), geographical imaginaries (Lopez 2010), secular imaginaries (Casanova 2008), urban imaginaries (Huyssen 2008), queer suburban imaginaries (Tongson 2011), radical feminist imaginaries (Subramanian 2013), the female imaginary (Odin 2010), the Jewish imaginary (Scott 2007), the Hindu imaginary (Bhagavan 2010), and the Muslim imaginary (Miller and Ahluwalia, 2011), to name only a few. The term has become so common, in fact, that many authors fail to attribute the concept or else provide only a cursory overview of its meaning (Strauss 2006, 323).

I employ the term ‘imaginary’ to describe, “an enabling but not fully explicable matrix with which a people imagine and act as world-making collective agents” (Gaonkar 2002, 1). Thus an imaginary involves both consciously held ideas about the world and also implicit values or intuitions about the world that may never be clearly expressed and indeed may never be fully explicable.

Imaginaries therefore work on both discursive and non-discursive (or prediscursive) levels. Importantly, an imaginary involves both the images we form of the world as it is (either explicitly or implicitly) and also the process of imagining the world as it should be. Imaginaries are thus both descriptive and prescriptive and determine not only how we see the world but also affect how we imagine the 4 world ought to function while also setting guidelines for how we ought to behave within this imagined world.

My conceptualization of imaginaries relies on Charles Taylor’s discussion of the ‘modern social imaginary.’ Yet Taylor and I have very different goals. For his part, Taylor is interested in describing the “special form of social imaginary” that gives rise to modernity in its multiple forms (Gaonkar 2002, 5). One important element of this social imaginary is a new conception of the moral order of society, which Taylor sees as being central to Western modernity (Taylor 2002, 92). But whereas Taylor describes the particular moral order and social imaginary that lead to modernity, I describe instead the ways modernity itself comes to be imagined along with the effects of this imagining. Or to frame it somewhat differently: whereas Taylor describes the specific social arrangements that led to modernity, which he views as an “historically unprecedented amalgam of new practices and institutional forms... of new ways of living... and of new forms of malaise” (2002, 91), I describe the specific arrangements that are held up as key features of modernity and explore the social, spatial, emotional, and affective potentials these imaginings afford.

1.3. Field of Study The modern imaginary as I conceive it has effects for scholarship.

According to the modern imaginary, certain places, spaces, emotions, affects, 5 and beliefs are pre-modern (primitive) or non-modern (backward) and are therefore largely ignored by contemporary scholarship. I focus on one instance of this exclusion and examine the ways lucky and protective objects and associated supra-rational beliefs and behaviours are not only ignored by contemporary scholarship but are rendered practically invisible both to scholarship and more generally.



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