INUIT GIRLS MAKE MEDIA: RESISTING STEREOTYPES THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH
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Historically, entertainment media have reproduced inaccurate and stereotypical media representations of Indigenous peoples. In this thesis, I draw on concepts such as Stuart Hall’s theory of media influence, Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence, George Gerbner and Gaye Tuchman’s ideas of symbolic annihilation in order to analyze how media representations of Indigenous women and girls perpetuate stereotypes, and how alternative media productions might counter them. Using ethnographic and participatory action research (PAR) methodologies, I then explore these issues using empirical material. First, I conduct an Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) to reveal how Indigenous women and girls are represented in music videos, identifying patterns along themes of beauty standards, stereotypes, and power and agency. Second, I explore how Inuit girls self-represented when given access to resources. To do this, I collaborated with local Indigenous organizations in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, to facilitate a three-day music video camp for Inuit girls. A year later, following PAR principles, I involved the girls in the data analysis process; themes in the girls’ videos included friendship, connection to nature, Inuit culture and the importance of positive representation. Overall, this thesis provided an opportunity for raising awareness among the Inuit girls that by making their own media, they have the power to create their own self-representations and resist stereotypes. In this way, girl-led self-representations have the potential to change lives and communities.