Communication, School of

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Enemies at the Gateway: Regional Populist Discourse and the Fight Against Oil Pipelines on Canada's West Coast

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-13
Abstract: 

This paper analyzes discursive storylines of opponents of Northern Gateway—a proposed pipeline and tanker project designed to link Alberta oil sands producers to international markets via Canada's West Coast. It explores how regional concerns about Northern Gateway helped galvanize a movement led by regional First Nations, environmentalists, and settler communities, all of whom opposed Gateway as a means to protect regional ecosystems—and the local communities dependent on them—from “extra-regional” Gateway-backing elites. By articulating arguments against Northern Gateway with salient collective action frames concerning ecological sustainability, regional identity, Indigenous sovereignty, social justice, and democratic agency, this anti-Gateway “discourse coalition” helped contribute to the project's ultimate collapse in 2016. In this paper, we critically engage with Ernesto Laclau's theorization of Populism to analyse this movement as a form of “regional ecological populism,” explaining how a shift in spatial framing from the national to the regional enabled a particular populist narrative to emerge. Furthermore, we relate Laclau's framework to Martin Hajer's concept of discursive “storylines” and William Gamson's analysis of “collective action frames” to provide a grounded analysis of how coalitions articulate populist storylines designed to mobilize diverse movement constituents. To do so we conduct a frame analysis of communications materials produced by several prominent First Nations and environmental organizations publicly mobilizing against Northern Gateway, tracing how these groups articulated a common regional ecological populist storyline. Finally, we end with some thoughts about the possibilities and challenges for scaling up regional ecological populism in Canada.

Document type: 
Article
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“¡Se Bota El Tanque!”: Housing, Infrastructure, and the Sounds of Water in Havana’s Domestic Spaces

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-10
Abstract: 

An enduring dimension of everyday life in Havana is the city’s architectural and infrastructural precarity. More than half the water supply is lost before it reaches residents, the asphalt on the streets is crumbling, and a building collapses approximately every third day. Such conditions have prompted scholars to conceive of the city as “dystopian” [Coyula, M. 2011. “The Bitter Trinquennium and the Dystopian City: Autopsy of a Utopia.” In Havana Beyond the Ruins: Cultural Mappings After 1989, edited by A. Birkenmaier, and E. K. Whitfield, 31–52. Durham, NC: Duke University Press], a “non-city” [Redruello, L. 2011. “Touring Havana in the Work of Ronaldo Menéndez.” In Havana Beyond the Ruins: Cultural Mappings After 1989, edited by A. Birkenmaier and E. K. Whitfield, 229–245. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.] or a city of “fleeting dreams” [Porter, A. L. 2008. “Fleeting Dreams and Flowing Goods: Citizenship and Consumption in Havana Cuba.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 31 (1): 134–149], whereby the disrepair of the physical environment is symbolic of the decaying political agency of the local population [Ponte, A. J. 2011. “La Habana: City and Archive.” In Havana Beyond the Ruins: Cultural Mappings After 1989, edited by A. Birkenmaier, and E. K. Whitfield, 249–269]. Yet, residents continue to inhabit the city through practices that are at once creative, spontaneous, and collective. Building on existing discussions of Latin American informality [Fischer, B. 2014. “Introduction.” In Cities From Scratch: Poverty and Informality in Urban Latin America, edited by B. Fischer, B. McCann, and J. Auyero, 1–8. Durham, N.C, London: Duke University Press], I argue that an overlooked dimension of Havana’s everyday life emerges through tacit, communicatory practices made possible through sound and listening. Through both ethnographic writing and audio media production, this multimedia project illustrates a neighborhood response to malfunctioning water delivery infrastructure. This localized episode offers a vivid example of what ethnomusicologist Ana María Ochoa-Gautier refers to as the “aural public sphere” [2012. “Social Transculturation, Epistemologies of Purification and the Aural Public Sphere in Latin America.” In The Sound Studies Reader, edited by J. Sterne, 388–404. London: Routledge.] while giving life to a story of resilience that can resonate in cities across Latin America.

Document type: 
Article
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Alternative Media & Bourdieu's Field: Internal Resistance or External Competition?

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-01-09
Abstract: 

This paper attempts to situate alternative media in relation to Bourdieu's journalistic (or media) field. More specifically, it explores the various conceptions of media power and the ways in which the media field influences, and is influenced by, other fields, as well as its internal dynamics in the struggle for the control of symbolic power. Using Fuchs' (2010) critical media model as a starting point, the current analysis argues in favor of a conceptualization of alternative media as conflictual activist media; media focused on contesting centralized power from within – through its alternative form and focus – and from without by mobilizing the public in pursuit of an alternative organization of society. Ultimately identifying a continuous process of de-centering and re-centering within the media field, this paper identifies the role of conflictual activist media as one of “conflictual unity,” following Muhlmann (2010).

Document type: 
Article
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Opportunity in Crisis: Alternative Media and Subaltern Resistance

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-03-17
Abstract: 

This paper interrogates the promises and limits of social movements in the post-crisis period by analyzing Adbusters Magazine's call for a "Billion People March" as a sequel to the Occupy Movement. Drawing upon the idea of the radical imagination, the paper critiques the notion that mass social movements can be expected to generate immediately through mediated means, instead holding up on-the-ground community organizing as the key means through which mass mobilizations take place. Keywords: Social movements, social change, Adbusters, radical imagination 

Document type: 
Book chapter

Rising Above: Alternative Media as Activist Media

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-06-30
Abstract: 

This paper asserts that truly activist media must be dually committed to critical education and to political action. Whereas my previous work has focused on the need for activist media to challenge media power from within, it is my goal here to build a model of activist media characterized by direct action through engagement in critical education and activism in both content and production. Such a model will provide insight both into the limitations of previous research on the oppositional potential of alternative media and into the challenge facing alternative media scholars and practitioners alike - that of rising above the noise of the dominant media of the cultural industry in order to communicate for radical social change.

Document type: 
Article

Contingency and Satisfaction Under Digital Capitalism

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-09-29
Abstract: 

Explorations into today’s labour context reveal a wide schism between those workers who live under conditions of precarity and contingency and those who seem to be living the dream – and not only in terms of wages. The standardized work day and Taylorized division of labour that characterized most of the industrial era has transitioned, at least in large part, into a regime of flexibility and insecurity that reconstitutes not only working but lifestyle conditions. This paper is intended as an initial conceptual investigation of a dual trend in the conditions of labour under digital capitalism: the rise of contractual contingency and insecurity and the introduction of fun and hipness into the office environment as a means of work intensification.

Document type: 
Article
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Project or Program? Prefigurative Politics, Folk Politics and the Struggle for Change

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-07-01
Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Influence of Peer Support on HIV/STI Prevention and Safety Amongst International Migrant Sex Workers: A Qualitative Study at the Mexico-Guatemala Border

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-01-05
Abstract: 

Background

Migrant women engaged in precarious employment, such as sex work, frequently face pronounced social isolation alongside other barriers to health and human rights. Although peer support has been identified as a critical HIV and violence prevention intervention for sex workers, little is known about access to peer support or its role in shaping health and social outcomes for migrant sex workers. This article analyses the role of peer support in shaping vulnerability and resilience related to HIV/STI prevention and violence among international migrant sex workers at the Mexico-Guatemala border. 

Methods

This qualitative study is based on 31 semi-structured interviews conducted with international migrant sex workers in the Mexico-Guatemala border communities of Tapachula, Mexico and Tecún Umán and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

Results

Peer support was found to be critical for reducing social isolation; improving access to HIV/STI knowledge, prevention and resources; and mitigating workplace violence, particularly at the initial stages of migration and sex work. Peer support was especially critical for countering social isolation, and peers represented a valuable source of HIV/STI prevention knowledge and resources (e.g., condoms), as well as essential safety supports in the workplace. However, challenges to accessing peer support were noted, including difficulties establishing long-lasting relationships and other forms of social participation due to frequent mobility, as well as tensions among peers within some work environments. Variations in access to peer support related to country of work, work environment, sex work and migration stage, and sex work experience were also identified. 

Conclusions

Results indicate that peer-led and community empowerment interventions represent a promising strategy for promoting the health, safety and human rights of migrant sex workers. Tailored community empowerment interventions addressing the unique migration-related contexts and challenges faced by migrant sex workers should be a focus of future community-based research, alongside promotion of broader structural changes.

Document type: 
Article
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The Commodity-Form in Cuba’s Telecom and Wireless Services: A Marxist Political Economy Overview

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-03-01
Abstract: 

In contemporary Cuba, there is a blatant contradiction between the high prices of telecom and wireless services, controlled by a state monopoly, and the weak purchasing power of the working class. This contradiction evidences a process of commodification that cannot be simply traced back to the partial privatizations that the Cuban telecom system experienced after the collapse of the Soviet bloc in the 1990s. Commodification is derived from a broader restructuring of the state socialist economy that started in the 1990s: the state-led appropriation of value in circulation when value is in the money form. In the context of a crisis in accumulation, obstacles against changing the conditions in production fostered transformations in the domain of circulation to appropriate value in the hands of the state. Within these transformations, partial privatizations and the commodification of the telecom and wireless services have played a key role for the national economy. 

Document type: 
Article
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Rewiring UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and Rural Peripheries: Imagined Community and Concrete Inequality From France’s Corsica to China’s Heyang

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-12-01
Abstract: 

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s communication monopoly over nationally filtered heritage operates not in an apolitical past but in present politics. Working through the “World Heritage Order” and its changing definition of “outstanding universal value,” this article develops a bridge between seemingly disconnected rural sites in France and the People’s Republic of China to move beyond the confines of “imagined communities” and their potential for displacing “concrete inequalities.” The article extends a critical approach of communication to heritage and contextualizes present rural heritage communication within larger political economic and cultural processes of urban–rural and capital–capillary dynamics that enables, in the cases examined, their current heritage identity. 

Document type: 
Article
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