The 2023 schedule of events is posted below.
Main room, HC1325
Coffee provided by Tayybeh
Main room, HC1325
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Rianka Singh
Main room, HC1325
Queer Affect, Sex Education & Feminist Disruption
Panel Chair: Dr. Cait McKinney
Notes from Camp: Affective Dissonance and Lesbian Camp in 'But I'm a Cheerleader'
Tamara Lee, Simon Fraser University
Tamara Lee, Simon Fraser University
Jamie Babbit’s 1999 film But I’m a Cheerleader provides a wildly stylized and campy look at the experiences of queer teens who are sent to a conversion therapy camp, and it has earned a place as a queer cult classic since its release over twenty years ago. Despite recent scholarship which blends cultural theory, popular culture, and queerness, there has been very little scholarly analysis of But I’m a Cheerleader. Leaning heavily on affect theory, film analysis, and queer theory, this short piece will examine several scenes from the film and the unique directorial and aesthetic choices which create affective dissonance and make this film simultaneously campy, humorous, and at times heartbreaking in a way which endures in the contemporary queer imagination. As a lesbian, I have approached the analysis of this piece from a deeply personal place, utilizing autotheory to contextualize the work.
Tamara Lee (She/They) is a graduate student at the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts studying contemporary queer art, the social-justice potentials of knowledge organization, and creating equitable practices in memory work and the arts. They also hold an MLIS from the University of British Columbia and a BFA from Southern Oregon University. They currently works as the Director of Development at the Queer Arts Festival and SUM gallery in so-called Vancouver, and she is grateful to live and work on the sovereign, unceded land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples.
“It’s a vagina, not an exam”: popular culture as a mode of comprehensive sex education for American youth Jamie Hoholuk, Simon Fraser University
Studies have shown a high degree of interest amongst youth in learning more qualitative aspects of sexual health, including seeking education of sexual health and wellness beyond their own gender (Bauer et al., 2020). However, analysis of the data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States suggest that youth are receiving less formal sex education and having less conversations with parents and/or guardians about sexual health, leading to accessible content such as television to naturally fill in this gap of knowledge (Kinsler et al., 2019; Lindberg et al., 2016). This aligns with a longstanding history in the United States of sex education standing for political ideology over pedagogy (Slominski, 2021). This means that the representation of young people and any sexual health information that shows may provide require a level of variety and accuracy that allows television to stand in place of formal learning spaces. Unfortunately, television has a history of using shame-based representation. However, the rise of streaming services original content has afforded for teen programming to operate at a TV-MA rating, allowing them to explore topics of sex and sexuality in a much more upfront way. While some shows have used these affordances to benefit from shock value of seeing young people behave in such ways, shows like Big Mouth (Flackett et al., 2017-present) and Sex Education (Nunn et al., 2019-present) have created honest and accurate content covering a wide array of topics relating to sexual health worthy of serving as a primary information source for some youth.
PRESENTER BIO My name is Jamie Hoholuk (She/her/hers) and I am a second-year MA student at the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. My research focuses on the intersections of youth media literacy, sexual health pedagogies, popular culture, and informal learning sources.
Women Misbehaving: Transgressive Bodies and the Disruption of Hegemonic Modesty Hoornaz Keshavarzian, Simon Fraser University
This study locates body as a site of ideology and contestation and examines how acts of dissident in Iran’s Woman Life Freedom revolutionary uprising revolve around transgressive bodies. Drawing upon critical visual discourse analysis, I study women’s performative defiance to explore the ways in which the state’s imposed gendered performances or what I term “hegemonic modesty”, are upended and new rituals and alternative performances are introduced and practiced instead. The desire-oriented revolutionary bodies rebel against the “authoritarian body politics” (Crancayova and Kazharski, 2022) by occupying and appropriating both time and space. Discursively epitomizing the nationhood, women in Iran have been institutionalized into modesty (Shahrokni, 2020) and disciplined into docile bodies (Foucault, 1991). I put forward the notion of (wo)manifestive, the combination of feminized manifesto and festive to theorize the subalterns’ body-oriented resistance against the militant authoritarian regime. I will trace these practices through the online footage circulated on Instagram, including images and videos, revolutionary slogans and graffities.
PRESENTER BIO Hoornaz Keshavarzian (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her research examines the intersection between feminist media studies and social movements in the global south. She studies the way in which women in Iran upend the state's gender oppression and militant hegemonic masculinity through everyday acts of resistance.
Mapping Cultural Geographies
Panel Chair: Dr. Alberto Toscano
On Wednesdays We Wear Arc’teryx: Exploring the Construction of Identity in Vancouver
Mark Dunn, Simon Fraser University
Mark Dunn, Simon Fraser University
Greater Vancouver is home to almost two and a half million people. As far as cities go, it’s the third largest by population in Canada, and has been ranked the 69th best city in the world. Vancouver is a city where you rarely meet locals, and when you do, they couldn’t be less interested in you. It’s apparently quite difficult to date.
Beyond this, Vancouverites are known for being outdoorsy. It’s a city where you can theoretically go skiing and swimming at the beach in the same day. It’s also a city with a severe housing crisis, making it very difficult for the average person to take advantage of the aspects of the region that make it appealing in the first place.
Examining the identity associated with Vancouver, this investigation seeks to explore how a geographically rooted sense of identity is constructed and maintained. In other words, what does the Vancouverite look like, what do they sound like, what do they value, where do they eat? Starting from the presumption that the construction of a local identity is not “homegrown” but constantly maintained by the influx of migrants from elsewhere in Canada and the world who come to the city to adopt its lifestyle and presumed values, this project adopts the autoethnography as methodology in an attempt to validate wild stereotypes and support outlandish claims about this beautiful city.
After recently defending his master’s thesis in April, after seven years at SFU, Mark (he/him) finds himself adrift, much like a small boat—perhaps a sailboat—lost at sea. Nietzsche says that when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back and this staring contest is nice imagery but doesn’t answer the fundamental question of what is next? Government work hopefully, certainly not a PhD at this stage…
…Mark’s research bridges the gap between communication and criminology, exploring the question why do we put prisoners to work by examining the lived experience of people that have been through it themselves.
Changing Cities and Identities in Central Asia: Rethinking Soviet History, National Identity and Decolonization in Tajikistan Tahmina Inoyatova, Simon Fraser University
Since 2015, Dushanbe has been experiencing one of the largest and fastest urban transformations in Central Asia. In a matter of a few years, Tajikistan’s capital has become almost unrecognizable not only for returning visitors but also for its inhabitants. Established in the 1920s as the capital of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic, Dushanbe is increasingly losing its Soviet identity as Soviet architecture and spaces are being actively demolished both by the state and private developers for the construction of new commercial high-rises and monumental administrative buildings - a process that reflects a continuous need for construction of a national identity and a more contemporary globalized urban image, as well as an increasing power of neoliberal capitalist logic behind Dushanbe’s transforming urban landscape. This urban transformation also reflects an increasing need to rethink Central Asia cities' Soviet and Russian imperial histories and, possibly, reflects an attempt at decolonization. This paper tracks several significant milestones of Dushanbe’s urban transformation and situates it in the context of global, regional, and local urban processes. Additionally, this paper utilizes semi-structured interviews conducted with Dushanbe's residents and decision-makers to identify competing narratives and discourses that exist around the changing urban landscape and explores political, economic, social and cultural factors that impact urban development in Dushanbe. This paper also situates the discussion in emerging field of decolonial literature from the post-Soviet space (Tlostanova, 2015).
In 2022, countries of the former USSR are going through tectonic political, economic, social and cultural transformations due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Issues of post-socialism, postcolonialism, sovereignty, power relations, identity and national borders once again resurfaced in academic discussions around the region. This paper argues that understanding discourses around urban space serves as a crucial lens to study emerging transformations in the region, especially processes such as decolonization in Tajikistan, Central Asia and the post-Soviet space.
PRESENTER BIO Tahmina Inoyatova (She/her/they) is a PhD candidate at SFU CMNS. Her current research focuses on identity, statehood, post-Sovietness and decolonization.
A Thousand Screenings Bloom: Towards a Conception of Independent Film Screening Publics in India Yameena Zaidi, Simon Fraser University
My paper traces the development of independent film screenings in India as an oppositional tactic against State censorship, Hindu nationalism and neoliberal capitalism. I argue that this creates a ‘screening publics’ that come into being at the site of the independent screening through collective participation of the assembly of dissident viewers that enter into a dialogic relationship regarding the film and the larger socio-political issues it addresses. I will place independent screening movements and the tactic of ‘solidarity screenings’ within a longer history of the activist documentary which developed alongside changes in screening practices and argue that screening events are not only a form of mobilization in themselves but the cognitive transformation which takes place due to the embodied experience of the screening participants serves to further mobilize them for social change.
I will conclude by discussing the increasing co-option of screenings as a tactic by right-wing groups in India through an example of the circulation of The Kashmir Files, and how these mobilizations take form in the highly corporatised space of the multiplex, utilize the genre and political economy of mainstream nationalist Bollywood films, and receive overt State support in the form of subsidies and public endorsements by politicians and government officials.
PRESENTER BIO Yameena is an MA student at the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Delhi (India) and has worked at various research and policy organizations on issues of data justice, media freedom, labour rights in the digital economy and informal workers' organizing. Her master's research looks at the adoption of digital technologies by labour unions and its implications for the domestic workers' rights movement in India.
Negotiating Liminal Space
Panel Chair: Dr. Kirsten McAllister
Living with invisibility: A Case Study of Chinese Cross-border Wives' Storytelling on the YouTube Xuezhi Du, Simon Fraser University
This article explores Chinese cross-border wives’ experiences, challenges, and coping mechanisms and their interaction with the ecology and algorithm of platform by focusing on their storytelling on YouTube. Through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis, and more than two years of participant observations, I observed the family politics and power dynamics presented in the videos of Chinese cross-border wives. I found two types of family politics within the "power game" of interculturally married families. Wives who have experienced significant domestic injustice tend to demonstrate and reaffirm their moral capital, whereas those who are content with their marriage lives tend to demonstrate to netizens how they play the power game with wisdom. Nevertheless, by focusing on a marginalized group on YouTube, I illustrate in this article the limited visibility and high precarity endured by Chinese cross-border wives, as well as their efforts to achieve popularity and alternative uses.
Xuezhi Du (he/him) is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. His interdisciplinary research spans the fields of political economy, postcolonial studies, global communication, and platform studies. His research investigates China's cultural diplomacy with African countries, the transnational media practices of Chinese immigrants, and the media representation and struggle of Chinese subalterns on new media platforms.
The in/visible surveilled subject in Kamal Aljafari’s An Unusual Summer Alice Reiter, Concordia University
In Kamal Aljafari’s An Unusual Summer (2020), a single angle of a driveway occupies the entire runtime of the film. Aljafari’s father installed a surveillance camera outside his home following his car being vandalized — the camera of course records all day and night in order to catch the culprit should they return. This also means, though, that the comings and goings of the neighbourhood at large are captured through the vantage point of his father’s driveway. In the film, Aljafari zooms in on these blurry figures onscreen, reducing them to pixels and emphasizing their status as anonymous people-turned-captured images.
In my paper, I consider how surveillance images function as overextensions of state power in the occupied territories and Arab-majority parts of the state of Israel. The footage in An Unusual Summer is of Aljafari’s father’s driveway in Ramle, a city south-east of Tel Aviv known as a “mixed city” for its higher proportion of Palestinians compared to the segregation of non-mixed cities. Nearby Tel Aviv is a hub for the development of surveillance technologies, including AI, facial recognition, and spyware. In such an environment, images of Palestinians are valuable currency to the occupation – so how do these ideas figure in Aljafari’s use of his father’s security camera footage, naturally filming Palestinians? Through his formal interventions, an intimate level of care is extended to the figures captured by the security camera, inviting us to see the blurry figures occupying an in-between space, at once surveilled subjects and neighbours.
PRESENTER BIO Alice Reiter (she/her) is an MA student in Film Studies at Concordia University's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. She previously obtained her BFA in Film Production from the same school, and uses her formal knowledge of filmmaking to inform her research on contemporary Palestinian cinema. Her thesis centres on formal analysis of experimental films, dissecting how natural and built environments are represented and re-appropriated by Palestinian filmmakers.
Intersectional Discrimination: A Critical Discourse Analysis on Media Reports of Violence Against Asian Cisgender and Transgender Women Mia Chi Vu, Simon Fraser University
This study investigates the intersectional discrimination against Asian cisgender and transgender women by examining media reports of violence targeting them. The research focuses on two cases: the Atlanta spa shootings in March 2021 that killed 6 Asian cisgender women and the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina, in October 2014. Using an intersectional approach to conduct a critical discourse analysis, I illuminate themes and ideologies embedded in fifty media articles. The research questions explored in this study include: (1) How do mainstream and independent American media report violence against Asian cisgender women and Asian transgender women? and (2) What cause these narratives? Key findings suggested the complex intersectional discrimination and dehumanization of these victims for their marginalized gender, race, and sexuality and the justification of white patriarchy through biased humanization of their white cis male murderers that cause these news narratives. These victims are portrayed as the stereotypical Asian female tropes - a docile and submissive woman and a dragon lady, which are in contrast to the innocent “church-goers” Long and Pemberton, their perpetrators. The themes are explored through the Military-industrial complex rooted in the unbalanced political and economic relationship between the United States and Southeast Asia as well as the Christianity and purity culture.
PRESENTER BIO Chi (she/her) completed her BA (Honours) in Communication at Simon Fraser University, where she continued to pursue an MA degree in the same department. Her research interests lie in feminist and queer media studies with a focus on Asian cisgender and transgender women. She is currently looking at Asian queer media representation and its role in building queer archives and history.
Lunchboxes provided by Tayybeh. Vegan, vegetarian, halal and GF options available.
Ecologies of Kinship, Community, and Care
Panel Chair: Dr. Philippa Adams
Kincentric Ecopoetics: Sympoietic Place-Based Ecopoetry in the Hochelaga Archipelago Hana Woodbridge, Concordia University
Though often intentionally obfuscated and rendered unintelligible, humans are extensions of the natural environment. Nature is not other—rather we are in a mutual, circular relationship. We are kin. The biodiversity of the Kaniatarowanenneh—also known as the St. Lawrence River—has been greatly impacted by habitat fragmentation, invasive species, waste, and pollution (Neufeld et al., 2015). Its health has been ushered to the margins of what our capitalist, colonialist society deems deserving of care—a society that neglects the deep interconnection and interdependence of human and environmental health.
Oftentimes, water is framed through resource-related discourses—as a human right, a disposal site for human and industrial waste, and as leisure space (Dagenais, 2017). These discourses generate a lexicon for thinking about water in lieu of thinking with water. Architect and Communications scholar Cecelia Chen (2013) writes that “[t]his limited and limiting approach to water has become a part of humanity’s relation to itself, to nature, to the world, and to its internal and external others” (pp. 276-277). Thinking with watery places urges us to unlearn this resource-centric vocabulary, to build kinship with waterways and land, and to respect water’s inherent agency.
My conference paper (which is rooted in my master’s thesis entitled ‘Kincentric Ecopoetics: Sympoietic Place-Based Ecopoetry in the Hochelaga Archipelago’) will discuss how my creation of sympoietic place-based ecopoetry led me back to kinship with the natural environment. How extending my body into various sites within the Hochelaga Archipelago generated a new kind of kinship with the St. Lawrence waterway and its multispecies entanglements.
Hana Woodbridge (she/they) is a graduate student at Concordia University and an emerging ecopoet in Tiohti:áke (Montreal). Her SSHRC funded master's research entitled 'Kincentric Ecopoetics: Sympoietic Place-Based Ecopoetry in the Hochelaga Archipelago' asks how we can learn with waterways and their multispecies entanglements.
Abortion, Herbal Remedies, and Voudou Rituals in Toni Morrison’s Novels Anna Blackmore, University of British Columbia
In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (1977), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1997), abortion plays a background, yet significant role in the lives of a few main characters in each fiction novel. In examining Ruth’s attempted yet failed abortion as dictated by her husband in Song of Solomon, the ambiguity of Violet’s miscarriages in Jazz, and Soane and Arnette’s abortions in Paradise, we can examine recurring abortion methods in relation to the history of Black women’s herbal folk practices from late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century America. I argue that the significance of abortions in the domestic space, in relation to gardens, herbs, and root work, connects to and is an extension of Voudou rituals, which are facilitated by the midwife characters who double as witches, priestesses or conjure women. As priestess figures Pilate Dead and Consolata Sosa guide the women through their abortions or pregnancies, I focus on the methods and reasoning behind each character’s desire or opposition towards abortion, in relation to Voudou and non-western medicinal practices. Rather than filtering these character’s situations into pro-life or pro-choice dichotomy, I aim to simply notice the recurrence of abortion throughout Morrison’s texts as a normalization of the decisions women are forced to make as well as to focus on the community that women uphold to help each other through health and reproductive needs. The community space functions as a guide needed to sustain African-originated practices to ensure women-centric futurity and safety amidst the harsh patriarchal restrictions on reproductive rights.
Anna Blackmore (she/her/hers) is a Polish-Canadian poet, writer and musician from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance on the baritone saxophone from the University of Manitoba and she is currently completing her masters in English literature at the University of British Columbia. Anna’s scholarly interests range from late 19th and early 20th century American literature, critical race studies, ethnomusicology, and the intersection between music and literary improvisation. Her interdisciplinary thesis will focus on Black American music, oral storytelling, and the archival scholarship of Saidiya Hartman, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Community Fridges and Mutual Aid in the Platform Commons Michelle Phan, Simon Fraser University
Mutual aid is not a novel phenomenon. While it has been a buzzword in the age of the global pandemic, “collective caring is not new for Black folks in Canada who have practiced mutual aid as a way to deal with anti-Black racism for at least a century” (Singh 2021, p. 123). Many Black and Indigenous community members continue to lead way in exemplifying care in the margins, all while experiencing violence—both direct and indirect, sponsored by state-sanctioned organizations.
Hi’ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese argue that radical care is an essential praxis “even if it cannot completely disengage from structural inequalities and normative assumptions regarding social reproduction, gender, race, class, sexuality, and citizen” (2020, p. 3). While the “very structure of platform feminism straightens and whitens the movements because they privilege rising up as the dominant spatial tactic” (Sharma and Singh 2019, p. 2), community fridges employ the immediacy of platform logics to deliver the very basis of mutual aid ideology in “meeting people’s survival needs right now” (Spade 2020, p. 43). The urgency of mutual aid tactics takes advantage of platform logics without being swallowed up by algorithmic power due to its locality. The relationship between the mediation of these mutual aid projects on platforms in conjunction with the rise of ‘social media activism’ (Hu 2020) can provide insight into how even in regimes of power, underserved people continue to resist and take care of one another, particularly in times of urgency and crisis.
Michelle Phan (she/her) is a PhD Student at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race in surveillance studies and critical histories of science, technology, and policing.
Playful Relations & (De)Toxifying Digital Spaces
Panel Chair: Dr. Milena Droumeva
"Smurfing is a really common problem": Towards a performative conception of toxicity in online gaming
Ben Scholl, Simon Fraser University
Ben Scholl, Simon Fraser University
In the post-gamergate era, much has been written about the toxicity of online multiplayer video gamespaces. Yet, game scholars agree that the actual definition of the term ‘toxic’ is slippery. There is also consensus that toxicity is a highly context-dependent phenomenon reliant on the relation of players to one another but extending further to include the technical elements of the game (Canossa et al., 2021; Hilvert-Bruce & Neill, 2020; Kou, 2020; Kowert, 2020). Past scholarship in this area also illustrates that these spaces are deeply gendered and center masculine normativity (Cote, 2020; Gray, 2020; Ruberg, 2019; Shaw, 2015). Players from various positionalities may enter conflict when there is dissent over the definition and norms of the space. In these instances of conflict there is the potential for agonism (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). We employed cultural probes in tandem with focus groups and interviews to better understand how players experience toxicity in online gaming spaces. Emerging from participants’ conversations, this paper explores performative behaviours which are emblematic of performing toxicity or ‘counterplay’. We propose three common instances of counterplay: antagonistic counterattack, when a player reciprocates or matches the toxic behaviour of an antagonist; ludic mithridatism, when a player develops a threshold for tolerating toxicity in a gamespace; and playful transgression, when a player or group of players performs counter-hegemonic identity-work.
Ben Scholl (he/him) is a Ph.D. student in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. He holds a BComm. in Business Administration and an M.A. in Communication and Social Justice from the University of Windsor. Ben intends to explore the intersection of algorithmic platform governance with the institutionalization of Canadian professional esports via ethnographic approaches. His research goal is to inform policy for a more diverse and egalitarian esports industry. More broadly he is interested in games studies, political economy, institutional work, transdigital affect, algorithmic border objects, and virtual place-making.
From Clandom to Regime: Specters of the “Digital Tribe”
Matthew Horrigan, Simon Fraser University
Matthew Horrigan, Simon Fraser University
This work draws upon results from a textual analysis of DOJRP (“Department of Justice Roleplay”), an online Grand Theft Auto police roleplay group that subsumed its small scene and became a template for similar communities. DOJRP is notable for exploiting participants, whose mandatory playbour generates a playground for select participant videographers. This presentation discusses how DOJRP embodies the lexical shift from “clan” to “community”: growing from a 3-player “clan” called “Maryland State Emergency Services” (MSES), DOJRP adopted governmental strategies such as open applications, replacing MSES’s ethic of clandom with the culture of a regime.
DOJRP tests Marshall McLuhan’s theory of digital tribalism. McLuhan prognosticated digital subcultures he called “tribes,” partially accurately, as agonic, anonymous gamer culture from 1998 onward birthed what called themselves “clans,” player groups affiliating within games like Doom, Quake, and, famously, Call of Duty. Online clans were exclusive, adopting opaque dialects (“l33t [elite] speak”), and often behaved antisocially, training a generation’s technomasculinity. As gaming’s images became more mainstream, de-anonymized, and diverse, clan culture gave way to more complex online communities. DOJRP occurs at just this inflection point between a singular gamer subculture, self-distinguishing clan cultures, multifarious online gaming identities, and actors reunifying digital societies for economic extraction. DOJRP’s authoritarianism provides a bellwether for digital governmentalities packaging clan culture within legitimizing bureaucracies—a stark development putting into relief the alternative sense of legitimacy, of safety, emerging among “cozy games,” whose ethic of wholesomeness is, perhaps, just what the internet needs to move beyond the era of the digital clan.
Matt Horrigan (he/they) is a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University, living and working on unceded Indigenous territory belonging to the Kwantlen, W̱sáneć, Stó:lō, Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo, and Coast Salish peoples. Matt’s research interests include cultures of audiovisual production, mediatized subcultures, hauntology, and stage banter.
Virtual Embodiment, Virtual Bodies
Egan Henderson, Trent University
Egan Henderson, Trent University
The goal of a game is to immerse the player. From this immersion, players can come to see themselves embodied in their characters. Embodiment is how a player sees themselves as the avatar they inhabit. This allows players to experiment with and explore their gender identity in a meaningful way. Embodied players care deeply about the characters they play which allows for the blurring of lines between the real-life and virtual selves. The character that a person plays becomes that person–in terms of personality, feelings, and gender identity/expression. Virtual reality, or VR, games excel at putting the player in the body of their character. In VR, the player becomes (as a virtual self) an actor in the virtual world directly. These games offer direct embodiment of the characters the player inhabits. They also allow for the player to explore their understanding of their own gender identity. Writing based on my experiences in these games and worlds, this paper covers how players feel embodiment and what games can do to achieve a rigid sense of embodiment. My paper examines games that provide a way for players to become embodied in their characters and, subsequently, how gender identity becomes interpreted within these worlds. Looking at the aspects that make up embodiment, we discover how a game is able to engage with players and enable them to become embodied in their characters. Bringing about research on embodiment and gender studies, this paper brings to the conversation a talk on how those fields can be examined through an intersectional lens.
PRESENTER BIO Egan Henderson (he/they) is currently studying how gender identity and presentation becomes embodied in virtual reality games. My focus is on trans* and nonbinary experiences and how they can be explored and discovered through VR. I have a background in game development and programming that has brought me to a thesis project where I am creating a VR experience alongside my paper. This experience details the formation of my own identity in an abstract way that offers all players an opportunity to explore their own identities.
Digital Detox: Systematic Literature Review (2018 - 2022) Janice Osei - Essah
Digital devices and media platforms have permeated all walks of life, and they have become more than the technology and affordances of the apparatus and purpose they were created for. This has led to overuse, or, in critical situations, addiction; hence, the need for a time out on the use of electronic devices popularly referred to as digital detox. The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic literature review on the digital detox phenomenon, to better understand the through lines of scholarly discourse of this phenomenon from 2018 to 2022. This study draws on pre-existing recommended steps and guidelines for reporting or reviewing literature by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review, and Meta-Analysis guidelines (also known as PRISMA) to select and synthesize the literature. Thematic issues in digital detox research was examined at the micro and macro level. The macro level studies examines digitalization at the societal level explicating the harms and benefits associated to it in order to inform societal well-being. The micro-level studies examines individual digital practices focusing on the benefits and possible impairment from this practices to inform the individual subjective well-being. The findings of the study suggest that most studies on the phenomenon under discussion were conducted from the perspective of developed countries, hence offering either skewed or unbalanced perspectives, as findings may be based on socio-cultural contexts. This study also addresses gaps in research and suggests future research directions on the concept of digital detox.
PRESENTER BIO Janice Osei-Essah is a passionate communications practitioner with an MA in Communication studies and a BA in History and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana, West Africa. She is currently enrolled in the MA communication program at Mount Saint Vincent University to hone her research skills and master her craft in the field of academia. Her research interest lies in digitalization and its consequences in post-pandemic society.
Over/extensions of State Governance
Panel Chair: Dr. Zoe Druick
Uncharted Streams: The Online Streaming Act as a Case Study in Canadian Film Policy Thomas Dickson, Simon Fraser University
While online subscription video-on-demand services offer consumers an abundance of content to choose from, overseers of cultural policy around the world are concerned that platforms like Netflix aren’t adequately supporting local cultural industries, and that a substantial percentage of the content offered by these services is American. Historically, the Government of Canada’s attempts to cultivate and regulate its domestic feature film industry has been characterized by scholars as inadequate and underwhelming; much of the scholarly and journalistic discourse around Canadian film policy concerns the unclear objectives of such policy and their target audiences. An update of Canada’s Broadcasting Act was first tabled in November 2020 with the intention of bringing online platforms under the regulatory oversight of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission by expanding the legal definition of ‘broadcasting.’ The bill’s intention of promoting Canadian content was problematized for its potential encroachment of freedom of expression on various social media platforms, expressed through heated debates among members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. How do the parliamentary and stakeholder deliberations surrounding the Online Streaming Act demonstrate change or continuity in the politics of Canadian film policy? In this presentation, I will present the progress of a frame analysis chronicling the parliamentary deliberation process of the Online Streaming Act, utilizing a theoretical framework drawing from theories of governmentality, neoliberalism, and Canadian nationalism.
Thomas Dickson (he/him) is an MA student from the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. As a researcher, Thomas is interested in Canadian political discourses, cultural policy, free speech, Canadian cinema, and online platforms. His MA thesis will focus on the Government of Canada’s ongoing review of the Broadcasting Act and its implications for the politics of Canadian film and cultural policy.
Not So Green: Paradigm Shift in the Iranian Political Resistance Discourse and the Political Economy of Protest in Iran from 2009 to 2022 Mozhgan Fazli & Parsa Alirezaei, Simon Fraser University
Protests and slogans have been a mainstay in the Iranian political resistance discourse, especially since the so-called Green Movement of 2009. In this study, we trace the development of a dialectical challenge by the Kurdish women’s movement and its interaction with broader discourses of political resistance in Iran from the 2009 Green Movement to the 2022 social rupture triggered by the murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini. The study draws on three factors to contextualize its discourse analysis: (1) The function and structure of the Iranian public sphere is contingent on the reproduction of the economic base structure of Iranian society, particularly intra-state core-periphery relations where national margins emerge; (2) The Iranian public sphere structurally marginalizes discourses and voices that are fundamentally associated with class, nationality, and gender as nodes of concern in the social system, which constitutes elements of epistemic injustice; and (3) The Iranian political resistance discourse is a contest over “legitimate resistance” by the different interlocutors, including status quo supporters (regime remainers) and the Kurdish women’s movement. By compiling and analyzing slogans employed during protests—as a medium of political discourse—changes in the language of resistance in the Iranian political resistance discourse specific to the legitimacy of reform and reasons for resistance have been observed. We consider such discursive changes to be symptomatic of a greater transformation of the Iranian political resistance discourse. Furthermore, the study examines existing literature on the prolonged internal contradictions of the Iranian state’s political-economic social structure that gradually surfaced in the 2010s, punctuated by the 2017-2018 protests and the 2019 “Bloody Aban” uprising, as well as the most recent uprising of 2022, under the slogan of “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
My name is Mozhgan (she/her) and I am currently second year MA student. I mainly focus on masculinity, body politics and cinema.
Silent Resistance: The Symbolic Power of Blank Paper in Challenging State Censorship and Mobilizing Social Change Yvonne Brewer, Mount Saint Vincent University
A series of protests against zero COVID policies began in mainland China in November 2022, known as white paper protests or A4 revolution. This study investigates this recent social movement in China that creatively leverages semiotics and media to challenge state censorship and control while addressing intersectional issues such as feminism and colonialism. Drawing from interdisciplinary theories and approaches, including semiotics, social movement theory, digital resistance, and intersectionality, this research provides an in-depth analysis of the Blank Paper Revolution, illustrating the complexities and nuances of mediated and technological extension in the context of state power.
The Blank Paper Revolution exemplifies an overextension of state control, as well as the contestations of that power through digital resistance. This research uncovers the strategies used by the Chinese government to maintain control over political expression and social movements while also examining how protestors navigate and resist these mechanisms. By engaging with semiotics, this study reveals the symbolic power of blank paper in challenging censorship, fostering collective action, and giving voice to intersectional issues, such as feminist and gender concerns.
By highlighting the role of digital media in contemporary social movements and state control, this study shows how large-scale social movements can be achieved in a context of high levels of censorship and repression. The Blank Paper Revolution serves as a case study in a special context that expands our understanding of the complexities and interplay between power, resistance, and media in the digital age while foregrounding the importance of intersectional perspectives in the analysis of social and political phenomena.
The presenter, Yue Guo, is a Master of Arts student in Communication Studies from China, currently studying in Halifax. With a unique perspective shaped by her experiences in China, she is passionate about addressing pressing social issues through academic research. Her areas of interest include women and gender, social media, and social movements. Currently, she is assisting with a study on social media profiles and trust at her university, showcasing her dedication to understanding the complex dynamics of contemporary communication and society.
Panel Chair: Dr. Fred Lesage
Eat the Future: Speculative Engagements with Recipe and Futurity Cori Volfson, Concordia University
The so-called “future of food” is a question repeated in popular discourse on a variety of issues. The guiding research questions of this project engage with this discourse outside of the necessarily biotechnical and fatalistic which often dominates. Thus, this project engages individuals working with(in) the food system in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal in an interview about their lived experience and how it informs their vision for the “future of food”. Following these recorded conversations, key themes and concepts are pulled out which guide a process of creative recipe design. The final recipe as well as the act of creation here acts as a discursive space for speculations on futurity grounded in the allowances and limitations of the current food system.
In this conference presentation, several works in progress will be presented and the research-creation process will be discussed in detail. Recipe as a method of creation and analysis offers new space for the mediation of experience and speculation on the future. While there has been considerable academic engagement with the discursive potential of the recipe itself there appears to be a gap in discussion of the process of design and development. This project, thus, extends the recipe as a medium in order to complicate its role and to generate new and liberatory possibilities.
Cori Volfson (she/her) is a Master’s Candidate in the department of Communication Studies at Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. Her research interests include; food studies, futurity, critical disability studies and queer theory. These interests converge in a research-creation practice which centers the recipe as a site of exploration and creative potential. She is also a passionate advocate for food sovereignty in her community and an amateur mycologist.
Space Settlements as Extension: The Human Problem of Space Expansionism Samuel Garland, Concordia University
Habitat expansion into outer space (or “space colonization” of the “final frontier”) is underpinned by the logics of settler-colonialism, and often represented in popular discourse as the epitome of technological futurity. However, the stars of the night sky were embedded in the epistemologies of Indigenous peoples long before the advent of the Space Age—a small and recent blip in humanity’s timeline. Our increasingly machine-oriented civilization is reaching the threshold of becoming a spacefaring one. By 2025, taxpayers from a coalition of governments will have contributed nearly $100B to the Artemis Lunar Program in an effort to put boots back on the Moon. Artemis, dependent on the commercial space sector, intends to establish sustained presence in lunar orbit, and to experiment with technologies for the extraction and in-situ utilization of lunar resources to facilitate crewed missions to Mars.
The enormous cost of interplanetary travel and settlement—while millions live below the poverty line on Earth—is one vector in a complex web of ethical, environmental, legal, and ontological problems. At its center is the consequential relationship between people, technology, and our flawed fixation with infinite growth. But, fundamental affordances of Earth, such as the right to reproduce, will not be guaranteed in outer space. Air and water will not be without charge. Life support systems in space habitats are an emphatic example of McLuhanian extension, as human-robotic codependency blurs bodily boundaries. Such environments may present absolute conditions for political-corporate despotism. It is necessary to acknowledge that space expansionism is, at this time, the product of mass media communication and scientific speculation—no person has yet been born anywhere but on Earth. And even though our planet’s climate is changing, there is no guarantee of survival elsewhere in the solar system. Humans must act now for the generations to come; it is our moral obligation to the future.
I am a second-year graduate student of Media Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, in the final stages of my Master's thesis. My academic study centers on the emergent technologies and socio-cultural effects of the Space Age, both historical and contemporary. I delve into the ethics and policy of space expansionism, on Earth and beyond. Another dimension of my research is on temporality, in particular, the modes by which popular or alternative media communicate projections of the (inter)planetary future.
Between Retrotopia and Heterogenous Temporalities: Politics of Memory in the Age of Hyperconnectivity Nastaran Saremy, Simon Fraser University
This study examines different memory making/unmaking practices in Iranian media landscape which constitute the symbolic and discursive frames in which social changes take shape. In doing so, I explore how digital flows and mediatized memories have produced, promulgated, dwindled, repurpose or reinvested images of the past and how. To tackle this question, I am looking at the ways in which the intermedial techno-aesthetics of image, video and the digital and their associated temporalities are constituting different and competing conceptions of time and historicity which brings about new potentialities for reimagining the relationships between past, present and the future.
While different media platforms are forging the glory of the pre-revolutionary monarchy to promote a new form of far-right politics, the alternative, complementary or conflicting narratives presents heterogeneity which continues to decentralize the existing phallocentric ideal of nation-state in Iran. To account for this complexity, this presentation takes two different paths. Firstly, I aim to describe how media creators instrumentalizes nostalgia to create a sense of retrotopia, based on a ‘single ideological base time’ which idealizes a specific state of affairs in the past. Secondly, I am looking at an array of counter-memory practices and public interventions that have been recorded, shared, and rapidly reenacted across different times and spaces. Introducing a poly-temporal conception of historical time, I argue these new ways of remembrance, reenactment and re-appropriation challenge previously consensual perceptions of historical possibilities, and reactivate the less visible, incompatible potentialities of the past.
Nastaran Saremy (she/her) is a Kurdish-Iranian researcher and activist, currently based in Vancouver. She holds a MA in Philosophy and Aesthetics from Tehran University of Art and is currently doing her PhD in Media and Communication Studies at Simon Fraser University. In her PhD project she explores how memory practices along with methods of networking in new media reframe the reference framework of social movements in recent years.
Multiverse Film and Television: Non-Linear Futures Kayla Panganiban, Simon Fraser University
Questions of the ability to imagine the end of capitalism are central to the critical project of cultural studies. Frederic Jameson has influentially argued that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine a world in which capitalism is no longer the dominant system. In the late Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, he posits a “widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible to imagine a coherent alternative to it” (Fisher, 2). Echoing Frederic Jameson and Fisher, my research is guided by the following question: if it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, how is “the future” to be conceived? When framed in this light – as strategies for representing the future that avoid questions of linearity – I argue that the recent popularity of multiverse stories in Hollywood films may stem in part from their ability to visually portray a nonlinear or lateral way of imagining the future. As a means of exploring the nonlinear relationship people living in the West currently have to the future, my project argues that there has been a trend in American popular cinema in the past five years of plotlines involving multiple or parallel universes, a cycle I define as “multiverse films.” My project undertakes a close textual analysis of the film Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022). I will use this reading as a jumping off point to define the characteristics of multiverse films and the prominent cycle of related media texts.
Kayla Panganiban (she/her) is a master’s student in the School of Communications at Simon Fraser University. She is interested in film, critical theory, and cultural studies. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies in 2019.
Panel Chair: Dr. Peter Chow-White
Financialization of daily life through a stock investment app: A cultural analysis of Stockplus app by utilizing walkthrough method Dongwook Song, Simon Fraser University
This paper examines the Stockplus app, a popular stock investment app in South Korea, using the walkthrough method. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a stock investment boom in the country, particularly among young adults, due to unstable economic situations preventing them from buying a house and raising retirement funds with wages alone. The rise in stock investment is attributed to technological advancements, such as smartphones and stock investment applications. During the pandemic, 57% of existing stock investors used Mobile Trading Systems, and 70% of new investors utilized their smartphones for stock investment. However, this encouraged people to personalize risk and attribute their success or failure to their economic strategy and individual capacities, concealing the unstable economic structure and conditions inherent in global financial capitalism. The Stockplus app, developed by Dunamoo corporation and used by 45 million people in South Korea, is the core data source for this project. By carrying out a cultural analysis of its elements, functions, and everyday use, this paper aims to explore how the app can function as a mediator in financializing people’s lives and constructing financial subjectivities. The paper asks two key research questions: ‘What are Stockplus’ mediator characteristics?’ and ‘What is Stockplus’ environment of expected use like?’ The results of this analysis will provide new insights into how a technological medium can aid the reproduction of global financial capitalism.
Dongwook Song is a PhD candidate in the school of communication at Simon Fraser University. His interest is widely concerned with media and cultural studies, focusing on ideology and discourse theories. He has conducted research projects on youth-related topics by employing various qualitative methodologies, including analysis of media representation, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic and discourse analysis. His interests broadly include subjectivity, Williams’ ‘structure of feelings,’ digital culture, the relationship between structure and agency, (re)articulating the cultural studies with the political economy, the financialization of daily life, and the social reproduction crisis in the South Korean context.
Beyond Brand Hannah Block, Simon Fraser University
In late October 2021, Facebook rebranded to Meta Platforms Inc. This lengthening, elongating, and reshaping of Facebook is rooted in Silicon Valley’s idealization of rebranding and utopic associations of perpetual progress. These associations, however, exist in contrast to Facebook’s Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s likening of Facebook to basic infrastructure (another extension of the brand). Equating Facebook with electricity and chairs, purporting disinterest in ‘coolness’, creates a precarious paradox for Zuckerberg: how can Facebook function as infrastructure, supposedly disinterested in being cool, yet also undergo such a significant and highly publicized organizational extension (i.e., rebrand)—indicative of concern for brand, image, and associations, in other words, ‘coolness’?
Through an exploration of infrastructure, brand, and rebranding as a form of extension within the context of Facebook (now Meta Platforms Inc.), this paper examines the resulting paradox these contrasting concepts of brand extension and infrastructure present—leveraging brand, image, and associations versus “boring”, transparent infrastructure.
Rebranding—i.e., an extension of a pre-existing brand—shapes users’, producers’, and consumers’ understanding of the given medium (Facebook) and its future direction.
With the understanding that infrastructure is a relational concept, the paradox Zuckerberg has created for himself: (1) striving to create a basic utility regarded as infrastructure by its daily users/consumers, while (2) recently extending the brand to Meta Platforms Inc. The conflicting nature of these concepts demonstrates that Facebook is still highly visible in the public realm—obsessed with its brand image and brand associations—evident in the company’s dynamic practices and recent extension, suggesting that it functions as more than utilitarian infrastructure.
A second year MA candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Hannah Block (she/her) holds a Bachelor of Arts (Distinction), majoring in Communication with a double minor in Print and Digital Publishing, and Curriculum and Instruction from SFU, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Relations (PR) from the University of Victoria (UVic).
Influenced by her five+ years of digital marketing and communications work experience, Hannah’s research interests include the adoption and strategic use of communication and information technologies, specifically social media.
Search, recommendation, and the neoliberal extensions of network science Carina Albrecht, Simon Fraser University
This paper will discuss the intersections between network science and economics as disciplines that have significantly influenced network thinking behind the models for search and recommendation engines that we use every day. Network science is a discipline widely used by software developers and data scientists to build and maintain the algorithmic models that shape the search and recommendation engines on the internet. For instance, network science models are used to rank results in search engines such as Google and determine which advertisements to place on top of search results and web pages (Barabási & Pósfai, 2016; Easley & Kleinberg, 2010). It is also used in recommendation systems to determine the information relevant to users or suggestions on whom they should connect on social media such as Facebook or Twitter (Barabási & Pósfai, 2016; Perra & Rocha, 2019). Through looking at how game theory is used to imagine connectivity by the algorithms for search and recommendation, I will explore how resource and information exchange (or data exchange) inside network science extends neoliberal and utilitarian thinking, not only in the use of these algorithms but also at the disciplinary level that informs the construction of these algorithms.
Carina Albrecht (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and the Data Fluencies lead fellow at the Digital Democracies Institute. She holds a BSc in Computer Science from Universidade Federal de São Carlos (Brazil), a BA in Communication and GDip in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, and has more than 15 years of experience in software development. She is also an SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholar (2022).
Charcuterie provided by The Lazy Gourmet. Cash bar!