RESCHEDULED Dissertation Defence: Media Representations of the Colten Boushie Case: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Property, Rural Crime, and Laissez-Faire Racism
March 4 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Laura Mudde, supervised by Drs. Bonar Buffam and Mike Evans, will defend their dissertation titled “Media Representations of the Colten Boushie Case: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Property, Rural Crime, and Laissez-Faire Racism” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies.
An abstract for Laura Mudde’s dissertation is included below.
Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
This dissertation analyzes the media’s portrayal of the Colten Boushie case, who was killed by Gerald Stanley in Saskatchewan, Canada. This case and its media representations sparked debates about race, property, and rural crime. Despite some research delving into this case and the controversies it triggered, a substantive analysis of the media’s role is missing. Such an analysis is relevant, as it sheds light on how media framing impacts public discourse and policy to deepen our understanding of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. An inductive and iterative frame analysis of sources published between August 2016 and April 2020 informed my critical discourse analysis of prominent themes. I problematize the media’s framing as promoting oppositional interpretations of events that reflect a group positioning, polarizing ambivalent and contingent frames along Indigenous-settler and rural-urban interpretations of the case.
This research reveals the roles of the media in affirming and challenging specific legal and political orders in Canada. A frame analysis of the sources renders visible the normative ideas that perpetuate the power dynamics of settler-colonial discourse. This research emphasizes the significance of frame analysis as a method to examine how ideas are conveyed and disseminated to different publics. It problematizes the diverse attitudes that are circulated in different provinces with attention to differences evident in small, medium, and larger population centres. Contradictory patterns emerge that point to both an awareness of settler colonial realities and continued negative colonial attitudes toward Indigenous people in Canada. I address these contradictions by testing my frame analysis results against the theory of laissez-faire racism. Laissez-faire racism is informed by group position theory and refers to contemporary constructs of racial prejudice that continue Indigenous disadvantage as a legacy of colonial discrimination. I use the theory of laissez-faire racism to interpret the overt and covert racial ideologies discerned in my frame analysis of the Colten Boushie case and Indigenous-settler relations in Canada.