Advanced Search

Add Best Comp

Add comparable title

Remove comparable title

Ampersand The Six

Before Official Multiculturalism
Women's Pluralism in Toronto, 1950s-1970s
By (author): Franca Iacovetta
Franca Iacovetta


University of Toronto Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


Higher Education
Nov 14, 2022
$39.95 CAD


9in x 6 x 1.25 in | 640 gr

Page Count:

448 pages


32 b&w illustrations
University of Toronto Press
HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)

Renowned author Franca Iacovetta provides a new perspective on multiculturalism by examining the hopes and challenges of women activists associated with the Toronto International Institute.

For almost two decades before Canada officially adopted multiculturalism in 1971, a large network of women and their allies in Toronto were promoting pluralism as a city- and nation-building project. Before Official Multiculturalism assesses women as liberal pluralist advocates and activists, critically examining the key roles they played as community organizers, frontline social workers, and promoters of ethnic festivals.

The book explores women’s community-based activism in support of a liberal pluralist vision of multiculturalism thorough an analysis of the International Institute of Metropolitan Toronto, a postwar agency that sought to integrate newcomers into the mainstream and promote cultural diversity. Drawing on the rich records of the institute, as well as the massive International Institutes collection in Minnesota, the book situates Toronto within its Canadian and North American contexts and addresses the flawed mandate to integrate immigrants and refugees into an increasingly diverse city.

Franca Iacovetta investigates the contradictions between the activists’ desire to celebrate and build ethnic diversity on one hand, and their project of Canadian nation-building on the other. Drawing lessons from the history of the Toronto International Institute, Before Official Multiculturalism engages with national and international debates to provide a critical analysis of women’s pluralism in Canada.

-Written by a renowned and award-winning scholar of Canadian women’s history
-Explores the hierarchies of gender, race, and class relations that shaped life at the Toronto International Institute and its community projects and cultural programs
-Draws on institutional records to explore themes related to women and multiculturalism
-Probes the fundamental tensions within liberalism between democratic ideals of influence and power

Franca Iacovetta is a professor emerita of history at the University of Toronto.

For more information contact
[email protected]

"Combining painstaking archival research with sharp analysis, Franca Iacovetta’s Before Official Multiculturalism offers us an important account of English Canada’s particular version of multiculturalism. Studying the work of women associated with Toronto’s International Institute in the 1950s and 60s, Iacovetta’s book offers us new ways of thinking about the possibilities, and perhaps more importantly, the enduring limitations of liberal, plural multiculturalism, both then and now."

- Adele Perry, Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies and Director of the Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba

"Meticulously researched and accessibly written, this study of Toronto’s International Institute offers a much needed and explicitly gendered intervention into our understandings of mid-century migrant settlement efforts. Emphasizing women's engagement at and with the Institute, Iacovetta deftly untangles the potential and paradoxes of white settler-based liberal cultural pluralism and efforts at multiculturalism before it was made ‘official’ in Canada."

- Rhonda L. Hinther, Professor of History, Brandon University

"This magnificent work makes it clear why Franca Iacovetta is one of the leading scholars of gender, labour and migration history in Canada. In a finely-tuned analysis, Iacovetta explores the double-edged nature of pluralism at the International Institute of Metropolitan Toronto from 1956-1974. Before Official Multiculturalism offers critical insights that help us better understand the significance of ongoing contestations over culture, community, and belonging, in the present."

- Laura Madokoro, Associate Professor of History, Carleton University

"Fresh insights into Canada's fifty-year dialogue about multiculturalism abound in this history of Toronto's International Institute. Iacovetta embeds the Institute’s immigrant social services and public celebrations of cultural pluralism in a history that highlights interclass, gender, and race relations within local dynamics that foreshadowed the strengths and weaknesses of federal policy."

- Donna Gabaccia, Professor Emerita of History, University of Toronto

"Iacovetta creatively uncovers the story of one organization led primarily by women, which serves as a prototype for how the era understood and developed the pluralism it was experiencing. The book has a celebratory tone even as it has a critical eye on the form and exclusions that women’s pluralism of the period undertook. As such there is much to learn from this history for researchers and advocates working on diversity and inclusion issues in Toronto today."

- Joe Mihevc, Adjunct Professor, York University, and former Toronto City Councillor

of 28

Forgotten Password

Please enter your email address and click submit. An email with instructions on resetting your password will be sent to you.

Forgotten Password

An email has been sent out with instructions for resetting your password.