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Sociology: People


Kathleen Ward

Kathleen Ward
Kathleen Ward
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Decolonisation, Western alienation, Feminist research practice, socio-legal study, Multiculturalism in the Canadian Context

Thesis Abstract

Canada is widely regarded as a liberal, multicultural nation that prides itself on a history of peace and tolerance.  Oftentimes set up in contrast to the United States, Canada’s history of colonialism has been popularly imagined as a gentler, necessary, inevitable, and even benevolent version of expansion and subjugation of Indigenous populations.  In recent decades scholars in the social sciences and humanities have challenged the rhetoric of Canada as a consistently benevolent and peaceful nation.  They have pointed to the discontinuity between Canada’s rosy image, drawn from foundational nation-building myths of benevolence, and the deeply rooted colonial narratives of necessity and inevitability that underpin those nation-building myths.  This discontinuity manifests itself in far reaching patterns of social and economic disparity between Indigenous and settler populations over time across the nation.  This reality is acutely seen in the Canadian West, as Canada’s historic frontier. 

My thesis re-problematises narratives of Canadian nation-building from a regional perspective.  I argue that positioning the West as the frontier peripheral to Canadian ‘civilisation’ is part of a broader settler colonial logic that sees the contemporary manifestation of disparity between Indigenous and settler populations as emanating from uniquely backward, peripheral places in Canada, rather than challenging the fundamental benevolence of the Canadian nation.  Through a close reading of two trials pertaining to an instance of multiple perpetrator sexual assault that occurred in the province of Saskatchewan in 2003, I demonstrate how the complex web of interlocking systems of domination that oppress and privilege in the trials do not emanate from the backwardness of the place in which they occurred, but are rather symptomatic of broader societal processes and power relations indicative of national settler colonialism. 


Research Supervisors

Dr. Angus Bancroft (Sociology), University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Sharon Cowan (Law), University of Edinburgh. 


Funding & Awards

2012 Beltane Broadcast Media Bursary

2011 Sue Grant Service Award for co-organising Researching Feminist Futuresa two day symposium exploring feminist research practice.

2010 University of Edinburgh Development Trust Small Projects Grant (joint recipient with Researching Feminist Futures organising team).

2010 School of Social and Political Science Merit Award (accepted in lieu of being awarded 2010 School of Social and Political Science Graduate School Scholarship).

2009 Centre of Canadian Studies Library Fund