Maya Seshia is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Arts, department of Political Science.

A Critical Examination of the Case of Air India Flight 182

Using qualitative research methods, my dissertation explores what the Canadian government and public’s responses to the 1985 Air India bombing reveal about Canadian citizenship and conceptions of the nation. The majority of passengers and suspects on this flight were Canadians, the bombs originated from Vancouver, and the bombing is the worst act of terrorism in Canada’s history. Yet, Canada’s then Prime Minister responded by sending condolences to the Government of India, and families of the victims reported “that they felt that they were not viewed as ‘real Canadians’ and that this was somehow not considered to be a Canadian tragedy”. Canada is viewed as a multicultural, inclusive nation; however, the case of Air India underscores the extent to which systemic racism persists. To address racism, a comprehensive understanding of how such inequalities operate is required. My dissertation attempts to undertake this task.

keywords: nation, national belonging, citizenship, systemic racism, systemic inequality, Air India, discourse analysis