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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Service providers challenging Orientalism and supporting HRVO victims and perpetrators Dormond, Keith


Violence against racialized women that is known as “honour”-killing or “honour”-related violence and oppression (HRVO) is typically depicted in dominant media discourses as being the result of the cultures of the victims and perpetrators. Culture is framed as causing HRVO because dominant media discourses in the Western world tend to depict racialized communities through an Orientalist lens. Orientalist discourses are problematic because they contribute to the oppression of racialized communities by framing them as homogeneously dangerous, uncivilized, and barbaric. Most literature on HRVO takes a discursive approach, analyzing and critiquing how Orientalist narratives are advanced in government reports and policies as well as the mainstream media. While this research has important implications in identifying Orientalism and suggesting alternative perspectives, this dissertation investigates the perspectives service providers use to understand and deal with HRVO and what role these perspectives play in challenging Orientalism. The conceptual framework for this study is the theory of Orientalism combined with the heterogeneity of culture, the migration context, and intersectionality perspectives. In addition, critical realism is used to guide the methodology, particularly data analysis. In this dissertation, 13 service providers in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario—from settings such as ethnocultural organizations, shelters, law enforcement, education, and mental health—were interviewed, while an additional 10 service providers participated in group interviews. The study found that the most effective perspectives for service providers to use to challenge Orientalism were two-fold: (a) the heterogeneity of cultural approach, which recognizes internal differentiations within cultures; and (b) the migration context approach, which focuses on social forces that may shape and influence attitudes that support HRVO. Further, critical realism reveals several non-discursive factors—namely, embodiment (experiences of the body), materiality (physical nature of the world), and power (institutions and how through policy and force they control access to resources)—that service providers encounter and must manage to effectively counsel and support victims of HRVO. Recommendations are identified regarding education and risk assessment tools that can assist service providers to advance the heterogeneity of culture and migration context approaches as well as manage non-discursive factors.

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