A new perspective on the history of Canadian nationalism and the history of immigration.
In "Nationalism from the Margins" Patricia Wood offers a fresh approach to the study of immigration adaptation and collective and individual identity formation. In analysing a century of Italian migration to Alberta and British Columbia Wood documents a multicultural experience and vision of Canada that long preceded the official policy of 1971. She argues that nationalism is not one idea but a "relationship of voices, speaking from varying levels of political and social power, and to varying audiences." The Italian understanding of what it means to belong to Canada does not require the abandonment of ethnic identity but instead demonstrates the ways in which layers of identity intersect.
Wood introduces the more spatial concept of "relocation" and emphasizes the complex and negotiated nature of immigrant identities. She highlights the immigrants’ roles as active participants in the creation of their own local, regional, and national spaces, underlining the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to immigrant history. Highlighting the "marginalized" status of these immigrants - as Southern Europeans, Catholics, and residents of western Canada - Wood brings their voice to the centre and shows them to be agents in the production of their identities.