Quebec Studies

Metamorphosis and Cosmopolitanism in a Senegalese Immigrant's Narratives about Québec: Boucar Diouf

Quebec Studies (2012), 54, (2), 53–70.

Abstract

53 53 Metamorphosis and and Cosmopolitanism in aa Senegalese Immigrant's Narratives about Québec: Boucar Diouf Babacar M'Baye Kent State University Boucar Diouf's Diouf's Sous Sous l'arbre l'arbre a palabres, palabres, mon mongrand-père grand-pèredisait disait(2007) (2007)and andLa La Commission Boucar Commission Boucarpour pourun un raccommodement raccommodementraisonnable raisonnable (2008) (2008) areare notnot scholscholarly monographs but rather the personal commentaries of a well-known Senegalese immigrant and media icon from Québec. Québec. These commentaries commentaries address a variety of subjects, ranging from Diouf's Diouf's life in Senegal Senegal and Québec to his views on culture and politics in the Canadian province. Pubbec lished while living in Montreal, Diouf's Diouf's narratives provide us with the Senegalese expatriate writer's perspectives on race, cultural fluidity, and his relationships with his new country. country.1 These These two texts discuss a multiplicity of opinions on the lives of black black African African immigrants in Québec and therefore serve as invaluable scholarly scholarly resources for the study of the experiences of these transnational expatriates in the province, specifically specifically in Rimouski and Montreal. Diouf's narratives are also important because they highlight the discrepancy between his idealistic idealistic views views of of life in in Québec and the actual economic economic and social social challenges challenges confronting black black African African immigrants living in the province. The concept of metamorphosis aptly describes the experiences The experiences of modern Africans Africans who as immigrants in the Western world contribute, intentionally or unintentionally, to the cosmopolitanism cosmopolitanism and diversity of their host countries. Diouf, a Senegalese Senegalese author, television television commentator, and humorist, contributes to Quebec's Quebec's cosmopolitanism cosmopolitanism by adapting to his new environment and inventing a hybrid identity that blends his traditional culture with that of his host country. In Québec, Diouf goes through a process of metamorphosis made possible by his adaptability, acclimation, of acclimation, and negotiation of transnational space and culture. My concept of "space" is indebted to the promising field of Diaspora Studies, which examines examines the creative ways in which immigrants use a variety of virtual and cultural tools in order to create "transnational space" in their new locations. locations. In Building Building Diaspora:Filipino Diaspora: FilipinoCommunity CommunityFormation Formation onon thethe Internet Internet (2005), (2005), Emily Emily Noëlle Noëlle Ignacio finds transnational space in the ways in which members of the Filipino diaspora use an Internet newsgroup as a means to "struggle with establishing a cultural community in the face of seemingly seemingly divergent national histories, and, thus," show "how sociopolitical issues and ideologies ideologies simultaneously tie these histories together" (4). In a similar vein, Ron Burnett finds transnational space in the liminal terrain between center and margin, as he explains using a film to illustrate the concept in Cultures Cultures of of Vision: Images, Vision: Images,Media, Media,and andthetheImaginary Imaginary(1995): (1995): 1 ItIt is in the borders between between official official culture culture as as promulgated promulgated by by govgovernment policy policy and the displacement (psychological, physical, in- Special Issue, Fall 2012

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M'Baye, Babacar