From the “Clean Snows of Petawawa”: The Violence of Canadian Peacekeepers in Somalia

Essay Excerpt

My main concern in this article is to trace how the story of violence visited on Somali bodies disappeared from Canadian national and legal consciousness. My contention is that Canadian atrocities in Somalia disappeared into the national mythology of "clean snows" and innocent peacekeepers—noble intermediaries between the superpowers. This process relied on the construction of Somalia as the opposite of Canada, as nothing but heat and dust. Somalis (both those in Somalia and those who come to Canada as refugees) have become the embodiment of disorder and dirt. A spatial technology of domination is at work here beyond the level of metaphor. The very concrete practices of violence against Somalis enabled individual soldiers to imagine themselves as men from the land of clean snow, men whose duties in bringing order to Somalia required violence. I argue that Canadian troops saw themselves as colonizers, civilizing the natives and imposing order on the "chaos of tribal warfare." When their violence was interrogated in a public inquiry, it disappeared into this old colonial story, now reframed as a story of peacekeeping (p. 128).

From: Razack, Sherene. "From the “Clean Snows of Petawawa”: The Violence of Canadian Peacekeepers in Somalia." Cultural Anthropology 15.1 (2000): 127–163.

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