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

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Willing the impossible: Reconciling the Holocaust and the Nakba through photograph-based storytelling

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-17
Abstract: 

On May 14, 1948 Israel proclaimed its independence, establishing a national home for the Jewish people following the horrors of the Holocaust. However, for Palestinians this proclamation was tied to the Nakba or catastrophe, a term used to mark their displacement, dispossession, and occupation. This cycle of violence has made ethical dialogue and the witnessing of the other’s trauma difficult. To begin bridging this divide, my dissertation takes up the impossible yet necessary task of “willing the impossible” (Butler, 2012, p. 222), which entails thinking the unequal yet bound tragedies of the Holocaust and the Nakba contrapuntally, morally and ethically engaging with alterity, and envisioning a new polity based on coexistence, justice, and equitable rights (Said, 2003). It does this by bringing Edward Said’s (2000; 1993; 1986) theories of narrative, memory, and photography, Hannah Arendt’s distinction between “fictional” and “real” stories (1998, p. 186), and Arielle Azoulay’s concept of “the civil contract of photography” (2008, p. 85) into praxis through a unique photograph-based storytelling method. First, I conducted interviews with Palestinians and Israelis living in their respective Canadian diasporas who are of the Holocaust and Nakba postmemory generations (Hirsch, 2012). During these interviews participants narrated their stories of how the Holocaust and/or the Nakba have impacted their lives using family photographs. Second, participants exchanged their stories and photographs with fellow participants from both cultures. Finally, I conducted a second round of interviews in which participants reflected on the experience of narrating their stories and photographs, engaging with the other participants’ stories and photographs, and the research process as a whole. Ultimately, my dissertation demonstrates that storytelling and photography enable the “occasions” (Fabian, 1990, p. 7) and “conditions of possibility” (Culhane, 2011, p. 258) necessary for willing the impossible through “civil imagination” (Azoulay, 2012, p. 5). That is, by narrating and exchanging their postmemories of the Holocaust and/or the Nakba through photographs, my participants were able to connect rather than compare their histories of suffering and exile, take moral, ethical, and political responsibility for one another, and imagine a new form of cohabitation grounded in justice and equitable rights for all.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stuart Poyntz
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Re/generation: Mapping [the] operations of [the] strange in contemporary [art] photography

Date created: 
2020-03-26
Abstract: 

In this arts-based inquiry, I explore the ‘strange’—as a phenomenon, a concept, a narrative strategy, an intervention, an ‘operation,’ a dynamic—in the context of contemporary [art] photography. I specifically focus on the photographic image as event, as a generative encounter between multiple agencies—image(s), viewer(s), text(s) and other contextual factors —What happens? How? Why? Encounters with [the] strange and practices of ‘making strange’ emerge as probes into everyday ontological and epistemological operations of photography and the unique creative affordances this generates for photography as contemporary art.Merging my art practice and scholarship, I developed a form of visual storytelling that performs its subject matter in myriad ways. The project unfolds as a book that blends the linearity of argument structuring conventional modes of academic writing with more intuitive, non-linear modes of artistic writing that seek to open up—evoke and provoke—rather than foreclose differing interpretive paths. I foreground the process of knowledge production and meaning making by giving visibility and presence to participating ‘voices’ and the intertextual dynamics between them. Images, interview transcripts, dictionary definitions, quotes, diagrams, drawings and random bits found along the way converge to animate and illuminate operations of [the] strange. The project is structured like a play in three ‘acts.’ PART I: VIEWFINDER serves as the opening act introducing the main ‘characters’—core concepts, participants and setting—along with the ‘plot’—the research methodology. PART II: STRANGE consists of six ‘scenes’—CONTOURS, FRAMES, THRESHOLDS, HYBRIDS, CONTEXTS and MODES—each of which probes the ‘trials and tribulations’ of the main protagonist—[the] ‘strange’— through a different lens. PART III: RE/GENERATION serves as the final act in which various narrative strands are brought together within the interpretive framework guiding this arts-based inquiry.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gary McCarron
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Toward an understanding of dreams as mythological and cultural-political communication

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-20
Abstract: 

The central argument of this dissertation is that the significance of both myths and dreams, as framed by cultural politics, is not reducible to polarities of truth or falsehood, or superstition in opposition to science. It is the socio-political webs that myths and dreams often weave that this dissertation explores. Along the way, it addresses an absence of literature that unburdens myths and dreams of the conventional requirement of being true. The dissertation ultimately contributes to a more complete comprehension of the capacity of these phenomena to act as largely unconscious catalysts for cultural political developments. To support my argument, I tell a story about the relationships between dreams and myth as they affect cultural politics. This story can be told in many different ways; in fact I found that multiple iterations were required to demonstrate the connection. The narrative also needs supporting elements to tell it coherently. In this spirit, the introduction and opening chapter sketch historical approaches to the study of dreams and myth, before providing an overview of these phenomena as they affected people living in Berlin during the Nazi seizure of power. Also included are adumbrations of psychological frameworks required to make sense of this process. With the table thus set, the method of telling the story involves several steps. The first is to show a relationship between dreams and cultural politics. Chapter Two does this from the perspectives of Holy Grail literature, shamanism, Nazism, and psychoanalysis. The next step requires demonstrations of cultural political connections to myth; Chapter Three accomplishes this in its examination of the Thousand Year Reich, Voodoo, and digital technology. The diversity of these examples is deliberate, setting the stage for Chapter Four, which shows that, even in the opposing keys of religion and science, dreams have connected to myth and this connection has, in turn, influenced cultural politics. Having established the link between dreams, myth and cultural politics, the last portion of the dissertation details the apparently prognostic dreams of Germans living under Nazi oppression, connecting their visions to Nazi myth and subsequent political developments. I then refer these dreams to the psychological frameworks introduced in the first chapter as a means of analyzing the visions, and of answering the question of the dreams’ ability to prognosticate. The dissertation concludes with a review of evidence and establishes the value of understanding dreams and myths in upholding prevailing culture patterns.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gary McCarron
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Communicating liquefied natural gas: Extractivist politics and discourse in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-02-18
Abstract: 

Shale gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing is a controversial issue in North America. In British Columbia (BC), the provincial government and its industry partners have made relentless efforts since late 2011 to develop an export-oriented liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry targeting Asia. However, the aggressive pursuit of extractivism underlying this policy initiative has stimulated continuous public debates. Drawing upon the growing body of scholarship addressing environmental communication and the energy humanities, this dissertation explores the intricate economic, political, and ideological struggles underlying BC LNG. It focuses on how the BC Liberal government and domestic fossil fuel advocates developed a ‘progressive extractivism’ storyline, which depicts LNG exports as an unprecedented and ethical economic opportunity deserving the political support of environmentally minded British Columbians. By contrast, the anti-LNG coalition formed by progressive civil organisations, Indigenous groups, and concerned citizens challenges the dominance of progressive extractivism by engaging in fierce discursive resistance. My analysis highlights two distinctive discursive strategies adopted by the anti-LNG coalition, namely (1) their recognition of the fragile economic basis of BC LNG and deployment of mainstream economic knowledge to highlight this vulnerability, as well as (2) their expansion of public debates beyond the ‘jobs versus the environment’ dichotomy by incorporating potent political issues such as democratic governance and many indigenous communities’ refusal to grant consent for LNG development. This dissertation further assesses the public circulation of pro- and anti-LNG storylines by examining their impacts on the news coverage of Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG, which was once considered BC LNG’s flagship proposal. In view of these empirical findings, this study ends by reflecting upon the internal contradictions of the Canadian political economy and capitalist social reproduction’s threatening push for extreme carbon.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Shane Gunster
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Comedy as an instrument for change: A look at U.S. political television satire during the Trump presidency. -AND- Fake news: A look at deception and facts in the U.S. during the 21st century.

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-22
Abstract: 

This essay examines television satire, why and how it is used in politics, as well as its efficacy in shedding light and awareness on serious topics. Also, it explores the potential of satire to motivate people to act and influence change. The essay includes examples of satirical television since the election of President Trump up to the release of the Mueller Report using content from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and Stephen Colbert’s Late Night with Stephen Colbert. And. This essay looks at fake news in its recent evolution primarily in the United States since the turn of the 21st century, highlighting the phrase’s social construction before and after Donald Trump became president. Comparisons of modern-day fake news to media hoaxes, advertising, propaganda and public relations are outlined to provide historical perspective. Furthermore, fake news is examined using two recently published frameworks using dimensions of facticity, intention as well as mis- and disinformation. Lastly, the implications of the new fake news are explored.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Martin Laba
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.

Development through the Indigenous lens – An analysis of First Nations legal frameworks in Canada - AND - Gaming and Indigenous sovereignty discourse – Textual analysis of “invaders” by Elizabeth LaPensée

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-23
Abstract: 

Essay 1: Development is the interrelationship between and balance of three pillars namely – Economic Development, Social Development, and Environmental Development to meet the needs of present and future generations. Using the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as a case study, I examined the development philosophies of Indigenous Nations in Canada. I observed that, endogenous development is an intrinsic value of Indigenous growth. However, due to colonization and neo-colonial policies of assimilation, cultural condemnation and land dispossession in contemporary Canada, such growth and development is only possible in sovereign Indigenous Nations. I therefore explored the concept of Indigenous sovereignty in Canada using discourses analysis. By this, I identified key principles of Indigenous sovereignty – liberty, freedom, accountability, collective responsibility, and collective security. This set the framework of analysis of international (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)) as well as domestic policies (Constitution Act 1867, Societies Act of BC) that supports Indigenous sovereignty. Although, there are legal constraints with these legislations in the attainment of sovereignty, the Societies Act offers good grounds to achieve economic sovereignty and sustainable development in the short run. Essay 2: Games facilitate the transfer of knowledge and serve as a medium for knowledge production, memory development and, to some extent, ideology construction. In Indigenous societies, games are played to enhance one’s abilities, stimulate active learning, and reinforce knowledge. Within the digital spheres, games have been designed with algorithms that reinforce these characteristics and, at the same time, foreground dominant ideologies of liberalism, capitalism, and neocolonialism. To counter this tradition and centre minority interests, minoritized game developers re-engineer games to better represent their concerns. This is an interest of Indigenous game design in order to represent Indigenous epistemologies, and tell Indigenous stories using digital technologies, thereby asserting their cultural sovereignty in the digital world. By playing and analyzing the game Invaders developed by Anishinaabe game developer Elizabeth LaPensée in relation to with literature in Indigenous digital studies and gaming, this paper examines how gaming technologies are used to assert Indigenous sovereignty and epistemologies.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karrmen Crey
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.

Search (and rescue) for the ultimate selfie: How the use of social media and smartphone technology have affected human behaviour in outdoor recreation scenarios

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-07
Abstract: 

The practice of outdoor recreation was historically a form of therapy and escape from the rigors of modern industrial daily work-life, and it remains a favored pastime today, with 70% of Canadians and 91% of British Columbia residents participating in “outdoor recreation or wilderness activities”. In recent years, there is a belief that the surge in popularity of hiking is due to beautiful destinations becoming more visible on social media. Further, the proximity of urban centres like Vancouver to such destinations reassures users that the safety benefits of urban technologies including smartphones, will remain accessible and reliable throughout their outdoor exploration and that help is available in the event of an emergency. This belief has led to many instances of Search and Rescue teams being activated, which would previously have been avoided by outdoor recreation participants making different choices based on their skill and experience. The culture of outdoor recreation has therefore been increasingly affected by smartphone technology in terms of users’ risk perception while recreating outdoors.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Anderson
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Place-based redress -AND- The spectacle of reconciliation

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-28
Abstract: 

Essay 1: This essay proposes an effective strategy to confront Canada’s colonial public policy is settlers conducting place-based redress work rather than participating as allies in reconciliation. Despite the popularity of territorial acknowledgements and the performing of dialogue, the structural inequities persist in Canada. This essay brings together both autoethnographic and quantitative data on the role of accomplice work (Benally 2014) for critical interventions with settler power. Through engaged research experiences, autodidactic methods, mentorship from Elders, and participation in Coast Salish witness ceremonies, I became reflexive about my role in dominant culture’s fallacies. I need not wander far from terra nullis assumptions to discover the harmful underpinnings of an intact colonial system capturing willing participants for reconciliation’s charade of inclusivity. Essay 2: Spectacle and reconciliation serve a hegemonic role to continue Canada’s access to sovereign Indigenous Peoples’ lands and resources. As Canada sought a quick reconciliation with genocide, and marked its 150th birthday in 2017 with cultural celebrations, it relied on spectacle (Debord 1967) and Indigenous labour as audience commodity (Smythe 1981) to deliver the illusion of change. Far from bringing about national consensus to deliver rights and title, and repair settler and Indigenous relations, reconciliation instead delivered a liberal fantasy to maintain the extractive capitalist economy. This paper proposes reconciliation is a cloaking device to hide Canada’s assimilation and termination of rights agenda. With Canada’s incursions into Wet’suwet’en Nation, the lack of progress for Crown / Indigenous relations with benefits to transnational extractive capitalism has been exposed. The relation between the spectacle of reconciliation and maintaining colonialism has come increasingly into the light.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stuart Poyntz
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.

Moving towards cultural safety in mental health and addictions contracting for urban Indigenous Peoples: Lessons from British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-01-08
Abstract: 

In response to the inequities in health and health care that Indigenous communities continue to experience, governments in many countries have used contracting as a policy mechanism to improve access to culturally safe health services. Case studies from New Zealand, Australia and Canada demonstrate the equity-promoting potential of contracting-out interventions within the Indigenous primary health care (PHC) sector. At the same time, these studies have heightened concerns about the exigencies of contract reform within increasingly neo-liberal climates. To foster accountability for health equity, more needs to be known about how current contractual arrangements, intended to support Indigenous community-based systems of care, actually fit with the evolving needs, priorities and contexts of Indigenous communities in Canada. In this project, I use a qualitative design and ethnographic methods to examine urban Indigenous Providers’ experiences with contracting for culturally safe mental health and addictions care within one Canadian province, British Columbia (BC). Critical theoretical perspectives and input from Indigenous advisors informed my inquiry. In addition to a critical policy review, I conducted in-depth interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within seven Indigenous and one non-Indigenous provider organizations (n=23), including senior administrators, managers and mental health care providers. I also interviewed policy and funding decision-makers and contract managers in the area of Indigenous mental health (n=10). Examining contracting for culturally safe mental health and addictions care from the perspective of urban Indigenous Providers in BC sheds light on the ways in which current funding structures, policies and contractual approaches mediate wider ideological constraints and impinge, often inadvertently, upon organizations’ capacities to develop and effectively deliver mental health care services that safely meet the intersecting needs of their communities. Neo-liberalism, the ongoing dominance of biomedicine within the broader health care system, the legacy of colonialism, race, gender and class intersect to simultaneously reproduce, reinforce and obscure colonial and neo-colonial patterns within contractual relationships, mental health programming and care. These findings have important policy implications for funders and support the call for an alternative framework to contracting that articulates equity as an explicit dimension of accountability and Indigenous culturally safe mental health and addictions care.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Marina Morrow
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

"Capitalocene or Anthropocene?" Challenging the Marxist narrative and the science of the Anthropocene: from eco- to Anthropocene feminism

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-04
Abstract: 

Essay 1: This essay takes an approach informed by Marxist Feminism and posthuman feminism in looking at the recent discussions within Marxist Ecology with a focus on the debate between John Bellamy Foster and Jason W. Moore about the ontology of the climate crisis, expressed as contestation between the terms “Anthropocene” and “Capitalocene.” By contextualizing this debate in the works of Marxist and posthuman feminist thinkers Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, and Joanna Zylinska among others, the essay argues that while “Capitalocene” more accurately describes the forces responsible for the crisis, “Anthropocene” is still a useful critical tool for structuring humanity’s relationship with the world around us. Further it is argued that while the notion “Capitalocene” identifies the way that capitalist relations have characterized nature, we must draw on the feminist scholars who have been developing a new ethics for the Anthropocene as thinking beyond capitalism and its human-centric ontology. Essay 2: This essay looks at the narratives around “the Anthropocene,” the new geological age that many scholars argue the Earth is now in. In looking at these various discourses, with special attention paid to the narratives from scientists and those in the Anthropocene Working Group, this essay will argue that the science of “the Anthropocene” has developed as a way to legitimize capitalism and the gender and racial hierarchies that it depends on. As such, “the Anthropocene” should be developed, beyond the science, as a critical tool to think through how to live within ecological crisis. In order to do this, we should follow the posthuman feminists who have already begun this work by thinking through questions of ‘ethics’ instead of ‘value.’ By reorienting the discussions around ‘ethics,’ questions about relationships between humans and between humans and the Earth stay central to the discussion, opening us up to the new ways of organizing the world by subverting the logic of capitalism and its systemic alienation that caused ecological crisis to begin with.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Svitlana Matviyenko
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.