AFP Research Hub

What is your passion?  AFP faculty share their projects, interests, and passions. 

Bakx pic
Arthur Bakx (Adult Academic and Career Preparation)
What's in an Okanagan Wetland for large Wildlife? "80 percent of wildlife are either directly dependent on riparian ecosystems or use them more frequently than other habitats" (www.env.gov.bc.ca). This study features a wetland on a mountain ridge above Peachland. Over a period of eight months the visits of large mammals, including Black Bears and White-tailed Deer, were monitored. Methods include: (i) analysis of photographs taken by remote-sensing cameras, and (ii) interpretation of tracks and sign around the wetland. Results indicate that White-tailed Deer use the wetland in summer to cool off and play! In fall and winter, deer feed on shrubs, and find resting sites and shelter. Black Bears visit the wetland in late summer and early fall, and feed on insect larvae in logs. The wetland area may be an important stage for breeding and territorial behaviours. I’ll be presenting my study on May 9th, the Applied Research & Innovation Day at Okanagan College.

Norah Bowman (Interdisciplinary Studies and English)

This past year, I went to Williams Lake to attend a community meeting about the aftermath of the Mt. Polley Imperial Metals TailingsPond spill. I listened to elders, community members, chiefs of the Xat'sull First Nation and the Williams Lake Indian Band (both are Secwepemc Nation bands), researchers from UNBC, provincial government representatives, and representatives ofCattleguard and fences on Highway 20, Cariboo Chilcotin, September 2015. Photo: Norah Bowman Imperial Metals. I also worked with Mining Watch, a Canadian mining justice organization, and learned about mining and human rights in Canada and Central America. I presented my paper “Our Economy Walks on the Land”: Secwepemc Resistance and Resilience After the Imperial Metals Mt Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach," at the Associate for the Study of Literature and the Environment in Moscow, Idaho this summer. I presented this paper with the co-operation and approval of Jacinda Mack, former mining response co-ordinator for the Xat'sull First Nation. The paper is under review at a journal, and I hope to publish it within a year.

My next project continues my research interest in resource extraction, climate change, and the environment on unceded Indigenous land in the BC interior. I'm embarking on a cultural study of cattleguards. Colonial cattle and cars have irrevocably altered BC grasslands. Cattle ranching is culturally embedded in rural life, including contemporary Indigenous community life. However, cattle and cars are two of the greatest contributors to climate change, and the BC interior is at the front lines of climate change effects. What does a matrix of cattle guards mean for grasslands and climate change on unceded Indigenous territory in the BC interior? I'll be travelling the interior and studying this question further. 

Amy Cohen (Anthropology)
Amy cohen

I began building relationships with Mexican farmworkers in the Okanagan when I moved back to the area in 2009. In 2013, Elise Hjalmarson and I founded Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (or RAMA), an anti-colonial migrant justice collective which supports migrant farm workers in their struggles for dignity, community, and justice (www.ramaokanagan.org). In 2014, with the support of an Okanagan College Grant in Aid, I began work on an ethnographic research project that involved interviewing migrant men and women about their lives in Canada. The goal of this project was to highlight stories of the ways that migrant men and women resist their structural vulnerability and legislated inequality. I co-authored several papers with Elise Hjalmarson which present these stories and posit that despite finding themselves in situations of considerable constraint (due to federal immigration laws, their restrictive employment contracts, as well as arbitrary rules imposed by employers), migrant farmworkers in the Okanagan Valley are resisting their oppression in subtle, yet powerful ways. We presented our preliminary findings in 2015 at the Latin American Studies Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I recently gave a paper, also based on this research, at the Precarious Work: Domination and Resistance conference in Seattle, organized by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labour and Employment. 

I am currently embarking on a SSHRC-funded project that builds on my previous research as well as the previous research of my co-applicant Dr. Susana Caxaj who teaches in the School of Nursing at UBC Okanagan. The aim of this project is to better understand the social supports and barriers that affect the ability of migrant agricultural workers to participate fully in public or community life. This will be a multi-year project that will involve in-depth analyses of written texts and government policy, as well as interviews with migrant workers and individuals from organizations that 

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provide services and support to migrants. As both academics and activists, we hope that this research results in real improvements in the lives of migrant farmworkers in BC.  We envision that the results of this research could be of benefit to multiple sectors (health, social, economic) and levels of government because it will reveal gaps in services and opportunities to improve relevance and access for the migrant men and women who come to work in our fields and orchards each year.

Hannah Calder (English)

My name is Hannah Calder and I am a professor of English and Creative Writing at the college.  I am also the mother of a five year old daughter, a published novelist and poet, a literacy tutor, and an expressive writing facilitator. 

My current passion is offering writing workshops at Community Futures in Vernon.  I speak to groups of 16-30 year old at-risk job seekers in the Employ Program about the benefits of using writing to process thoughts and feelings during (and after) the job search period.  

Piranesi's Figures

As a creative writer and professor, I am interested in the many ways that we use writing to process and document our emotions. Writing down our thoughts and feelings gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we're going through, and hopefully figure out what we need to do to improve our lives.  Writing doesn't even have to be focused on the self to be therapeutic.  In my personal experience, writing fiction is just as helpful psychologically and emotionally as writing a journal entry.  

Writing helps us to see how far we've come or how lost we are or where we need to go next.   It's empowering to looore we speak".  It slows us down, makes us more mindful, and allows us to release our feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment.   k back at an old journal and see that something that was once a dream has now become a reality. Having a regular writing practice is also a way to ensure that we "write before we speak". It slows us down, makes us more mindful and allows us to release our feelings in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

What I love most about writing therapy is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, with nothing more than a scrap of paper and a pencil.  Many of us can't afford the luxury of spending an hour on the therapist's couch, but what excuses can we make for not picking up a pen and writing in a journal?  Through my workshops, I hope to help others in my community to discover the benefits of using writing for self-improvement. Read the glowing review from the Vancouver Sun of Hannah's work here.

Corinna Chong

Corinna Chong (English)

As a professor for the Writing and Publishing program at Okanagan College, I dabble in a variety of creative disciplines, including graphic design, creative writing, and academic writing. I work with fellow English professor Sean Johnston to co-edit Ryga: A Journal of Provocations, a publication that showcases the creative work of poets, fiction writers, and playwrights from around the world. I also design the journal and manage the website: rygajournal.ca. We recently released a new chapbook of poems by Ellen Kombiyil, and are working on our ninth issue, which will be published this summer.

I am also in the process of writing my second novel, Bad Land. The novel is set in Drumheller, Alberta, and follows the story of a very cloistered and solitary woman who is confronted with the mysterious return of her estranged brother and his peculiar seven-year-old daughter. This summer, I plan to take a research trip to the badlands to gain a stronger understanding of the landscape and culture.

Visit my website for more information and updates: corinnachong.com

Raluca Fratiloiu (Communications)

I teach and research in the communications field at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia, with a focus on rhetoric, discourse and persuasion. I address questions pertaining to all forms of media, from traditional/mainstream to digital/alternative/social. 

This year, I have continued to involve students in blogging in CMNS 130 Intro to Digital Media and CMNS 290 – Intro to Video Game Studies. My research, teaching and overall development focus on bringing tools such as WordPress, New Hive or Twine into the classroom. My goal is to equip students to take control of their digital identities and gain the confidence to become makers and creators of content.

This summer, I plan to take a course in digital storytelling and enhance the range of platforms, approaches and tools that I can use in the classroom. Teaching how to develop transmedia projects is fascinating to me as each student has a story to tell. Whilst they tell it they also have an opportunity to articulate their voice and learn the computational techniques that turn them into applied learners. For a look at some of my projects visit ralucafrati.com.

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Matt Kavanagh (English)

In February, I traveled to Paris to deliver a paper at “Fiction Rescues History”, a conference dedicated to the work of American novelist and playwright Don DeLillo (http://delilloparisconf.byethost12.com/). Of the approximately 30 scholars who presented their work, I was the only one from a Canadian institution. My talk focused on an intriguing archival find: while digging through DeLillo’s papers (which are on deposit at the University of Texas) I discovered a film treatment developed by the author of the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. DeLillo would later go on to write about the assassination in Rolling Stone and dramatize the life of Oswald in the award-winning novel Libra. The film treatment, which was previously unknown to scholars, marks an early attempt to work through some of these themes in a different medium. I’m currently revising the paper for publication. This was the second international conference of DeLillo scholars where I’ve presented my work—the last one took place in New York in 2012.

In addition to my work on DeLillo, I have also recently conducted substantial interviews in Seattle with American novelist Peter Mountford (A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism and The Dismal Science) and in London with British novelist and editor at the London Review of Books John Lanchester Capital, The Debt to Pleasure, etc.). Both conversations touched on the challenges that neoliberalism poses to literary representation, particularly the ways in which novelists have taken up the challenge of representing finance in their fiction. This topic is of great interest to me—it is the subject of an ongoing, multifaceted project. A small part of it includes an omnibus review that I’m currently working on which examines recent criticism on the idea of “capitalist realism” in literary studies.

Xiaoping Li (Sociology)

Recently, my paper A Critical Examination of Chinese Language Media’s Normative Goals and News Decisions was published by Global Media Journal. The paper describes how ethnic media are an integral part of a multicultural communication infrastructure benefiting all Canadians, as they provide services pivotal to immigrants’ settlement, integration, and participation in Canadian society, yet numerous studies of ethnic media reveal deficiencies in their performance. This analysis, informed by interview data, examines Chinese language media’s normative goals in relation to news decision-making. Outlet news workers convey commendable goals, and those who stress citizen building dedicate themselves to journalistic roles despite unfavourable circumstances. Meanwhile, Chinese language media outlets operate according to norms of social responsibility divergent from mainstream media. Narrow definitions of social responsibility, audience tastes, and perceived community needs influence content and boundaries in and for Chinese language reportage on Canada. Market competition and profit concerns also shape reporting quality, with normative goals trumped by commercial aims. New Canadians with language barriers require informational help if they are to truly become part of Canadian society, exercise their rights, and live up to their responsibilities as citizens. Improvements include professional training for ethnic media workers, inclusion of minority narratives into mainstream media, and publicly funded multilingual communications.  

I am currently writing a paper that assesses the alternativeness of Chinese language media in Canada.  These two papers are part of a research and project which I started a few years ago.  To me it is a very interesting and meaningful project, not just because I am researching the media of my own ethnic community, but also because ethnic or multicultural media in this country have implications for the larger society. 

Amy Modahl (Communications, Fine Arts and Linguistic Anthropology)

As an instructor in Communications, Fine Arts, and Linguistic Anthropology at OC, I focus my research on visual and verbal communication.  Most of this research is visual because I’m also an artist working primarily in drawing, printmaking, and oil.  I currently show my artwork  under two identities.  As Officer Aj Dahl, I represent the fictional company AmCor (www.amcorinc.net) together with my collaborator Officer Idia (artist Corinne Thiessen).  We create humorous drawings and do interactive performances that critique texts about deception and lying, particularly now "Fake News!"   This project will again be exhibiting in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June 2017 at SOOVisual Arts Center.As Amy Modahl (www.amymodahl.net), I have a more varied practice.  My most recent work includes a large-scale mural in November, 2016 - January, 2017 exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery, titled Drawing From Life about artists who use drawing as a creative practice  http://kelownaartgallery.com/drawing-from-life/   In August 2017, I'll revisit my interest in hand gestures for a long drawing in the Window Gallery of Kelowna's Alternator Centre. In this piece I'll continue to consider how the hands can seemingly, magically enact deals, confer titles, and deceive.

 Amy Modahl image