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

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Shuswap and Okanagan First Nation Root Food Protocols

Date created: 
2013-12-12
Abstract: 

This thesis is the result of my research on Shuswap (Secwépemc) and Okanagan (Syilx) peoples’ root digging protocols that I carried out between January and July 2012 with three communities in the Secwépemc Nation (Skeetchestn, Simpcw and Tk’emlups) and two communities in the Syilx Nation (Westbank First Nation and Penticton First Nation). For thousands of years, a variety of native root plants have made important contributions to the sustenance of Secwépemc, Syilx and other indigenous peoples of the Interior Plateau. Important among these were, and still are, skwenkwinem (Claytonia lanceolata – springbeauties) and spitl’em/llekw’pin (Lewisia redeviva – bitterroot). Using a grounded theory approach, but also informed by indigenous research methods and my own connection to both nations, I present information from Secwépemc and Syilx root diggers gathered during interviews and root digging expeditions. My focus is on gaining understanding of practices, norms, and rules that Secwépemc and Syilx root harvesters narrated about their techniques of digging and processing of roots, but also about the way that root digging connects them to spiritual and cultural concepts and values. To describe these, I use the term protocols in that it follows present First Nations conventions of referring to what anthropologists call “culture.” Although western market foods are commonly available in our communities, the enacted protocols of root-digging continue to connect Secwépemc and Syilx people to their identities, ancestors and lands, and can shape the identities of present and future generations. I found that Secwépemc harvesters focused on skwenkwinem, while Syilx harvesters focused on sp̓iƛ̓əm. This is partly due to the ecological conditions in their respective territories. However, as I show, these preferences also reflect important historical and spiritual associations of the respective roots that root harvesters explained to me. These differences, in turn, mark national identities of root diggers and knowledge keepers as being Syilx or Secwépemc.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Marianne Ignace
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Understanding sexual assault: the ways in which young women conceptualize sexual violence

Date created: 
2014-04-22
Abstract: 

This thesis examines how women interact with rape myth portrayals of sexual assault in their everyday lives. Guided by a modified radical feminist framework, my research posits that sexual assault and rape myths limit women’s autonomy and self-actualization. Between February and June, 2013, I conduct semi-structured qualitative interviews with 20 young women in Metro Vancouver and inquired about their thoughts and attitudes towards sexual violence. The findings of this project indicate that women both resist and internalize rape myth attitudes and beliefs, mainly due to the simultaneous presence of dominant and countercultural (feminist) ideologies in contemporary society. Several emerging possibilities for social change are suggested.

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

The Prefigurative Prince: An Anarcho-Gramscian Ethnography of the Occupy Vancouver General Assembly

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-01-23
Abstract: 

In my Master's thesis, I have reconstructed the dialectical theory of Antonio Gramsci, a twentieth century Marxist scholar and Italian Communist Party activist. In particular, I have aimed to render Gramsci’s concepts more relevant to the obstacles faced by contemporary social movement activists. My reconstructive efforts are grounded in an ethnography that I performed while serving as an activist and facilitator for Occupy Vancouver, a social movement and prefigurative political community most active between October and November, 2011. As an Occupy Vancouver participant, I was privy to some of the systematic ways in which macro-scale institutions – such as patriarchy, white supremacy, and the nation-state - can create institutional contexts that are frequently internalized by social movement participants, finding expression through activists’ exclusionary or marginalizing practices. By employing Gramscian concepts, I have sought to clarify these oppressive institutional tendencies, with the goal of enabling more equitable and inclusive social movement structures.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ann Travers
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

What's happening in the world of older Western women?

Date created: 
2014-03-21
Abstract: 

Little is known about how the generations of World War Two and baby boomer women respond to the contemporary North American assumptions that negate their sexuality, denigrate their physical appearance, and question their physical and cognitive abilities. This thesis explores how the older women represented in my research respond to the norms, expectations and prohibitions constructed by the discourses of ageism, heterosexuality, gender and beauty in documentary films, published research, books and media reports. I argue that their responses are diverse and that older women should not be stereotyped as a homogenous group. Many describe themselves as sexual beings and others, living non-sexual lives, express their contentment. Influenced by the social repercussions of ageing, the majority of the older women represented in my research are not resisting the demands of the ideology of youth; they are attempting to conceal their age, and exposing a cultural preoccupation with weight.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Dara Culhane
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

An Institutional Ethnography of Women Entrepreneurs and Post-Soviet Rural Economies in Kyrgyzstan

Date created: 
2014-01-24
Abstract: 

The overarching problematic of this study is to understand how initiatives developed by international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) come to organize processes of economic and social 'development' in Jerge-Tal village, located in a remote mountainous region of Kyrgyzstan. My objective was to examine how courses developed and delivered by Women Entrepreneurs Support Association (WESA) coordinate with the actual needs, capacities, and work processes of women entrepreneurs and the broader contexts in which they live and work. My original contribution to knowledge is an account of how people's work processes are drawn into and coordinated by a set of relations that, whether intentional or not, preclude dialogic interchanges across a sequence of interrelated activities that link my own academic work, the institutions and work practices of development workers (both local and international), the goals and practices of different levels of governance, and the efforts of women entrepreneurs in local sites where 'development’ actually happens. I used Institutional Ethnography (IE) as a framework of inquiry to investigate how development agendas aimed at improving the well-being of women are coordinated at institutional and local levels. Training programs for women entrepreneurs are part of a strategy developed by Western gender specialists concerned with how to address the problem of women's social and economic marginalization. As such, they are tied into an international development programming complex wherein concerns with women's well-being are articulated through institutional processes (such as accounting systems, accountability systems, and computerized technologies) which produce definitions of gender, establish gender mainstreaming programs and policies, and assess effective implementation and compliance with these processes. This study contributes to better understanding how such processes operate. The insights provided offer a starting point for developing a body of knowledge about local development processes that is empirically informed, politically useful, and, at least to some extent, locally produced. This kind of knowledge is politically useful to the local peoples who have contributed to it, but also to the institutions that study and serve them (or fail to serve them), and those seeking to better specify what concepts like colonization, capitalism, and transformation mean in the post-Soviet Kyrgyz context.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ann Travers
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

"I am the whale": Human/Whale Entanglement in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-10-09
Abstract: 

Kaikoura is balanced on the edge of land and sea and it is the creatures of both that make the community. I explore the entanglement of two creatures in particular, whales and humans, in this small New Zealand town where whale watching has become part of everyday life. But ‘watching’ can be planned or unexpected, up close or at a distance; it can mean guardianship or tourism or something in between, and in Kaikoura, watching whale watchers watch whales is as much a shared community practice as watching the whales themselves. In this place, the naturalcultural encounters of whales and humans construct diverse experiences, a plurality of identities and a community that is as linked to whales as it is to humans. It is with this everyday living with whales that my stories and those of my participants are concerned.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Michael Kenny
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Navigating the Stigma of Pedophilia: The Experiences of Nine Minor-Attracted Men in Canada

Date created: 
2013-10-29
Abstract: 

This thesis presents findings and analysis arising from semi-structured qualitative interviews with nine minor-attracted men (i.e. men who are primarily attracted to children and/or adolescents) in Canada. The central research question is “how do minor-attracted people understand and manage their stigmatized identities?” I situated the participants' experiences within a broader social context by reviewing relevant academic literature, laws, and dominant cultural attitudes. Utilizing a symbolic-interactionist approach, and drawing on Goffman's concept of “stigma,” this thesis illustrates the unique challenges facing minor-attracted people. The study reveals that minor-attracted people become aware of their sexuality at an early age, experience stress caused by real or perceived societal rejection, and encounter both positive and negative reactions upon disclosing their identities. The conclusion underscores the need for a new approach to dealing with minor-attraction in contemporary Western society. I offer eight recommendations for instituting a strategy which incorporates empathy, education, and anti-discrimination measures.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Robert Menzies
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Yes, we can: adult literacy, community, and development in peri-urban Oaxaca

Date created: 
2013-12-04
Abstract: 

Global efforts to eradicate illiteracy have led to an extensive range of adult literacy programs worldwide, particularly in developing regions. There is no clear consensus on the application of such projects, as the study and evaluation of adult literacy education continues to be divided between ‘functional’ approaches which emphasize skill acquisition as a primary focus; and ‘socio-cultural’ perspectives which foreground contextual and personal narratives. Case-study observations of classrooms and educators in three peri-urban communities in Oaxaca, Mexico indicate complex interconnections between literacy education and development in both conceptual and material frameworks. Findings further highlight the importance of local communities and social networks in shaping classroom experiences. Results suggest a divide between institutionally derived goals and communally guided practice in Oaxacan adult literacy classrooms. This schism may lead to the creation of titular literacy that can be nevertheless inconsistent with the ways in which literacy is actually practised.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gerardo Otero
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Medicalised Birthing Discourse in British Columbia: Biopolitics, Resistance, and Affective Subjectivity

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-27
Abstract: 

I analyse medicalised birthing in British Columbia to demonstrate contemporary forms of both biopolitical power and resistance. To this end, I offer an approach in which I define the concept of biopolitical resistance using affective subjectivity, with the aim of showing that in addition to appearing as strategic elements in contemporary forms of power affect may also be used to show that practices of resistance emerge from the creative potentials of subjects themselves. In so doing, I hope to contribute to the literature on biopolitics a detailed account of both discursive and non-discursive types of subject formation by focusing on power not merely as a strategic force or effect from above, but also as an ambiguous, non-discursive potentiality that emerges from below in the feelings and sensations of being alive.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jie Yang
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Sex trafficking discourse and the 2010 Olympic Games

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-08-14
Abstract: 

This thesis looks at how sex trafficking was constructed as a social problem by certain groups in the context of the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, and examines what effects the Games were perceived to have on issues related to sex trafficking. The study is conducted as a qualitative, two-phase sequential multi-method project. Using participant observation and interview data, I argue that the concerns about sex trafficking were raised to problematize the male demand for commercial sex and call for abolition of prostitution in Canada through adoption of the Nordic legal model, which criminalizes those who purchase sex and decriminalizes those who sell it. While there has been no evidence to suggest that sex trafficking was an issue during the Olympics, the raising of the related concerns had important consequences. It shifted the understanding of prostitution toward that of sex trafficking, while relying on a discourse reflective of ideological positions that see women in the sex trade as victims who need to be protected.

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