Women, Work, and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora
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In Downwardly Global Lalaie Ameeriar examines the transnational labor migration of Pakistani women to Toronto. Despite being trained professionals in fields including engineering, law, medicine, and education, they experience high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rather than addressing this downward mobility as the result of bureaucratic failures, in practice their unemployment is treated as a problem of culture and racialized bodily difference. In Toronto, a city that prides itself on multicultural inclusion, women are subjected to two distinct cultural contexts revealing that integration in Canada represents not the erasure of all differences, but the celebration of some differences and the eradication of others. Downwardly Global juxtaposes the experiences of these women in state-funded unemployment workshops, where they are instructed not to smell like Indian food or wear ethnic clothing, with their experiences at cultural festivals in which they are encouraged to promote these same differences. This form of multiculturalism, Ameeriar reveals, privileges whiteness while using race, gender, and cultural difference as a scapegoat for the failures of Canadian neoliberal policies.