Sociology and Anthropology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Political-cultural formation and food sovereignty: Constituting the indigenous peasantry in Argentina

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

Under what conditions does social mobilization for food sovereignty (FS) lead to agrarian class formation (CF)? This question concerns the constitution of the indigenous peasantry into a social agent that gets organized to struggle beyond bread-and-butter demands. I address CF based on the case of Argentina's National Peasant and Indigenous Movement (MNCI). My aim is both to develop a class-analytical approach to FS and contribute to the theory of CF while advancing empirical knowledge on Argentina’s FS movements. My integrative literature review identifies a total of five challenges on the conceptual ambiguities of FS, which mostly revolve around tensions between (a) state-movement relationships, (b) local-national interests, (c) rural-urban conflicts, (d) individual-collective choices, and (e) sporadic mobilization-organizational continuity. I conceptualize FS as a mobilization outcome that potentially leads to agrarian CF beyond class-reductionist, culturalist and state-centric approaches to collective action. Four determinants of CF are distilled from the literature on social movements and FS: economic-class structures, regional cultures, state intervention, and leadership. Drawing on fieldwork evidence and secondary sources, I argue that the class-structural context in which Argentina’s FS struggles emerge is marked by the decline of small farming, deterioration of public health, destruction of native forests and violent land evictions under the state-promoted soy monoculture. Most agrarian mobilization instances do not result in CF, as the groupings may become coopted or dispersed by failing to sustain their collective position and unity. How grievances generated by class-structural processes become elevated to CF depends on the mediation of the three other factors. First, regional cultures speak to the creation of a unifying movement language organized around indigenous communitarianism and a broader claim to re-peasantization. Second, class agents’ collective position and unity are mediated by MNCI’s ability to interact with the state extracting popular-democratic policies without giving up its independence. Third is MNCI’s close coordination of active, participatory leadership mechanisms from the ground-up. This unified and engaged leadership at the community, provincial and national level is further consolidated thanks to the presence of movement-institutionalized mechanisms of leader training and stronger alliances with the classes of labor extended towards urban slums and student mobilization.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gerardo Otero
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The social life of monitoring and evaluation: An ethnography of the monitoring and evaluation of an HIV/AIDS prevention program in Ghana

Date created: 
2018-03-14
Abstract: 

Globally, HIV/AIDS programs face pressure to document accountability and achievement via “evidence-based” criteria or “monitoring and evaluation” (“M&E”). Donors have increasingly made M&E a funding stipulation funding. They want numeric data that speak to universal indicators of efficacy, a newly hegemonic means of assessment in the field of governance based in business management. Advanced by major global institutions like the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AID Relief (PEPFAR), M&E systems—structures of metrics, procedures, people, and technology—are variously set up around the globe. M&E plays an increasingly deeper role through a program’s entire lifespan and in the daily activities of program workers. Yet surprisingly, little is known about how M&E occurs on the ground and the social and political effects: What kinds of actions and social relations does M&E instigate? How does its practice maintain or challenge the status quo? Furthermore, “developing” countries, incredibly dependent on foreign program funding, encounter M&E through uneven postcolonial relations. How does M&E reflect and possibly influence postcolonial relationships, and country sovereignty? My dissertation explores these questions through an ethnographic study of the M&E of an HIV/AIDS prevention program in Ghana called BRIDGES, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For 20 months I followed the M&E of BRIDGES through a focus on one non-governmental organization (NGO). I argue that M&E is a key site through which HIV/AIDS intervention is trans/formed. It not only reflects but also produces (unexpected) social relations and habits, which shape how HIV/AIDS intervention operates. In Ghana, M&E unintentionally deepened unequal relations between donor-recipient, organizations, and personnel. I demonstrate that this effect occurred on and through the practices and agency of those governed by M&E. M&E is not an agent in its own right, but is deployed in particular ways by actors in fields of power.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stacy Leigh Pigg
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Muslim youths in British Columbia: The implications of multiculturalism for everyday life

Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the implications of multiculturalism for the everyday life of Muslim youths, focusing on the discrepancies between everyday understandings and theoretical critiques of multiculturalism. Ethnographic research was conducted amongst Muslim youths in the lower mainland of B.C. during two events, which aim to change the misconceptions of non-Muslims about Islam: 1) Islam Awareness Week at Simon Fraser University; and, 2) A Journey Into Islam at Az-Zahraa Islamic Center. The comparison between multiculturalism and secularism, both important theoretical stances on the role of religion in society, is used to argue that the participants have internalized and appropriated the multicultural narrative. Lastly, the thesis argues that the events studied not only counter misconceptions but also fulfill the Islamic duty of da’wa.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sonja Luehrmann
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

“To Live My Life”: An ethnography of cross-border life and kinship from the perspectives of Filipina/o-Canadian youths

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-24
Abstract: 

This dissertation concerns the labour youths perform in their search for well-being across borders. I draw from ethnographic, life story, and visual methods following 15 months of research with ten young people. These youths lived apart from and later reunited with their mothers who moved from the Philippines to Canada to perform domestic work. Through their stories of precarity, care, and hope, participants reveal how a good life or a better life is a relational construct with shifting significations depending on their past experiences, present conditions, and hopes for the future. Their imaginings of a better life, grounded in their understandings of happiness, hardship, and sacrifice, often defy neoliberal and capitalist emphasis on work and money associated with personal success, and instead are oriented towards time with loved ones, relational senses of happiness, and, in some cases, a return “home.” What they also revealed is the complex reconfiguration of home across borders where reunification creates and disrupts more complex social worlds that include but also extend beyond parents and nuclear family settings. Stories of friendships, romantic relationships, music, poetry, and photography illustrate how these young people formed relations and coped in ways often missed in literature pertaining to family migration and reunification. Placing youths’ perspectives at the centre of this ethnography ultimately reveals the living labour they inject into their social, familial, and economic lives to hold their worlds together through precarious times as they persist in living and dreaming otherwise.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Parin Dossa
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

"We used to be kings of the road": Negotiations of ethics, embodiment, and subjectivity in the BC-based long haul trucking industry

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-26
Abstract: 

This dissertation provides a locally specific exploration of how normative gender dynamics and local occupational cultures interact with neoliberal regimes to (re)produce industrial hierarchies of inequality, exploitation, and blame. I extend research linking the neoliberalisation of the trucking industry to declining wages and working conditions to consider how these changes interact with the historically and culturally specific ethical formations, subjectivity negotiations, and everyday work practices of British Columbia-based long haul truckers. I argue that a locally and historically specific manifestation of normative masculinity – and the racialising processes it presupposes and (re)produces – plays a crucial role in these interactions. This ‘old school’ white working class masculinity is complexly articulated in relation to the neoliberalisation of the industry, and especially in regards to gendered and racialised politics of skills, stigma, and blame. I found that these articulations bolster white supremacist tendencies, particularly with regard to South Asian truckers, and have complex implications for gender inequality. I further contend that these dynamics emerge out of and are imbricated in the power dynamics of Canadian (neo)colonial automobility. The differential politics of skills, stigma, and blame evident in my research encounters contribute to the denial and invisibilisation of road carnage and industrial risk that has been entrenched through neoliberal shifts in automobility and the trucking industry. This research is based on my ethnography of the British Columbia-based long haul trucking industry. Data were generated through qualitative interviews with current and former truck drivers; participant observation and observant participation at truck stops, weigh scales, and industry-associated sites; recording VHF radio communications; and ride-alongs with truckers. Truckers in my study placed especial moral weight on practices of skilled and safe driving, on maintaining civilised practices of cleanliness and excretion, and on stopping to assist other truckers and motorists in need of help – which often meant engaging in collision and carnage labour at crash scenes. In this study, I examine how deregulation and the neoliberalisation of the industry have impacted truckers’ capacities to engage in each of these work practices, and the implications of those shifts for truckers’ gendered, classed, and racialised ethical alignments and subjectivity negotiations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Marriage migrants: American women navigating immigration and intercultural marriage

Date created: 
2017-12-07
Abstract: 

Based on eight semi-structured interviews from June 2016 with American women married to German spouses and living as immigrants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the aim of this study is uncover how this group experiences immigration and integration. Taking a feminist perspective and grounded within standpoint theory, I argue that the combinations of their American citizenship, gender, position within intercultural marriage and immigration status, creates a unique immigration and integration experience for this group in Germany. Findings reveal the following intricacies within intercultural marriages, the challenges that female immigrants and mothers face, the importance of language in integration, the role that American citizenship plays in immigration and the emotional struggle to find a sense of belonging as immigrant newcomers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karl Froschauer
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Parenthood, childhood and organized youth sport in rural and small-town British Columbia: An ethnographic study

Date created: 
2017-10-27
Abstract: 

This thesis explores how parenthood and childhood are enacted within the context of organized youth sport in one rural and small-town British Columbian region. Studies of organized youth sport, childhood, and parenthood have primarily emphasized the experiences of (sub)urban dwellers. This has resulted in a dearth of knowledge on the spatialized processes which inform experiences of organized youth sport in rural and small towns. This ethnographic exploratory study was conducted between 2012 and 2015 in the British Columbian rural and small-town region of the West Kootenays. It draws on fieldnotes, open-ended interviews, and participant observation to capture the lived experiences of over a hundred young people, parents, and sport administrators. By utilizing a place-based, life course perspective, this study reveals the historical, structural, and spatial fluidity of concepts such as parenthood, childhood, and organized sport. A central finding in this study is that while principles of modern parenting and childhood are now part of the dominant cultural narrative, children and parents enact this narrative in conflicting and nuanced ways. Four spatialized patterns of child-rearing vis-à-vis sport emerged: (1) pursuing the dream of sporting success, (2) making organized youth sport work, (3) opting out of organized youth sport, and (4) being pushed out of organized youth sport. Parents’ and children’s relationship to place, access to resources, and commitment to varying narratives and discourses on childhood and parenthood were found to drive child-rearing practices. Overall, this study showcases the agency of rural residents and draws attention to the futility of representing rural people as solely “passive recipients” of hegemonic culture. It also draws attention to the importance of including young people alongside adults in research about their lives. Finally, this study encourages government policy-makers and community-level stakeholders in organized youth sport to take a place-based approach to the delivery of programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Barbara Mitchell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

A place to be, a place to become: An insiders report on youth integration programs in the lower mainland

Date created: 
2017-06-06
Abstract: 

Immigrant youth face a myriad of complex and interrelated challenges during their settlement and integration into Canadian society. In Canada, there are a number settlement services available to support this process. In the past, these services have focused on adults; however, they are increasingly responding to the needs of youth. Youth integration programs, in particular, represent one of the most common settlement services available to immigrant youth, yet little research has been conducted on such programs and even less from the perspective of the participants. This qualitative study explores the role of youth integration programs in the lives of twelve young newcomers through in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups. My findings reveal that such programs represent a powerful resource for newcomers, with participants describing these programs as spaces where they can develop meaningful relationships, strengthening their communication skills, and improve their overall sense of self. This research confirms, challenges, and extends earlier research on this topic, while also demonstrating the importance of engaging with the subjective experiences of newcomers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Wendy Chan
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Spaces of negotiation: Community, governance, and pacification in Rio de Janeiro

Date created: 
2017-08-03
Abstract: 

Brazil’s enactment of the pacification program in 2008 marked the state’s ostensible attempt to integrate the informal favelas of Rio de Janeiro into the formal frameworks of the city. For residents of favelas where the pacification program has been implemented, the processes associated with the program have been marked by violence, uncertainty, and disconnection. This thesis employs spatial theory in combination with ethnographic research to explore how pacification has come to be experienced in the favela of Vidigal. The materiality of space has become a critical nexus in the dialectical relationship between community residents and the Brazilian state. I argue that the pacification program in Vidigal is now primarily a spatial practice; the policies and practices associated with pacification in Vidigal seek to manipulate the use of space, and the residents of Vidigal now largely experience the effects of pacification through the spaces of their community.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kathleen Millar
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Bodies in water: Embodiment, social worlds, and fluid motion in competitive age-group swim clubs

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-17
Abstract: 

This thesis undertakes an anthropological examination of the everyday sport practices of boys and girls who belong to swim clubs in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Specifically, it considers how the social worlds of swimmers can be understood as complex forms of community and the ways in which and swim clubs represent more than a sport. It examines how boys and girls come to understand and use their bodies in the water, and how, through the processes of training and play, they come to acquire embodied knowledge's of swimming and motion in the water. Finally, it argues that by training together and yet competing separately, boys and girls experience gender as a subtle but salient marker amongst and between young athletes enrolled in swim clubs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Noel Dyck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.