• Airbnb in the Age of a Housing Crisis: A Case Study of Housing Affordability and Vacation Rental Regulations in Niagara Falls, ON

      Willms, Hannah; Department of Geography
      This research focuses on housing in the context of growing unaffordability and increasing popularity of Airbnb in Niagara Falls, Ontario. In a city like Niagara Falls, which sees 12 million tourists annually, vacation rentals have become a highly profitable business. However, Niagara Falls is also currently experiencing a housing crisis. Airbnb complicates this crisis by perpetuating discourses in which housing is viewed primarily as a commodity. Commodification of housing, through processes of neoliberalization, financialization and securitization, inflates housing prices. More importantly, many people have accepted the unaffordability of housing because of discourses related to homeownership, mortgage debt, and asset-based welfare. These discourses normalize the commodification of housing, making processes like privatization, gentrification and Airbnb conversions seem natural, if not desirable. Housing practices based on these discourses disproportionately affect the underhoused. My research questions include: How does the hegemony of homeownership affect the housing markets in Niagara Falls? What elements of the homeownership discourse are used to describe both long-term rentals and vacation rentals in Niagara Falls? What are the consequences of these discourses for housing affordability in Niagara Falls? To answer these questions, I conducted a content and discourse analysis of city documents and city council meeting transcripts. My intent is to explain how respondents conceptualize their experiences related to vacation rental regulations in the context of housing discourses. Furthermore, I shall be analysing prominent housing discourses to examine the relationship between Airbnb and housing affordability in Niagara Falls, Ontario. My findings show that multifaceted homeownership discourses guided the discussions. All of these tend to stigmatize rentals in general, and long-term renters in particular. I conclude that the current housing system privileges homeownership at the expense of the renter population. This system, in turn, has focused on homeowners’ expectations during the Airbnb debates with little concern for how it affects housing affordability.

      Tasker, Victoria; Department of Geography (2013-04-15)
      Vineyards vary over space and time, making geomatics technologies ideally suited to study terroir. This study applied geomatics technologies - GPS, remote sensing and GIS - to characterize the spatial variability at Stratus Vineyards in the Niagara Region. The concept of spatial terroir was used to visualize, monitor and analyze the spatial and temporal variability of variables that influence grape quality. Spatial interpolation and spatial autocorrelation were used to measure the pattern demonstrated by soil moisture, leaf water potential, vine vigour, soil composition and grape composition on two Cabernet Franc blocks and one Chardonnay block. All variables demonstrated some spatial variability within and between the vineyard block and over time. Soil moisture exhibited the most significant spatial clustering and was temporally stable. Geomatics technologies provided valuable spatial information related to the natural spatial variability at Stratus Vineyards and can be used to inform and influence vineyard management decisions.
    • 'Art is the New Steel': Marketing Creative Urbanism in Twenty-First Century Hamilton, Ontario

      Russumanno, Paolo; Department of Geography
      As a major manufacturing hub in southern Ontario, Hamilton enjoyed considerable economic stability during the twentieth century. However, like most industrial-based cities, Hamilton’s role as a North American manufacturing producer has faded since the 1970’s. This has resulted in dramatic socio-economic impacts, most of which are centered on the inner city. There have been many attempts to revive the core. This includes Hamilton’s most recent urban renewal plans, based upon the principles of Richard Florida’s creative city hypothesis and Ontario’s Places to Grow Act (2005). Common throughout all of Hamilton’s urban renewal initiatives has been the role of the local press. In this thesis I conduct a discourse analysis of media based knowledge production. I show that the local press reproduces creative city discourses as local truths to substantiate and validate a revanchist political agenda. By choosing to celebrate the creative class culture, the local press fails to question its repercussions
    • The Art of Resisting Colonial Education

      Currie-Patterson, Natalie; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2012-11-07)
      This thesis explores the efforts of discipline and resistance in the Indian Residential School (IRS) system in Canada. The IRS has origins in eighteenth and nineteenth century colonial policies of assimilation. While its goals aimed to transform Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian adults the system has largely been proven ineffective and highly damaging to First Nation communities. This research discusses the complex connection between colonial curriculum and student resistance within the IRS. The discussion emphasizes students‟ abilities to creatively subvert disciplinary tactics and the methods of resistance used in the IRS context - with a focus on art and cultural persistence. It highlights a complicated relationship of disciplinary tactics and student resistance within the context of the IRS focusing on the relationship between curriculum and student product.
    • Assessing the adaptive capacity of the Ontario wine industry to climate change: A case study

      Pickering, Kerrie; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2013-07-05)
      The global wine industry is experiencing the impacts of climate change. Canada’s major wine sector, the Ontario Wine Industry (OWI) is no exception to this trend. Warmer winter and summer temperatures are affecting wine production. The industry needs to adapt to these challenges, but their capacity for this is unclear. To date, only a limited number of studies exist regarding the adaptive capacity of the wine industry to climate change. Accordingly, this study developed an adaptive capacity assessment framework for the wine industry. The OWI became the case study for the implementation of the assessment framework. Data was obtained by means of a questionnaire sent to grape growers, winemakers and supporting institutions in Ontario. The results indicated the OWI has adaptive capacity capabilities in financial, institutional, political, technological, perceptions, knowledge, diversity and social capital resources areas. Based on the OWI case study, this framework provides an effective means of assessing regional wine industries’ capacity to adapt to climate change.
    • Coming Out by Staying In: Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Niagara Region and How They Represent Themselves Online

      Epp, Richard; Department of Geography
      In regions without a gay enclave and limited traditional gay venues, the Internet has become an important space for men who have sex with men (MSM) to connect. Understanding that socio-spatial relations govern gendered and sexual subjectivities, this study examines how the personal advertisement site, Craigslist, and the dating website, PlentyOfFish (POF), regulate the representations of MSM on those sites in the Niagara Region. Relying on two hundred fifty personal advertisements collected on Craigslist and one hundred dating profiles collected on POF, I develop two case studies that explore how website design and policies, performativities and notions of privacy contribute to the production of MSM representations. Using a queer theoretical approach, I deconstruct processes in these sites which produce gendered and sexual subjects. This study finds that heteronormative discourses embedded in the complex geographies of the two sites of study govern the gendered and sexual representations of MSM. The MSM representations examined in these case studies typically present particular intersections of masculinities that attempt to resemble hegemonic understandings of masculinity. These heteronormative discourses limit the queer expressions. The limiting of queer expressions challenges the utopian understandings of the Internet as a space for MSM to explore their gender and sexuality.
    • Competing and Conflicting Land Uses at the Rural-Urban Interface: Understanding the Impacts of Residential Development on Agricultural Landscapes

      Epp, Sara; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2013-02-12)
      Rural communities are currently undergoing rapid restructuring as globalization impacts the future viability of many small towns. Agricultural regions throughout Canada, in particular, Niagara-on-the-Lake, are forced to adapt to changes within the industry. In addition to these challenges, sprawling residential developments from nearby urban centres are changing the dynamic of this town, resulting in conflicts between the residential and agricultural land uses. This thesis explores these conflicts from the perspective of the residents and the farmers. It was found that the initial sources of conflict related to noise-generating farm activities are no longer a concern, while the use of pesticide have become a source of contention among the residents. The farmers, alternately, were found to be proactive and strived to limit the potential for conflict with adjacent residents. Lastly, it was determined that planning legislation aggravates land use conflicts within Niagara-on-the-Lake and need to better address these land use conflicts.
    • Consuming Niagara's Agricultural Landscapes: A Regional Assessment of the Constraints and Opportunities for Developing a Sustainable Agritourism Destination

      Huellemann, Denyelle; Department of Geography
      Farmers in the Niagara Region have experienced worsening economic conditions in recent years due largely to globalization-induced competition and other exogenous forces. The subsequent agricultural restructuring process has prompted farmers to adopt agritourism as a means of sustaining their small family-owned operations because its activities generate additional income by inviting visitors to consume value-added products and/or services associated with the rural idyll. The number of agritourism operations continues to increase throughout this geographic area over time. Efforts to include agritourism in policy and planning documents are also visible in the Provincial Policy Statement, the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s Official Plan, and various municipal Official Plans. As such, this thesis draws on the perspectives of agritourism operators, government officials (i.e., planners and economic development operators), and representatives from not-for-profit organizations as a means to explore agritourism as a strategy of rural economic development in the Niagara Region. The analysis identifies stakeholders’ use of place-based development, entrepreneurs’ knowledge of product, high quality standards, and the presence of strategic partnerships as industry-related opportunities. Several constraints are also made known; however, they are found to affect agritourism operations that are not part of the wine and grape growing faction of industry on a larger scale. Proactive planning policies, more effective marketing strategies, workshop-based education, and better communication between stakeholders might enhance the future development of the agritourism industry. Overall, it is argued that agritourism is a viable rural economic development strategy for the Niagara Region to pursue, especially if operations are based in wine and grape growing.
    • Defining Freedom: An Ethnographic Study with American Vanlifers

      Murray, Stephanie; Department of Geography
      Moving alongside the “snowbirds” and grey nomads that have been discussed in the academic literature, there is a group of nomads that appears to have escaped scholarly attention. United under the “vanlife” and “buslife” hashtags, these individuals belong to a community of nomads who convert ordinary (and sometimes, extraordinary) vehicles into living spaces, and travel North America’s backroads in search of freedom and adventure. Using Cresswell’s definition of mobility as the combination of movement, representation, and practice, this thesis explores the meanings that American vanlifers assign to their mobility. Relying on participant observation and ethnographic interview data collected on the road during the summer of 2017, this thesis argues that when we deconstruct vehicle nomads’ use of the word “freedom,” it reveals important information about how they understand their mobility. By using a relational ontology and employing an epistemology of mobility rather than place, this thesis also attempts to expand the ways in which mobility can be understood by geographers. Through a detailed exploration of participants’ representations and practices, this study finds that when vanlifers used the word “freedom,” they were referring to their mobility in three specific senses: as freedom from social norms, freedom from routines and schedules, and freedom to pick up and go whenever they liked. As existing studies on RVers and British traditional nomads have already captured similar uses of the word “freedom” among their participants, this finding draws the existing research on vehicle nomadism into conversation in a productive way.
    • Detached from Our Bodies: Representing women's mental health and well-being with graphic memoirs

      Pierce, Katelyn; Department of Geography
      Geography has recently undergone a creative return whereby influences from the humanities inspire the production, analysis, and incorporation of creative works in geographical research (de Leeuw & Hawkins, 2017). With their ever-growing popularity in the humanities, graphic novels are one example of a creative work gaining epistemological momentum in geography. Graphic novels have proven attractive to geographers for their ability to represent knowledges that challenge dominant social structures and discourses. In this thesis, I conduct visual, textual, and discourse analyses of three graphic memoirs by women that challenge pathological mental health discourses: Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green, Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder by Nadia Shivack, and My Depression by Elizabeth Swados. Using an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research approach, I build on the literatures from the geohumanities, feminist geographies, graphic medicine, and health geographies to argue that subjective and embodied representations of women in graphic novels subvert dominant mental health narratives promoting pathology, ableism, and invisibilization. I analyze the graphic novels to support three key claims: 1) graphic novels can contribute to, and contest dominant mental health discourses, 2) graphic novels can operate as a means to contest universalized pathographies by representing marginalized experiences, and 3) graphic novels can challenge the limits of Cartesian dualism in mental health practice that exclude women’s experiences. With these ideas at the fore, the implication of this research is to offer healthcare providers, patients, and the general public alternative ways of understanding mental health. This research also serves to advocate for the merits of using graphic novels to provide options for access to health care and health equity.
    • A Domestic Geography of Money: How Mortgage Debt, Home Prices, and Toronto’s Condominiums “Prop up” the Canadian Economy

      Fischer, Adam; Department of Geography
      The most recent financialized redefinition of the home in Canada has arisen in response to the global financial crisis of 2008. The global financial crisis negatively impacted nations around the world, yet, in Canada the effects were lightly felt. In response to this crisis, Canadian banks received significant financial support from the government through the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program and the Canada Mortgage Bond program totaling roughly $137.55 billion. These two programs incentivized Canadian lenders to relax mortgage qualifying standards, to generate increased mortgage debt which could then be packaged into mortgage backed securities. Through discourse analysis of primarily government reports, this thesis contextualizes the inflation of house prices and household debt since the global financial crisis and considers how an “adverse economic event” may cause a downward spiral of unemployment, mortgage default, and a steep decline in house prices. It examines the significance of Toronto and its condominium market in “propping up” the economy through the increased generation of mortgage debt. It is through this urban, geographical analysis that we see the human and physical realization of Canada’s current economic milieu.
    • Geographical Applications for Sound Walks

      Jenkinson, Warren; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2015-02-13)
      Geography has long been a predominantly visual discipline, but recent work in geography has sought to explore the multisensory, embodied, emotional and affective dimensions of people’s relations with places. One way to engage this type of exploration is through the use of sound walks: walks along a specified route accompanied by a soundtrack (on headphones or stationary speakers) that conveys information, enacts a story, produces an ambience or atmosphere, or illuminates certain aspects of the environment through which the listener is walking. This thesis aims to show how geographers can benefit from using sound walks as thinking tools, representational tools and teaching tools. Drawing on my own experiences producing sound walks, I first examine the ways that sound walk production processes help generate productive geographical thinking for those producing sound walks (Chapter Two). The various stages of producing a sound walk require different skill sets, pose different challenges, and require different sorts of environmental awareness, and therefore present novel opportunities for developing geographical insights about specific places or spatial relations. Second, I focus on four experientially-oriented aspects of sound walks – using multiple senses, walking, contingency, and moments of interaction – to argue that sound walks can be useful representational tools for geographers, whether those creating sound walks subscribe to a representational or non-representational theory of knowledge (Chapter Three). The value of sound walks as representational tools is in the experience of ‘doing’ them. That is, audiences discover for themselves through interaction what is being represented, rather than having it delivered to them. The experiential elements of ‘doing’ sound walks recommend them as potentially helpful representational tools for geographers. Third, by examining the work of a small sample of fourth year “Advanced Geography of Music” students, I develop the argument that sound walks can be effective tools for teaching students and for creating circumstances for students to learn independently (Chapter Four). Sound walks have potential to be effective pedagogical tools because they are commensurate with several key pedagogical schools of thought that emphasise the importance of requiring students to engage actively with their environment using a combination of senses. The thesis demonstrates that sound walks are a worthwhile resource for geographers to use theoretically, representationally and pedagogically in their work. The next step is for geographers to put them into practice and realize this potential.
    • Glasgow's Queer Battleground

      McCartan, Andrew; Department of Geography
      As LGBTQ rights have gained increasing acceptance in Western countries, Pride events have come to stand as examples of the complex reality of inclusion in public space as it is experienced by contemporary LGBTQ groups. This thesis takes the case study of Glasgow, Scotland, between 2015 and 2016, to examine a grassroots activist intervention into how Pride events queer public space. The group Free Pride critiqued the mainstream Pride event organized by the group Pride Glasgow, and created its own alternative event. This thesis analyses the debates in Glasgow to examine the extent to which the concepts of homonormativity and queer space can help us understand this contestation. Drawing on archival research, participant observation, and interviews with the key players in Free Pride, this thesis argues that debates surrounding homonormativity and Pride can be understood through three key discursive themes of radical politics, commodification, and exclusion. This thesis argues first that while Free Pride have legitimate grounds to critique Pride Glasgow, Pride Glasgow’s spaces are more complex than a homonormative critique allows. And second, that while Free Pride works to open up new possibilities for queerer spaces and identities in Glasgow, this process is complex and contradictory.
    • “Illegal Aliens” and the Inconspicuous Geographies of US Immigration and Border Policing within 100 Miles of the US-Canada Border

      Coskan, Mert; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2013-01-24)
      Legal provisions in the US have extended the idea of the border to the inside of US territory. Border Patrol Agents confront people in different spaces to inquire about their status. I examine border policing along the northern border of the United States through textual and discourse analysis. This thesis asks: How do border agents exercise power and control the movement of people within 100 miles of the border? In whose interest is the border, the “nation,” secured? The spaces in which these mobile borders are practiced become the sites where “citizens” and “aliens” are produced, reproduced and contested. These border policing practices create the illusion of a “nation” that is secured for “our” interests. However, the interests of these vulnerable groups are not reflected in the immigration policy and along the “border. Therefore the very existence of immigrants and their basic right to be in the US is undermined.
    • ‘Molida’, That’s Shimshali Food: Modernization, Mobility, Food Talk, and the Constitution of Identity in Shimshal, Pakistan

      Hamill, Julia; Department of Geography
      This thesis examines how “food talk” – or talking about food – is used by members of a rural community in mountainous northern Pakistan called Shimshal to articulate identities to both local and transcultural audiences. Food and food practices have been well-established as important resources for the constitution and performance of identity, including in contexts of mobility and modernization. However, the literature on food, identity, and mobility tends to focus on contexts that involve primarily linear, unidirectional, and permanent movement from one country to another. My thesis draws attention to contexts of multilocality, a common livelihood strategy in Shimshal and other rural communities in the Global South in which household members move between and maintain connections in multiple spatially-distanced locations at once. In particular, I examine instances of transcultural identity constitution, in which Shimshalis construct representations for themselves and for outsiders. These kinds of interactions exemplify the increasingly common representational contexts that are both produced by and characteristic of the circumstances of mobility, multilocality, and modernization in which I am interested. To examine how food talk was used as a conversational resource for transcultural articulations of identity, I conduct discourse analysis on two sets of pre-existing published texts: a collection of oral testimonies and an archive of narrativized photographs. I identify four main discourses of modern Shimshali identity in the texts – unity, agropastoralism and modernity, exceptionalism, and multilocality – and trace how food talk is used to help perform these identity tropes to local and transcultural audiences, with talk about food as an agropastoral mode of production, community, health, ‘modernity’, ritual, ‘tradition’, and wealth particularly salient as identity resources. I also show how the use of food talk as an identity resource is shaped by the context in which it is employed, including the perceived aims of different texts and the symbolic and material changes in food itself. Drawing on an autoethnographic sensibility, I suggest that we can gain more meaningful insights into the performance of identity and food talk by attending to the specific contexts of their production and reception. Finally, I show how food talk and identity have changed (and been maintained) in the two sets of texts I analyze, which take place across a period of rapid increases in mobility and multilocality. By doing so, this thesis brings together and contributes to preoccupations from mobility studies, modernization and development studies, migration and multilocality, food studies, identity studies, discourse analysis, and geographical research on rural northern Pakistan.
    • The neoliberalization of street vending policy in Lima, Peru: the politics of citizenship. property and public space in the production of a new urban marginality

      Wood, Ian; Department of Geography (2013-04-19)
      Neoliberalism is having a significant and global impact on political, social and economic life across spaces. This work illustrates how neoliberalism is attempting to change the ways in which the urban poor - particularly those that participate in street vending - use urban spaces in Lima, Peru. Using municipal policies, newspaper articles and local academic texts I argue that there is a changing marginality in Lima that is being experienced by street vendors, and currently in los canas of Lima. In particular, I discuss formalization, a neoliberal strategy in street vending policy, which is used with eradication and social assistance strategies in attempts to re-regulate street vendors.
    • Personal soundtracks on public transit : personal listening devices and socio-spatial negotiations of students' bus journeys

      Hemsworth, Katie; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      One way of exploring the power of sound in the experience and constitution of space is through the phenomenon of personal listening devices (PLDs) in public environments. In this thesis, I draw from in-depth interviews with eleven Brock University students in S1. Catharines, Ontario, to show how PLDs (such as MP3 players like the iPod) are used to create personalized soundscapes and mediate their public transit journeys. I discuss how my interview participants experience the space-time of public transit, and show how PLDs are used to mediate these experiences in acoustic and non-acoustic ways. PLD use demonstrates that acoustic and environmental experiences are co-constitutive, which highlights a kinaesthetic quality of the transit-space. My empirical findings show that PLDs transform space, particularly by overlapping public and private appropriations of the bus. I use these empirical findings to discuss the PLD phenomenon in the theoretical context of spatiality, and more specifically, acoustic space. J develop the ontological notion of acoustic space, stating that space shares many of the properties of sound, and argue that sound is a rich epistemological tool for understanding and explaining our everyday experiences.
    • Rethinking Fiscal Decentralization Policies in Developing Economies: A Case Study of Ghana

      Boateng, Micheal; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2014-05-22)
      This thesis invites geographers to pay more attention to public policy research by addressing the need to rethink fiscal decentralization policies in Ghana. By applying “Simandan’s wise stance in human geography” and “Grix’s building blocks of social research design”, I developed a conceptual framework that unites two incommensurable ontological and epistemological research positions in geography—the positive and normative positions. I used the framework to investigate two key research questions. First, does fiscal decentralization actually work in Ghana? Through quantitative analysis of empirical revenue and expenditure data (1994-2011) of local governments in Ghana, this study reveals significant issues of inefficiency, inequity, and unaccountability. Local governments generate less revenue, and therefore depend largely on central government transfers for developing their jurisdictions. Worse yet, these transfers are highly unpredictable in terms of amount and timing. Even though a multivariate regression analysis revealed that these transfers are apolitical, the actual disbursement formula tends to focus on equality instead of equity. Additionally, the unclear expenditure assignments in each locality make accountability difficult. In view of these problems, I addressed the question: why is fiscal decentralization held out as a good thing in Ghana? By drawing lessons from Foucault’s and Escobar’s critical discourse analysis, I traced a genealogy of Ghana’s fiscal decentralization. I found that the policy is held out as a good thing in Ghana because of the triangular operation of multiplicities of power, knowledge, and truth regimes at the local, national and international scale. I concluded that although nation-states remains a necessary causal link in fiscal decentralization policy process in Ghana, direct and indirect international involvement have profound effect on these policies. Therefore, rethinking fiscal decentralization involves acknowledging the complex intermingling effects that global, national, and local territories produce.
    • Rural Youths’ Perspectives on the Significance and Impacts of New Roads: The Case of Kaasa - Zogsa Road, Builsa North District, Ghana

      Adeetuk, Lina; Department of Geography
      This thesis investigates the uneven and differential implications of a newly constructed road for residents of Kaasa, a rural community in northern Ghana, with an emphasis on youth, a group whose experiences and practices in relation to road-based mobility have been largely overlooked. It also examines the labour-intensive model used to construct the road, and the relationship between this construction model and the completed road’s uneven implications for community members. Primary data was collected using in-depth qualitative phone interviews with a sample of 15 youth from Kaasa, the road-building project supervisor, and the local assemblyman. Analysis of this material, which employs a motility capital – or motility – framework, yielded three main typologies: (a) six implications of involving locals in the road-building process, (b) six themes that describe youths’ lived experiences of the new road, and (c) five additional themes that summarise youths’ perspectives on the implications of the new road for the community as a whole. Findings reveal that these three sets of implications overlap significantly, and that locals’ ability to experience the benefits of the newly constructed road depend mainly on their motility, including the assets and opportunities they possess as well as the ambition to act on available opportunities. By contributing to knowledge on the multifaceted material and social implications of rural road construction for differently positioned individuals in a small rural community, this thesis also adds to knowledge on rural development research and practice, and the new mobilities scholarship in the social sciences.
    • Scales, networks and uncertainty : an examination of environmental policy-making in Ontario

      Calvert, Kirby.; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      Through a case-study analysis of Ontario's ethanol policy, this thesis addresses a number of themes that are consequential to policy and policy-making: spatiality, democracy and uncertainty. First, I address the 'spatial debate' in Geography pertaining to the relevance and affordances of a 'scalar' versus a 'flat' ontoepistemology. I argue that policy is guided by prior arrangements, but is by no means inevitable or predetermined. As such, scale and network are pragmatic geographical concepts that can effectively address the issue of the spatiality of policy and policy-making. Second, I discuss the democratic nature of policy-making in Ontario through an examination of the spaces of engagement that facilitate deliberative democracy. I analyze to what extent these spaces fit into Ontario's environmental policy-making process, and to what extent they were used by various stakeholders. Last, I take seriously the fact that uncertainty and unavoidable injustice are central to policy, and examine the ways in which this uncertainty shaped the specifics of Ontario's ethanol policy. Ultimately, this thesis is an exercise in understanding sub-national environmental policy-making in Canada, with an emphasis on how policy-makers tackle the issues they are faced with in the context of environmental change, political-economic integration, local priorities, individual goals, and irreducible uncertainty.