Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Role of Consumption in Canada’s Economic Sustainability
This thesis addresses the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. There is evidence from the Canadian experience that market economies are extremely dependent upon consumption - the most significant factor in determining the overall level of economic activity and economic growth. Therefore, from this perspective, several periods of declining consumption would create a ‘vicious cycle’ [Kaldor, 1967] of economic decline that would be politically unsustainable. The analysis here shows that income inequality drives changes in debt-fueled consumption, and consequently, debt influences consumption. The role of income inequality as a mediating channel of sustainability via the borrowing/lending model presents evidence that ‘conventional’ debt servicing behaviour in the macro-economy can support steady-state economic growth that is, in economic terms, sustainable. Solving the conflict between the environment and the economy lies in private and public investments in new technologies and, most importantly, new social institutions that facilitate economic, political, and environmental, sustainability. Author Keywords: Consumption, Economic Growth, Household Debt, Income Inequality, Sustainability
Making Mockeries, Making Connections
Parody has been a strategy within cultural production since the ancient Greeks: “paraodia” referred to a song sung alongside the main narrative thread of a dramatic work; the prefix “para-” also signifies “against.” In A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-century Art Forms, Linda Hutcheon offers this core definition: parody is “a form of repetition with ironic critical distance, marking difference rather than similarity … [with] tension between the potentially conservative effect of repetition and the potentially revolutionary impact of difference” (xii). This and other aspects of Hutcheon’s theory guide my interpretations of works by three contemporary artists working in Canada: Sybil Lamb’s novel I’ve Got a Time Bomb; Ursula Johnson’s (Mi’kmaq) three-part exhibition Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember); and Kent Monkman’s (Cree and Irish) exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. I argue that the presence of parodic elements in these artists’ works enables them to do two things: to claim spaces that enable recognition of their subject positions, and to critique an aspect of hegemonic norms in contemporary society. I read Lamb’s novel as a critique of the heteronormative gender binary via parody of the picaresque genre and of heteronormative discourse/language. Certain pieces in Monkman’s exhibition parody the epistemological and display strategies of traditional Eurocentric anthropological museums and archives, as can Johnson’s work; her sculptural-installations may also be read as parodying the traditions of Mi’kmaw basket-making. The work of both artists critiques colonial narratives that sought (and may still seek) to denigrate and/or erase Indigenous peoples; such narratives of cultural genocide were both tacitly and directly propagated by museums. I analyze these three artists’ works, considering key features of parody (ambiguity; irony and “double-voicedness”; trans-contextualization; and humour), and their effects (defamiliarization; ontological instability; complicity; and laughter). Parody challenges the post-structuralist emphasis on the “decoder,” (viewer/reader) reinstating the “encoder” (artist/author) as agent. Decoders recognize their complicity within the context of the hegemonic narrative, whether the heteronormative gender binary or colonialism, and may come to shift perception – as per Hutcheon’s “potentially revolutionary impact.” Author Keywords: contemporary art, Indigenous art, museum history, parody, picaresque, transgender literature
Instabilities in the Identity of an Artistic Tradition as "Persian," “Islamic," and “Iranian” in the Shadow of Orientalism
This dissertation is a critical review of the discursive formation of Islamic art in the twentieth century and the continuing problems that the early categorization of this discipline carries. It deals with the impact of these problems on the conceptualization of another category, Persian art. The subject is expounded by three propositions. First, the category of Islamic art was initially a product of Orientalism formulated regardless of the indigenous/Islamic knowledge of art. Second, during the early period when art historians examined different theoretical dimensions for constructing an aesthetic of Islamic art in the West, they imposed a temporal framework on Islamic art in which excluded the non-traditional and contemporary art of Islamic countries. Third, after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian scholars eventually imposed academic authority over the discipline of Persian/Islamic art, they adopted the same inadequate methodologies that were initially used in some of the early studies on the art of the Muslims. These propositions are elaborated by examples from twentieth-century Iranian movements in painting, The Coffeehouse Painting and The School of Saqqakhaneh, and the incident of swapping Willem de Kooning’s painting Woman III with the dismembered manuscript of the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp in 1994. The conceptualization of Islamic art as a discipline is also discussed in relation to the twentieth-century cultural context of Iran. The argument is divided into three chapters in relation to three important historical moments in the history of contemporary Iran: The Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911), the modernization of Iran (1925-1975), and the Islamic Revolution (1979-onward). The formation of the discourse of Islamic art is the fruit of nineteenth-century Orientalism. Out of this discourse, Persian art as a modern discourse addressing the visual culture of Pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran came into being. I claim that after the Islamic Revolution, Iranian academics demonstrate a theoretical loyalty to the early theorizations of Islamic/Persian art. By this token, visual signs are given a meta-signified in the narrative of Islamic art. The ontological definition of this meta-signified is subjected to the dominant ideology, which determines how different centers of meaning should come into being and disappear. In the post-Revolution academia, the center is construed as the transcendental signified. Such inherence resulted in a fallacy in the reading of the Persian side of Islamic art, to which I refer as the “signification fallacy.” The dissertation draws on the consequences of this fallacy in the critique of Islamic art. Keywords: Persian art, Islamic art, Iranian art; Persian classical literature, Narrative. Image, Representation, Aniconism, Abstraction, Modernity, Tradition, Orientalism, The Constitutional Revolution, Modernization, The Islamic Revolution. Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, The Coffeehouse Painting, The School of Saqqakhaneh; Modernism: Woman III. Author Keywords: Iranian Art, Islamic Art, Orientalism, Persian Art, The Constitutional Revolution, The Islamic Revolution
Remembering the "Home" through YouTube Cooking Videos
This thesis examines how food, culture and identity are linked to the idea of "home." Through a reading of oral narratives produced on the YouTube channel "ShowMetheCurry," I investigate how presenters Anuja and Hetal "write back" from a diasporic space in Texas, to the YouTube global public, and how food and cuisine, even in the age of globalization can be problematic in terms of representation of identities, work and space. I explore how the YouTube videos operate as a heterotopia, as what is presented to the audience in this medium is an embedding of spaces. The space that is projected through "ShowMetheCurry," that of Anuja and Hetal's own home kitchen, is then projected and viewed within the audiences' own spaces, in various locations around the world. What connects these spaces is an interest in cooking, and a longing to satiate culinary nostalgia. Author Keywords: Affect, Culinary nostalgia, Discourse analysis, Food culture, South Asian Diaspora, YouTube
This research explores the obstacles Jordan is facing regarding the sustainable treatment and reuse of wastewater in the agricultural sector. It assesses the technical, socio-cultural, and political aspects of decision-making around water and wastewater management in Jordan by focusing on a case study involving wastewater usage in the Jordan Valley. It includes a literature review and interviews with representatives of key stakeholders. While at one level wastewater treatment is a technical process with technological solutions, a nuanced understanding of the non-technical challenges facing the wastewater treatment sector in Jordan is necessary. These challenges are inherently embedded in and contextualized by a series of historical, complex and dynamic political and socio-cultural issues involving stakeholders at local and national levels. Only through an interdisciplinary approach with real stakeholder engagement will meaningful solutions to these challenges be developed and implemented, and at least a portion of Jordan's water needs be meaningfully addressed. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Jordan Valley, Political challenges, Sociocultural challenges, Technical challenges, wastewater management
Critical Topographies of two films
The following thesis is a work in Critical Topography that choses as its site of study two documentary films. The films being studied are El Sol del Membrillo by Victor Erice and Rivers and Tides by Thomas Riedelsheimer. My approach to critical topography in the thesis is twofold: first, I have traced the topical motifs that have appeared to me as I looked at the two films; second, I have translated the films into writing –with the purpose of creating a sourcebook for my analysis- thus bounding the visual content of the films into the delineated space of the written word. I have sought in my analysis to make visible the numerous conceptual, aesthetic, and philosophical notions that are repeated in each film. These notions include materiality, formal operations, temporality, memory, and failure. All of which are ideas that find expression - despite their significant differences - in both documentary films. Author Keywords: Art, Critical Topography, Film Studies, Land Art, Painting, Time
Laughing to be Citizens
This study will focus on how immigrants from Sub Saharan African (SSA) countries use humour as a tool for integration and belonging (and ultimately citizenship) in Canada. My aim is to investigate, through a detailed analysis of popular culture productions from immigrant communities, the strategies and techniques of humour that immigrants employ as a mode of communication with fellow immigrants, their immediate host community and the governmental authorities of Canada. I am particularly interested in how African immigrants use their oral background and cultural memory in the production of jokes and other humour products as a way of interacting, first with fellow immigrants as the primary audience and recipients of the humour and, second, with Canadian society at large. Using the ‘Signifying’ theory of Henry Louis Gates (1988) and Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1968) concept of the “Carnivalesque” as the theoretical framework for this study, I argue that immigrants from SSA countries are using humour to question hegemonic regulations that portrays them as victims, while providing alternative narratives of themselves as subjects with human agency. I further postulate that immigrants are taking advantage of the policy of multiculturalism that exists in Canada in a positive manner as an enabler for their humour. In turn, they are using the humour produced to communicate and break down social barriers, while building bridges across communities and social strata. I bolster my arguments with a consideration of humour in three genres of popular culture – literature, standup comedy and film – to show how immigrants rely on their home culture to produce humour in an effort to find belonging in Canada as contributors rather than victims. This thesis is the first work to examine SSA humour, produced by immigrants from these countries, in the context of their immigration and integration into Canada, and the first to present extended literary criticism of the works of immigrant writers, Tololwa Mollel, Yabome Gilpin-Jackson and Segun Akinlolu. This is also the first study on the comedy of Arthur Simeon, originally from Uganda and the film of Phina Brooks, originally from Nigeria. My analysis apprehends the immigrant voice in the writings and productions of these artists and places their works in conversation with Canadian literary/cultural criticism. Until now, there has been no study of the function of humour produced by African immigrants in Canada. It is my hope that this study will not only fill that gap, but also lay the groundwork for future study in this field that I believe holds a lot of socio-cultural promise, especially in the area of cohesive habitation amongst different ethnic groups. This study aims to contribute to conversations on immigration and its impact on Canadian society as part of nation-building and national consciousness. Author Keywords: African Stand up Comedy, Humour, Immigration, Multiculturalism, Popular Culture, Postcolonialism
Engaging the Unwritten Text
This study is an attempt to look at how orality plays a role in modern society to move people to action in a social engineering process. By examining the theories for the formation of publics as outlined by Jurgen Habermas and Michael Warner, I argue for the existence of an oral public and further show that it can be engineered with some of the tools provided. This theoretical foundation provides a pathway for a thorough examination of orality as a tool for social engineering and shows how the practices moved the people in the past. In this study, I posit that the oral traditions are still alive and well in modern times and still function as a tool for moving people to social action. To achieve this, orality makes use of popular culture. This study examines elements of popular culture with a view to unearthing the presence of oral modes and how they are still carrying on the same function of social engineering in a modern society. This study concludes by positioning orality as a relevant tool for social engineering in modern Nigerian society and affirms that it is still relevant in the areas of politics, literature and cultural productions with possibilities yet untapped in the area of digital technology. Author Keywords: Nigeria, Orality, Popular culture, Publics, Public Sphere, Social Engineering
Comparative Evaluation of Effective Population Size Genetic Estimation Methods in Wild Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) Populations
Effective population size (Ne) is a key concept in population genetics, evolutionary biology and conservation biology that describes an important facet of genetic diversity and the capacity of populations to respond to future evolutionary pressures. The importance of Ne in management and conservation of wild populations encouraged the development of numerous genetic estimators which rely on a variety of methods. Despite the number and diversity of available Ne methods, however, tests of estimator performance have largely relied on simulations, with relatively few tests based on empirical data. I used well-studied wild populations of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Algonquin Park, Ontario as a model system to assess the comparative performance of multiple Ne estimation methods and programs, comparing the resultant Ne estimates against demographic population size estimates. As a first step, the genetic diversity and ancestry of wild brook trout populations was determined using 14 microsatellite loci. Genetic structure of brook trout populations showed variable contributions from historical supplemental stocking and also identified localized gene pools within and between watersheds, reflecting variable levels of connectivity and gene flow. Once the genetic ancestry and connectivity of populations had been resolved, single sample (point) and two samples (temporal) genetic estimators were used to estimate Ne of populations with pure native ancestry. Values obtained from genetic estimators utilizing both methods were variable within as well as among populations. Single sample (point) estimators were variable within individual populations, but substantially less than was observed among the temporal methods. The ratios of Ne to the estimated demographic population size (N) in small populations were substantially higher than in larger populations. Variation among estimates obtained from the different methods reflects varying assumptions that underlay the estimation algorithms. This research further investigated the effect of sampling effort and number of microsatellite loci used on Ne values obtained using the linkage disequilibrium (LD) estimation method. Ne estimates varied substantially among values generated from subsets of loci and genotyped individuals, highlighting the necessity for proper sampling design for efforts aiming to measure Ne. Despite the variation observed among and within estimation methods, the Ne concept is a valuable for the conservation and management of both exploited and endangered species. Author Keywords: Brook Trout, Effective population size, Genetic Diversity, Genetic Structure
"Changing our community"
Community-based research (CBR) is a method of discovery that can provide pragmatic methods of advocating for and enabling community change. CBR literature and practice has focused on securing educational and job skills training outcomes for students rather than the communities, and community outcomes CBR and partnership frameworks were truly meant to serve. This research evaluates the effectiveness of a research brokering organization, and the community outcomes that can be meaningfully related back to established partnerships and research. A linked contribution and realist evaluation were employed to consider the contributions of U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research to capacity building in Haliburton County, for host organizations, local municipalities and the public. A community survey (n=65), interviews with past project hosts and management committee members (n=26) anecdotal project exploration, internal document review, and participant observation from living in the region and working within the organization, offers qualitative and quantitative data to support this contribution narrative, while also theorizing key factors for developing projects with high contribution potential. Five key factors were found which can act as both contexts and mechanisms of community-based research mobilization: relevance, relationships, resources, rigour and reach. Author Keywords: capacity building, community, community-based research, contribution analysis, evaluations, research impact
Technology of Consent
The 1980s in the United States have come into focus as years of extensive ideological and socioeconomic fracture. A conservative movement arose to counter the progressive gains of previous decades, neoliberalism became the nation’s economic mantra, and détente was jettisoned in favour of military build-up. Such developments materialized out of a multitude of conflicts, a cultural crisis of ideas, perspectives, and words competing to maintain or rework the nation’s core structures. In this dissertation I argue that alongside these conflicts, a crisis over technology and its ramifications played a crucial role as well, with the American public grasping for ways to comprehend a nascent technoculture. Borrowing from Andrew Feenberg, I define three broad categories of popular conceptualization used to comprehend a decade of mass technical and social transformations: the instrumental view, construing technology as a range of efficient tools; the substantive view, insisting technology is an environment that determines its subjects; and a critical approach, which recognizes the capacity for technology to shape subjects, but also its potential to aid new social agendas. Using Feenberg’s categories as interpretive lenses, I foreground these epistemologies in three of the decade’s most popular formations of literary science fiction (sf), and describe the broader discourses they participated in: military sf is connected to military strategy and weapons development (instrumental), cyberpunk to postmodernism and posthumanism (substantive), and feminist sf to feminist theory and politics (critical). These were not just discursive trajectories, I claim, but vital contributors to the material construction of what Antonio Gramsci would call hegemonic and counterhegemonic formations. While the instrumental paradigm was part of the decade’s prevailing hegemonic make-up, substantive and critical discourses offered an alternative to the reality of cowboy militarism and unchecked technological expansion. By engaging with the decade’s texts—from There Will Be War to RoboCop to “A Cyborg Manifesto”—I hope to illuminate what I call the technology of consent, the significance of technological worldviews for modern technocultures, where such views are consented to by subaltern groups, and at the same time the existence of consent itself as a kind of complex social technology in the first place. Author Keywords: American History, Discourse, Hegemony, Science Fiction, Technoculture, Technology
Struggling for a New Left
This study examines the emergence of the New Left organization, The New Tendency, in Windsor, Ontario during the 1970s. The New Tendency, which developed in a number of Ontario cities, represents one articulation of the Canadian New Left’s turn towards working-class organizing in the early 1970s after the student movement’s dissolution in the late 1960s. Influenced by dissident Marxist theorists associated with the Johnson-Forest Tendency and Italian workerism, The New Tendency sought to create alternative forms of working-class organizing that existed outside of, and often in direct opposition to, both the mainstream labour movement and Old Left organizations such as the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party. After examining the roots of the organization and the important legacies of class struggle in Windsor, the thesis explores how The New Tendency contributed to working-class self activity on the shop-floor of Windsor’s auto factories and in the community more broadly. However, this New Left mobilization was also hampered by inner-group sectarianism and a rapidly changing economic context. Ultimately, the challenges that coincided with The New Tendency’s emergence in the 1970s led to its dissolution. While short-lived, the history of the Windsor branch of The New Tendency helps provide valuable insight into the trajectory of the Canadian New Left and working-class struggle in the 1970s, highlighting experiences that have too often been overlooked in previous scholarship. Furthermore, this study illustrates the transnational development of New Left ideas and organizations by examining The New Tendency’s close connections to comparable groups active in manufacturing cities in Europe and the United States; such international relationships and exchanges were vital to the evolution of autonomist Marxism around the world. Finally, the Windsor New Tendency’s history is an important case study of the New Left’s attempts to reckon with a transitional moment for global capitalism, as the group’s experiences coincided with the Fordist accord’s death throes and the beginning of neoliberalism’s ascendancy. Author Keywords: Autonomist Marxism, Canada, Labour, New Left, Rank-and-file Organizing, Working-Class History


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