Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
'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

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