• Native women, theory and research : contexts and contestations

      St. Germaine-Small, Melissa.; Social Justice and Equity Studies Program (Brock University, 2004-07-14)
      In this thesis I outline a critical approach to interpreting the considerable academic literature on Aboriginal women in North America. I locate the scholarship concerning Native women within an understanding of three developments related to a philosophy of science: (I) paradigmatic shifts concerning the philosophy of science, (2) materialist-idealist debates and (3) transitions in feminist theory characterized by what is tenned the shift from second to third wave feminism. My exploration of emergent themes suggests that the elements indicated above provide overlapping frameworks within which most scholarship about Indigenous women is positioned. I illustrate my finding that employing critical discourse analysis and postcolonial feminism as both method and theory provides a useful approach in attending to intersecting experiences of 'race, class, and gender.' I view these intersecting experiences as central to the socio-political positioning of Indigenous women within contemporary feminist theorizing. I conclude my thesis by reflecting on the conceptual struggles I experienced in fonnulating and organizing the thesis and the significance of my underlying epistemological position and value-orientation as both a feminist and Native woman.
    • The shifting terrain of feminist theory and activism : university-based women's centres and third wave feminism

      Adams, Lindsay.; Social Justice and Equity Studies Program (Brock University, 2009-06-01)
      This thesis, based on the results of an organizational ethnography of a university-based feminist organization in Southern Ontario (the Centre), traces how third wave feminism is being constituted in the goals, initiatives, mandate, organizational structure, and overall culture of university-based feminist organizations. I argue that, from its inception, the meanings and goals of the Centre have been contested through internal critique, reflection, and discussion inspired by significant shifts in feminist theory that challenge the fundamental principles of second wave feminism. I identify a major shift in the development and direction of the Centre that occurs in two distinct phases. The first phase of the shift occurs with the emergence of an antioppression framework, which broadens the Centre's mandate beyond gender and sexism to consider multiple axes of identity and oppression that affect women's lives. The second phase of this shift is characterized by a focus on (trans) inclusion and accessibility and has involved changing the Centre's name so that it is no longer identified as a women's centre in order to reflect more accurately its focus on mUltiple axes of identity and oppression. Along with identifying two phases of a major shift in the direction of the Centre, I trace two discourses about its development. The dominant discourse of the Centre's development is one of progress and evolution. The dominant discourse characterizes the Centre as a dynamic feminist organization that consistently strives to be more inclusive and diverse. The reverse discourse undermines the dominant discourse by emphasizing that, despite the Centre's official attempts to be inclusive and to build diversity, little has actually changed, leaving women of colour marginalized in the Centre's dominant culture of whiteness. This research reveals that, while many of their strategies have unintended (negative) consequences, members of the Centre are working to build an inclusive politics of resistance that avoids the mistakes of earlier feminist movements and organizations. These members, along with other activists, actively constitute third wave feminism in a process that is challenging, contradictory, and often painful. A critical analysis of this process and the strategies it involves provides an opportunity for activists to reflect on their experiences and develop new strategies in an effort to further struggles for social justice and equity.