Hartej Gill

Associate Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

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

Decolonizing the social imaginaries of British Columbia's international education phenomenon (2019)

Working from an anticolonial and decolonizing framework, this thesis seeks to contribute to the current understanding of the K-12 International Education Phenomenon in British Columbia (BC), Canada. My research begins with the premise that online newspapers have become a popular channel not only for news agencies to distribute and disseminate information but also for readers to respond to news in real time and exchange opinions with each other. The advancement in electronic media leads to new forms of communication and offers “new resources and new disciplines for the construction of imagined selves and imagined worlds” (Appadurai, 1996, p. 3). Using the concept of social imaginaries, my study argues that web-based news comment sections allow their readers to form a collective sense of the imagination by providing readers with the conditions of collective reading, commenting, critiquing and pleasuring. These readers begin to form a “community of sentiment” and a “group that begins to imagine and feel things together” (Appadurai, 1996, p. 7). Within this context, my research investigates the social imaginaries of international students and the host society as constructed on the online news platforms. Using an anticolonial and decolonizing content analysis, this research disrupts colonial gazes operationalized in virtual spaces: (1) objectification of international students and the subjectivization of host society; (2) imperial legitimization through policy; (3) reproduction of cultural and linguistic hegemony and (4) essentialization and racialization of international students as “too Asian”. The findings highlight that the BC International Education Phenomenon is shifting the social imaginaries of public education as well as the imaginaries of international students in public schools and society. This exchange in turn not only objectifies international students as cash cows but also subjugates the host society to the branding and sale of BC education, which further perpetuates the historical imperial mission of colonization.

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To be broken open: A critical inquiry into international service learning and global engagement (2019)

This manuscript dissertation consists of four independent but interconnected body chapters, framed by an introduction and conclusion, which offer scholarly grounding in the service-learning literature and a discussion of complexities and tensions of this research. Each chapter illustrates a different fragment of a research story about the impacts of service-learning and global engagement. Collectively, they pull back the curtain on the research process through not only a participatory photovoice study that set out to explore the community impacts of international service-learning in Kitengesa, Uganda, but also an exploration of: a) the literature in social justice-oriented service-learning, b) analysis of photovoice data, and c) a vulnerable, artistic narrative about the researcher’s experience with a critical injury that occurred during her fieldwork in Uganda. This research is shared through different studies and laid out in the same temporal order that it occurred. Chapter 2 is comprised of a literature review and a theoretical conceptualization of the “Social Justice Turn”. Chapter 3 shares data and participant-led analysis from a collaborative photovoice study conducted in Uganda. Photos and their analyses, contained in the captions, are presented in the same manner that the Ugandan participant-researchers chose for their local photo exhibition in March 2017. Ten days after that exhibition, the researcher had a critical accident in Uganda that catalyzed the creation of Chapter 4. Chapter 4 uses bricolage to piece together diverse data from her injury, which was a culmination of an E. coli infection, malaria, a broken jaw and broken hands. This piece demonstrates the importance of the researcher’s body in the construction of knowledge, the generation of relationships, and the interrogation of embodied politics in global settings. Chapter 5 shares selected findings of the photovoice research displayed in Chapter 3, but in a format more suited for academic scholarship, illuminating relationships as a key impact of an international service-learning program hosted in Kitengesa. This dissertation extends the scholarship in service-learning, casting a focus on the host community perceptions and highlighting the methodological and epistemological importance of the researcher’s body and the many relationships that comprise the core of collaborative and embodied participatory research.

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Memories of Aboriginal/Indian Education: Decolonizing Policy and Practice (2016)

In this thesis, memories and forgetting in Aboriginal youths’ recounting of experiences in contemporary Aboriginal education programs were traced back to the Indian residential school system and colonial policy. By focusing on Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements—policies intended to address the poor educational outcomes of Aboriginal students, within their broader social, political and historical context, the supposed “problem” of educating Aboriginal students is viewed from a decolonizing perspective. I argue that the effects of the Indian residential school system are productive across generations and continue into the present. Practicing a “critical pedagogy of decolonization” (L. T. Smith, 1999, p. 34) means listening to Aboriginal students’ memories of Aboriginal/Indian education policies in order to decolonize education, history and research. This study is aimed at informing/influencing/shaping current policy and practices and at improving the quality and outcome of Aboriginal students’ education. The complexity of this research is reflected in the metaphorical use of the term montage, a film technique, to represent the decolonizing epistemological and methodological frames that focus on narrative analysis, textual analysis, photograph analysis, and policy analysis. Listening to Indigenous students’ memories and forgetting of public schooling practices, and analyzing visual and textual representations of Aboriginal students, Aboriginal education and history, in past and present policy were framed and captured by decolonizing methodologies. Further, fiction was used to highlight haunted memories of Indian residential schooling and to trace colonial policies and practices back to a violent and traumatic past. By listening to counter memories of educational policy across generations of Indigenous actors, the relevance of these memories for understanding the effects of Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement policy today as they relate to historical, present and future manifestations of self-determination, re-birth and a decolonizing renaissance among Indigenous peoples in Canada is highlighted as a decolonizing strategy. This thesis represents an attempt at practicing a critical pedagogy of decolonization by linking notions of race and iconic myths of frontier history to perceptions of Indigenous peoples, cultures and histories that are disciplined by a colonial archive of photographs, policies, curricula, and texts.

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Bending the Box: Learning from Indigenous Students Transitioning from High School to University (2014)

The purpose of this study was to understand how the unique social, historical, cultural, and Indigenous knowledge contexts of Aboriginal communities in British Columbia shaped high school to university transitions for Aboriginal youth. To this end, the Northwest Coast bentwood box acted as a metaphor that framed the theoretical inquiry and methodology for this study, which examined four Aboriginal Early University Promotion Initiatives (AEUPI) and three Aboriginal University Transition Programs (AUTP) in British Columbia. In addition, I utilized Archibald’s (2008) storywork and Kirkness and Barnhardt’s (1991) 4Rs of Indigenous methodologies, with an additional 5th R (relationships). The study also drew upon Martin Nakata’s (2007) concept of the cultural interface, to analyze 32 interviews conducted with Aboriginal youth, and faculty and staff from the AEUPIs and AUTPs.Key findings from the Aboriginal youth in this study suggest that learning about university through real-life experience offered by the initiatives/programs was meaningful. Second, both the AEUPIs and AUTPs provided youth with concrete opportunities to explore future academic and career pathways. Third, ensuring that the youth were provided with opportunities to develop relationships with positive Aboriginal role models in the university was seen as a success factor. Fourth, the AEUPI youth shared stories about the important leadership skills they developed as role models and mentors to younger youth in the initiatives, which in turn assisted them with their visioning process for university. Fifth, the students’ sense of belonging at university was fostered by relationships with AEUPI and AUTP staff, Indigenous student support staff, Elders, and faculty. Sixth, the AEUPI youth overwhelmingly agreed that the experiences they had in these initiatives led them to feel wholistically successful. However, the AUTP youth had a conflicting experience. Ultimately, insights from the youths’ stories suggest that the future of AEUPIs and AUTPs is a promising one if universities take heed. To this end, all participants in the study critically detailed how Canadian universities can apply a wholistic conception of the 5 Rs to Indigenous high school to university transition programs.

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