In plain sight : the development of Western Icelandic ethnicity and class division, 1910-20

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McIntosh, Andrea L.
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This dissertation is an ethnohistoric examination of the impact of the Winnipeg General Strike and its associated rhetoric of class and ethnic relations on Winnipeg Icelanders as an ethnic group. As ethnography, the research examines the demographics, economics, social structures (business and voluntary associations) and ideologies as discernible through city archival materials, newspapers, written anecdotal histories, and sets of interviews with elderly Western Icelanders. It finds that while the ethnic ideology stressed social equality, honour, and nobility as the heritage of all Icelanders, urban life and the ethnic economic enclave of construction and real estate had produce economic stratification. This stratification was reflected in the composition of the leadership of voluntary associations, newspaper editorial boards and church administration. As such, de facto socio-economic stratification had emerged, but was muted by various mechanisms of social discourse and patterns of interaction. The British Canadian rhetoric about class and ethnicity generated by the Winnipeg General Strike highlighted tensions in these same spheres of discourse among Winnipeg Icelanders. Consequently, Icelandic elite ideologies about ethnicity were manifest in the formation of the Icelandic National League, while the Icelandic working class voice was expressed through political involvement in the civic election.