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ANTH1120 Cultural Anthropology

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  • Course Code: ANTH 1120
  • University: York University
  • Country: Canada


1. Tension appears between Hina Hassani and Jane Fulton early in the novel, and soon escalates into conflict. What are some systemic processes and issues that appear in this conflict? Discuss with reference to some core concepts in the course.

2. What brings people to Winsum’s restaurant (the Everyting Taste Good Caribbean Restaurant)? How might some ideas from the anthropology of globalization explain its popularity?

3. What can the friendship between Sylvie and Bing tell us about Canadian multiculturalism? Discuss with reference to the anthropological perspectives on Canadian multiculturalism and identity that we studied in the fall term.



Scarborough is a written by the Canadian writer, Catherine Hernandez. The book was shortlisted in the Toronto book Awards in the year 2017 and Edmund White Award in the year 2018. She is well known for her other written plays as well including Singkil, Eating with Lola, The Femme playlist and Future Folk. The writer lived in Scarborough for the maximum period of her life and to her it is an inspiring place for writers. The novel Scarborough offers an intense, raw and empathetic glimpse of the place. The community of Scarborough that has located its dignity in the most unanticipated place. The place is unique in its own way involving a neighborhood that refuses to be undone. The paper aims to discuss the novel from an anthropological perspective by explaining in details the systematic processes as well as the issues that appear in everyday life.

One of the important gravitational center of the story is relationship between Hina Hassani and Jane Fulton. The introduction to the character was through the exchange of letters that was taking place between the two women. Jane Fulton was Hina Hassani’s boss. The hijabi women, Hina Hassani was hired by her boss for the school who was responsible for taking care of many kids that have appeared in the novel. The letters exchanged between the two women is entirely dispersed throughout the novel. The relationship takes shape in various ways and slowly a tension is formed in the relation which is only grown. The tension keeps growing when her boss overwhelms Hina with demands of more labor without extra pay from her downtown Toronto office.


The tension began rising since between Hina Hassani and Jan Fulton was related through work. Systematic oppression can be noted in the relationship that is shared between two women. Oppression by institution is when an unequal treatment exists in the institute towards a particular group of people. The specific group of people can be receiver of unequal treatment due to other social issues such as social identity or social position. In the novel, Hina Hassani is a Muslim woman which is one reason, her supervisor was overseeing her reports for Ontario Reads Literacy Program. Hina is the worker that tries to fight poverty in the neighborhood however, in doing so she comes across various other related problems that make combating poverty difficult. Also, the structure and agency is one of the issue that the writer wanted to illuminate. An agency possess the power of implementing free will and to make social change. A structure can be defined as the patterned social arrangements that have impact on agency. The structure and agency in the Scarborough novel highlights the inappropriate structure of the neighborhood. The reason that raised the conflict between Ms Hina and her supervisor was for the limited resources including time, energy, food and other necessary. The ignorance of Jane Fulton was the cause that made Hina under oppression. Due to the tension being between a boss and a worker, there is a clear presentation of structure and agency along with system inequality. The unequal treatment is caused due to her social identity of a Muslim women in the work place. The gender comes into the perspective as being women she advocates for the children and families who come to the center. Also, she faces Islamophobia in multiple sources and areas of her life during her program at the Rough Hill Public school location.

The restaurant, Everything taste good Caribbean is located in the Scarborough. Winsum is the owner of the restaurant where she serves traditional Trinidadian food. The food she serves such as Doubles is associated with her deceased mother’s food. She gets help from her nephew who helps her and modernizes the restaurant although Winsum do not want the change. Winsum wanted to use the recipe of her origin that she implemented in her West Indian restaurant. The white people were explained by her regarding the spice levels and usages. In the novel she is a character that is struggling to keep it together. Although the mention of Winsum and its restaurant is only a cameo in the novel, it adds a depth to the novel and enhances the texture to the book.

Globalization is the term that can be described as the process of growth that takes place through international influence. Globalization has been made possible by the immense growth technology. Globalization can help small business grow as it comes in contact with the large population. Since Scarborough was one of the low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood east of Toronto it can be benefitted with various range. With the plight of the Everything Tastes good restaurant, it requires understanding the culture. The white people are unfamiliar with the taste of West Indian restaurant however, it has proven to be the fact that the popular culture is the culture of masses. Globalization has brought tremendous change in the culture pattern. People are more familiar with cultures that are not encountered physically. The gap between the elite culture and the local culture have minimized to a very minimum level. Through the globalization, the Everything tastes good restaurant could use their culture and origin as the unique feature of the restaurant. Development and proliferation of complex interdependent and connection beyond the local is globalization. It is done through movement of natural resources, capital, culture, information and people across national borders. This involves the cultural and social resistances and receptions to varied movements. The anthropological way to improve the restaurant would be to use the social and cultural aspects in the restaurant. This would help attracting people across the town and tourists that would visit from outside. The new culture is the popular culture that is the choice of the mass. However it has to be considered that the area is a low income neighborhood and the process of globalization involves investment that can be difficult for the poor population. The restaurant would involve market development, access some imports, competitive advantage and comparative advantage and the most important technology.

Sylvie Beaudoin is the indigenous child in the novel that lives at the Gallway Shelter with her mother and her little brother. She has a Forever box where she keeps her treasures and weaves intricate stories. At Rough Hill Elementary school, she studies in grade three. Bing Espiritu is her best friend. Bing, full name Bernerd Espiritu is a Filipino boy. He studies with Sylvie in the same grade. He is a gifted student with an angelic singing voice with the dream of becoming a saint or a country singer. In the novel, his character shows the perspective on identity, gender and sexuality. It was only simple friendship between two children who liked to be in each other’s company.

Multi-multiculturalism can be defined as the acceptance and encouragement of existing more than one culture. Although multicultural exists in Canada, it is not like any other states but it help the setting example for the other states. It is one of the significant accomplishment that distinguishes Canada from the rest of the world. According to data, Canada has significantly fostered a much advanced accepting society for the immigrant. It is not just providing immigrant with the most appropriate society but also their culture than any other society. The friendship between Sylvia and Bing as well as manifests the multiculturalism nature of Canada. Despite the differences between them, the novel has shown the way multiculturalism operates in Canada. Even today amidst the tempest of race, Canada successfully remains a state free of racial and ethnic tensions that are profoundly highlighted in America and Europe. Mutual respect is observed in Canada for every culture. It is through multiculturalism that Canada recognizes its full potential of the Canadian. Also, it encourages Canadians to integrate into their society. Overall it takes an active part in cultural, economic, social, political affairs. Sylvie Beaudoin is the indigenous child and Bing is the gay Filipino boy, yet there is presentation of friendship among the two children belonging from very different cultural background. Cultural diversity is present in every society it depends on race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language and many other aspects. In the end, it can be concluded that the novel Scarborough has manifested the Canada’s extraordinary element of multiculturalism in Canada. . It is one of the significant accomplishment that distinguishes Canada from the rest of the world.

Catherine Hernandez have manifested through the novel various aspect of the neighborhood. Each member of the novel plays role that are vital to understand the society. The way social issues are raised, the ways systematic processes and issues appear in everyday life are portrayed by the author coherently through the novel. The community of Scarborough that has located its dignity in the most unanticipated place and the author has represented it in a very organized and raw format to theaudience.



Hernandez, Catherine. 2017. Scarborough. ISBN13: 9781551526775

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