Jennifer Chan

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - April 2022)
Deframing techno-coloniality: Sikh spirituality in the age of the technocene (2020)

This dissertation seeks to engage with Martin Heidegger’s critique of modern technology in order to formulate a new conception of coloniality as techno-coloniality. Additionally, it argues that the Sikh spirituality can make a creative contribution towards building a decolonial future based on an alternative conception of technology. Heidegger envisioned Gestell, or Enframing, as the essence of technology which treats everything that exists as merely exploitable resources. This insight is very helpful in rethinking coloniality as techno-coloniality. The disciplines of postcolonial and decolonial studies have not given adequate attention to the question of technology. It has often gone unacknowledged that modern technology is not the only form of technology and that it is unlike other forms of technologies that originated within non-European cultures. What distinguishes modern technology from other technologies is that it is grounded in Western metaphysics. This research establishes that in order to build decolonial futures, it is imperative that the link between Western metaphysics and modern technology are exposed. The promise of decolonial futures can become a concrete historical reality through deframing. Deframing consists of deconstructing the logic of Enframing as well as drawing from alternative cosmologies to build a different conception of technics, for which, I have drawn on the Sikh tradition. I have argued that the Sikh conceptions of nature as Kudrat and labor as kirat can make substantial contributions towards building a decolonial future.

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Responses to and Interpretation of Anti-Muslim Racism in Canada: A Community Perspective (2016)

Against the backdrop of rising levels of anti-“Muslim” racism (aka Islamophobia) in Canada, coupled with the nation-state’s targeting and surveillance of these communities, my dissertation sets out to interpret the responses to this racism by the affected communities themselves. In this study, I employ qualitative methodology within a critical race theoretical framework informed by indigenous and post-colonial theory. After inviting participation from self-identified Muslim and Arab community organizations, whether outwardly responding to racism or not, over a one year period (2011-2012), I interviewed eleven diverse organizations, all of which are working in various capabilities and focus on community capacity building – including in the sectors of professional mentorship and networking, activities such as multi/inter-faith programming, social services, and advocacy for their communities. I asked participants to share their narratives and views on a wide array of questions: their assessment of the situation of their communities and constituencies in Canada, their experiences with “community government,” and their assessment of the “good Muslim/bad Muslim” nexus. I classify data I gathered into a heuristic of three types of responses: direct, status and native informant, and argue that although most of them fall into the range of status, it is direct responses – ones that commence and attend to racial injustice – that can have the most positive impact in terms of overall responses to systemic anti-Muslim racism.

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The art of becoming: filmmaking and performance on Cambodian postcoloniality and diaspora (2012)

Focusing on visual culture and artistic practice/performance, this study examines how individuals of Cambodian heritage living in Canada, Japan, and Cambodia sustain networks beyond borders through the application of technology, and what forms of expression using digital and non-digital media are actively practiced on a daily basis. Drawing on the concept of “heterotopia” by Michel Foucault (2002) and Trinh T. Minh-ha (1994)’s version of the notion of “hybridization”, I aim to attain the following three conceptual objectives: (1) to uncover the research participants’ (re)actions to the dominant meaning and representation of Cambodia, the people, and culture created by the media (i.e., TV, newspapers, magazines, etc.); (2) to show various forms of artistic practice and performance by the participants (e.g., photographing, filming, performing, painting, blogging, writing books, and teaching art); and (3) to propose a novel approach for education and research, which brings a critical lens in dealing with the issues of immigration and taking into account the significance of the arts for the daily lives of people living in the digital age. This study employs interviews and video recordings conducted in Ottawa, Tokyo, Hiratsuka, and Phnom Penh—the cities where the study participants reside. I apply a “speaking nearby” position as practiced by Trinh (1982) and incorporate film production and performance within the film. From the attempt to interweave these research methods and merge the boundary between the text and the image emerge not only diverse perspectives and forms of expression of the research participants in regards to his/her-story, home, food, language, education, time, space, and dwelling, but also intricate and heterogeneous modes of being and becoming of people in the globalizing times.

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Islamic education in a multicultural context: the case of two educational institutions in British Columbia (2011)

The purpose of this study is to increase understanding of Islamic education in Canada with an emphasis on how two educational institutions promote and maintain an Islamic worldview and identity in a secular pluralistic society. To achieve this goal, the study explores the nature and meaning of Islamic education in a national context, in which such education is caught between the edict to transmit and promote Islamic values on the one hand, and secular multiculturalism values on the other. This qualitative research uses an instrumental case study to provide an in-depth understanding of two participating Muslim schools in British Columbia, Canada. The case study, however, instrumentally offers understanding for Islamic education in a multicultural context. Findings from this research indicate that while Islamic educational institutions in Canada utilize various tools to nurture Islamic identity and worldview, they still face considerable internal challenges including limited resources and internal diversity. The internal challenges are exacerbated by external pressures in the form of Islamophobic sentiments fueled by poor media coverage. The dissertation recommends that Islamic educational institutions join the multicultural conversation with a genuine Islamic voice. Similarly, in order for these institutions to provide adequate Islamic education, they need to adopt targeted Islamization and embrace multiple identities.

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Toward transformative learning and a transnational feminist pedagogy : experiences of activist-facilitators working in development (2009)

The purpose of this study was:1) to explore how critical reflection (as part of praxis) is understood and experienced by activists facilitating participatory workshops; and 2) to understand how these activist-facilitators identify and position paradoxes and possibilities in their development work, including the experiences of power and transformation therein. By examining how activists, like myself, understand and practice critical reflection in relation to the facilitation of participatory workshops and how that reflection informs praxis – a key component of transformational learning – this study deconstructs participatory methodological practices within the context of development work. The study is positioned at the interface of transformative learning, activism, and participatory development and framed by transnational feminist pedagogy. The study used qualitative methods informed by feminist perspectives. The study participants were a diverse group of fourteen Canadian women, including myself, who have varied experiences as facilitators of women’s rights and gender equality workshops in transnational locations. Through unstructured interviews and focus groups, the participants were questioned about pedagogical and political aspects of their work as Minority World activists. Four key themes in activist-facilitation experience were identified. They are: understandings and misunderstandings of critical reflection as a pedagogical practice; the often paradoxical ways that activist play out positions of power; how activists identify possibilities and paradoxes in working in dominant and participatory development paradigms; and opportunities for personal or social transformation. Working in teams and with allies, nurturing connections with others, dismantling hierarchies and encouraging collaborative models of learning were all recognized as important ways to build upon a key learning in the study – facilitation as a sustained practice. A lack of conceptual clarity around critical reflection as a pedagogical practice however, demonstrated the need for additional efforts toward achieving a co-intentional practice between learners and facilitators.The political/transformative components of this research are noteworthy because they seek to validate the work of activists, to share strategies that resist hegemonic practices, and to enhance the development of transnational feminist pedagogies. In this way critical reflection was envisioned as part of praxis and transforming life-long learning.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2021)
Unsettling Japanese Canadianness in Vancouver : negotiated and hybridized identity (2011)

This research examines the identity construction processes and negotiations of members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area. In particular, it attempts to answer the following research questions: How do members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area construct, negotiate, and hybridize their identity in relation to their respective situations, such as people around them, their community, and the wider society? In particular, how do membership of the community and activities help construct their identity? This research looks at the concept of identity as relational, an on-going internal and external negotiation process, and hybrid based on the arguments of Bhabha (1990, 1994), Fuss (1995), Hall (1990), Nagel (1994) and Weeks (1990). This study also seeks to understand the informants’ relationships with their environment, employing the argument of Lowe (2004) and Spivak (1987) as well as the concept of the “third space” proposed by Bhabha (1990). Based on these perspectives, this research collected the identity construction stories from several Japanese Canadian community members through interviews. With a purposeful sampling strategy, the informants were selected based on their interests and engagement in the cultural and social side of the Japanese Canadian community in Greater Vancouver, and the variety of their ethnic background—in other words, the different ways of being to some extent Japanese. Based on the informants’ stories, this research argues that 1) the informants’ identities are hybrid and constructed through diverse processes and negotiations, including what they call themselves; 2) the informants and communities put efforts toward the deconstruction of “dominant” and “minority” dichotomous positioning with the combination of a sharing-oriented process and strategic essentialism; 3) community space plays a role as a third space for its members. From these arguments, this research also questions the concept of ethnicity and Canada’s multicultural policy based on ethnicity since there are many people and phenomena that cannot be explained with this concept.

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