UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Re)making place on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia : a tale told two ways Steager, Tabitha Youngreen


This PhD dissertation is an ethnography of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Based on fourteen months of fieldwork, this dissertation explores how people define, imagine, and create place on Salt Spring Island and why creating place matters. I use the importance my research participants place on local food as a particular lens to give focus to this exploration of how place is made and re-made. Definitions of Salt Spring Island are complex and often contested and competing. On an island known for its physical beauty as well as an “alternative” approach to social relations and politics, Salt Spring Island is also a place where economic development competes with environmental preservation, affluence intersects with poverty, and residents grapple with concepts of insider versus outsider. Using in-depth ethnographic research methods that included long-term research in residence on Salt Spring Island as well as participatory visual ethnographic methods, I explore these contestations of place and examine how people mobilize various means to define Salt Spring Island for themselves. Using Salt Spring Island as an example, I attempt to show that the creation of place is one fraught with conscious and unconscious arguments about who has the right and the power to define place. Ultimately the place that I describe within this ethnography is one that I have co-created with my research participants during a particular space in time and it is therefore unique, as all of our experiences with place must be. In addition to the ethnography, this dissertation also attempts to tell a story about Salt Spring Island in an experimental manner using photographs made by participants and researcher, constructing a purely visual ethnography that is meant to be interpreted by the reader. In so doing, an additional definition or experience of place is created by each reader, thus further developing the exploration of how we create place.

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