Reshaping Immigrant Lives in Cold War Canada

By Franca Iacovetta


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  • The Canadian Historical Association Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize, 2008 (Winner)
  • The Canadian Historical Association Francois-Xavier Garneau Medal, 2010 (Short-listed)

An in-depth study of European immigrants to Canada during the Cold War, Gatekeepers explores the interactions among these immigrants and the “gatekeepers”–mostly middle-class individuals and institutions whose definitions of citizenship significantly shaped the immigrant experience. Iacovetta’s deft discussion examines how dominant bourgeois gender and Cold War ideologies of the day shaped attitudes towards new Canadians. She shows how the newcomers themselves were significant actors who influenced Canadian culture and society, even as their own behaviour was being modified.

Generously illustrated, Gatekeepers explores a side of Cold War history that has been left largely untapped. It offers a long overdue Canadian perspective on one of the defining eras of the last century.

More by this Author

  • Cleaning Up

    By Susana P. Miranda, with Franca Iacovetta


Contains a sizable compendium of primary and secondary sources, archival information, and film titles, clearly a boon to teachers and designers of curriculum units.

– *Canadian Literature *

Iacovetta’s take on citizenship reflects a turn from what might be thought of as a celebratory mood of struggle and achievement in immigration studies toward a more edgy, critical view of the whole process of integration… Should give hope to those seeking change in contemporary society.

– Literary Review of Canada

An important addition to immigration history in North America … adds significantly to our understanding of the postwar immigration story. This is a dynamic and innovative study of a period that has just begun to attract its rightful analysis.

– *Journal of American Ethnic History *

Serves as a salutary and timeless lesson to us as we seek to realize the enormous economic, social, and cultural benefits of liberal immigration policies while addressing the real but limited risks to national security that such policies entail.

– American Historical Review

The richness of this book lies in its analysis of rarely documented details of Canadian life during the Cold War, particularly among displaced persons from Eastern Europe. … Gatekeepers is a valuable resource regarding the history of anti-communism in Canada, postwar ethnicity, the roots of state sanctioned multi-culturalism, and the effects of forced assimilation.

– *The Beaver *


Preface and Acknowledgements
Chapter 1 Mass Immigration and the Remaking of the Postwar Nation
Chapter 2 Press Narratives of Migration: From Scarcity and Red Slavery to Oranges and Humanity
Chapter 3 Defining the Agenda: Professional Discourses of Integration and Citizenship
Chapter 4 Institutional Gatekeepers: Democratic Pluralism or Ethnic Containment?
Chapter 5 Tactics of Close Liaison: Political Gatekeepers, the Ethnic Press, and Anti-Communist Citizens
Chapter 6 Culinary Containment?: Cooking for the Family, Democracy, and Nation
Chapter 7 Shaping the Democratic Family: Popular Advice Experts and Settlement House Workers
Chapter 8 From Newcomers to Dangerous Foreigners: Containing Deviant and Violent Men
Chapter 9 The Sexual Politics of Survival and Citizenship: Social Workers, Damaged Women, and Canada's Moral Democracy
Chapter 10 Guarding the Nation's Security: On the Lookout for Femmes Fatales, Scam Artists, and Spies
Chapter 11 Peace and Freedom in Their Steps
Abbreviations Used in the Photo Captions