By: Keisha Jefferies, PhD candidate, Dalhousie School of Nursing
This blog post incorporates a reflection from two conferences that I attended in early May, 2019. From May 2-3rd, 2019, I attended the Robarts’ Graduate Student conference at York University, in Toronto. Then from May 9-11th, 2019, I travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick to attend the Qualitative Analysis (Qualitatives) conference. Each of these conferences offered a uniquely rewarding opportunity to connect with researchers, graduate students and faculty conducting socially relevant and timely research across Canada.
The Robarts’ conference theme was: Canada on the Edge? People, Places and Perspectives, which provided a forum for Graduate students to present papers that critically examined contentious or emerging hot topics in Canada. Some stimulating and thought-provoking papers included mental health amongst Afro-Caribbean youth in Toronto, an autoethnographic account of abortion access in Toronto, “Smart City” technology in rural Nova Scotia and the potential use of Acoustemological Cartography. The Robarts’ conference was a great learning experience as I was able to gain insight from other graduate students, at various levels of their programs, whose research tackles challenging, critical issues in a variety of fascinating fields.
The Qualitatives was a jam-packed, three-day qualitative learning experience. The theme of the Qualitatives this year was: The transdisciplinary efficacy of qualitative methods: Studying everyday life, the empirical tradition continues. The conference was an opportunity for qualitative researchers, across many disciplines, to come together and share critical inquiry and socially oriented research. One of the opening concurrent session themes was Constructing Identity, which included intriguing presentations on other-than-human identities, the emergence of white nationalism in Canada and a critical discourse analysis of right-wing extremist groups. These presentations were captivating and generated stimulating discussion around inclusion, racism, sexism and heteronormativity in Canada. The research on white nationalism and the toxicity brewing in these groups used discourse analysis to examine social media (Facebook groups) and websites (chatrooms) in order to gain insight into the collective ideology. Most of the quotes included in the presentation clearly depicted a very toxic, racist, sexist hegemonic and overall oppressive ideology. Kudos to the students, especially Kayla Preston, a Dal Masters student, who are doing this research and exposing the hate that continues to exist in Canada. Follow Kayla Preston on Twitter (@KaylaPreston4)!
Another highlight from the Qualitatives was the opportunity to chair a very interesting and timely session on Media Representations, related to women and their bodies. This session included presentations on the issue of prostitution and legalization in Canada, the construction of faking orgasm in women’s magazines and the promotion of the “ideal” vulva through female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS). Meghan Gosse, a PhD student at Dal, presented her very compelling and troubling Masters work that investigated how surgeon websites promote a female genital ideal to be achieved through female genital surgery. The discussion from this concurrent session raised many issues and concerns related to women’s bodies, their rights and harmful gender roles/ societal expectations that dictate and at times, prescribe what women can or should do with their bodies. Follow Meghan on Twitter (@MegGosse), as she continues this discussion on women’s bodies!
Opportunities, discussions and knowledge sharing like this is just another reason why I love qualitative inquiry!
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