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Spider weaving: STI/HIV prevention using popular theatre and action research in an indigenous community Open Access


Other title
Popular Theatre
Action Research
STI/HIV Prevention
Community Based Participatory Research
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Auger, Josephine
Supervisor and department
Jan Selman, Department of Drama
Dr. Lory Laing, Public Health Sciences
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Sarah Flicker, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Dr. Stan Houston, Department of Infectious Diseases
B. Cameron, Nursing
Dr. Walter Kipp, Public Health Sciences
Dr. George Richardson, Secondary Education
Public Health Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
A pocket of HIV infection has grown to epidemic proportions in a mostly Aboriginal1 community in Northern Alberta. At the start of the research my assumptions were that Aboriginal2 sexuality is affected by political, historical, cultural, psychological, and social factors that underpin the social determinants of health. STI/HIV is a symptom of the marginalized status of Aboriginal peoples who experienced historical trauma due to colonization. As an insider researcher, using an exploratory design I addressed the following questions: 1) is popular theatre a culturally appropriate medium for introducing information to increase knowledge of STI/HIV in an Aboriginal audience? 2) Is popular theatre an effective way to encourage audience members to express their attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours related to sexual health? 3) How are popular theatre and action research methodologically and conceptually appropriate for preventing STI/HIV? 4) How do the influence of elders and a popular theatre practitioner affect the intervention? 5) Can the use of action research and popular theatre influence the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours to promote healthy sexual choices? 6) Is narrative analysis a good way for Aboriginal people to tell their stories or have their stories told? Completing this exploratory research was financially possible through the Aboriginal Health Strategy. The funds enabled me to recruit a popular theatre practitioner, a group of young Indigenous community members and supportive elders to answer my research questions. The data was obtained through one-to-one interviews, journals, talking circles, and field notes of the community-based theatre and action research process. Due to a lack of time in the field, narrative analysis was not used. Instead I introduced Grandmother Spider and developed a dream catcher that I refer to as the Indigenous Iterative Webbed Circle to analyze the real and fictional stories that led to the community performance of ―My People‘s Blood.‖ The methods are appropriate and effective if the principles of Community Based Participatory Research and action research are followed by all group members involved in this popular theatre project.
License granted by Josephine Auger ( on 2010-08-31T22:22:07Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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