Aboriginal women's visions of breast cancer survivorship : intersections of race(ism)/class/gender and "...diversity as we define it"
Brooks, Carolyn Muriel
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This dissertation combines the empowering methodology of photovoice with focus groups and in-depth interviews, to develop a contextual understanding of the meaning of breast cancer for Aboriginal women. Photovoice is a participatory action research method, as well as a process towards health promotion. The participants in this study took pictures to document their realities and engaged in critical reflection individually and in a group process, using images and stories to advocate community and policy changes. A combination of epidemiological, sociological, and anti-oppressive theoretical lenses were used to analyze the women’s stories and data, which served to acknowledge heterogeneity, while integrating multiple social contexts. The emerging framework revealed multi-faceted identities, commonalities of situation, and prominent social forces that affect identity and cancer experience. Interpretation of the women’s stories and pictures resulted in four general themes: 1) adjusting to physical and psychological changes; 2) the need for culturally relevant sources of support; 3) shifting identities; and 4) personal and political advocacy/policy directions. Prominent social forces include: culturally derived meanings of identity and sexuality, cultural and historical experiences/traditions of Aboriginal peoples, racism and racial stigmas, and socio-economic inequalities. Breast cancer experiences are shown to be significantly linked to history and the impact of colonization and neo-colonialism. Findings also point to the importance of recognizing heterogeneity, which does not minimize the impact of colonial histories and oppression, but points to the importance of employing an anti-oppressive theoretical lens and research framework, able to handle complex intersecting social forces and multiple agencies. These findings provide support for using the photovoice methodology with Aboriginal women, especially for its ability to shift power from researchers to insiders, privilege Indigenous knowledges, and for providing opportunities for critical and multiple tellings. The dissertation concludes by introducing a governmentality lens, which questions whether photovoice methods can address the social and historical problems at the level of policy. This study directs our attention to the need for further research on: 1) the link between breast cancer experiences to historical, political, and social contexts of lives of Aboriginal peoples; and 2) the potential of photovoice methods to affect policy and social justice.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorThomas-MacLean, Roanne; Poudrier, Jennifer
CommitteeSinding, Christina; Samuelson, Les; Monture, Patricia; Duggleby, Wendy; Cannon, Martin
Copyright DateApril 2009
Aboriginal women's health--Saskatchewan
Breast cancer experiences