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

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"It's yours": Tenant experiences of home and care in women's non-profit housing

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-16
Abstract: 

Contemporary discussions among politicians, media, and the public about housing tend to focus on housing’s value as a commodity, rather than the potential social value of housing as home. Yet, social scientists argue that it is housing’s value as home, its use value, that is crucial to our everyday lives. This disconnect raises a question of how home relates to housing, particularly as policymakers seek ways to provide adequate housing to growing urban populations, further exacerbated within the context of ongoing housing crises in the global North. Moreover, women face unique barriers when accessing housing, including issues related to structural social and economic inequalities. Drawing on feminist methodologies to examine a case study of non-profit housing for women in Vancouver, Canada, this thesis explores the relationship between gender, care work, the production of home, and tenants’ experiences of their housing. Connecting literatures of home, care work, and a feminist ethic of care, results indicate that tenants’ experiences of home are co-produced through the built environment and organizational practices of these non-profits, and the relationships of care that tenants have with their neighbours. Further, relationships of care in these spaces are multifaceted: staff provide care to tenants, and tenants also provide care to each other. I argue that home in this housing can be a collective experience, centred around tenants’ feelings of care and community for each other, but these experiences are also situated within complex relationships of power that exist throughout the non-profit organizations. I conclude with recommendations to improve the provision of housing for women on low- or fixed-incomes, where the social value of housing, as home, is emphasized.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Eugene McCann
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Bark beetles and wildfire: influence of overlapping disturbances on wood and light in a sub-boreal headwater system

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-21
Abstract: 

Forest disturbances provide an important link between terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. In this study I ask 1) how the recruitment of wood to streams varies depending on whether trees were dead or alive prior to a wildfire; and 2) what is the quantitative contribution of fallen wood spanning small streams to stream light. I found that wood recruitment is affected by overlapping, short-interval disturbances of insect outbreak followed by wildfire since being killed prior to fire makes a tree twice as likely to topple immediately post-fire. Additionally, the toppled wood lying above-stream provided a detectable buffer to incoming light in a post-fire landscape. The effects of disturbance history on stream communities and microclimate via wood warrants further study to improve our understanding of how landscape scale terrestrial processes are drivers of localized and watershed-scale changes to aquatic primary productivity and thermal variability.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Lance Lesack
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The international health landscape of Cozumel Island, Mexico

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-02-09
Abstract: 

Cozumel Island is the largest of Mexico’s eastern islands. It is the Western Caribbean’s most popular cruise destination, and is well-known for its crystalline waters and mosaic reefs that attract dive enthusiasts from around the globe. Joining the millions of international tourists that set foot upon the island each year, Cozumel is also home to a significant community of lifestyle and retirement migrants. Recognising this conglomeration of global bodies, and that some will inevitably require medical assistance, this dissertation presents an exploratory case study of Cozumel Island’s health landscape as an international phenomenon. It is driven by three primary objectives that seek to unpack the aesthetic nature of Cozumel Island’s international care settings, determine the intersecting mobilities at play within the island’s international health landscape, and understand both the provision and reception of care for international patients on Cozumel Island. Analysing field experiences, photographs, and semi-structed interviews with international lifestyle and retirement migrants, as well as health care providers working within the island’s private hospitals and medical clinics, three discrete analyses provide insight into Cozumel Island’s international health landscape. First, the aesthetics of pharmaceutical signage are explored and unpacked within the sociolinguistic framework of the linguistic landscape to consider how tourists visiting Cozumel Island might interpret such markers of medicinal merchandise, revealing imagery that positions pharmaceuticals as both souvenirs and suggestions of personal health autonomy. Second, international lifestyle and retirement migrants’ perceptions and beliefs about Cozumel’s pharmacy sector are analysed, revealing a number of concerns that exist in relation to participants’ spatial mobilities. Finally, health care workers’ experiences of treating international tourists are unpacked and found to entail multiple challenges that can preclude effective and safe treatment. When taken together, and as products of this dissertation’s objectives, these analyses situate Cozumel Island’s international health landscape as component within a complex archipelago of tourism, health and other mobilities, that produce it as connected, dynamic, and a continuously emergent setting of transnational health processes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Valorie Crooks
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Spatial Narratives of Property Loss: Social memory and the dispossession of Japanese Canadian-owned property in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-25
Abstract: 

This project informs an emergent literature on memory and property. More specifically, it uses a geographical perspective to analyze memories of property loss. The case study – a sample of thirty-one oral histories related to the dispossession of Japanese-Canadian-owned property during the 1940s – comes from the Landscapes of Injustice (LoI) SSHRC-funded project. LoI addresses haunting across the social memory of Canada; by sharing spatially-grounded life stories, interview participants unsettle under-recognized meaning attached to property loss. To embrace the centrality of space and place to this reckoning, I frame these “spatial narratives” around the processes of hauntology in les lieux de mémoire (sites of memory) (Derrida, 1994 & Nora, 1989). I focus on three distinct themes across the narratives and to analyze them, draw from the work of three contemporary property theorists. Citizenship explores the political undertones of “Canadian” property ownership and loss (Singer, 2000); Investment identifies the monetary and non-monetary values put into property (Becher, 2014); and Belonging details important networks that structure property and create unique experiences of belonging (Keenan, 2015). As I recognize the complex nature of social memory, I also illustrate the ways in which these themes interconnect. Finally, I argue that spatial narratives from LoI gesture at a deeper and wider story of property; at the intersection of social memory and property, there is a window into the layered history of remembering and forgetting dispossession in colonized British Columbia.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nicholas Blomley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Scour pool incision in bedrock canyons

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-30
Abstract: 

A flume experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of lateral constrictions on the initiation and evolution of scour pools in bedrock canyons. Results show that lateral constriction can initiate the formation of a scour pool. Deceleration of the flow upstream of the constricted canyon promotes alluviation, while flow acceleration through the canyon prevents a permanent sediment cover from developing. The elevation difference upstream and through the canyon causes flow and sediment to plunge towards the bed, enhancing scouring. The erosion rate was controlled by sediment size and presence of alluvial cover. Scour pools reach equilibrium morphology for a given constant discharge and sediment supply by cutting a slot, which then gets deep enough to maintain a permanent alluvial cover, protecting the bed from further vertical erosion and promoting lateral erosion. Shear stress calculated from the near-bed velocity gradient and Reynolds shear stresses are counterintuitively large in alluviated areas and low in places where the bed is clear of sediment. This highlights a general problem with using shear stress as a predictor of alluviation and rock erosion patterns in highly non-uniform flows. However, changes in near-bed velocity had strong correlations with alluviation patterns and erosion rate, suggesting near-bed velocity may be a more practical way to calculate rock erosion rates in non-uniform flows.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Venditti
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The modern coarse-grained fan deltas of south-western British Columbia, Canada: a geomorphologic study

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-03-29
Abstract: 

The geomorphology, sedimentology, and depositional architecture of six modern coarse-grained fan deltas in south-western British Columbia, Canada are examined. Methods included geomorphologic mapping, morphometric analyses, section logging, sedimentary facies mapping, and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveying. The fan deltas exhibit Gilbert-type depositional architectures; major depositional sub-environments include: (i) subaerial fan-delta plains formed by alluvial processes and mass-wasting processes (debris flows and sheetfloods); (ii) beach environments that exhibit complex geomorphologic and sedimentologic characteristics, having been supplied sediments by terrestrial processes and being (re-)shaped by coastal sediment-reworking processes; and (iii) steep-gradient (≤~35º) fan-delta front environments that are characterized by decameter-scale foreset beds. Depositional models and a suite of diagnostic geophysical characteristics are proposed for the fan deltas and the fan-delta beach environments.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Venditti
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Walkability and connectivity: unpacking measures of the built environment

Date created: 
2017-12-07
Abstract: 

The creation and replication of walkability indices uses geographic information systems (GIS) and warrants exploration of assumptions made implicit by different research disciplines. Most methods of measuring walkability variables – residential density, street connectivity, and land-use mix – lack contextual rationale for inclusion in walkability indices. Furthermore, walkability indices used in contemporary literature themselves are in conflict not only with each other, but also with human spatial behavior. This thesis first compares three walkability indices to make explicit the various ontologies that result as a consequence of choices and calculation of walkability variables. The second article then explores ontological distinctions between connectivity measures and their subsequent effects on methodology and interpretation. Given non-linear patterns of human mobility in activity spaces, this last part explores granular scales of connectivity measures that can better represent the built environment.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nadine Schuurman
Meghan Winters
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Regional classification using gradients of marine species assemblages: a data-driven approach to modelling marine ecosystems

Date created: 
2017-11-14
Abstract: 

Marine management and conservation efforts often rely on predictive modelling of species observations, the output of such models can be influenced by their regional extent. This study proposes a data-driven classification of marine regions by clustering modelled gradients of species assemblages. Two clustering methods are considered, the CLARA algorithm and mean-shift segmentation, and compared with depth and geographically stratified regions. Regional classification was applied to models using three methods: Regional indices as categorical predictors, regional ensemble models, and a pre-calibration regional data-filter. Regional influence was measured in changes of MSE and R2 values. Large changes in model output were restricted to a small number of anomalous species models. Mean-shift clustered regions produced moderately improved MSE and R2 values compared to the other methods. Regional influence in the species distribution models were shown to be species dependent, necessitating an assessment of relevant species included in regional classification.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

A Qualitative GIS for Social Media and Big Data

Date created: 
2017-12-11
Abstract: 

Since the 1990's geographers have called for a qualitative GIScience. While several attempts have been made to achieve a qualitative GIS, limiting factors such as data volume and methods have held the realization of such a system back. However, important changes in the last decade have made it possible to achieve this goal. Social media datasets are available for download that contain coordinate metadata and qualitative data about the experiences of individuals. Big data infrastructures make it possible to harvest, store, and find data expressed on specific phenomena researchers wish to study. Natural language processing methods make it possible to understand the context in which a post or group of posts are authored and extract the geospatial insights therein. GIScience has taken notice of these synergies and is beginning to engage with the data and is producing new insights from social media landscapes. In this dissertation, three articles are presented: 1) a method for producing area based topic models from social media; 2) a methodology for geospatial social media exploration and research, and; 3) a software that implements the methods and methodologies of geospatial social media. These three papers make up a body of research that presents a qualitative GIS from data to analysis to output. In the process, the research reflects critically on the ways in which geospatial social media and big data methods in GIScience are created.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Impossible places: The aesthetic unconscious and post-migrant Iranian subjectivity in Los Angeles

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-27
Abstract: 

This dissertation contributes to the geographical literature on migration, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis by examining the social and psychical spaces of Iranian-American artists, migrants, and cultural producers in Los Angeles, California. Attending to the dynamic formations of the unconscious during fieldwork, data analysis, and the writing phase of the research, the dissertation explores the emergence of a distinctive Iranian aesthetic in Los Angeles, which since the 1979 Islamic Revolution has become home to the largest Iranian population outside of Iran. I conceptualize such an aesthetic using the psychoanalytic works by (and associated with) Jacques Lacan, especially his concept of “the Real,” which defines how people’s senses of reality are threatened by the inconsistencies of language, blind spots in the field of vision, antagonisms that permeate social bonds, and intense affects such as anxiety and shame that threaten a coherent sense of the self. The study asks what are the main symptoms that accompany the experiences of Iranian-American migrants and artists? How do art and aesthetic experiences produce and inform encounters with the traumatic dimensions of migration? What role do images play in the discourses of cultural organizations, film festivals, and other art events? To answer these questions, I conduct ethnographic research consisting of empirical observations of Iranian-American artists, art institutions, art and film festivals, and members of my own immediate and extended family in Los Angeles through participant observation, psychoanalytic listening, semi-structured interviews, and autobiographic insights. I argue that much of Los Angeles’ Iranian aesthetic can be understood as an attempt to creatively respond to the painful and unspeakable aspects of migration. Crucial here are the life trajectory disruptions and displacements that comprise the Real of migrant experiences in their new home city: a fraught yet productive conflict that emerges out of the potentialities of the past (what could have been but never happened) and the immediacies of the present (life as it is currently lived). My study reveals that while some actors and communities seek to harness the artistic energies of the Real, others attempt to avoid it altogether.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Paul Kingsbury
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.