Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Dissent Denied
In June 2010, the Group of Twenty (G20) met in Toronto, Ontario. The summit drew large-scale protests that culminated in mass arrests and extensive civil rights violations. Given these outcomes, this thesis examines the security spectacle of the summit to assess the evolving state of public order policing and social movement protest in Canadian law and politics. Connecting the securitization of the summit to the politics of neoliberalism, I argue these overlapping forces helped foment the criminalization of political dissent during the 2010 Toronto G20. Author Keywords: mega-events, neoliberalism, public order policing, securitization, security, social movements
Active Neighbourhoods Canada
This research considers the historic context of power that planning operates within, and looks at the ways in which certain community members are marginalized by traditional planning processes. Participatory planning, which has theoretical roots in communicative planning theory, may have the potential to shift the legacy of power and marginalization within planning processes, resulting in improved planning outcomes, more social cohesion, and a higher quality of urban life. I used a community-based research approach to evaluate approaches to participatory urban planning in Peterborough, Ontario. I worked with a community-based active transportation planning project called the Stewart Street Active Neighbourhoods Canada project. This thesis evaluates the participatory planning approaches employed in the project, and determines if they are effective methods of engaging marginalized community members in planning. The research also identifies the professional benefits of participatory planning, and examines the barriers and enablers to incorporating participatory approaches into municipal planning processes. Finally, I developed a set of recommendations to implement participatory planning approaches more broadly in the city of Peterborough, Ontario. Author Keywords: active transportation, communicative planning theory, community-based research, community engagment, participatory planning, public participation
An Analysis of Zoning By-laws and Urban Agriculture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario
Urban agriculture (UA) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian cities. Despite this municipal zoning by-laws often do not address UA explicitly. Using eleven interviews of urban agricultural participants a case study of the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws and the barriers they might present to UA was conducted. Research suggests that UA can provide many benefits to urban areas. The analysis found that the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws do not directly address UA. In order to enable the development of UA in the City of Peterborough its zoning by-laws will need to be redesigned to address and regulate UA directly. Author Keywords: By-laws, food systems, land use, municipal planning, urban agriculture, zoning
Robert Bringhurst and Polyphonic Poetry
Robert Bringhurst states that polyphonic art is a faithful, artistic reflection of the multiplicity of the world’s ecosystems. This ecocritical perspective recognizes that human art informs our understandings of the world, and therefore artists have a moral obligation towards that world. In Chapter One I argue that mimesis should be reclaimed as a useful literary category since all art, regardless of intentions, has an effect on both culture and the natural world. In Chapter Two I argue that by reconnecting publishing craft and philosophy, our books can serve to bring us more in tune with the structures of the natural world. I conclude in Chapter Three by asking how a counterpublic consciousness can be cultivated, and how Bringhurst’s mission of transforming culture might be fully realized. Altogether, this view of literature offers an antidote to Western culture’s destructive tendencies towards the natural world. Author Keywords: Bringhurst, ecocriticism, mimesis, poetry, polyphony, typography
On (Digital) Photographic Image-Objects
On the first page of the much read, Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes reveals his motive: “I was overcome by an “ontological” desire: I wanted to learn at all costs what Photography was “in itself,” by what essential feature it was to be distinguished from the community of images.” The impetus of this thesis might be called a Barthesian desire to learn what distinguishes digital photographic images from all other photographic images. Throughout, I ask: what is a digital image? The first exploratory turn reflects upon photographs and touch. While photographs are objects that are both touched and touching, digital images are inscrutable data assemblages that resist touch and are predisposed to speed. Digital images cannot be touched, yet are responsive to touch. Through the mediating magic of touch sensitive glass, we command digital images to move. Chapter two considers prevailing late twentieth century theory on the digital photograph that claims the eclipse of film by digital imaging will render [digital] photographs totally unreliable documents. The results have been surprising; although suspicion about digital image bodies has crept into the cultural psychological fabric, I argue that we still believe in the basic veracity of [digital] photographic images. Finally, I turn my attention to the objecthood of digital imageobjects in a discussion of the widely unacknowledged materiality of data. Digital image-objects—those speedy, untouchable, dubious, things—are heavy. The weight of their bodies moving in the vast—unseen—global technological infrastructure is the burden of my final reflection. Author Keywords: death of film, digital materiality, digital photographic realism, ontology of the image, philosophy of photography, photography after photography
Understanding the Role of Lived Experience in Community Leaders’ Vision and Governance of Economic Development and Sustainability in Rurally Situated Small Cities
Sustainable development is normative - making decisions in the present that construct the experience of place for the future. It is primarily driven by global measures developed to meet the needs of the present while ensuring future generations can meet their own needs. These measures attempt to balance economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental stewardship in many nations. This attempt to balance a plurality of outcomes creates socio-political tensions in choosing between alternatives. These barriers and tensions are characterized through the neoclassical vision of: economics as a science, utility maximization, and alienation of people. This thesis explores the lived experience of community leaders in Peterborough, Ontario as they navigate a contentious and current debate of where to relocate a casino in the region. The results focus on the tension experienced by community leaders as they seek to balance elements of care, while preserving neoclassical values of growth, individualism, freedom of choice, and interconnectedness. The thesis concludes with a model that works towards an understanding of the role of lived experience in economic development decision-making in rurally situated small cities, and recommendations for further research and policy recommendations. Author Keywords: economic development, governance, lived experience, small city, sustainable development, vision
Becoming Hybrid
Institutional military strategists are developing theories of asymmetric and unconventional warfare that complicate the notion of strategic agency, the idea that military action emanates from a coherent agential source or subjectivity. This thesis attempts to push the conceptual trajectories of the theories of Hybrid War, Unrestricted War and Onto-power towards an even more radical complication of the notion of strategy - towards an ecological understanding of war as an unwinnable, self-perpetuating process. Recent geopolitical events are meticulously examined, as are institutional doctrinal and theoretical frameworks that stop just short of imploding the conventional agential notion of strategy. Insights from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, as well as Brian Massumi, particularly the concepts of multiplicity, assemblage, and ontopower, are employed in the thesis, which is itself a “heterogeneous assemblage” of elements ranging from Israeli war theory and Chinese military doctrine to etymology and post-structuralist philosophy. Author Keywords: Agency, Assemblage, Deleuze, Hybrid warfare, Multiplicity, Strategy
While the Lonely Mingle with Circumstance
Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophy focuses on the idea that no human subject exists outside of their relationship to other people. Each of us holds a profound degree of responsibility to and for all others. Since responsibility is fundamental to human (co)existence, it does not impede on freedom but proves that the sovereign individual is a dangerous myth: any philosophical, political or economic system which places us in antagonism is inherently violent and arguably fallacious. Many instances of injustice and violence can be attributed to advances in technological rationality and other forces of modern egoism with historical roots. By forwarding a somewhat politicized interpretation of Totality and Infinity and drawing on Jacques Derrida’s landmark reading of Levinas, this thesis explores the implications of Levinas’ thought for modern politics and the potential of Levinasian ethics as a remedy for both the alienation of the modern subject and the continued justification of oppression. Author Keywords: Ethics, Levinas, Other, Relation, Responsibility, Subjectivity
Spatial Bestiary
In my Master’s thesis, I consider how the space of the animal laboratory shapes human-animal relationships, and how, in turn, these relations impact the laboratory, and more specifically, the spatially-bound practices that unfold in this space. I use the frameworks of biopolitics and animal geography, both of which help in illuminating the space of the lab as a site of power, within which human-animal agency becomes exercised. Alongside these analytics, I conducted participant interviews with individuals who work with animals in laboratories or settings similar to laboratories, which animate several themes that I locate at the intersection of biopolitics and animal geography. These themes include a discussion of human-animal relations of power, scientific biopower and scientific market economies, the animal-industrial complex, and the relationship between human binaries and their effects on spatiality. This project is as much about animal lives as it is about human lives. Author Keywords: agency, animal geography, biopower, human-animal relationships, spatiality, the animal laboratory
Materiality and Ontology of Digital Subjectivity
New conditions of materiality are emerging from fundamental changes in our ontological order. Digital subjectivity represents an emergent mode of subjectivity that is the effect of a more profound ontological drift that has taken place, and this bears significant repercussions for the practice and understanding of the political. This thesis pivots around mathematician Grigori ‘Grisha’ Perelman, most famous for his refusal to accept numerous prestigious prizes resulting from his proof of the Poincaré conjecture. The thesis shows the Perelman affair to be a fascinating instance of the rise of digital subjectivity as it strives to actualize a new hegemonic order. By tracing first the production of aesthetic works that represent Grigori Perelman in legacy media, the thesis demonstrates that there is a cultural imperative to represent Perelman as an abject figure. Additionally, his peculiar abjection is seen to arise from a challenge to the order of materiality defended by those with a vested interest in maintaining the stability of a hegemony identified with the normative regulatory power of the heteronormative matrix sustaining social relations in late capitalism. The first chapter analyses the formal aesthetics of legacy media representations of Perelman. The second chapter focuses on new media aesthetic productions pertaining to Perelman and the political ontology of digital media. The third chapter interrogates the political ontology of the materials utilized in Perelman’s work and seeks to clarify the status of the conditions of the challenge of a digital hegemony. Author Keywords: abjection, archive, autistic reason, digital subjectivity, Grigori Perelman, ontological drift
Dennis Lee's Testament
The future-poetry of Dennis Lee published in Testament (2012) is the culmination of four cycles of creativity in his lifetime, each seeking a Real beyond the nihilism of technological modernity. Ultimately, Lee wagers the role of the poet and the future of poetic language on Earth on a non-modern that risks entangling the poet who enters void and embodies its meaninglessness. CHAPTER ONE: To approach this wager, the thesis first identifies the sources in philosophy of a Canadian Romantic modernism embraced by George Grant in collegial exchanges with Dennis Lee during the period of Civil Elegies (1972). Grant elicits a politics out of Nietzsche; Lee extends a poetics out of classical experimental modernism, made intelligible in this thesis by Mallarmé’s “cadence” or “rhythm” of things in nothingness and by Beckett’s word-play at the impasse of naming. CHAPTER TWO: To think beyond the mastery of the world by technique is to encounter a choice between silence as assumed by Grant and nonsense as explored by Lee during the period of Alligator Pie (1974) and The Gods (1979). CHAPTER THREE: The example of Paul Celan and his revisiting of Hölderlin provokes Lee to attend upon cadence at the level of the discrete word, an experiment with the dissolution of language and selfhood anticipated in the period of Riffs (1993) and Nightwatch (1996). Here, the undermusic felt to belong to the life-world (Lebenswelt) impacts as affect, in contrast to Celan’s alienated death-walk. CHAPTER FOUR: In the spirit of “post-internet poetry,” and by means of the spontaneous polyphonic scoring of cadence, Lee transforms the modernist impasse at the void into a further contradiction, the living of which may allow the poet access to a non-modern, but at a cost: the loss of poetry to incomprehension and insignificance, the reduction of the poet to a medium of the void, the dissolving of structure into materialities colliding in chance. Author Keywords: Dennis Lee, George Grant, Nonsense, Paul Celan, Technological Modernity, Void
Denizens of Virtual Worlds
This thesis studies a subset of players of video games called “power-gamers” who play games in a way that mirrors labour as opposed to leisure. Through ethnographic fieldwork and exploration this thesis examines what constitutes “power-gaming” and seeks to unpack the differences between skill, fun, and labour. Chapter One analyzes how ethnographic fieldwork is performed in virtual worlds, and the necessary frameworks inherent to this. Chapter Two explores facets of technical hobbies, masculinity, skill, and how they relate to power-gaming. Chapter Three explores how different cultures globally choose to play-games, and the forms of sociability involved in this play. Chapter Four examines reality in relation to virtual worlds, and how players in virtual worlds explore and unpack their surroundings, which mirrors many scientific practices in the real world. Chapter Five explores narrative structure in games, and their relation to power-gaming practices. Chapter Six concludes with a discussion of power-gamers as a neo-liberal workforce. Author Keywords: game design, neo-liberalism, playbour, power-gamer, sociability, virtual-ethnography


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