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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tourists, art and airports : the Vancouver international airport as a site of cultural negotiation Leddy, Shannon C.


This work deals with the notion of hybridity; an ideal moment of cultural negotiation which results, in the words of Homi Bhabha, in the creation of a 'third space.' This theoretical plateau is formed by two parties whose agendas, while ostensibly conflicting, overlap enough so that each informs the space but neither dominates it . In this case I examine a specific site of hybridity, the "Arrivals Passengers Only" area of the Vancouver International Airport. Here, the space is informed by the presence of works, created by the Coast Salish Musqueam people, in the Airport Terminal, created by the Vancouver International Airport Authority. While this sort of negotiation can be described using positive and progressive terms, and the creation of a third space represents a compelling ideal, I argue that the moment of hybridity within the airport is ultimately undermined by other areas of the building in which no negotiation has taken place. The airport's role as a business necessitates marketing strategies aimed mainly at tourists and other business interests. Since virtually the entire building is devoted to that market, the negotiated hybrid space becomes hidden so that its potential impact is lost. Although participating in the creation of a working model of culture with the Musqueam people, the Airport ends up destabilising that model and the space, the ‘third space,’ which contains it. This particular example points to a site specific aspect of contemporary North American culture by drawing on the local community as a source for investigating that discourse. The thesis, then, has two points of entry; the ephemeral discourse of cultural negotiation and the locally grounded freeze-frame view of one site in contemporary Vancouver.

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