Parastou Saberi, Fearing the Immigrant: Racialization and Urban Policy in Toronto – University of Minnesota Press, August 2022
The city of Toronto is often held up as a leader in diversity and inclusion. In Fearing the Immigrant, however, Parastou Saberi argues that Toronto’s urban policies are influenced by a territorialized and racialized security agenda—one that parallels the “War on Terror.” Focusing on the figure of the immigrant and so-called immigrant neighborhoods as the targets of urban policy, Saberi offers an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to the politics of racialization and the governing of alterity through space in contemporary cities.
A comprehensive study of urban policymaking in Canada’s largest city from the 1990s to the late 2010s, Fearing the Immigrant uses Toronto as a jumping-off point to understand how the nexus of development, racialization, and security works at the urban and international levels. Saberi situates urban policymaking in Toronto in relation to the dominant policies of international development and public health, counterinsurgency, and humanitarian intervention. Engaging with the genealogies and contemporary developments of major policy techniques involving mapping and policy concepts such as poverty, security, policing, development, empowerment, as well as social determinants of health, equity, and prevention, she scrutinizes the parallel ways these techniques and concepts operate in urban policy and international relations. Fearing the Immigrant ultimately asserts that the geopolitical fear of the immigrant is central to the formation of urban policy in Toronto. Rather than addressing the root causes of poverty, urban policy as it has been practiced aims to pacify the specter of urban unrest and to secure the production of a neocolonial urban order. As such, this book is an urgent call to reimagine urban policy in the name of equality and social justice.
Cover alt text: Grainy view of downtown Toronto from the lake with CN Tower prominent. Title at top, subtitle and author at bottom.