Gillian Creese


Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Reclaiming feminist postcoloniality: negotiating nationalism, gender politics and violence in Sudan and the Nuba Mountains (2019)

This dissertation is a study of how and why post-colonial nationalism in Sudan is implicated in violence, and how indigenous, national, and international feminist/women’s organizations in Sudan contest ongoing violence. Through a literature review, semi-structured interviews and synthesis of organizations’ documents, I engaged in a qualitative case study with three women’s organisations. I interviewed 22 research participants (18 women and 4 men). I disentangle the relationship between post-colonial nationalism and violence by illustrating how gendered racialized violence is viewed by some in Sudan as a condition characterizing the “post-colonial” nation-state. Although independence brought certain levels of freedom and emancipation, the patriarchal processes of state formation and post-colonial nationalism, aided by global capitalism resulted in gendered and racialized violence. I show how the conceptualization of the national and the international spheres replicate erasure of the experience of intersectional forms of violence, failing to account for the historical specificity of the material conditions of women from the Nuba Mountains. I demonstrate how the three organizations are situated differently at the intersection of the interests of the state’s national agenda and the North-South donors’ desire for “modernization” and “development”.The study reveals that in Africa, including Sudan, there is no such thing as an authentic African feminism. Instead, there are multiple forms of feminisms and women organizing. Also, the study argues that by not attending to the racialized history of the Sub-Saharan slave trade, the dominant “radical” Third World feminist postcolonial discourse, which fundamentally grounds its argument on important global forces such as imperialism and political economy, fails to speak to differences within Third World nations across race/ethnicity and gender. The study calls for the need for African postcolonial feminists to deconstruct the ‘post’ in the post-colonial and raise the fundamental question of post-colonial for whom? stressing the need to redefine Africa post-coloniality on gendered, race/ethnicity as well as class grounds. The study deconstructs the local-global locational dichotomies; both national and global forces are implicated in shaping local politics, recognizing that national as well transnational solidarity which is anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist remain promising strategies to address violence at a local level.

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Life on the line: Indigenous women cannery workers' experiences of precarious work (2015)

This dissertation examines the experiences of Indigenous women engaged in precarious and seasonal salmon cannery work. The dissertation argues that to grasp the nature of the women's work, which is exceedingly precarious, it is necessary to consider how it is shaped by a host of social, political, environmental and economic forces. In particular, the dissertation illustrates how provincial and Canadian neoliberal policies that developed during the past few decades have amplified the vulnerable status of Indigenous women cannery workers. Neoliberal discourses of active (worthy) and passive (unworthy) citizens embedded in social policies powerfully shape qualification requirements to programs such as Employment Insurance and Income Assistance while individualizing social inequalities experienced by Indigenous women. The dissertation employs both decolonizing and feminist methodologies to examine the everyday experiences of Indigenous women and to map out the social relations that shape their experience as precarious workers. Overall the dissertation contributes to making Indigenous women worker's lives more visible, to showing their significance in the salmon canning industry, to highlighting how their precarious labour undermines their well being and that of their families, and to demonstrating their resilience in the face of major obstacles.

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The (Un)making of home, entitlement and nation: an intersectional organizational study of power relations in Vancouter Status of Women, 1971-2008 (2012)

Women's organizing and organizations in North America emerge at historical moments within the larger women's movement across geographies, political climates, and nation formations. Within all movements, the workings of power relations are active, demanding constant negotiations and contestations. This is a case study of one feminist organization, Vancouver Status of Women (VSW). I illustrate the ways VSW challenged, contested, reproduced and reinforced power relations and specifically nation-building discourses. Drawing on both extensive historical archival data and in-depth expert interviews, I engaged in a qualitative case study of VSW's workings of power relations from its inception in 1971 to 2008. I interviewed thirty-one women who worked in some capacity as staff or board members. Archival research involved locating primary documents such as organizational meeting minutes, policies, annual reports, bylaws, newsletters, publications, organizational correspondence, and other relevant documentation. By engaging in an intersectional critical race feminist discourse analysis, I explicate the construction of VSW as home, and demonstrate how nation-building discourses of belonging and entitlement are embedded within this organizational site. Organizational processes and policies indicate the historical trajectory of how, when and who challenged, responded, and reproduced power relations. This study provides several theoretical, methodological, and substantive implications. My research challenges dominant organizational theory's notion that organizations are neutral sites. I argue that organizations are constituted as sites of colonial encounters by demonstrating how power as relational and archival are invoked and deployed in VSW, and some of its effects. I illustrate how VSW is embedded in the colonial archive of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women which reproduced nation-building discourses of essentialism, racialization, and exclusion. The research also offers a conceptualization of power present in organizations while applying Foucault's understanding of power as a network of relations and discourses that circulates as productive. I also present a theoretical framework of the modalities of entitlement embedded in national belonging and accumulated national capital across multiple sites producing the exalted feminist of the nation. Lastly, I propose a more nuanced ethical Affirmative Action Policy based on participants' lessons learnt that shifts beyond tokenism and representation.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Changes in women's health activism as observed in Our Bodies, Ourselves (2019)

Using data from feminist health advocacy books, I have identified the key changes withinwomen’s health activism and the approach to women’s empowerment over the last 40 years. Iconducted content analysis on a total of six chapters selected from two editions of Our BodiesOurselves (1973, 2011) in order to trace key changes. My findings show three distinctdevelopments in the approaches to activism. The first was a transformation from a critique of themedical system to an acceptance of the capitalist control of medicine. Next, I observed a changein focus from the free choice over whether to use birth control to a moral obligation to use one ofmany available forms of birth control. Finally, I determined that feminism has abandoned itsfocus on shared responsibility for health care, and instead focuses on patient-led responsibility.This in turn reflects a shift in empowerment from a focus on broad social change toindividualistic solutions. I determined that these changes have been informed by a broad changein feminism to a more neoliberally informed feminism. By identifying sites of potentialinequality, these findings can be employed in order to create policy that aims to build a moreequitable health care experience for marginalized populations in the United States.

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Institutionalised activism and politicised NGOs: The state's engagement with NGOs in Sudan (2019)

This research explores the relationship between NGOs, activism, the state, and international agencies in Sudan. There is growing importance pursuing activism within institutional structures, and the constraints that funding and donor interests can have on the potential of that activism. The Sudanese state’s policies towards NGOs have been hostile, leading to activists and NGO staff being arrested and NGOs being shut down. The Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act of 2006 regulates the NGO sector in Sudan and enforces the Humanitarian Aid Commission. These legal mechanisms act as apparatuses of surveillance against activists and NGOs. Literature on Sudanese feminism and NGOs defines categories based on proximity to the state and political or religious ideology (Badri, 2008; Nageeb, 2008). Interviews were conducted with 10 experts in the sector and six staff members from SIHA Network, an NGO in Sudan which pursues advocacy for women’s rights, to explore how people in the field experience the relationship with the state, issues of surveillance, and concerns on international funding. This research is based on a theoretical framework informed by feminist critiques of development (Spivak, 1999) and NGOs (Jad, 2004; Rodriguez, 2017; Smith, 2017), and Foucauldian approaches to surveillance and state power (1995), and governmentality (1991). I argue that the Sudanese state’s practice of surveillance on NGOs which practice activism has long influenced their development and their current concerns, and leads activists and NGO staff to practice self-surveillance on their work. Activists and NGO staff were more concerned with the state’s policies and other activists’ and NGO staff’s relationship to the state than they were with international funding. I argue that the relationship between activists and NGOs, and the state is what defines their categories and relationships to each other.

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Why do young women leave conglomerates? gender and the militarized workplace in South Korea (2019)

This study extends our understanding of gender inequality in the workplace by examining the reasons for early resignation of young women unaffected by motherhood responsibilities. Based on 22 in-depth interviews with young women who resigned from full-time positions at conglomerate firms in South Korea, complemented by interviews with 8 men who also resigned from these companies, I find that women resign because of the gap between their work expectations developed prior to employment and the militarized workplace culture. The militarization of the workplace is an overarching theme that emerged from interview narratives, which I engage as an organizing framework for analysis. Within the militarized workplace, rigid hierarchies and male-only informal networking marginalize women, and demand for overwork undermines women’s possibility of long-term employment. Combined with sexual harassment, the work environment makes the job not worth keeping. Interviewees also suggest that their work experiences in the conglomerates inform their future work attitudes and planned career trajectories. These findings highlight the important roles of gendered organizational norms and practices in shaping women’s discontinuous employment and their persistent underrepresentation in managerial positions in the workplace.

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Digital burqa or business suit: social media and the gender digital divide among resettled Iraqi women (2018)

This study explores concepts of digital justice for women who live in a liminal space between home and resettlement. It examines their experience in social media and how it is affected by their gender, immigration and marginality. I approach this topic through a case study of Iraqi women with a refugee background who are resettled to British Columbia, Canada. Their narratives shed light on the complexity of the digital divide for women. I use intersectional theory and feminist research methods to address the persistence of digital inequalities. My results contradict what early feminists wrote about 'cyberspace' as a liberating gender-neutral terrain void of structural barriers to entry. In reality, the internet today is anything but open and equal. This point is not new. However, studies on Middle Eastern women bloggers and online activists-especially those of Muslim background-still present the internet, via social media, as a site to practice selfhood and challenge gender norms. My findings suggest a more complex picture. We cannot detach technologies from the power structures that created them and the systems within which they are embedded. It is true that social media may offer opportunities to experiment with identity and challenge norms, but the internet also mirrors pre-existing social structures and can amplify the effect of those structures due to the immediacy of access and abundance of online material. To avoid surveillance, women in this study adopted one of two strategies: they either adorned a digital burqa and remained anonymous or wore a digital business suit and migrated to social media platforms where interaction is highly formal. The success women have in handling social media is due to their ingenuity in avoiding surveillance. This success comes despite the potential risks of using technologies designed to amplify users' visibility and collect users' data.

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Remembering terror, remobilizing whiteness: Norwegian discourses of nationhood after July 22 (2015)

On July 22, 2011, a right-wing terrorist killed 77 people in a double terrorist attack in Norway. Presenting a critical discourse analysis of the annual memorial speeches and coverage from 2012 to 2014, this thesis examines how visions of national identity are produced in and through the remembrance of the terrorist attacks. Situated within the framework of feminist intersectionality, the analysis pays particular attention to discourses of racialized, gendered, and religious belonging. While the terrorist’s identity as a white, Christian, Norwegian man seemingly provided a counterpoint to the dominant Western narrative in which terrorism is associated with racialized, Muslim men, the July 22 remembrance largely fails to explore the intersections between the terrorist’s ideology and more common forms of racism, Islamophobia, and gender essentialism. Instead, the attack is decontextualized, and the subtle use of racialized and ethno-nationalist rhetoric reframes terror as a threat posed by dangerous Muslim outsiders to an innocent, white national community. By emphasizing collectivity and assuming a consensus on values, politicians and media erase differences within the nation and construct sameness, ethnic kinship, and Lutheranism as the criteria for inclusion in the imagined community. These gendered, racialized, and religious ideas of citizenship in turn inform public responses to a heightened sense of vulnerability, legitimizing a securitization of state and increased policing of racialized groups despite the rhetorical calls for more openness and more democracy. In investigating the July 22 memorial claims about Norwegianness against the lived diversity of present-day Norway and its histories of violence, this thesis asks us to consider the human costs of positioning sameness as the criterion for belonging. It presents a case study of the complexity of whiteness and its intersections with gender and religion in a smaller European country, thereby adding to an underexplored area of critical whiteness studies.

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Metro Vancouver's Koreatown: Mediating Places of Belonging within the Politics of Multiculturalism (2014)

Canada is one of the first countries to establish and maintain state sponsored policies of multiculturalism to address multiple identities, cultures, and mass migration within its national borders and under a singular national identity. As a way to examine how these state ideologies and policies inform the everyday notions and practices of multiculturalism at the local level, this thesis examines the emerging space of ‘Koreatown’ in Metro Vancouver to highlight how multicultural spaces are constituted and contested within discourses of ‘accommodating difference and diversity’. This paper also explores how multicultural tensions within this space are articulated and mediated to contribute to further discussions around the meaning of home and belonging within multicultural spaces in Canada. Situating the discussion within theories of liberal multiculturalism and its criticisms as well as social space theories, this research highlights the complex and interconnecting local, national, and global dimensions of multiculturalism and its discourses. This thesis also uses local newspaper coverage of a local leasing dispute and interviews with individuals working within the ‘Koreatown’ area to highlight how local actors strategically mediate these discourses to develop the space in its current location and associated meanings of representation. Although there is currently no civic recognition of a ‘Koreatown’ in Metro Vancouver, this thesis maps a strong argument for its existence through the narratives of key actors who have initiated and developed the space. While seeming to illustrate multicultural tenants of ‘difference and diversity’, ‘Koreatown’ in fact represents a complex and dynamic space where local actors are negotiating contradictions and tensions of multiculturalism to constitute spaces of meaning in everyday local spaces. It presents a case study to illustrate how local actors are mediating multiculturalism within spaces to (re)create and (re)define spaces of belonging in Canada.

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