Competing Notions of Integration in Canada’s First Coptic Orthodox Parishes, 1960s–1980s

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Michael Akladios

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Abstract




Coptic identities are neither static nor reducible to a single definition. For the Coptic Orthodox, immigration and the process of integration produced multiple, competing responses across central Canada in the second half of the twentieth century that expose the complex social lives of individuals and groups. The author charts a history of collaboration and contestation among clergy, church activists, and cultural events organizers who held competing notions of integration in Cold War Montreal and Toronto. Rejecting a culturally driven interpretation that sees the Coptic Orthodox as homogenous and indistinguishable from their religious practices, this article argues that heteroglossia—of varied and at times opposing voices—should serve as a starting point for inquiry. Given the huge range and the challenges that lie ahead for reconstructing the Egyptian immigrant experience, the process of sharing in an array of interpretations is more important than a rigid definition.




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