Friday, March 9, 2018

Cultural Melding in Quebec

Dan Bilefsky says that the younger generation in Montreal is moving beyond the Anglo vs. Quebecois fights that long defined the city:
One in four Anglophones in Quebec marry French Quebecers.
I of course think this is a great thing, but if I were Quebecois I would worry that intermarriage would mean the eventual end of my culture.


G. Verloren said...

"I of course think this is a great thing, but if I were Quebecois I would worry that intermarriage would mean the eventual end of my culture."

What does that phrase even mean? "The end of my culture". What cultures exist today in the same state they existed a century ago, or even a mere decade?

If French Canadians all go and intermarry with English Canadians, and the French language stops being the primary language in Quebec, has their culture truly ended? Or has it just changed into something different?

One could argue that "English culture" has died a dozens deaths or more, because it has transformed over and over again. And yet, despite no longer speaking like Elizabethans did, we still consider the works of Shakespeare to be a part of English culture - just as much as Indian curry has become a part of English culture.

There is no such thing as a pure cultural heritage. No one lives in a vacuum, no man is an island, and the Quebecois aren't defined by their Frenchness alone, but rather by everything that influences them and that they choose to retain as part of their culture in the present day and into the future.

If some aspect of their past culture falls by the wayside, have they suddenly lost their 'true' heritage and betrayed their identity? Are modern Quebecois a bunch of phonies because they no longer live like their ancestors did? "How can you be a 'true' Quebecois if you aren't a voyageur canoeing along the river to trap beavers for fur?! Get the hell out of here, you English-loving poseurs!"

It's been over a quarter of a millenia since Quebec was French. In fact, at this point, it has spent more years under English control than it ever did under French. With 500 years of history behind it, roughly half French and half English, and 500 years of technological advancement and societal change, it's utterly ridiculous to act as though the Quebecois culture of today is anything like the Quebecois culture of the past.

So if the culture of modern day Quebecois is changing? Let it! It's done so plenty of times already, and no one seems to have minded, or even really noticed!

leif said...

this reminds me of what i've come to regard as a change-rate problem. nationalists as a type, are predominantly conservative, many reactionary, and the prime motivators for them are not cultural change per se (since they want to change today's culture back to how they imagine it was), but 1) the rate of cultural change; 2) that this change often involves the evolution or destruction of the norms they love, and the integration or ascendancy of norms they abhor; and 3) their sense of self-worth is inextricably tied to their cultural norms. thus their self-worth is likely to seem degraded as they see cultural norms -- race, language, religion, architecture, on and on -- fade, fail, morph, degrade, lose rigor.