• 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.
    • Sustainable Food Systems in northern Ghana: Assessing the influence of International Development

      Kwao, Benjamin; Department of Geography
      The concept of sustainable food systems gained prominence in the food security discourse as evidence from the 2007-2008 and 2010 world food and financial crisis suggested that food systems were under stress. The concept calls for a move from the production centered notion of food security towards a more socially and ecologically sensitive notion which is interested in addressing a complex array of problems that have rendered the food system ineffective. Given the continued prevalence of poverty and food insecurity in northern Ghana, this study assesses the attempts of international development agencies to improve food security in the region using the notion of sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria. Through triangulation, the study uses a combination of qualitative interview data and documentary analysis to answer the research questions. Various discourses of sustainability and concepts are used to deepen the understanding of the concept, leading to the identification of eight practical goals towards achieving sustainable food systems. Using the practical goals of achieving sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria, the study reveals that the food system in northern Ghana is unsustainable due to three categories of impediments (natural, cultural and economic, and institutional). The assessment of the World Food Programme development assistance in northern Ghana shows that international development operations remain ineffective in addressing the impediments to achieving sustainable food systems in the region. WFP’s interventions failed to achieve its potential due to institutional inefficiencies of the agency and its partners. The study contributes to development policy and practice in northern Ghana by establishing the need for development partners to improve institutional efficiency and coordination, empower marginalized groups to access their rights, and prioritize agricultural irrigation in the region.
    • There's No Place Like (Rural) Home: Why People Choose Rural Despite Decline

      Casey, Rebekah; Department of Geography
      Rural communities play a major role in the Canadian landscape and identity. As such it is important to explore the role of rural Canadian communities and why people are so drawn to them. The purpose of this research is to explore why people are so attached to rural communities across Canada despite the presence of economic and population decline. This has been achieved through a thematic analysis of the transcripts of CBC TV series “Still Standing”. An interview with the show producer was also conducted in order to gain background information of the show. The results showed that, above all, there is a strong desire and determination to stay among community members. They will do “whatever it takes” in order to stay in the community and continue calling it home. Results also showed that residents were not concerned with initiating significant growth for the community, they simply wanted to maintain the livability of the community for themselves. Many community members spoke about various initiatives and solutions that they had developed that were quite creative in terms of community resilience. Community members also often used place-based assets and unique local qualities as a catalyst for development in the community. One of the primary challenges that was common for communities regardless of their region or province was the threat and challenge of youth outmigration. Many community members were concerned that youth outmigration would threaten the survival of their communities in the future. Some of the challenges that emerged from this research included the limited number of communities that could be studied, as well as the fact that data was taken from the transcripts of an edited television show.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • ‘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.