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

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Communicating liquefied natural gas: Extractivist politics and discourse in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-02-18
Abstract: 

Shale gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing is a controversial issue in North America. In British Columbia (BC), the provincial government and its industry partners have made relentless efforts since late 2011 to develop an export-oriented liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry targeting Asia. However, the aggressive pursuit of extractivism underlying this policy initiative has stimulated continuous public debates. Drawing upon the growing body of scholarship addressing environmental communication and the energy humanities, this dissertation explores the intricate economic, political, and ideological struggles underlying BC LNG. It focuses on how the BC Liberal government and domestic fossil fuel advocates developed a ‘progressive extractivism’ storyline, which depicts LNG exports as an unprecedented and ethical economic opportunity deserving the political support of environmentally minded British Columbians. By contrast, the anti-LNG coalition formed by progressive civil organisations, Indigenous groups, and concerned citizens challenges the dominance of progressive extractivism by engaging in fierce discursive resistance. My analysis highlights two distinctive discursive strategies adopted by the anti-LNG coalition, namely (1) their recognition of the fragile economic basis of BC LNG and deployment of mainstream economic knowledge to highlight this vulnerability, as well as (2) their expansion of public debates beyond the ‘jobs versus the environment’ dichotomy by incorporating potent political issues such as democratic governance and many indigenous communities’ refusal to grant consent for LNG development. This dissertation further assesses the public circulation of pro- and anti-LNG storylines by examining their impacts on the news coverage of Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG, which was once considered BC LNG’s flagship proposal. In view of these empirical findings, this study ends by reflecting upon the internal contradictions of the Canadian political economy and capitalist social reproduction’s threatening push for extreme carbon.

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

Comedy as an instrument for change: A look at U.S. political television satire during the Trump presidency. -AND- Fake news: A look at deception and facts in the U.S. during the 21st century.

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-22
Abstract: 

This essay examines television satire, why and how it is used in politics, as well as its efficacy in shedding light and awareness on serious topics. Also, it explores the potential of satire to motivate people to act and influence change. The essay includes examples of satirical television since the election of President Trump up to the release of the Mueller Report using content from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and Stephen Colbert’s Late Night with Stephen Colbert. And. This essay looks at fake news in its recent evolution primarily in the United States since the turn of the 21st century, highlighting the phrase’s social construction before and after Donald Trump became president. Comparisons of modern-day fake news to media hoaxes, advertising, propaganda and public relations are outlined to provide historical perspective. Furthermore, fake news is examined using two recently published frameworks using dimensions of facticity, intention as well as mis- and disinformation. Lastly, the implications of the new fake news are explored.

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

Development through the Indigenous lens – An analysis of First Nations legal frameworks in Canada - AND - Gaming and Indigenous sovereignty discourse – Textual analysis of “invaders” by Elizabeth LaPensée

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-23
Abstract: 

Essay 1: Development is the interrelationship between and balance of three pillars namely – Economic Development, Social Development, and Environmental Development to meet the needs of present and future generations. Using the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as a case study, I examined the development philosophies of Indigenous Nations in Canada. I observed that, endogenous development is an intrinsic value of Indigenous growth. However, due to colonization and neo-colonial policies of assimilation, cultural condemnation and land dispossession in contemporary Canada, such growth and development is only possible in sovereign Indigenous Nations. I therefore explored the concept of Indigenous sovereignty in Canada using discourses analysis. By this, I identified key principles of Indigenous sovereignty – liberty, freedom, accountability, collective responsibility, and collective security. This set the framework of analysis of international (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)) as well as domestic policies (Constitution Act 1867, Societies Act of BC) that supports Indigenous sovereignty. Although, there are legal constraints with these legislations in the attainment of sovereignty, the Societies Act offers good grounds to achieve economic sovereignty and sustainable development in the short run. Essay 2: Games facilitate the transfer of knowledge and serve as a medium for knowledge production, memory development and, to some extent, ideology construction. In Indigenous societies, games are played to enhance one’s abilities, stimulate active learning, and reinforce knowledge. Within the digital spheres, games have been designed with algorithms that reinforce these characteristics and, at the same time, foreground dominant ideologies of liberalism, capitalism, and neocolonialism. To counter this tradition and centre minority interests, minoritized game developers re-engineer games to better represent their concerns. This is an interest of Indigenous game design in order to represent Indigenous epistemologies, and tell Indigenous stories using digital technologies, thereby asserting their cultural sovereignty in the digital world. By playing and analyzing the game Invaders developed by Anishinaabe game developer Elizabeth LaPensée in relation to with literature in Indigenous digital studies and gaming, this paper examines how gaming technologies are used to assert Indigenous sovereignty and epistemologies.

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

Search (and rescue) for the ultimate selfie: How the use of social media and smartphone technology have affected human behaviour in outdoor recreation scenarios

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-07
Abstract: 

The practice of outdoor recreation was historically a form of therapy and escape from the rigors of modern industrial daily work-life, and it remains a favored pastime today, with 70% of Canadians and 91% of British Columbia residents participating in “outdoor recreation or wilderness activities”. In recent years, there is a belief that the surge in popularity of hiking is due to beautiful destinations becoming more visible on social media. Further, the proximity of urban centres like Vancouver to such destinations reassures users that the safety benefits of urban technologies including smartphones, will remain accessible and reliable throughout their outdoor exploration and that help is available in the event of an emergency. This belief has led to many instances of Search and Rescue teams being activated, which would previously have been avoided by outdoor recreation participants making different choices based on their skill and experience. The culture of outdoor recreation has therefore been increasingly affected by smartphone technology in terms of users’ risk perception while recreating outdoors.

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

Place-based redress -AND- The spectacle of reconciliation

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-28
Abstract: 

Essay 1: This essay proposes an effective strategy to confront Canada’s colonial public policy is settlers conducting place-based redress work rather than participating as allies in reconciliation. Despite the popularity of territorial acknowledgements and the performing of dialogue, the structural inequities persist in Canada. This essay brings together both autoethnographic and quantitative data on the role of accomplice work (Benally 2014) for critical interventions with settler power. Through engaged research experiences, autodidactic methods, mentorship from Elders, and participation in Coast Salish witness ceremonies, I became reflexive about my role in dominant culture’s fallacies. I need not wander far from terra nullis assumptions to discover the harmful underpinnings of an intact colonial system capturing willing participants for reconciliation’s charade of inclusivity. Essay 2: Spectacle and reconciliation serve a hegemonic role to continue Canada’s access to sovereign Indigenous Peoples’ lands and resources. As Canada sought a quick reconciliation with genocide, and marked its 150th birthday in 2017 with cultural celebrations, it relied on spectacle (Debord 1967) and Indigenous labour as audience commodity (Smythe 1981) to deliver the illusion of change. Far from bringing about national consensus to deliver rights and title, and repair settler and Indigenous relations, reconciliation instead delivered a liberal fantasy to maintain the extractive capitalist economy. This paper proposes reconciliation is a cloaking device to hide Canada’s assimilation and termination of rights agenda. With Canada’s incursions into Wet’suwet’en Nation, the lack of progress for Crown / Indigenous relations with benefits to transnational extractive capitalism has been exposed. The relation between the spectacle of reconciliation and maintaining colonialism has come increasingly into the light.

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

Moving towards cultural safety in mental health and addictions contracting for urban Indigenous Peoples: Lessons from British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-01-08
Abstract: 

In response to the inequities in health and health care that Indigenous communities continue to experience, governments in many countries have used contracting as a policy mechanism to improve access to culturally safe health services. Case studies from New Zealand, Australia and Canada demonstrate the equity-promoting potential of contracting-out interventions within the Indigenous primary health care (PHC) sector. At the same time, these studies have heightened concerns about the exigencies of contract reform within increasingly neo-liberal climates. To foster accountability for health equity, more needs to be known about how current contractual arrangements, intended to support Indigenous community-based systems of care, actually fit with the evolving needs, priorities and contexts of Indigenous communities in Canada. In this project, I use a qualitative design and ethnographic methods to examine urban Indigenous Providers’ experiences with contracting for culturally safe mental health and addictions care within one Canadian province, British Columbia (BC). Critical theoretical perspectives and input from Indigenous advisors informed my inquiry. In addition to a critical policy review, I conducted in-depth interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within seven Indigenous and one non-Indigenous provider organizations (n=23), including senior administrators, managers and mental health care providers. I also interviewed policy and funding decision-makers and contract managers in the area of Indigenous mental health (n=10). Examining contracting for culturally safe mental health and addictions care from the perspective of urban Indigenous Providers in BC sheds light on the ways in which current funding structures, policies and contractual approaches mediate wider ideological constraints and impinge, often inadvertently, upon organizations’ capacities to develop and effectively deliver mental health care services that safely meet the intersecting needs of their communities. Neo-liberalism, the ongoing dominance of biomedicine within the broader health care system, the legacy of colonialism, race, gender and class intersect to simultaneously reproduce, reinforce and obscure colonial and neo-colonial patterns within contractual relationships, mental health programming and care. These findings have important policy implications for funders and support the call for an alternative framework to contracting that articulates equity as an explicit dimension of accountability and Indigenous culturally safe mental health and addictions care.

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

"Capitalocene or Anthropocene?" Challenging the Marxist narrative and the science of the Anthropocene: from eco- to Anthropocene feminism

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-04
Abstract: 

Essay 1: This essay takes an approach informed by Marxist Feminism and posthuman feminism in looking at the recent discussions within Marxist Ecology with a focus on the debate between John Bellamy Foster and Jason W. Moore about the ontology of the climate crisis, expressed as contestation between the terms “Anthropocene” and “Capitalocene.” By contextualizing this debate in the works of Marxist and posthuman feminist thinkers Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, and Joanna Zylinska among others, the essay argues that while “Capitalocene” more accurately describes the forces responsible for the crisis, “Anthropocene” is still a useful critical tool for structuring humanity’s relationship with the world around us. Further it is argued that while the notion “Capitalocene” identifies the way that capitalist relations have characterized nature, we must draw on the feminist scholars who have been developing a new ethics for the Anthropocene as thinking beyond capitalism and its human-centric ontology. Essay 2: This essay looks at the narratives around “the Anthropocene,” the new geological age that many scholars argue the Earth is now in. In looking at these various discourses, with special attention paid to the narratives from scientists and those in the Anthropocene Working Group, this essay will argue that the science of “the Anthropocene” has developed as a way to legitimize capitalism and the gender and racial hierarchies that it depends on. As such, “the Anthropocene” should be developed, beyond the science, as a critical tool to think through how to live within ecological crisis. In order to do this, we should follow the posthuman feminists who have already begun this work by thinking through questions of ‘ethics’ instead of ‘value.’ By reorienting the discussions around ‘ethics,’ questions about relationships between humans and between humans and the Earth stay central to the discussion, opening us up to the new ways of organizing the world by subverting the logic of capitalism and its systemic alienation that caused ecological crisis to begin with.

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

Intellectual property controversies in China’s emerging influencer economy

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-28
Abstract: 

Previously, it can be said that mass media systems were dominated by one-way communication flows (Bennet & Manheim, 2006). This created a clear demarcation between media producers and media consumers whom were also the primary target for established media campaigns (Jhally, 2000). However in recent years, emerging media platforms have generated new opportunities for social groupings and cultural modes in the process of transforming the traditional communications landscape (Srnicek, 2015). This new dynamic has challenged previously established regulations as embodied in the dynamic between fashion intellectual property (IP) and the commercialization of the “social media influencer” figure, as a new breed of online entrepreneurs and digital consumers have emerged in the Internet economy. While this is evident in many areas of the world today these processes play themselves out in a unique way in China. In the Chinese context, according to data regarding sales of women’s apparel on Taobao during the Single’s Day Shopping Carnival in 2018, four of the top ten highest selling stores were not run by traditional companies but instead were run by social media influencers (ASKCI, 2017). The nature of this impact can be explained by looking at one such influencer, renowned online celebrity Cherie who has contracted 30 online celebrities in her company Chen Fan, and delivered sales exceeding 150 million yuan in just 5 minutes and 50 seconds (ASKCI, 2017). Within 24 hours she was able to bring in 350 million yuan (ASKCI, 2017). As the influencer economy continues to expand in China so have questions concerning the nature of this new economy. For example, some social media influencers have used the same graphics or the recipes of world-famous companies, such as CPB or Loreal, when making their own products which are then available for purchase in their respective online shops. These behaviors have generated significant controversy in the Chinese online markets, from increasingly savvy consumers and local regulators, and even received global attention, from international IP regulators and media. Based on my case study and online observations, there is a contradiction between the presence of IP infringements in China’s emerging influencer economy and the state’s enforcement of IP law. It can be argued that facing this contradiction is a crucial step for China to rethink its shifting position in the global capitalist system.

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

Women’s Oral History and Survivors’ Testimonies of India’s Partition: A Feminist Analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-16
Abstract: 

This thesis applies the principles of feminist and postcolonial methodology to analytically compare two types of oral history projects on women survivors from India’s 1947 Partition: grassroots feminist projects conducted by Indian feminists and activists Bhasin and Menon and Butalia; and the “1947 Partition Archive”, a depoliticized, open access digital repository of oral testimonies housed by the Stanford University Library. In analytically comparing the projects, the objective is two-fold: to recognize the potential of oral history as a feminist methodology that identifies participants as co-producers of knowledge where only by including them as active agents in the analysis, can new forms of feminist and anti-colonial knowledge emerge; and to argue that in order to ethically generate and share oral accounts in the digital age, where the danger of commodification can override the potential for democratization, there is a need to revisit questions of agency, empowerment and reflexive practices, ideals that are at the core of recent anti-colonial feminist research.

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

'They call it progress, we call it destruction': Memory and the construction of the W.A.C Bennett Dam

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-06
Abstract: 

This thesis discusses the W.A.C Bennett Dam Visitor Centre and how memory is presented and re-presented in visual form through exhibition and film. In this thesis, I offer the W.A.C Bennett Dam as a case study. Prior to 2015, the Visitor Centre presented a ‘high modernist’ story of ‘progress’ when describing the construction of the W.A.C Bennett Dam. This thesis explores the expansion of this narrative through collaborative efforts between designers, filmmakers, BC Hydro and First Nations communities. It places emphasis on the creation of the film ‘Kwadacha by the River’ (2017) as a focal point of the expression of memory, comparing and contrasting this with the former featured film at the facility – ‘Canyon of Destiny’ (1968).

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