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

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Taking culture to court: anthropology, expert witnesses and aboriginal sense of place in the Interior Plateau of British Columbia

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the way in which indigenous oral knowledge is treated in court by Crown anthropological expert witnesses. I argue that the theoretical frameworks that guide these expert opinions are in defiance of widely taught contemporary academic cannons. My specific focus is indigenous sense of place, an issue that is intensely scrutinized in Aboriginal rights and title cases. As I show, Crown expert evidence ignores contemporary academic paradigms and practices, thereby denying indigenous cultural, social, and historical contexts of oral histories of place. My thesis concludes with some questions and reflections about alternate ways of treating such evidence, which would do better justice to indigenous ways of constructing meaning, rather than alienating and distorting it.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
M
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Continuums of worth: a newspaper deconstruction of missing Canadian women

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

This thesis analyses how the print media represents the problem of missing women in Canada. Using an open and reflective feminist discourse analysis, I examine 240 newspaper articles from 11 major Canadian newspapers from April, 2006 to April, 2007. Guided by a feminist intersectional framework, my research posits that missing women are placed along continuums of worth according to how they perform ‘appropriate’ femininity. Four key identity factors emerged as central to women’s constructed identity: motherhood, association to criminal/deviant behaviour, class position and racial identity. The findings of this project reinforce the use of moralising discourses throughout news coverage of missing women and serve to affirm, or refute, a woman’s worth as a victim.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
W
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Donuts and silver dollars: the life of Captain Frank Slim

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

This thesis is about the life story of Captain Frank Slim, a Yukon First Nations person of Southern Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit ancestry who lived between 1898 and 1973. Frank Slim was my grandfather. He not only played an important role in my family’s life, but he played a significant and largely untold role in the history of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon in general. My description of Frank Slim’s life is based on my own memories, interviews with relatives, in particular my mother, Virginia Lindsay, and written records. Besides throwing light on events in the life of Frank Slim, I see this thesis as contributing to our understanding of the role of men in twentieth century Yukon history, and an anthropological approach to the construction of “life stories” as opposed to “life histories” of individuals, given my own connection to Frank Slim and Yukon First Nations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
D
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Validation and constraint: a discursive examination of the British Columbia land question in an era of treaty negotiations

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

In the early 1990s, when a process was established to negotiate modern-day treaties in British Columbia (BC), it was presumed that a majority of First Nation land claims would be resolved over the course of the following twelve years. Now, some fifteen years later, only two agreements have been reached as a part of this process. The reasons for this malaise are many, and while the relative failure of the treaty process in BC could be attributed to any number of factors, this thesis examines the inception of this process, with a focus on the period 1995-99, as a basis for challenging the perception that we have transcended the policy of denial that characterized indigenous-state relations in BC prior to the treaty process. Relying upon participant-observation, ethnographic interviews, and an analysis of media, this thesis asks: how has the discursive context of the BC land question been transformed by the treaty process? What impact did the perception that the public was being called upon to participate in forums about the BC land question have on the discursive construction of this policy field? And how did the perception that BC had entered a new era of recognition (rather than of denial) inform peoples’ sense of what the treaty process was about and the outcomes it would lead to? The thesis argues that the historical policy of denial that characterized indigenous-state relations in BC continues to be embodied in a dialectic of validation and constraint that informs contemporary efforts to manage the BC land question. It is by advancing this analysis that this thesis seeks not only to bring an element of clarity to a process that continues to frustrate the aspirations of many First Nations in BC, but also highlights some of the contributions that anthropology has to make to a study of public policy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
N
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

“Talking” and “doing”: an ethnographic examination of the dialectics of “kids’” sport

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

This thesis examines how children and youths from Vancouver, BC reflect upon and talk about their participation and involvement in organized sport activities. Based upon ethnographic interviewing and participant observation conducted at sport events, the thesis analyzes the narratives of children and youth who drew from their personal experiences as athletes and/or volunteers with organized sport. Issues discussed with young athletes raised issues such as the definition of organized sport, the social relationships and interactions that occur during participation in sport, and the manner in which children and youth sport should be structured and organized. This investigation, which employs concepts from the anthropology of childhood and sport, and gender studies, illustrates the dialectical relationship between lived experience and dominant discourses, and shows that children and youths are adept at constructing, engaging with, criticizing and rejecting discourses about organized sport, discourses that serve to both shape and contradict their experiences.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
N
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Narrating resistance: a B.C. mother's story of disability rights activism

Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

Though mothers have engaged in social activism to expand the citizenship rights of people with intellectual disabilities for the last 50 years, research in disability studies has been slow to examine what can be learned from their experience. Using a life story approach, this thesis explores how one activist mother, Jo Dickey, describes raising a son with intellectual disabilities and advocating for the social inclusion of people with disabilities and their families between 1955 and the present. Informed by ethnographic theories of performativity and intersubjectivity, I show how Jo performs resistance by recounting how she contested ideologies and systemic practices through everyday acts and collective action in the past, and by simultaneously speaking to discourses and audiences in the present. Her storytelling challenges the limits imposed on people deemed to have intellectual disabilities, foregrounds her negotiations of disability and gender politics, and creates discursive space for an activist mother’s perspective.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
D
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?: an ethnographic exploration of knowledge circulation, medical recommendations on HIV and infant feeding, and related "good" mothering discourses in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

This thesis looks at how knowledge on HIV and infant feeding is circulated, shaped, and then disseminated into a medical recommendation in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It explores good/ bad mothering discourses linked to women with HIV who are feeding infants in this city. Guided by Bruno Latour’s actor network theory, I interviewed 31 community and health professionals to ethnographically locate “key actors” involved in knowledge circulation on HIV and breastfeeding. The interviews revealed two patterns of knowledge circulation in which different information on HIV and breastfeeding is being shared. I suggest that contrasting good/bad mothering discourses position women with HIV in a “tension zone” that characterizes them as both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothers. I situate my observations in literature on medicalization of reproduction and science studies writings on social movements and “experts”. I argue the tension zone overshadows challenges facing women with HIV navigating poverty and trying to access baby formula.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
S
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Under the veil of neoliberalism: inequality, health, and capabilities

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

The relationship between income inequality and health has received substantial attention in the fields of medical sociology and public health and continues to be debated. In Chile, previous findings indicate that there is an income inequality effect; respondents who live in areas with high inequality experience a greater probability of poor self-reported health. This study examines the Wilkinson income inequality hypothesis in a new way by using it in conjunction with Sen’s capability approach. Building from critiques of the Wilkinson hypothesis, this study also incorporates analysis of the political economy of Chile. Utilizing the 2003 and 2006 cycles of the National Socio-Economic Characterization Survey (CASEN), my findings indicate a complex relationship between income inequality and health. My analyses also suggest that there are severe inequities in health outcomes; inequities that reflect Chile’s two-tier system of healthcare.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
F
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Crisis and/or relief? an examination of mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of the empty nest transition

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

A popular belief is that mothers experience an "empty nest syndrome" when their young adult children leave home. Recent research, however, challenges this notion, with its associated time of depression, crisis, and grief. However, there is a lack of research on both mothers' and fathers' experiences of this transition, as well as the role of ethnocultural background on this transition. Building upon life course theory, this study examines parental experiences of the empty nest transition and what effects it has on parental emotional health and well-being, while taking into account gender, ethnic background, and other contextual factors. This mixed methods study uses data from telephone surveys (a sub-sample of 316 British, Chinese, Southern European, and Indo/East Indian parents) and sixteen in-depth interviews. Findings reveal variation by gender, ethnic background, and socio-demographic characteristics. Finally, coping strategies and community programs that could help parents who are experiencing this transition will be highlighted.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
B
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Stories and landscapes in Milan, Italy: an ethnography of public urban spaces

Author: 
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

Based on fieldwork carried out in 2004/2005, this dissertation explores how different people and social groups participate in public space in Milan, Italy. In the first part of my work I discuss three different perspectives on public space and their implications on its openness and accessibility. First, I examine how a street forum by the largely Italian, middle class, association VivereMilano activates the ideal of public space as agora of the city, all while marginalizing issues of importance to less privileged residents of the city. Secondly, I look at how Milanese oppositional Social Centers depict urban space as deeply political and as a central locus and object of struggle. Thirdly, I look at some aspects of the complex relationship between immigration and urban space. Although public spaces are a precious resource for several new immigrants, they are usually the ones who have the hardest time to claim them as their own. In the second part of this thesis, I argue that visibility is an important aspect of city life. I trace how some people I met during my research used embodied practices of seeing and performative engagements to imagine and situate themselves in Milan’s social landscape. I also reflect on how some oppositional groups adopt a language of (in)visibility to talk about inequality in the city, and to draw attention to the invisible social actors and the spatial ghosts of the postindustrial urban terrain. In this part of my work I theorize vision as embodied, multiple, and contested, and connected to circulating discourses on the way the city should look like and who should figure in it. As not every body can enter the field of vision in the same way, ways of seeing and appearing can reinforce gender, class, and race hierarchies in urban locales. In turn, less privileged inhabitants of Milan can use alternative ways of representing the city and their presence in it to help create a public space that would be more inclusive and egalitarian.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
D
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)