The river carries that which the mountains cannot hold: A series of geophilosophical experiments with the Fraser River

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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This dissertation is divided into two parts. In part I the argument is put forward that the ideas and practices informing life and work (with a special focus upon work within the human services industries, including education) must emerge from and find ways to return to the specific relational and ecological assemblages that include the land, air, and water with which we live and work. The term geophilosophy is explored to help unpack such an assemblage of land and thought, ecology and history. In Part II of this thesis the reader is invited into a succession of explorations with a geophilosophy. These explorations involve a kind of pilgrimage with a river, in particular with the Fraser River – a geological entity with which the author has close personal ties. In articulating the concept of geophilosophy, the author takes guidance from a diverse group of thinkers, such as: Deleuze and Guattari, Gregory Bateson, Lynn Hoffman, Jacques Derrida, Tompson Highway, John Kelley, Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, Dianne Chisholm, Brian Massumi, Eduardo Galeano, and Bruce Alexander. Part II of this geophilosophical journey involves two forms of chapters. First, there is what the author calls the Dérive-Prayer, a process which requires travel with the river accompanied by a series of reflective essays focusing upon the relations that emerge between a specific location along the river and spiritual, political, and ecological realities that also come to life within the same area of the river. Secondly, there is a series of essays that the author describes as Experiments – these are geophilosophical experiments. Significant philosophical concepts are tied to the geographies connected with the river. This pilgrimage with the Fraser River watershed follows a particular path -- beginning at Sts’ailes First Nation and moving upstream along the Fraser’s watershed, through Kamloops, the Thompson and the North Thompson Rivers, all the way to the Fraser’s headwaters at the continental divide. The Fraser is then followed downstream through its Eastern reaches, past the Cariboo, past the town of Lillooet, through the Fraser Canyon and the Fraser Valley, rolling on through Vancouver and into the Salish Sea. This pilgrimage ends in the same place the river begins, far out in the cold waters of the Pacific. This study is seen as having an ontological focus in that it attempts to open-up possible worlds in which those who recognize their relations with these geographies can learn to live and take action. Such ontological unfoldings hold much diverse relevance for the assortments of living beings who reside with the river, and it holds particular relevance for those of us who work within the various human service industries connected with these lands. The author offers this work as a form of contemplative inquiry placed philosophically before the creation of ethical imperatives, yet after, or in the midst of, its ontological unfolding.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Bai, Heesoon
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