EDGES member Victor Lam has successfully completed his master’s degree from UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. His master’s thesis was titled “Justice, Reconciliation, and Solidarity: Religious Environmental Organizations in the Construction and Tailoring of Climate Change Messages in the Trans Mountain Resistance.”
MA Thesis Abstract: Religious environmental organizations (REOs) are emerging religious actors in broader environmental and resistance movements that frame and respond to environmental issues in religious or moral terms. However, religious environmental framing across different audiences and settings in the context of climate movements remain under-explored. Examining how REOs construct and tailor climate change messaging to religious audiences in the Trans Mountain resistance, this study adopted a framing approach and conducted content and frame analyses on 15 semi-structured interviews, 107 movement texts and 709 social media texts from seven REOs. This study argues that REOs constructed stewardship, bio-region, and interconnectedness frames that converged on reconciliation-based messaging of justice. Crystallization of this message was deeply embedded in the unsettling encounters and critical self-reflexivity of religious settlers related to ongoing and historical injustices and connections between colonialism and the religious institutions with which they associate. Given this background, REOs sought to ground their messages in education, advocacy, and activism in the wider web of resistance. Additionally, REOs adopted messaging strategies to communicate the urgency of climate change in a broader discourse of responsibilities of religious communities to reconciliation. This study offers four contributions to religious environmentalism, settler colonial studies, and climate change communication literature. First, it clarifies conceptual usages of religious environmental frames, explains the interaction of frame components underlining frame construction, and conceptualizes frame bridging processes towards justice. Second, self-reflexivity of religious actors in reconciliation-based messaging offers preliminary conceptualization of religious settler consciousness as an important pathway towards decolonized solidarity efforts in Indigenous-settler contexts. Third, the role and network formation of religious actors that distinguish the religious environmental movement highlight the movement’s potential alignment with and support for Indigenous-led climate movements. And last, in communicating climate change to religious audiences, message tailoring calls for greater attention to audience-centric approaches in light of opportunities and challenges. Empirically, this study documents REOs in forming a distinctive religious environmental movement specifically out of the Pacific Northwest of Canada and its intersection with Indigenous-led resistances to expanding fossil fuel infrastructures.
Victor’s thesis can be found here: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/74809