Communication - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Seeking Iranian national identity: An examination of the photography exhibition, Looking at Persepolis: the Camera in Iran, 1850-1930

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-05-26
Abstract: 

This thesis investigates Looking at Persepolis displayed at The Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver. This study examines how the exhibition reproduces an Orientalist lens and their stereotypical representations of Iran by showcasing selected photographs. Additionally, it considers their meaning in the contemporary context of Vancouver’s Iranian diaspora. Based on the three levels of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1995), this thesis examines the exhibition at a macro, meso and micro level. The macro-level examines the discourse of Iranian national identity in relation to the socio-cultural practices that facilitated the nation-building project of Naser al-Din Shah (1848-1896). As the thesis argues, Persepolis signified “Persian-ness” (Dabashi, 2007) in the construction of the nation’s “collective imagination” (Anderson, 1983). Subsequently, the thesis examines the discursive practices of early photography in Iran, particularly European photography, in the context of colonialism and the Shah’s photography institutions at a meso-level. It explores the institutional and political practices that influenced the production and consumption of photographs of the four European photographers highlighted in the exhibition. The micro-level examines The Polygon’s use of these photographs to signify Persian-ness. I argue that the exhibition presents an ideal ancient civilization that encompasses a “nostalgic culture” of Iranian nationalists, especially in the diasporic community (Naficy, 2001). By juxtaposing the portrait of the Naser al-Din Shah with the photographs of Persepolis, the exhibition becomes infused with a form of Iranian nationalism that is problematically tied to longing for Iran’s monarchial system. I conclude while there was an attempt to distance the image of the Iranian diasporic community from negative Western media images of the Middle East by showing photographs of the ancient site of Persepolis, the use of European photographs in the exhibition facilitates the reproduction of the same power relations between the Orient and the Occident that this thesis critically examines.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten McAllister
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Comrades share time: A study of participation in a Chinese village

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-04
Abstract: 

Has China’s countryside left socialism behind? Is the rise of digital connectivity an indication of, as Jodi Dean argues, the foreclosure of opportunities to participate in society towards collective empowerment? This dissertation addresses these questions via a case study of Heyang Village in Zhejiang’s mountainous Jinyun county. Taking advantage of the village’s sustained material culture I develop a historical review of the media used to organize village life over time informing values and providing opportunities for political, economic, and cultural participation as members of the village. This review is used to inform an analysis of the current dynamics of village life in Heyang today. Six months of fieldwork over a period of four years between 2015 and 2019 comprises the majority of this research. Focus group interviews help to provide local interpretation of events. Participant observation research, in particular with working aged men and seniors, provides deeper insights on the values, actions and positive trajectories identified in the focus group interviews. Barbara Adam’s timescape perspective is employed to bring the multiple elements of the case study together. This perspective helps to draw out how communication technologies that are used to keep time enable opportunities for specific forms of political belonging. While a postsocialist discourse on individual’s qualities (suzhi) is predominate, socialist values of comradeship persist. This comradery is particularly evident in seniors’ use of mobile phones to keep the time via hourly announcements recalling the temporality previously provided by the Chinese Communist Party’s mass line inspired use of wired-radio loudspeakers. This temporality is premised on bringing the people and leaders together to share time in order to affect mutually transformative experiences and unite the collective towards shared political goals premised on sustaining basic wellbeing. I identify “shared time” as a socialist temporality that is still maintained and can be used to recognize positive actions and recommend ways forward to fan the embers of socialism into a revitalized commitment to communism.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The valley of desire: A study of Kashmir as portrayed through popular Indian cinema

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

Indian-occupied Kashmir has been a conflicted territory since 1947. This paper studies the representation of Kashmir and its civilian population in popular Hindi films. As Bollywood has an immensely dedicated audience, both in India as well as globally, the sensitive issues surrounding Kashmir make for extremely sought-after and therefore potentially influential content in films. I argue that these films reflect a sharp bias and a myopic approach towards showcasing the area and its civilian population. This paper employs the use of film analysis and critical discourse analysis to examine seven films — Mission Kashmir (2000), Yahaan (2005),Fanaa (2006), I am (2010), Lamhaa (2010), Haider (2014) and Hamid (2018) — to support the argument. The results show that all the films except Haider and Hamid misrepresent or underrepresent the realities of Kashmir. The content is highly Islamophobic and hyper-nationalistic, undermining the role of the local population in the whole conflict scenario.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Zoe Druick
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Forgotten voices: The untold stories of Caribbean migration to Vancouver

Date created: 
2020-12-18
Abstract: 

The role of oral history in Caribbean culture promotes the use of narrative in order to retrieve missing histories not found in literature. It examines the power of narrative in reconstructing memories through counterstorytelling in order to increase the visibility of a community that has been pushed to the margins of Vancouver’s history. Though this work primarily focuses on the story of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, their highlighted experiences force the need for others to acknowledge their colour first, and their culture second. This forceful recognition of their colour neglects cultural identity, their story and more importantly, their humanity. As such, the objective of this thesis is to spotlight stories of Caribbean narrative and provide space for knowledge sharing amongst eight participants conducted over the course of 2019. Through storytelling, participants provided a historical record of their experiences where no record previously existed and expressed moments of success, triumph but also of discrimination and anti-black racism. Findings reveal that their race impacts the way in which they move through society and with that they sought actionable change in their communities or moved through their reality with constant reminders of their difference.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Laba
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Communicating contentious issues in Canada: Analyzing media discourse of medical assistance in dying (MAID)

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-25
Abstract: 

Examining the ways medical assistance in dying (MAID) discourse is presented in the media, this thesis analyzes the key themes, issues and contentions found throughout the topic in Canada’s two national papers, The Globe and Mail and the National Post. Through a mixed-methods approach of qualitative and quantitative means, this study examines the period in and around June 17, 2016 when MAID legislation came into effect up to July 1, 2019 using a thematic content analysis, framing analysis, and sentiment analysis approach. Collectively, these methods allowed for an in-depth analysis and breakdown of the ethical, moral, religious, and personal beliefs that contribute to key contentions around the topic of MAID, supplemented by five in-depth interviews among individuals with vested interest in the subject matter. Together, these methods aimed to explore the way contentious issues are presented in the media in the context of medical assistance in dying.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gary McCarron
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Fandom, politics and nationalism: A comparative study of idolization at the nexus of state and society in contemporary China

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

In contemporary China, the development of new media technology has promoted the change and transformation of Chinese cyber nationalism, as it has an increasingly close relationship with youth subculture and fan culture. The idolization of the officials is a manifestation of this phenomenon. This paper conducts a comparative study of the two cases related to two virtual images, “Brother A-zhong” and “Jiangshanjiao”, which have been created as the representation of the Chinese officials in the past year. Through getting an insight into why “Brother A-zhong” worked but “Jiangshanjiao” failed, this paper mainly find that these two cases reveal the tension between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people related to public discussion and hegemonic resistance under the fandom nationalism phenomenon.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Steven Malcic
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

YSYS online documentaries: Performing authenticity in Chinese hip hop

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

Hip Hop has become one of the most popular cultural phenomena in China due to commodification as well as to the broadcast of Hip Hop related variety shows. The unique path of Chinese Hip Hop has raised questions about the contextualization of its authenticity. This paper collected 9 episodes of documentaries concerning Chinese Hip Hop produced by the niche media “YISHIYISE” from which five themes were generated through deductive thematic analysis. The concept of hybridization provided a perspective that views Chinese Hip Hop as mixed product with both local and global features. Meanwhile, in facing commercial assimilation, the perception of defining underground as a necessity to authentic Hip Hop is becoming fluid and dynamic among Chinese artists. More importantly, as competition among artists is increasing, the core value of Hip Hop, “Peace and Love,” has been brought up frequently as a means to reconstruct authenticity within the Chinese Hip Hop community.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ahmed AI-Rawi
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Collective struggle: A case study of Chinese grassroots feminism in the digital age

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-24
Abstract: 

Contemporary China has witnessed the transformation of Chinese feminism from state feminism to grassroot feminism. Weibo hashtag #DontYouBeAfraidYourSistersAreHere is a typical grassroot feminist movement in China which triggered by a sexual violence case “Bao Yuming Case” since April 2020. To carry forward such movement, Chinese cyberfeminists have employed localized tactics to build up online counterpublics and expand social influence while under the rules of Weibo algorithm and government censorship.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Cait McKinney
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

The social construction of blockchain privacy platforms

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-21
Abstract: 

Our current Internet environment is characterized by online conglomerates, predictive computing and data mining. With this, there is a growing concern among users on how to protect their privacy and manage their identities online. Advocates for blockchain, the newest large-scale wave of Internet based platforms, argue it is highly useful for privacy protection. Blockchain is an encrypted and decentralized public ledger that verifies and stores information through a peer-to-peer network. Using the social construction of technology (SCOT) as a theoretical framework, I deploy a comparative discourse analysis of three blockchain platforms - Brave, Civic and Oasis Labs - along with user discourse on Reddit and Medium. This thesis explores how users socially construct this emerging technology by comparing privacy discourse between blockchain platforms and motivated social agents. I found blockchain privacy platforms and its users both value data ownership, ad-blocking and safety and security. However, there is also friction and disagreement about themes of trust and ethics as well as usability.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The NBA as a platform for political rhetoric: The case of Daryl Morey, Hong Kong and the Chinese government

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

This essay introduces additional insights to literature which examines a social media post by Daryl Morey; a general manger of a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise who on October 4, 2019 published a graphic which professed support for a protest movement occurring in Hong Kong and has sparked retaliation from Chinese business and government entities against the NBA. I first evaluate the NBA as a sports league which permits its actors to speak about political issues to contextualize and highlight Morey’s action of publishing this graphic. I then examine the NBA’s history in China to reveal potential ideological incongruities between the American-based NBA and Chinese government. Finally, I detail the polarizing convictions about the Chinese government’s jurisdiction over Hong Kong and the visceral discourse surrounding the severity of Morey’s tweet to scrutinize the contentious opinions about his action domestically (United States) and internationally.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Courtney Szto
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.