Walking the Bridge: Reading Edmonton's New Walterdale Bridge as a Socially Constructed Space and a Material Place

  • Author / Creator
    Flores Oviedo, Ximena
  • In this thesis, I explore how constructed spaces become bound and localized places and how, within the context of Edmonton, Canada, places naturalize the presence of white settler bodies on Indigenous lands, extending the colonial project. I consider the colonial history of my hometown, Mexico City, to expand my understanding of this process.
    In my study, I specifically focus on the Walterdale Bridge and the surrounding areas. I read how the myth of terra nullius works against ongoing Indigenous claims to the land. I understand this primarily through Edward William Soja’s work on space and Sherene Razack’s work with Henri Lefebvre’s categories of space, perceived space, conceived space and lived space. Reading Razack, reading Lefebvre, I understand colonialism as a spatial practice, and the Walterdale Bridge as a social space that organizes bodies according to race, gender, class and naturalizes the presence of white settler bodies on Indigenous land. In order to resist the colonial organizing principles of the Bridge, in order to honor the actual land, river and sky of that Bridge, I also consider Tim Ingold, Sarah Pink and Stephanie Springgay and Sarah E. Truman, but, most importantly, the Indigenous place-based theory of Eve Tuck and Marcia Mackenzie, Dwayne Donald, Sharon Venne, Jay T. Johnson and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark. In my day-to-day research, in order to respond meaningfully to the Bridge and the theory I was reading, I developed a regular methodology of walking. In fact, walking became my main research method; it allowed me to practice on-site readings through which I could explore the history of Treaty Six, particularly in the Rossdale area. By regularly walking the Bridge, I was able to locate the history of white settlement and the ways in which the Bridge continues to be a colonial intervention on the land. However, in walking, I was also able to locate historic and current social relations that I understand as disruptive to ongoing colonial practices. In conclusion, by regularly walking on the Bridge, by regularly reading the Bridge, I began to unmap and remap that place. This helps me now as I try to better understand my hometown, Mexico City.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.