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Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  105 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Never has the world experienced greater movement of peoples from one country to another, from one continent to another. These seismic shifts in population have brought about huge challenges for all societies. In this year’s Massey Lectures, Canada’s twenty-sixth Governor General and bestselling author Adrienne Clarkson argues that a sense of belonging is a necessary ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 19th 2014 by House of Anansi Press (first published September 9th 2014)
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Andrew Griffith
Nov 16, 2014 Andrew Griffith rated it really liked it
Adrienne Clarkson’s Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship is an interesting paradox, in itself, of the theoretical and practical in her arguments in favour of open and inclusive Canadian citizenship.

For Clarkson, the act of imagination, of behaving “as if” people are all good citizens, helps makes this come into being (full disclosure: I am mentioned in the acknowledgements for providing advice and friendship).

Her examples range from the mountain people of the Ik in Uganda whose society fell apa
H Wesselius
Dec 27, 2014 H Wesselius rated it liked it
Not the best Massey lecture but still a decent read. Clarkson explores the idea of citizenship both now and in the past. Although she reviews different ideas about citizenship she spends most of the time describing what it means in the context of Canadian citizenship. She rightly views it as an idea or concept unlike other nationalities which emphasize ethnicity and land. However, her Canadian ideal is not the same as Stephen Harper and her ilk rather its the inclusive vision promoted by the ...more
Edwin Lang
Mar 15, 2015 Edwin Lang rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015

This book comprises a series of lectures presented in 2014 as part of the CBC Radio Ideas’ annual Massey Lectures, CBC being Canada’s National media radio / TV, was a first person account of belonging to Canada as a former immigrant. In this Adrienne Clarkson from her viewpoint as a success provided an overview of what citizenship means from a wide array of perspectives including Canada’s. Her primary focus though was on immigrants and Aboriginals. The approach appealed to me because living and
Dec 13, 2015 David rated it liked it
What defines a citizen? How do we define belonging? How can one be an individual as well a part of a community? Adrienne Clarkson presents her views on these questions in the CBC Massey Lectures, part of which I heard on the radio last year. In light of the immigration tide in the media, and with Canada taking on ots first Syrian refugees, this is still a very topical subject.

Clarkson, herself an immigrant, who rose to become a national journalist and then Canada's twenty-sixth Governor General
Sasha Gronsdahl
Jan 24, 2015 Sasha Gronsdahl rated it really liked it
Overall, I really enjoyed Clarkson's take on Canadian citizenship and belonging. I found the book started out slow--and was disappointed that the first examples and stories she used came from ancient Greece and medieval France rather than something Canadian--but the last three sections of the book really resonated with me. I love the ideals that Clarkson describes, particularly the cosmopolitan ethic and ubuntu. I tend to think she is describing what is possible, what could be, in Canada rather ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Adrik rated it really liked it
An interesting read in a difficult time. With elections coming up in Canada this October, I believe this is a good time to read this book on citizenship and what the term means as well as implies for each individual and community. Although some have critiqued this book as being too general and too optimistic, I believe it gives plenty of food for thought. It really makes you think about what kind of place you want your country to be and what it means to be part of its society. What is our role ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Julie rated it liked it
interesting and well researched book. generally enjoyed the book. very optimistic tone, which was refreshing as I tend to be a lot more cynical about Canada's multiculturalism. i think that Clarkson was comparing a lot to other countries where i tend to compare canada to higher standards. there was some mention of the bad ditection that canada is heading inder the current government - which I found necessary to take the book seriosuly. as a successful immigrant/refugee to canada who has been so ...more

Review by Amira Elghawhaby

I suspect many of us share Adrienne Clarkson's vision of what Canada is and should be: a place where everyone can belong.

Her latest book Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, based on the 2014 Massey Lectures she delivered on CBC Radio, offers plenty of philosophical and evidentiary reasons for promoting the admirable concept of shared citizenship.

Yet, somehow, I also suspect that many of us couldn't help wonder whether this gran
Andra Anoaica
The conclusion of this audio book is that now I want to move to Canada. Just kidding, sort of. The lectures as I later came to learn are held by a former Canadian governor which is in fact a refugee from Hong Kong. She tells stories on the theme of citizenship, with a focus on the democratic system, combined with her own personal experience. Most of the focus is however on Canadian citizenship and what a great country for foreigners Canada is. I take the information with a pinch of salt however ...more
Nancy H
May 05, 2015 Nancy H rated it liked it
It's a very easy to read book and but a little lengthy at times. That is the only negative comment I have about the book. However, I like how she teases out important insights from the simplest things. I also though some chapters were more interesting than others. One other comment (perhaps outside of the scope of the book), I think she made number of simple assumptions throughout. Couple times I wished she explained herself or presented counter argument to solidify her stand further. But her ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Rhys rated it liked it
"The political theorist Hannah Arendt characterized this kind of courage as being “present in the willingness to act and speak at all, to insert one’s self into the world and begin a story of one’s own.” This is not only an act of self-creation and individualism, it is a way of participating in the flourishing of society as a whole. … acting, as Arendt points out, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act" (p.60).
Jenna (Falling Letters)
My Mom and I discussed this book for my Family Reads series. We talk about citizenship, Athenian democracy and belonging and being Canadian. This is a discussion and not a review, so please check it out on my blog!
Lianne Burwell
Basically, be a better citizen by caring more about community and the people in it whether you agree with them or not. Some interesting anecdotes, but it was too short and general, even for something that had to be delivered as five lectures that are less than an hour each. Not the best Massey Lecture in recent years (my favorite was Margaret Atwood's book on debt)

Still worth reading, though.
Nov 04, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
This book had some interesting concepts and wasn't a hard read at all. It had a narrative thread that was easy to follow. That said, her point seemed to shift from belonging to the way people should behave to what we can do to better grow as a country.
If someone wanted to read it already, I'd say yeah, give it a go. But I wouldn't enthusiastically recommend.
Scott Williams
Apr 29, 2016 Scott Williams rated it it was amazing
My reading of this has been timely. Lately I have been feeling very isolated and othered. These feelings have led me to anger and pushed me to separate myself from people. Clarkson has reminded me of values I hold dear but that can be challenging to live. I go to bed tonight feeling better than I did a few hours ago about myself, my community and my place in the world.
Oct 09, 2014 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not one of my favorite Massey lectures by any means. A few insightful and thought-provoking messages but overall seemed disjointed and I didn't think she addressed her theme all that well. Kind of disappointing really.
Jan 08, 2015 CreativelyRed rated it it was ok
I enjoy reading Massey Lectures and enjoyed part of this. It is an interesting look at what makes Canada "Canada" through the lens of citizenship and diversity. I'm recommending it to high school humanities classes as great discussion starters.
Jeff Wyonch
Mar 08, 2015 Jeff Wyonch rated it liked it
A meditation on citizenship and democracy by a former Governor-General of Canada. Intelligent and highly readable, Clarkson charts the obligations we have to each other in an open society, focusing on Canada and contrasting it with other societies around the world.
Nov 29, 2014 Marlies rated it liked it
A feel good read for those who love living in Canada. Just like a pat on the back. Keep up the good work.
Nov 28, 2015 Alanna rated it it was ok
Not my favorite ML, i think I was expecting it to go deeper, was waiting for something that never came. Nice easy writing style though.
Nov 03, 2014 Becky rated it it was ok
Was looking forward to this book, and the topic Clarkson chose. It had promise, and I kept waiting for it to deliver on that promise.... Definitely underwhelmed.
Oct 11, 2015 Susie rated it liked it
Interesting book on citizenship. Would read again.
Adrienne Clarkson has a more positive perception of the values and openness of Canadians than I do...
Barbara rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2015
Caitlin Allan
Caitlin Allan rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2014
Jessica rated it liked it
Feb 03, 2015
Theresa Leonhard
Theresa Leonhard rated it liked it
Jan 24, 2016
Sean Major
Sean Major rated it liked it
Dec 26, 2014
Mahgaux rated it really liked it
Feb 16, 2015
Chris Selman
Chris Selman rated it it was ok
Mar 25, 2016
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