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Thesis Defence: Paradise Found: The Settler Colonial Legacy of Beautiful British Columbia Magazine

May 6 at 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Chhavi Mathur, supervised by Dr. Greg Garrard, will defend their thesis titled “Paradise Found: The Settler Colonial Legacy of Beautiful British Columbia Magazine” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies – Sustainability theme.

An abstract for Chhavi Mathur’s thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Please email greg.garrard@ubc.ca to receive the Zoom link for this defence.


The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia is often depicted in Canadian settler culture as an oasis in a desert, or a Garden of Eden, thanks to its exceptional climate and semi-arid shrub steppe biome. With its fruit, tourism, and wine industries, it is best known today as place of leisure and plenty. This idyllic and utopic image of the place is, however, complicated by the complex history of its cultural and material landscape. The Okanagan idealized by Canadians is, in fact, the traditional unceded territory of, primarily, the Syilx people. Since the late 19th century, through successive phases of settler colonialism in the Okanagan, the material and cultural landscape of the area has been written over, reshaped, transformed, and remains contested in many ways.

This thesis contributes to a discussion on the making of environmental cultures through an ecocritical reading of the role of the Beautiful British Columbia magazine – with a focus on the years 1959-1983 when it was funded by the provincial government – in shaping the idealized narrative and landscape aesthetic of the Okanagan Valley that persist to this day. The visual and textual analysis of the magazine is framed by the socio-political, economic, and material history of the region from the mid to late decades of the 20th century. While international tourists were presumably the primary audience of the magazine, this thesis argues that the magazine also served the province’s campaign to attract Anglophone migrants and to ‘sell’ British Columbia and more specifically the Okanagan as an idyllic home for white settler populations. It traces and uncovers some of the recurring aesthetic tropes that have constructed and framed both the British Columbian landscape generally and within that, the Okanagan Valley, as an idyllic place to live. It contrasts the white settler colonial landscape aesthetic of the Okanagan with Indigenous imaginations of the place. It brings out the fault lines and contradictions between the imposed settler aesthetic and the material affordances of the environment.


May 6
8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Additional Info

Registration/RSVP Required
Yes (see event description)
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Environment and Sustainability, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates