Spanning two hundred years of history from the nineteenth century to the 1990s, Sisters or Strangers? explores the complex lives of immigrant, ethnic, and racialized women in Canada. The volume deals with a cross-section of peoples - including Japanese, Chinese, Black, Aboriginal, Irish, Finnish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Mennonite, Armenian, and South Asian Hindu women - and diverse groups of women, including white settlers, refugees, domestic servants, consumer activists, nurses, wives, and mothers.
The central themes of Sisters or Strangers? include discourses of race in the context of nation-building, encounters with the state and public institutions, symbolic and media representations of women, familial relations, domestic violence and racism, and analyses of history and memory. In different ways, the authors question whether the historical experience of women in Canada represents a 'sisterhood' of challenge and opportunity, or if the racial, class, or marginalized identity of the immigrant and minority women made them in fact 'strangers' in a country where privilege and opportunity fall according to criteria of exclusion. Using a variety of theoretical approaches, this collaborative work reminds us that victimization and agency are never mutually exclusive, and encourages us to reflect critically on the categories of race, gender, and the nation.