Graduate Theses & Dissertations

'This is where the poetry comes out'
Since 1984, poetry slams have emerged as a politicized expressive movement of performing the personal and political through poetry competitions. Slams are also discursively spatialized, often represented as “spaces” that are “safe,” “inclusive,” etc. In this thesis, I investigate how, why, and to what effect the Peterborough Poetry Slam produces, consolidates, and challenges such “resistant spaces.” Drawing on interviews and participant observation, I consider how the slam’s reiterative practices facilitate its space-making by encouraging performances that resist, reimagine, and sometimes inadvertently reify dominant societal norms. I argue that this space-making is imperfect yet productive: though not resistant space in any straightforward or static way, the slam continuously produces possibilities to challenge norms and confront power. This thesis contributes to scholarship on performative space and creative resistance movements. In an era when political resistance to power structures is often silenced, this research offers insights of potential significance to other resistant space-makings. Author Keywords: Nogojiwanong Peterborough, performative space, poetry slam, resistance, space-making, spoken word
Making home and making welcome
This thesis documents an oral history of the New Canadians Centre, the only immigrant-serving organization in Peterborough, Ontario. This case study builds on scholarship that critically examines immigrant settlement work in Canada. Drawing on interviews and archival research, and employing the analytical concept of home, I investigate how differently-located actors have practiced home and welcome in Peterborough in the context of settlement work. I demonstrate how the New Canadians Centre’s work consolidated as well as challenged normative discourses of home that disadvantage racialized new immigrants and privilege white settlers represented as “host.” I argue that this false binary between immigrant and host is harmful, inadequate in accounting for the complexities of people’s lives, and easily reinforced in settlement work without efforts to challenge it. I conclude that accountability to power in settlement work is crucial to envisioning a more inclusive welcome and a more just home in Peterborough and Canada. Author Keywords: home, immigrant settlement sector, migration, oral history, Peterborough, welcome
That '70s Strike Support
This thesis examines three Ontario strikes during the 1970s: the Dare Foods, Ltd. strike in Kitchener, Ontario, 1972-1973; the Puretex Knitting Company strike in Toronto, 1978-1979; and the Inco strike in Sudbury, 1978-1979. These strikes highlight gender issues in the Canadian food production, textile, and mining industries in the 1970s, industries that were all markedly different in size and purpose, yet equally oppressive towards working women for different reasons, largely based on the regional character of each city the strikes took place in. In Kitchener, the women’s movement worked closely with the Dare union local and the left to mobilize against the company and grappled with the difficulties of framing women’s inequality within the labour movement. At Puretex, immigrant women workers were subject to electronic surveillance as a form of worker control, and a left-wing nationalist union needed to look outside of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) for allies in strike action. At Inco, an autonomous women’s group formed separate from the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) but struggled to overcome a negative perception of women’s labour activism in Sudbury. Ultimately, these strikes garnered a wide variety of support from working women and feminist groups, who often built or had pre-existing relationships with Canadian and American trade unions as well as the left-wing milieu of the 1970s. This thesis uses these strikes as case studies to argue that despite the complicated and at times uneven relationship between feminism, labour, and the left in the 1970s, feminist and left-wing strike support was crucial in sustaining rank-and-file militancy throughout the decade and stimulating activist careers for women in the feminist movement, in unions, and on the left. Author Keywords: 1970s, feminism, labour, left-wing, militancy, working-class
Workplace Bullying in Ontario Healthcare Settings
This thesis builds on scholarship that highlights how expected gender roles serve to both normalize and obscure forms of violence and hostility in health care workplaces. An analysis of 25 labour arbitrations involving cases of bullying reveals how gender relations is a factor in these grievances and relevant policies in Ontario health care facilities. Reinforced by underlying expectations around women as nurturing and men as aggressive, responses to bullying are found to reflect and reproduce embedded gendered power inequalities in labour. While bullying in the workplace is often treated in policy discussions as an individual and identity-neutral phenomenon, this research provides evidence to the contrary. As a consequence, we must interrogate existing legislation and policies, asking how we can develop approaches that account for, respond to, and mitigate the causes of bullying rooted in unequal power relations, including gendered ones. Author Keywords: gender, health care, labour arbitration, policy, workplace bullying, workplace harassment
“At least I can feel like I’ve done my job as a mom”
This study examines the household foodwork of low-income mothers in Peterborough, Ontario and considers how community food initiatives (CFIs) such as community gardens and good food box programs can support these women in their efforts to feed their families adequately. I draw on multiple data sources: interviews with representatives from Peterborough CFIs; interviews with and illustrations by 21 local low-income mothers; debrief sessions following participants’ tours of CFIs; and my ongoing involvement with two local food networks. The mothers’ extensive foodwork considerations, strategies, and struggles reflect an engagement with three main ideals that are placed further out of reach through poverty and food insecurity. Women experienced pressure through these ideals: the “good mother,” to take primary responsibility for their children’s well-being through food; the “good consumer,” to participate in society as individual consumers; and the “good food program participant,” to avoid indications of over-reliance on food programs. Each ideal reflects the neoliberal exaltation of self-sufficiency and its flipside, the vilification of dependence. The research results highlight the need for CFIs to focus on the broader, systemic discursive and material challenges that can hamper the foodwork of all low-income mothers, in addition to addressing the immediate needs of their own participants. Towards this goal, Peterborough CFIs employ principles of universality, social inclusion, democratic processes, and broadening of social imaginaries. In their efforts, CFIs must navigate between cultivating collectivity and interdependence on the one hand, and engaging with this familiar, individualizing neoliberal ethos on the other hand. This study provides insights about the subjectivities of low-income mothers that may be useful for CFI programming as well as more analytic examinations of the role and impact of CFIs. It also reveals the common feminization, devaluation, and under resourcing of the food-related work of both mothers and CFIs. In doing so, the study points to the urgent need for broad dialogue and political action regarding poverty, dependence, caring labour, and the roles of citizens and the state in ensuring that households can adequately feed themselves. Author Keywords: Community Food Initiatives, Community Food Programs, Domestic Labour, Food Insecurity, Gendering of Caring Labour, Household Food Work

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Format: 2021/03/02