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Date of Award

12-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Anthropology

Supervisor

Wayne Warry

Language

English

Abstract

The thesis addresses the interconnectedness of Aboriginal media practices; historically changing government policies; Aboriginal social and political movements; and the local situations of reserve and urban Aboriginal peoples in Canada. It is premised on the idea that in order to understand the cultural transformations associated with the rise of modern Aboriginal society, it is necessary to assess the development of Aboriginal communications media and their impact, and to draw out the ways that colonial processes underwrite contemporary media practices. Focusing on the communicative aspects of Aboriginal agency, it documents colonialism as a form of communication, and tracks Native communicative agency on a broad historical and socao-cultural scale. It attends to the centrality of people and their social relations, rather than to media texts or technology. It offers an analysis of media as a social form and media production as a crucial form of social action. It examines the "cultural mediations" that occur through Aboriginal media production. My principle concern is with Aboriginal strategies of indigenizing, or diminishing the massness of, communications media through narrowcasting . Highlighting media practices and technologies as sites of hybridity and creative adaptation, I assert that the Native mediascape serves as a locus for the production of localizing, nationalizing, and modernizing discourses. The popular version of the narrative of Canadian colonialism conveys the idea that European colonizers made readers of listeners and that agriculture, literacy and more recently, "the media" were imposed on hapless Indian communities by the state. My analysis draws attention to the ways that technologies of literacy, printmaking, radio and television are actively and selectively appropriated, renovated and redeployed by Native peoples themselves. I show that by mobilizing Aboriginal audiences to imagine local communities and to forge social identities that are predicated on Aboriginally-authorized discursive constructs, Indigenous media activists are contributing to the articulation of divergent modernities and a new social order.

McMaster University Library

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