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Author Stephens, Christianne V
Title Toxic talk at Walpole Island First Nation: Narratives of pollution, loss and resistance
book jacket
Descript 283 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 71-05, Section: A, page: 1697
Thesis (Ph.D.)--McMaster University (Canada), 2010
This narrative ethnography is based on seven years of research collaboration with the Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN). The study focuses on local perceptions of risk as they relate to ecosystem integrity, human health and well-being. Discourse analysis of generic and nuanced community narratives reveals diverse yet complementary situated knowledges that are firmly rooted in Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) cultural teachings, values and practices
Gerald Ryle and Clifford Geertz's conceptualization of thin and thick description is used to parse out the various components of what I've identified as a community genre of toxic talk. Within this model, thin description refers to observations of the surface metamorphoses of the physical environment through pollution and other anthropogenic changes. Thick description emerging from the analysis of elegies and echoes of loss and discourses of resistance illuminates the discursive tactics employed by community members to resist Western frameworks of risk analysis and re-situate the topic of environmental health within the wider interpretive matrix of structural violence
A proposed Shell refinery expansion project is used as an example of how WIFN actively mobilizes discourses via oral tradition in the struggle for environmental justice. Through the strategic use of toxic talk, the community draws attention to environmental issues while simultaneously laying bare to a wider, non-Native audience the historical scaffolding of Native issues that are part and parcel of contemporary environmental crises and their effective mediation and resolution. The 'discursive movement' from elegies and echoes of loss to discourses of resistance reframes Walpole Island residents from those who are defined by survivorship to those who embody and evoke a spirit of survivance
The dissertation concludes with a semiotic critique of the Western medical terms chemophobia and risk perception. This leads to the advancement of toxic talk as an alternative framework for acquiring a more politicized, historicized and humanized understanding of environmental concerns at Walpole Island
Keywords: Environmental health; Indigenous health; Walpole Island First Nation; risk analysis; risk perception; chemophobia; water quality; discourse analysis; grounded theory; medical anthropology; collaborative research anthropology
School code: 0197
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 71-05A
Subject Anthropology, Cultural
Anthropology, Medical and Forensic
Canadian Studies
Native American Studies
Alt Author McMaster University (Canada)
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