Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
Relationship Between Precarious Employment, Behaviour Addictions and Substance Use Among Canadian Young Adults
This thesis utilized a unique data-set, the Quinte Longitudinal Survey, to explore relationships among precarious employment and a range of mental health problems in a representative sample of Ontario young adults. Study 1 focused on various behavioural addictions (such as problem gambling, video gaming, internet use, exercise, compulsive shopping, and sex) and precarious employment. The results showed that precariously employed men were preoccupied with gambling and sex while their female counterparts preferred shopping. Gambling and excessive shopping diminished over time while excessive sexual practices increased. Study 2 focused on the association between precarious employment and substance abuse (such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, stimulants, and other substances). The results showed that men used cannabis more than women, and the non-precarious employed group abused alcohol more than individuals in the precarious group. This research has implications for both health care professionals and intervention program developers when working with young adults in precarious jobs. Author Keywords: Behaviour Addictions, Precarious Employment, Substance Abuse, Young Adults
Effects of Invasive Wetland Macrophytes on Habitat Selection by Turtles
Invasive species that alter habitats can have significant impacts on wildlife. The invasive graminoids Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud, hereafter Phragmites, and Typha × glauca Godr. are rapidly spreading into North American wetlands, replacing native vegetation. Invasive Phragmites is considered a potential threat to several species-at-risk (SAR), including some turtle species. My study wetland contained large stands of Phragmites, as well as Typha spp. (including invasive T. × glauca) that have similar structural traits to Phragmites. To explore the hypothesis that Phragmites and Typha spp. do not provide suitable habitat for turtles, I tested the prediction that turtles avoid Phragmites- and Typha-dominated habitats. I used VHF-GPS transmitters to follow Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii, n = 14) and spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata, n = 12). I found that both turtle species did not avoid Phragmites- or Typha-dominated habitats when choosing a home range, or while moving within their home range. I also tested whether the microhabitat selection of Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles is affected by shoot density of Phragmites, Typha spp., or both. I compared shoot densities of Phragmites and Typha spp. in 4 m2 plots, from locations used by tracked turtles with paired, random locations in these turtles’ home ranges. For both turtle species, the densities of Phragmites and Typha shoots were comparable between used and random locations within the home ranges (generalized linear mixed model; p > 0.05). The use of Phragmites- and Typha-dominated habitats by Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles suggests that these habitats do not automatically constitute “unsuitable habitats” for turtles. Phragmites and Typha spp. (especially T. × glauca) can replace preferred habitats of some turtle species, and the control of these invasive macrophytes can help to preserve habitat heterogeneity. However, the presence of SAR turtles in Phragmites and Typha spp. stands should inform risk-assessments for invasive plant species control methods that include mechanical rolling of stands, where heavy machinery might encounter turtles. Author Keywords: Blanding’s turtles, compositional analysis, habitat selection, Phragmites australis, spotted turtles, Typha x glauca
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
Genomic architecture of artificially and sexually selected traits in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Understanding the complex genomic architecture underlying quantitative traits can provide valuable insight for the conservation and management of wildlife. Despite improvements in sequencing technologies, few empirical studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) via whole genome sequencing in free-ranging mammal populations outside a few well-studied systems. This thesis uses high-depth whole genome pooled re-sequencing to characterize the molecular basis of the natural variation observed in two sexually selected, heritable traits in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus, WTD). Specifically, sampled individuals representing the phenotypic extremes from an island population of WTD for antler and body size traits. Our results showed a largely homogenous genome between extreme phenotypes for each trait, with many highly differentiated regions throughout the genome, indicative of a quantitative model for polygenic traits. We identified and validated several potential QTL of putatively small-to-moderate effect for each trait, and discuss the potential for real-world application to conservation and management. Author Keywords: evolution, extreme phenotypes, genetics, genomics, quantitative traits, sexual selection
Shorebird Stopover Ecology and Environmental Change at James Bay, Ontario, Canada
I examined how shorebirds respond to environmental change at a key subarctic migratory bird stopover site, the southwestern coast of James Bay, Ontario, Canada. First, I investigated if the morphology of sandpipers using James Bay during southbound migration has changed compared to 40 years prior. I found shorter, more convex and maneuverable wings for sandpipers in the present-day compared to the historical monitoring period, which supports the hypothesis that wing length change is driven by increases in predation risk. Secondly, I assessed the relationship between migration distance, body condition, and shorebird stopover and migratory decisions. Species that travelled farther distances from James Bay to wintering areas migrated with more characteristics of a time-minimizing migration strategy whereas species that travelled shorter distances migrated with energy minimizing strategies. Body condition impacted length of stay, wind selectivity at departure, groundspeeds, and probability of stopover and detection in North America after departing James Bay. Thirdly, I examined annual variation in dry/wet conditions at James Bay and found that shorebirds had lower body mass in years with moderate drought. In the present-day, drought resulted in lower invertebrate abundance and refuelling rates of shorebirds during stopover, which led to shorter stopover duration for juveniles and a higher probability of stopover outside of James Bay for all groups except white-rumped sandpiper. Finally, I estimated the relative importance of intertidal salt marsh and flat habitats to the diets of small shorebirds and found that semipalmated and white-rumped sandpiper (Calidris pusilla and C. fuscicollis) and semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) diets consist of ~ 40 – 75% prey from intertidal marsh habitats, the highest documented in the Western Hemisphere for each species. My research shows that James Bay is of high importance to white-rumped sandpipers, which are unlikely to stop in North America after departing James Bay en route to southern South America. Additionally, intertidal salt marsh habitats (and Diptera larvae) appear particularly important for small shorebirds in the region. My thesis shows that changing environmental conditions, such as droughts, can affect shorebird refuelling and stopover strategies. Author Keywords: body condition, diet, environmental change, migration, ornithology, stopover ecology
"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
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
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
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
Landscape and its Discontents - Art and Ruins, a Critical Topography in Word and Image
From Altdorfer and Poussin to Cézanne, Monet and to the Group of Seven, landscape has been a focal point of artistic inspiration for most of what we think of as modern art history. In contemporary times the concept and representation of landscape has shifted from visions of an idealized and exalted place to notions of the landscape as a ruins and site of ecological disaster. Because of this seismic inversion, artists are no longer solely making visual the beauty and serenity of nature but are rather finding novel ways of problematizing it and incorporating themes of its eventual disappearance, its inescapable transformation into ruins. The following dissertation puts forward a critical topographical study of three sites and three different artists who deal with this new found relationship to landscape. The three landscapes are located in different parts of the world and from different artistic contexts yet showing that they retain an aesthetic and conceptual character that links them together is part of the work of the dissertation. The first site is El Sol del Membrillo, a film by Víctor Erice in which the filmmaker chronicles painter Antonio Lopez García’s attempts to paint the ephemeral, he attempts to paint that which is in the act of disappearing. The second site is The Mill St Cemetery in Cambridge, England where artist Gordon Young has contributed a work of public art titled Bird Stones that blurs the line between landscape, sculpture, monument and artwork. The third and final site is Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto, Canada that presents itself as an ecology park of retrieval, recovery and as a public art space. My investigation of this last regional research site is offered both as a chapter and as a videography about wilderness as wasteland. Author Keywords: Aesthetics, Anthropocene, Art, Cinema, El Sol del Membrillo, Toronto: The Leslie Spit

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Format: 2024/02/21