Caitlin Alton

Project Title: (2011) Cultural Diversity in Mile End: Everyday Interactions between Hasidim and Non-Hasidim. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Thesis Link:

In this thesis I have examined how Hasidim and non-Hasidim interact in Mile End in a microstudy of one street in the neighbourhood, Rue Hutchison. Through this work I provide insight into the broader picture of interculturalism and reasonable accommodation in Montreal. Most people living in Mile End like living in a diverse neighbourhood; however, there is a continuum of adjustment for interviewees in Mile End which reflects how comfortable they are living with Hasidim. Through oral history interviews, ethnography, and a collaborative ethos of sharing authority with interviewees I show places where interactions between Hasidim and non-Hasidim occur, show their importance to residents living in the neighbourhood, and the potential to bring people from different groups into contact or exposure with each other. I believe the most important part of what makes a multi-ethnic neighbourhood work are individual relationships, such as those I developed with my interviewees.

This work makes two unique and important contributions. First, it explores the interactions between these two groups, and their potential for creating mutual understanding. Second, this thesis makes use of an innovative research methodology: a combination of oral history and ethnography. Through oral history I allowed interviewees to share the realities of their day-to-day life and through ethnography I observed how people live and move through the neighbourhood.

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