Bringing together the theories of cultural studies and critical pedagogy, as well as the multisensory approach to cultural production, this dissertation explores a community festival, namely, the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival in Vancouver, and its important role in the construction of pedagogical spaces, local culture, and community. Drawing from multiple sources of data generated from four years of ethnographic work between 2013 and 2017, this dissertation takes a close look at how cultural production practices and processes, embodied learning experiences, civic agency, and community building interlink and influence each other to turn the ephemeral space of a community festival into a dynamic performative space that fulfils educational, social, cultural, and personal functions. Through instances of the production of critical multiliteracies and festival participants’ active engagement, this dissertation illustrates how the Festival served as a multi-functional space, a) providing a critical pivot for civic pedagogies to rise; b) involving festival participants into relational, sensory learning and enabling them to become critical learners and cultural citizens through multimodal cultural production; and c) serving as both the medium and outcome of its participants’ engagement and their sense-making. The study offers a robust conceptualization of the community festival and creates new links between the urban festival, pedagogy, cultural production, and place-making. It also provides insights into the educative potential of the community festival as a site for critical public pedagogy.
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Thesis advisor: Moore, Daniele
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