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

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Divided Loyalties:A Study of a Communist-Led Trade Union’s Struggle For Survival in Trail, British Columbia, 1943-1955

Date created: 
2017-07-19
Abstract: 

Abstract“Divided Loyalties” examines a Communist union’s struggle to survive in the post-Second World War environment of anti-Communism and anti-trade unionism that marked one of the most violent periods in the history of the Canadian labour movement. In 1943, Local 480 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in Trail, British Columbia, was nearing the end of a six-year battle for certification as the legal bargaining agent for about 4,000 smelter workers. After it achieved that goal the following year and for the next decade, it faced new battles with the employer, the powerful Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada (CM&S) with its paternalistic president S.G. Blaylock. The local also faced an array of other opponents: a workforce suspicious of a Red-tainted union with a radical past, a company union that had been established by Blaylock after the First World War, a company-loyal newspaper, and a divided community situated in the rural West Kootenay district near the Canada- United States border. Among the local’s most vigorous adversaries were the local churches, the federal government with its secret service police, and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL). By the 1950s, it had been purged from the CCL, shunned by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and victimized by cold warriors bent on its destruction. To survive it needed to win the support of a substantially immigrant workforce with a strong alternative culture to the dominant Anglo-Saxon one. It had to address the concerns of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women war workers who had been hired at lower wages to replace enlisted men. And it fell into the middle of an ideological clash between the region’s two dominant left-wing political parties. Its greatest strength and potential weakness was an unabashed Stalinist named Harvey Murphy. He had been a fugitive from justice and was incarcerated in a war-time internment camp as a threat to national security, but he became an influential leader of the provincial labour movement and an outspoken advocate of workers’ rights who was hated by some and respected by others. “Divided Loyalties” begins with a victory, but Local 480’s survival for the duration of the twelve-year period of this study was far from assured.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Joseph Taylor
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Beehives of knowledge: Cosmographer networks of Sebastian Münster, Gerard Mercator, and Abraham Ortelius (1540-1570)

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-25
Abstract: 

Like the classical bee gathering honey from many flowers, sixteenth-century cosmographers built their cosmographies from various sources. I analyse and compare the correspondence of three influential cosmographers, Sebastian Münster (1488-1552), Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), and Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598). The networks of these men, their locations, contacts, and the routes by which information traveled, shaped and limited their cosmographies. These influences challenge prevailing constructions in the historiography on sixteenth-century science which would see Münster as more traditional and medieval, and Ortelius as more empirical and modern. Each cosmographer was looking for novel information in different contexts. Münster and others revealed rigorous approaches to novel Hebrew scholarship and its application to cosmography, rivaling the approaches of cosmographers who applied non-traditional geographical knowledge. The more meaningful contrast I see was between “centred” scholars for whom Hebrew and the Holy Land were central to cosmography, and “fragmented” scholars who worked without a unifying theme.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Luke Clossey
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

“Farmworkers Zindabad!”: Community unionism and the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union, 1978-1986

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-18
Abstract: 

At a meeting of the Farmworkers’ Organizing Committee (FWOC) on 6 April 1980, the FWOC officially became the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union (CFU) with the goal of providing better legal protection, immigration services, and overall improved safety standards for South Asian farm workers in the Lower Mainland. The CFU was unable to reach financial autonomy on their own and with a perpetual shortage of dues and heavy reliance on outside support, the CFU affiliated with the larger Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in 1981. The CFU’s community unionism was unique and suited for their members’ needs but complicated their relationship with the CLC’s vision of a labour movement dominated by business unionism. This thesis demonstrates the CFU’s importance to Canadian labour historiography and provides valuable lessons for those who want to organize in an increasingly neo-liberal dominant society.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Leier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Transnational Turks, print media, and U.S.-Turkish ties, 1919-1952

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-22
Abstract: 

Between 1919 and 1952 four Ottoman and later Turkish editors, journalists, and public intellectuals named Halide Edib Adıvar, Ahmet Emin Yalman, Zekeriya Sertel, and Sabiha Sertel wrote extensively in English and Turkish about the U.S. and new Turkish Republic. Their education at American educational institutions and travel between the two countries allowed them to speak to both Turks and Americans through books and newspaper articles. Previously, information regarding the Ottoman Empire and Turkey came almost solely from American missionaries and Ottoman Armenians and centered on the Armenian Genocide. These figures, however, were able to establish themselves as authoritative voices about the U.S. in Turkey and Turkey in the U.S. I argue that they should be seen as cultural brokers who were able to speak to the inhabitants of both the U.S. and Turkey and strove to influence public opinion in both countries surrounding topics such as national security and democracy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thomas Kuehn
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Beyond protest: Foregrounding caregiving and service organizations in gay political responses to the HIV epidemic in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-29
Abstract: 

Scholarship on HIV/AIDS in the United States and Canada has foregrounded the importance of direct-action activism within gay community responses to the epidemic. However, community mobilization efforts in Vancouver were varied and did not begin with direct-action activism. Drawing from oral history interviews with HIV-positive long-term survivors and caregivers, I argue that the story of Vancouver’s AIDS epidemic cannot be adequately told unless community caregiving efforts and early AIDS service organizations (ASOs) are placed front and centre. By providing care to those who were sick and dying and restoring value to the lives of gay men and persons with AIDS, caregiving served as a foundational practical and political response to the epidemic that predated direct-action activism by several years. Indeed, direct-action activism grew out of existing organizational responses to the epidemic in Vancouver – such as safe sex education initiatives – undertaken by the city’s first ASOs. Activists built on the political foundation provided by caregivers and early ASOs while responding to the particular local conditions faced by the city’s gay community. In order to understand community responses to HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, we need to broaden our conceptions of activism to make space for caregiving and various organizational responses to the epidemic alongside overt acts of resistance and protest.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Elise Chenier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Acting virtuously: Ceremonial displays of imperial virtue in Byzantium

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-10
Abstract: 

Recent work by various scholars on the political make-up of the Byzantine Empire has highlighted the fragility of the emperor’s position and his dependence on popular support to keep his office. This thesis looks at the use of ceremony by Byzantine emperors to advertise their qualifications to rule according to medieval Roman sensibilities. The crux of this thesis is the tenth-century Byzantine text known as the De cerimoniis, or The Book of Ceremonies, an imperial handbook detailing the procedures regarding numerous imperial processions, feasts, and other ceremonies compiled on the order of Emperor Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos (r.~ 913-959). With this text and supplementary historical narratives, this thesis examines how history, space, and symbolism came together to associate Byzantine emperors with the ancient virtues of rulership as defined by Menander Rhetor (c. second/third century A.D.) – justice, temperance, bravery, and wisdom – essential for any legitimate Basileus.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dimitrios Krallis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Molding lumps of clay: Political education through extracurricular activities for primary schoolchildren in Yangzhou, February 1949–June 1952

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-02
Abstract: 

In 1950, Guo Moruo, then vice premier of China in charge of education, likened children to lumps of clay. In Yangzhou, the work of molding them began soon after the Chinese Communist Party took over this southeastern city in January 1949, through political education permeating not only curricula but also extracurricular activities in primary schools. Teachers, new students who were children of the Party’s rural cadres, and the Children’s Brigade all contributed to urban children’s rapid absorption of the new style, which consisted of behaviour patterns and language desired by the Party. As for promoting the new ideal, which required children to hate enemies, the results were at best mixed. Abstract hatred toward Americans was ignited among children in the Resist America Aid Korea Campaign. For those from merchant families, their family members became targets in the Three Antis and Five Antis Campaigns. Only in some schools, such children were pressured to turn against their families. But concrete hatred was hardly generated.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeremy Brown
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Sympathy and the unbelieved in modern retellings of Sindhi Sufi folktales

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-16
Abstract: 

This thesis examines Sindhi Sufi folktales as retold by five “modern” individuals: the nineteenth-century British explorer Richard Burton and four Sindhi intellectuals who lived and wrote in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Lilaram Lalwani, M. M. Gidvani, Shaikh Ayaz, and Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch). For each set of retellings, our purpose will be to determine the epistemological and emotional sympathy the re-teller exhibits for the plot, characters, sentiments, and ideas present in the folktales. This approach, it is hoped, will provide us a glimpse inside the minds of the individual re-tellers and allow us to observe some of the ways in which the exigencies of a secular western modernity had an impact, if any, on the choices they made as they retold Sindhi Sufi folktales. A central guiding principle of this thesis is its attention to preserving and reproducing the worldviews encapsulated in the primary sources it uses.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Luke Clossey
Bidisha Ray
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Anarchism and the working class: the union of Russian workers in the North American labor movement

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-27
Abstract: 

Thousands of Russian anarchist immigrants, organized by the Union of Russian Workers (URW), took part in a surging union movement and strike wave that broke out across North America in the 1910s. However, they have received scant attention from historians, and no account of the URW exists. My dissertation fills in this gap by detailing the activity of the URW against the background of the rising labor movement, and it considers the question of anarchism's relationship to the working class. Historians have traditionally situated anarchism outside of the labor movement, yet the Russian anarchists in North America joined both radical and mainstream unions, and URW leaders recruited migrants explicitly by appealing to their class interests as foreign workers exploited by American capitalism. The study highlights the anarchists’ involvement in labor organizing, and it centers their perspectives to help narrate a history of the period. It first traces a history of the international anarchist movement along with migration patterns to North America in order to contextualize the research and shed light on the origins of the URW and why their story matters. Utilizing anarchist publications, local English-language newspapers, government surveillance files, and archival materials, the study finds that URW members made a wide array of contributions to the emerging industrial union movement in the United States and developed a critique of American capitalism that ranged beyond the immediate strikes. It argues that alongside the Industrial Workers of the World, the URW helped to push labor to the left and prepare the ground for the rise of major industrial unions with socialist leanings in the 1930s. Simultaneously, the study shows how the URW harnessed its strength in North America to make substantial material contributions to the anarchist movement in Russia, in the lead up to the 1917 revolution, while developing an anti-Bolshevik critique also echoed by subsequent movements on the left. By locating Russian anarchism and the URW in the labor movement, this study challenges historiographical claims which deny anarchism's working-class character. Thus, it contributes to a growing body of newer research which finds the anarchist movement rooted in labor and working-class organizing.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ilya Vinkovetsky
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Youth Activism and the Black Freedom Struggle in Lawnside, New Jersey

Date created: 
2018-01-12
Abstract: 

This thesis is an examination of youth activism during the black freedom struggle in Lawnside, New Jersey; one of ten self-governing African American communities in the United States. A critical factor in Lawnside’s narrative is that its young people both historically and today do not experience integration until the high school level where they are a distinct minority of the student body in a white community’s high school. During the civil rights/black power era, Lawnside’s young people created their own activist organization called the Young Blacks of Lawnside that pursued an agenda of non-violence, community improvement, educational advancement, and peaceful activism. Many African American youth from Lawnside were also inspired to address inequality and African American educational and cultural concerns at their high school by engaging in acts of collective violence and non-violent direct action. In these protest efforts, which included a boycott, two sit-ins, and a protest march, female students often held positions of influence and leadership and students acted with little direction or interference from parent groups or African American civic leaders.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jennifer Spear
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.