This paper argues renewed considerations of the relationship between speculative identity, new media and cultural expression to account for translocal implications and mediations of place‑based articulations of difference. On September 10, 2013, the Government of the province of Quebec (Canada) introduced the Charter of Quebec Values, tabled as Bill 60 on November 7 and retitled the Charter Affirming The Values Of Secularism And The Religious Neutrality Of The State, which proposes to ban ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols worn by all public sector employees, including police, doctors, teachers, and daycare workers. It also explicitly requires anyone to remove such symbols to receive state services.
Critiqued for targeting members of groups whose religions are manifested in visible ways (i.e. Muslim women in hijab) and endorsed for establishing state secularism, the proposed bill continues to spark heated debate. A day before it was tabled, the National Film Board of Canada launched Toi, Moi et le Charte, an interactive online documentary (in French) to feature the perspectives of everyday Quebecers on the debate and reflect on one’s own views. Described as a ‘neutral project’, the website operates like dating game where users select words taken from the Charter that match their descriptions of ‘me,’ ‘my values,’ and mes malaises. The result is two profiles opening with the person reading a tweet or Facebook post expressing Islamophobic and generally xenophobic sentiments. In March 2012, a visit by a delegation from the United Arab Emirates stressed the need to further develop relations, economic ties and trade between the UAE and Quebec. The meaning of speculation here resides in a number of different connotations. I argue that the views and social criticisms supplemented by Toi, Moi et le Charte shed light on what is at stake in ‘playing with the values’ of emerging translocal relations.
- Alice Ming Wai Jim, Concordia University, CA