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

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Sovereign culture: Stó:lō cultural heritage and political activism in the twentieth century

Date created: 
2018-07-16
Abstract: 

Though scholars have often perceived of sovereignty in purely territorial and capital-p political terms, this is not a useful way to understand the concept when it comes to Indigenous nations. Both earlier and certainly throughout the twentieth century, Stó:lō communities of what is now south-western British Columbia saw no distinction between the political and cultural heritage practices that affirmed their sovereign relationships with Stó:lō Téméxw, a coalescence this dissertation refers to as “cultural sovereignty.” Stó:lō practices of cultural curation—the process of taking care of tangible and intangible heritage—were deeply connected to Stó:lō political organization and territorial management throughout the twentieth century. Additionally, Stó:lō cultural sovereignty during this period sometimes manifested as a gendered phenomenon, with women and men alternately enacting cultural sovereignty in distinct ways that corresponded to Stó:lō and sometimes settler gender ideologies. Stó:lō resistance to settler colonialism was not only a protest of land acquisition, it was also an attempt to protect Stó:lō cultural heritage from settler colonial appropriation. Moreover, this dissertation contends that the settler move to appropriate Stó:lō cultural heritage must be seen as part of the colonial project of dispossession. Reconciliation in Indigenous-settler relationships, then, must include not only discussions relating to restitution of land, but also of cultural heritage. In making these arguments, this dissertation contributes to scholarly conversations about Indigenous sovereignty, cultural heritage, and Stó:lō histories, and contributes to the fields of history, Indigenous studies, and museology. Its methodological approach comes from work in Indigenous research methodology, feminist oral history, and what is being called “new ethnohistory” or community-engaged methodology. The research process itself combined archival investigation, original oral history interviews, and field work. An intersectional feminist lens framed the analysis of that research. Chapters of this dissertation examine sequential eras during the twentieth century, focusing on particular case studies to analyze changes and continuities in historical examples of Stó:lō cultural sovereignty.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mary-Ellen Kelm
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

"My Canada is yet unborn": Settler identity & ideology in the life & works of A.M. Stephen

Date created: 
2020-11-18
Abstract: 

A.M. Stephen (1882-1942) was a prominent poet, writer, and activist, working principally in British Columbia. This thesis uses his life and works—chiefly published artistic and political writings, contemporary newspapers, and archival materials collected by his wife—to explore Settler Canadian identity and ideology as he articulated it. His portrayal of Canada, its past, and Indigenous people, his work as an activist and educator, and his attitudes towards class, socialism, and imperialism, were united by an ongoing commitment to the Settler population and nation of Canada. An evolving hegemony can thus be partially reconnoitred as it was conceived and promoted by one successful figure. By placing Stephen under examination in a settler order framework, the unique value of this focus and its exploratory potential is further revealed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Leier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Bandits, neighbours, Japanese soldiers: Security threats and survival strategies in Taishan and Kaiping villages, 1937–1949

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-15
Abstract: 

To say that the familial and cultural ties that bound Chinese society were severed or weakened and that “patriotism transcended regionalism, localism, and familism” during the Resistance War, as Diana Lary claims in The Chinese People at War, is too general. Nationalism and patriotism might have been priorities for urban intellectuals and elites, but such priorities were not necessarily shared by everyone. People at the rural grassroots in southern Guangdong did not share them. This thesis argues that Siyi villagers’ survival tactics against security threats between 1937 and 1949 were borne out of self-preservation and localism, not nationalism. Based on oral interviews conducted in Hong Kong, Vancouver, and Burnaby of seniors who lived in Taishan or Kaiping villages between 1932 and 1949, this project examines the villagers’ survival tactics and motives when faced with changing security threats during the prewar, wartime, and postwar periods. Village feuds, bandits, the Japanese armed forces, food scarcity, and traditional gender roles were the most dangerous threats facing villagers. The villagers’ survival tactics reveal a pattern of independence from state institutions while relying on local and familial connections. Nationalism and patriotism did not impact Taishan and Kaiping villagers as much as localism did.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Brown
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

"Negotiating Fort Nisqually: Reconfiguring the social and environmental landscapes of the South Salish Sea, 1833-1858"

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-03-24
Abstract: 

The creation of Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Nisqually and the shift toward a land-based fur trade strategy in the 1820s and 1830s significantly altered Salish Sea social dynamics, initiated considerable environmental transformation, and eventually shaped American settlement in the region. Hudson Bay Company (HBC) employees negotiated space, resources, and cohabitation with the Squalli-absch community of Sequalitchew. Close personal relationships developed at Fort Nisqually through trade, labor, and familial connections. The fort reorganized regional exchange networks, entwining knowledge, materials, and lifeways. These developments were also closely tied to environmental change across the Salish Sea through the introduction of agriculture and other extractive industries. The establishment of the first Euro-American settlement, however, was not a harmonious middle ground; it instead required continual renegotiation in an ever-evolving social landscape. Contested expressions of sovereignty and justice complicated negotiations and occasionally led violence, which also required mediation. Endemic disease and international geopolitics also destabilized the region. When the first American settlers arrived, they lacked shipping infrastructure and were thus dependent on the HBC and Indigenous residents for supplies. Americans were initially drawn into existing exchange networks but had little leverage. The newcomers aggressively stoked expansionist sentiments and petitioned US politicians for annexation. The creation of Washington Territory in 1853 drastically expanded US economic, political, and military infrastructure. During the ensuing onslaught of immigration, territorial officials and settlers disregarded existing agreements and networks. Initially, the relationships emanating from Fort Nisqually between HBC employees and Indigenous residents mutually reinforced each other’s claims. Newcomers used economic coercion to marginalize non-Americans along with physical threats and violence attacks against Indigenous residents. Eventually the United States acquired Native title through the deceptive Medicine Creek Treaty and bought out the Hudson Bay Company claims. While the HBC left and violence continued against Indigenous communities, these networks endured and continued to shape the region.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Joseph E. Taylor III
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The discreet charm of the petty bourgeoisie: Marx, Proudhon, and the critique of political economy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-23
Abstract: 

This thesis examines Marx and Engels’s concept of the petty bourgeoisie and its application to the French socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Rather than treating the concept as purely derogatory, I show that for Marx and Engels, the petty bourgeoisie was crucial in their broader critique of political economy by embodying the contradiction between capital and labour. Because of their structural position between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie are economically, politically, and socially pulled in two separate directions––identifying with either the owners of property, with propertyless workers, or with both simultaneously. This analysis is then extended by investigating Marx’s critique of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. I argue that for Marx, Proudhon was not wrong because he was a member of the petty bourgeoisie. Rather, Proudhon mirrored the contradiction between capital and labour by attempting to steer a middle course between liberal political economy and socialism. This meant that for Marx and Engels, Proudhon’s theories were incapable of leading to a world beyond capitalism, a point that activists today may find useful.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Leier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Dumping like a state: An environmental history of the City of Vancouver Landfill in Delta, 1958–1981

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-04
Abstract: 

In 1966, the City of Vancouver opened a new landfill in Burns Bog, in the nearby municipality of Delta. This is an environmental history of its creation and first sixteen years of operation. Although the landfill resembled other high modernist projects in postwar Canada, this thesis argues it is best understood as an example of “mundane modernism.” The landfill’s planning and operation aligned with broader contemporary American and Canadian practices of cost-effective waste disposal. It was an unspectacular project to which Deltans offered little initial resistance. Officials therefore had no need to demonstrate technoscientific expertise to manufacture citizens' consent. Yet the landfill soon posed environmental nuisances and hazards to Delta’s residents, including leachate, the liquid waste a landfill produces. Although Deltans mounted some protests, the mutually beneficial relationship between the municipalities of Delta and Vancouver protected the landfill’s operators from the consequences of mismanagement and allowed that mismanagement to continue throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This thesis suggests that further scholarly attention be paid to the history of solid waste management in Canada, and especially to specific sites such as the Burns Bog landfill.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tina Adcock
Joseph Taylor III
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Academic Philosophy, the University, and the Politics of Knowledge in Modern Iran

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-03-25
Abstract: 

This thesis inquires into the relationship between academic philosophy and the development of an Iranian state in the twentieth century. It traces the introduction and utilization of Western philosophy within mainly modern academic institutions by state-employed academic philosophers, beginning in the Nasseri era and as a response to European encroachments. Based, in the main, on the prosopography and textual sources of successive generations of Iranian academic philosophers, this thesis contextualizes the process through which Western academic philosophy began as an ingredient in the comprehension of a superior mode of knowledge in the Reza Shah period, became part of a dialectic for the progression of knowledge in the Mohammad Reza Shah period, and eventually ended up the validator of an independent and national epistemology in the Republican period. In particular, through translation and training, the academics that introduced Western works of philosophy into Farsi imprinted an Islamic affinity on them. Thus, Western philosophy was understood through the lens of Islamic philosophy in a relational manner that influenced subsequent research and instruction of philosophy at the University of Tehran leading to the observation that Islamic philosophy never left Iran’s intellectual space. Furthermore, academic philosophy came to be understood as a tool and an object in modern Iran leading to its instrumentalization and politicization. Consequently, academic philosophy was employed as the rational medium in acculturation and nationalism as Iran transitioned to a modern state. Selective works of Western philosophy were interpreted and promoted based on Iran’s relationship to its benefactor, alternating between Britain and the United States in the twentieth-century. This thesis argues that the generation-based, intellectual product of this selective process of conformity and contestation manifests in three periods of philosophical orientation leading to the politicization of philosophy in twentieth-century Iran. These periods produced academics that were engaged, in the main, in what I refer to as the philosophies of the reform movement (roshangarai), the philosophies of Westoxication (gharbzadegi), and the philosophies of hybridity (zu-janbatin). In a little more than a hundred years since its first translation into Farsi, Western philosophy had become a political instrument of the state.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Derryl MacLean
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Choosing “Hell”: Family migrants from Shandong and Manchukuo’s food rationing system in Harbin, 1942-1944

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-17
Abstract: 

This study examines the relationship between migrations from Shandong between 1942 and 1944 and Manchukuo’s food rationing system and the impact of rationing on the everyday life of migrants after their settlement in Harbin, the regional centre of North Manchukuo. Although Manchukuo’s food rationing policies discriminated against Chinese residents by providing them with inferior grains in insufficient quantities, they were nonetheless an impetus rather than an obstacle to migration from Shandong, especially to those who had family and relatives living in Manchukuo. After settling in Harbin, migrants still faced issues related to food because the Manchukuo government revised its food policies and reduced quotas. Moreover, they also faced urban population evacuations and vagrant sweeping campaigns designed to serve the needs of the Japanese empire. Therefore, migrants living in Harbin either purchased grain illegally or left the city as strategies for coping with Manchukuo policies that were unfavourable to them. Employing such theoretical frameworks as “extraordinary everydayness” and a grassroots approach and drawing from oral interviews conducted in Harbin, this project emphasizes the interaction between the state (Manchukuo) and commoners (Shandong migrants). It also emphasizes how Shandong migrants perceived and reacted to Japanese dominion in Manchuria, with a particular focus on the coping strategies they employed to maximize their chances of survival. This thesis argues that although Shandong migrants faced ethnically discriminatory wartime food policies in Manchukuo, they developed different strategies to ensure their survival after settlement, and many migrated voluntarily rather than as a result of Japan’s forced labour policy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Brown
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

“When Blue is Green”: Towards a history of workers as environmentalists in British Columbia and beyond

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-03
Abstract: 

This dissertation examines the history of working-class environmentalism. It investigates the relationship between work and the environment and between workers and environmentalists. It presents five case studies that focus on the relationship between workers and the environment in British Columbia from the 1930s to the present, with particular emphasis on the forestry industry. Each case study examines how the interests of workers both intersect and conflict with the interests of environmentalists and how this intersection of interests presented itself throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Additionally, this dissertation examines how the working class has historically been constructed as the adversary of nature or wilderness and aims to explore how the working class, resource workers in particular, have come to symbolize that adversarial relationship. As well, it hopes to answer more epistemological questions about why working class environmentalism has not entered our lexicon and how lacking a sense of the working-class environmentalist serves to shape a discourse in which the history of worker environmentalism has been largely passed over. This study also explores how the collective memory of environmentalism has been constructed to exclude notions of class, and thus how environmentalism and the working class have been constructed as mutually exclusive categories. While this dissertation explores the exclusion of working class environmentalism it also attempts to write the worker-environmentalist back into history and show how teaching working class and labour history can help remedy this exclusion.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Leier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Monuments and the margins: Old age and memories of Scottish Jacobitism in the epitaph of Marjory Scott, 1700-1900

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-25
Abstract: 

In c. 1728, the Edinburgh poet Alexander Pennecuik (1684-1730) published an epitaph on the centenarian Marjory Scott of Dunkeld. Over the next two centuries, this text was widely circulated in a variety of media. This thesis argues that the Scott epitaph functioned as a textual monument to the anti-Union and Jacobite politics of Pennecuik’s day, over a period when Jacobite memory was delimited and trivialised in the public sphere. Close study of the epitaph’s original context and its transmission reveals such sources of memory to be highly portable and also flexible, suitable to the heterogeneous identities and memories of Scottish people. As a tribute to a centenarian, the epitaph further opens up an exploration of old age as a conduit for diverse memories and as a multivalent symbol of Scottish identity.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Aaron Windel
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.