Professor Kristin Plys studies a Tea House in Lahore to learn about Resistance to Authoritarianism

Plys, KristinCoffee and tea have a long history of brewing resistance.  Professor Kristin Plys received funding from the Connaught New Researcher Award to study the role of the Pak Tea House in Lahore, Pakistan to understand the role the tea house played as a site of socialization for artists and intellectuals resisting authoritarianism in the twentieth century. This work builds on her previous research that studied the the New Delhi Indian Coffee House resistance movement during India’s period of postcolonial authoritarianism. For several decades in the early and mid-twentieth century, the Indian Coffee House in New Delhi and the Pak Tea House in Lahore were both vibrant sites of political deliberation and cultural expression.  When India briefly became a dictatorship in the 1970s, in fact, the Indian Coffee House location in New Delhi played a critical role in resistance against the postcolonial authoritarian state. The same, however, does not appear to have been true for the Pak Tea House when the Pakistani state tipped into political authoritarianism in 1977. This project seeks to understand the variation in trajectories between these two sites.

This project aims to learn the role of the Pak Tea House in shaping the political and cultural movements of the 1960s and 70s; trace the effect of Pakistani authoritarianism on the deliberative culture in the tea house and its clientele, along with their reaction to the democratic occlusion; and to determine which types of spaces of political deliberation help foster resistance against the state during periods of democratic occlusion. Professor Plys is using Connaught funding to travel to the archives in Lahore to evaluate their holdings and speak with key informants. In achieving her research objectives, this project will contribute to an understanding of the conditions that determine whether movements to restore democracy in postcolonial states succeed or fail.

Professor Plys is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching duties at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. Her research interests  are at the intersections of political economy, postcolonial theory, sociology of development, labour and labour movements, historical sociology and global area studies. In addition to publishing on democracy in South Asia,  Professor Plys is also working on a book with Charles Lemert called Capitalism and its Uncertain Future.

UTM News Professor Kristin Plys interviewed by UTM News regarding her India Coffee House research

Plys, KristinCongratulations to Professor Kristin Plys who recently received the  Connaught Funding to study coffee houses as a site of anti-authoritarian protest in India and Pakistan in the early and mid 20th century. Professor Plys is an associate professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities  at UTM. Her research sits at the intersection of political economy, postcolonial theory, sociology of development, labor and labor movements, historical sociology, and global area studies.  The full article is available on the UTM news site, we have posted an excerpt below.

Wake up and smell the resistance

The differences between anti-authoritarian movements in the 1970s in India and Pakistan, and the role of specific coffee houses in each country in igniting pro-democracy activism, is the focus of a new study by University of Toronto Mississauga assistant professor of sociology Kristin Plys. The winner of a 2018 Connaught Fund New Researcher Award worth $35,000, Plys’ study is called “Brewing Resistance: Coffee House as a site of social protest against post-colonial authoritarianism in India and Pakistan”.

…Since 2012, Plys has been studying political deliberation and cultural expression in the Indian Coffee House in Delhi, which in the early and mid-twentieth century was a prominent meeting place for left-leaning academics, writers and artists. The site was part of a chain of coffee houses established in the 1930s by the then-ruling British Empire. In the 1950s, when India’s independence movement took root, these shops were appropriated by their workers and become employee-run cooperatives; today, there are about 400 across India.

The full article can be found here

Welcome to our New Faculty

In 2017, we welcomed six new faculty members into the Department of Sociology. They cover a wide range of research and teaching areas that will both strengthen and broaden our department’s profile. Though housed across the three campuses, we welcome all of these new faculty members to join in our tri-campus intellectual community.

Dokshin, FedorProfessor Fedor Dokshin studies social movements and political behaviour with a focus on the role of organizations and social networks. He uses primarily quantitative and computational approaches. Recent research examines how emerging energy industries become politically contested and how this contestation might influence regulation and policymaking, the emergence of new industries, and the distribution of health and environmental risks.


Flores, JerryProfessor Jerry Flores  is an ethnographer who does research in the areas of intersectionality and crime, prison studies, Latina/o sociology and work on the school to prison pipeline. As a whole, his work investigates how race, class, gender, sexuality and other identities influence people’s trajectories through the educational and penal institutions. His new work will investigate issues related to mental health and policing, and the use of video ethnography.

Plys, KristinProfessor Kristin Plys’  research sits at the intersection of political economy, postcolonial theory, sociology of development, labour and labour movements, historical sociology, and global area studies. The greater part of her intellectual work analyses the historical trajectory of global capitalism as seen from working class and anti-colonial movements in the Global South. This research program has led her to take a particular interest in “Third World” political economy in the mid-20th century, shifts in the global trade balance between Early Modern Europe and Asia, and the theories of political economy that help to analyse these historical phenomena.

Jasmine RaultProfessor Jasmine Rault’s research focuses on sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity as axes of power, social change and aesthetic potentiality. Her work takes queer feminist approaches to architecture and design (both material and digital), online research ethics and economies, and questions of sexuality in transnational arts and social movements. She is currently working on the techno-social history of ‘openness’ since the late nineteenth century, and a collaborative project to reimagine online research, publishing and archiving protocols that prioritize decolonizing, trans- feminist, queer, Indigenous and Black methodologies.

Silver, MichelleProfessor Michelle Silver studies how cumulative life experiences influence health, well-being, and adaptation to later life course transitions. Her current work focuses on the relationship between work identity and retirement; perceptions about aging; embodiment, aging and resilience; and health information seeking behaviors. She is also interested in later life gender disparities in life expectancy and pensions.


Professor Gail Super’s research focuses on punishment, prisons, penal policy-making, popular punitivism, and penality. She is currently engaged in two projects which both explore aspects of crime prevention and punishment in marginalized informal (shack) settlements in Cape Town, South Africa – the one involves a court case where a community leader from an informal settlement is charged with committing a vigilante murder and, the other, an analysis of closed police dockets concerning violent forms of crime prevention and/or punishment in one of South Africa’s most densely populated poor black townships.