Congratulations to Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson, recipient of a postdoctoral SSHRC Grant

Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson, PhD Student at the University of Toronto, recently received a postdoctoral SSHRC Grant for her project “Books and Unusual Archives: An Analysis of Intimate Feminist Memory Work in Québec”, supervised and hosted by Ann Cvetkovich at the Pauline Jewett Institute for Women and Gender Studies at Carleton. The postdoctoral research project extends her dissertation findings on the reception and commemoration of political books by investigating how activists use commemoration to escape erasure. The commemoration of L’Euguélionne “foregrounds the tension between the necessity of keeping movement histories alive along with the importance of renewal within the movement, a tension underexplored in the analysis of memory work in social movement studies”.

Drapeau-Bisson’s dissertation, “Reading, Evaluating and Commemorating Feminism: Excluding and reviving dynamics in the reception of L’Euguélionne in Québec” is supervised by Judith Taylor with committee members including Shyon Baumann and Josée Johnston. Her dissertation focuses on cultural reception, commemoration, cultural intermediaries, method of reading, qualitative methods, Sociology of Art, Feminist studies, Québec studies, and L’Euguélionne. Her research relies on “the premise that political books are more than a receptacle of movement ideas. They are texts that reveal and put words on felt oppression, thus providing solace to some readers while challenging others; they are works that resist artistic norms and often confront literary institutions; and they are objects that can garner solidarity amongst readers and nurture one’s connection to the movement.”

Recent publications include:

Drapeau-Bisson, Marie-Lise (Forthcoming) “Critical Appraisal and Masculine Authority: The Boys’ Club’s Derogatory Method of Reading Canadian Feminist Speculative Fiction” in Cultural Sociology

Drapeau-Bisson, Marie-Lise (2019) “Beyond Green and Orange: Alliance for Choice – Derry’s mobilisation for the Decriminalisation of Abortion” in Irish Political Studies, 35(1): 25.

Drapeau-Bisson, Marie-Lise, Francis Dupuis-Déri and Marcos Ancelovici (2014) “‘La grève est étudiante, la lutte est populaire!’ Manifestations de casseroles et assembles de quartier” in Un Printemps rouge et noir, regards croisés sur le grève étudiante de 2012,edited by Marcos Ancelovici and Francis Duipuis-Déri, Montréal: Écosociété.

More about Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson, her dissertation and research, and other publications, can be found on her website.

PhD Student Ali Greey’s Article on Trans People’s Locker Room Membership Published

Sociology PhD Student Ali Greey’s article ‘It’s Just Safer When I Don’t Go There’: Trans People’s Locker Room Membership and Participation in Physical Activity was recently published in the Journal of Homosexuality within Taylor & Francis Online. Greey’s article focuses on “the concepts of membership and belonging to illuminate how locker room access impacts trans people’s participation in the public sphere”. Drawing from previous findings and interviews, Greey provides insight into the struggles trans people face in navigating locker rooms and physical activity. An excerpt of the abstract is below:

“Building on findings demonstrating that transgender and gender non-binary (trans) people’s participation in physical activity is impacted by their experiences in locker rooms, this study examines how trans people navigate transphobia and cissexism in locker rooms. I consider the concepts of membership and belonging to illuminate how locker room access impacts trans people’s participation in the public sphere.”

The full article can be found here.

Ali Greey is a 3rd year PhD Student specializing in gender and education and gender in sport, their dissertation subject being how schools, which rely on binary understandings of gender for organizing students, are responding to the visibility of trans and non-binary students – and how these students are navigating binary-gender practices in their schools. Greey’s faculty supervisor is Jessica Fields, with Sharla Alegria and Hae Yeon Choo also a part of the committee. Greey is the current project coordinator on the Beyond Bullying Project (with principal investigators Jessica Fields and Jen Gilbert), a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholar, and the recipient of the Sport Canada Research Initiative Award. Their recent publications include “Queer Inclusion Precludes (Black) Queer Disruption: Media Analysis of the Black Lives Matter Toronto Sit-In During Toronto Pride 2016” and Justice for Trans Athletes: Challenges and Struggles with H.J. Lenskyj. More on Ali Greey, their projects, and contacts can be found on their website.

PhD Student Kerri Scheer receives Mitacs Accelerate Grant

Sociology PhD Student Kerri Scheer recently received the Mitacs Accelerate Grant from the Mitacs Accelerate Program to conduct research with the Toronto Bike Brigade. The Mitacs Program sponsors research collaborations between universities and private/non-profit/government sectors to support industrial and social innovation in Canada. The Toronto Bike Brigade is a group of volunteer cyclists who have been delivering essential goods to historically excluded folks in Toronto on behalf of different community partners. Scheer is surveying Brigade volunteers to generate insight on volunteer recruitment and retention for mutual aid groups in the context of COVID-19.

Securing the grant involved submitting a proposal to Mitacs, in collaboration with the Brigade, and submitting to the U of T REB. Scheer received both an ethics and proposal approval at the end of October 2020, started the research in November, and expects to have the project wrapped up in March. The funds are being administered via the UTM business office.

Below is an abstract for the project (tentative title: Solidarity not Charity: Mutual-aid volunteer engagement, experiences, and retention strategies with the Bike Brigade in the context of COVID-19):

“While ‘mutual aid’ is not new (being a long-standing practice in racialized communities to make hostile capitalistic relations more survivable), the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a renewed interest in, and need for, mutual aid projects. The pandemic has highlighted, and exacerbated, existing systemic issues regarding food insecurity for historically excluded populations and communities and has amplified the strain on existing social services and charity organizations. The inadequacy of existing supports has provided an impetus to expand and examine alternative means of collective care. However, the context of a pandemic that necessitates mutual aid also presents challenges to its model. In eschewing traditional state/corporate funding to maintain control of their mandate, mutual aid groups rely heavily on an active and engaged volunteer membership; pandemic public health orders have precluded opportunities to gather and mobilize aid in-person, limiting the ability of mutual aid groups to cultivate the collective strength and social networks they rely upon to carry out their work.” (cut for length)

Kerri Scheer is a PhD Candidate specializing in law and public policy. The Mitacs project is distinct from her dissertation research, but fits her broader research interests regarding administrative justice and social policy. My MA was in the Socio-Legal Studies Program at York University and my BA was in Sociology at Trent University. The working title for her dissertation is: Producing Law & Governance: A Case study of the Ontario Health Professions’ Discipline Processes. Her faculty supervisor is Paula Maurutto.

Faculty Member Kristin Plys has her book “Capitalism and its Uncertain Future” published

Professor of Sociology Kristin Plys (Ph.D. 2016, Sociology, Yale University) recently had her book, “Capitalism and its Uncertain Future”, co-authored with Charles Lemert, published by Routledge. This book follows the theories of capitalism from four perspectives: macro-historical theories of the origins of capitalism; postcolonial theories of capitalism that situate capitalism as seen from the Global South; theories of capitalism from the perspective of labor; and prospective theories of capitalism’s uncertain future. In addition to these perspectives, the book introduces readers to various well-known and lesser-known theorists. The book can be purchased here.

Professor Plys’ research sits at the intersection of political economy, postcolonial theory, labour and labour movements, historical sociology, and global area studies. The greater part of her intellectual work analyzes 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 Marxist political economy, social protest against authoritarianism in the 1970s Global South, avant-garde visual art as left politics in the Global South, labour history and histories of café culture, and historical method.

She has published articles in a range of journals, including Theory and SocietyTheory, Culture and Society, Review(Fernand Braudel Center), Critical Sociology, European Journal of Sociology, and Economic and Political Weekly. In addition to sociology, she is affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Civilizations (UTM) and Culinaria (UTSC).

More on Professor Kristin Plys, her accomplishments, and her publications can be found here.

The book launch for “Capitalism and its Uncertain Future” will be happening Friday, January 21st at 12pm EST. Anyone is welcome to register here. The event will feature commentary on the book by Nancy Fraser, Beverly Silver, Kanishka Goonewardena, and Aziz Fall.

PhD Student Ferdouse Asefi published in ‘The Hamilton Spectator’ on The Betrayal of Afghanistan

Sociology PhD Student Ferdouse Asefi at the University of Toronto was recently published in The Hamilton Spectator. Asefi’s opinion article “The Betrayal of Afghanistan” brings light to the governmental response to the fall of Afghanistan. The full article is available on ‘The Hamilton Spectator’ website here.

An excerpt of the article is below:

“122 days. That’s how long it’s been since the takeover and occupation of Afghanistan by extremists. Since then, Afghanistan’s education, health, banking and security systems have collapsed. There is no money. There is no safety. We are witnessing one of the world’s largest and continuing economic crisis. According to United Nations Development Programme, it’s “the worst humanitarian disaster we’ve ever seen.”

A generation of Afghans born and raised with partial democracy, human rights, women’s participation and freedom of speech are collectively imprisoned under a fundamentalist oppressive regime. While the international community oscillates between their indifference and abandonment of Afghanistan, Afghans continue to suffer from violence and subjugation. This will have generational consequences.”

Ferdouse Asefi is a 4th year PhD Student specializing in crime and law, race and ethnicity. His dissertation is “The Graveyard of Life: Experiencing Afghanistan through the Afghan-Canadian Diaspora”. His dissertation research looks at the Afghan diaspora in Canada, focusing on the experiences of Afghan refugees during different periods of migration to Canada and second-generation Afghans. In addition, he examines the media representations of Afghans and how they resist orientalist understandings of Afghanistan and Afghans. His faculty supervisor is Luisa Schwartzman, with Ellen Berrey as a dissertation committee member. Ferdouse has other op-eds published in CBC, Toronto Star, and the Hamilton Spectator.

PhD Student Eduardo Gutierrez Cornelius awarded the Roderick A. Macdonald Graduate Student Essay Prize

Sociology PhD Student Eduardo Gutierrez Cornelius at the University of Toronto was recently awarded the 2021 Roderick A. Macdonald Graduate Student Essay Prize from the Canadian Law and Society Association. His paper, “Discursive Mismatch and Globalization by Stealth: The Fight Against Corruption in the Brazilian Legal Field”, was initially wrote for courses in the PhD Program – first for the seminar “Contemporary Sociological Theory”, secondly in his practicum course, thirdly for “Law, Politics, and Globalization”, and finally through an applied for and received Summer PLF. This project is part of Eduardo’s Ph.D. dissertation in which he explores the role of legal actors in the criminalization of the elites in Brazil, co-supervised by Sida Liu and Ron Levi.

The paper analyzes Brazilian lawyers’ debates over an anti-corruption bill, named the Ten Measures Against Corruption. While prosecutors defend the bill by importing global ideas on the problem of corruption, defence attorneys criticize the bill’s criminal law solutions. Eduardo explains this mismatch by looking at these legal actors’ professional trajectories. He also argues that this discursive mismatch leads to a form of globalization by stealth, whereby local dynamics allow global ideas to remain unchallenged in local fields. Looking beyond the technical legal issues debated, Eduardo shows how this process legitimates particular moral views about the Global South.

 Eduardo has also conducted research on institutional responses to corruption (with Mariana Prado), law and social theory (with Sida Liu), and youth justice on which he has published a book titled, The “Worst of Both Worlds”? The Legitimate Construction of Youth Justice by the Superior Court of Justice

PhD Student Jillian Sunderland interviewed by ‘The Medium’ on Social Media Activism

Sociology PhD Student Jillian Sunderland and an SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholar at the University of Toronto was recently interviewed by Dalainey Gervais from ‘The Medium’. Sunderland was interviewed on her both her research and personal experience regarding social media, platform use, activism, and the separation of activism and corporate capitalism. The full article is available on ‘The Medium’ website here.

This article focuses on the newfound importance of social media activism in today’s political and social climate and assesses both its strength and weakness for implementing change. Following the wake of BLM protests and the recent discovery of mass grave sites of residential schools, social media presence and activist conversation is stronger than before. This article addresses both the positives and negatives of this sudden increase in informative posts, hashtags, and online protesting. Gervais seeks Sunderland’s opinion and stance on using her own platform as one of activism and access to information.

An excerpt of the article is below:

Social media platforms help raise awareness on important issues worldwide.

By: Dalainey Gervais, September 13th, 2021

“Social media activism has really given us unprecedented access to democratize information because the majority of young people get their news from social media,” says Jillian Sunderland, a sociology PhD student in the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Studies Program at the University of Toronto. Reflecting on her use of social media, Sunderland confirms that she also utilizes her platform to share important information with her followers. Access to the internet allows an opportunity for everyone to become allies in important causes and movements.

Social media activism helps communities understand their own histories and brings attention to important conversations around the world. Following the murder of George Floyd and the intense social media coverage of the Black Lives Matters (BLM) movement during the summer of 2020, Americans used their social media platforms to expose the deep-rooted racism of the country that is not an issue of the past. The movement also allowed Canadians to reflect on histories of slavery and racism.

“I realized that Canadians didn’t know the extent of anti-black racism and our history of prejudicial treatment in Canada,” adds Sunderland. “When I asked my friends why they weren’t sharing resources on their platforms, they told me that it was just an American problem.”

Faculty Member Hae Yeon Choo interviewed by ‘Winnipeg Free Press’ on Squid Game

Hae Yeon ChooProfessor Hae Yeon Choo was recently interviewed by Joel Schlesinger of the ‘Winnipeg Free Press’. Choo was interviewed on the rising popularity of the Netflix drama Squid Game. The article focuses on the universal theme present in Squid Game – money and desperation. This interview was based on Prof. Choo’s research, as part of Didier Fassin’s and Axel Honneth’s edited volume “Crisis Under Critique” (Chapter 4). This book can be found and purchased here and Choo’s full article is available on ‘Winnipeg Free Press” here.

The article demonstrates the connection and interrelation of socioeconomic challenges and industrialized nation, something Hae Yeon Choo discusses and delves into deeper. With the main protagonist of Squid Game suffering a similar social issue to the real-life people affected by the referenced SsangYong Motor event, Choo is able to take her recent research and apply it to the in-demand television show, and later connect it to the debt and stress of Canadian lives as well.

An excerpt of the article is below:

“Additionally, Squid Game alludes to the country’s recent, often brutal socioeconomic history.

As Choo points out, the main protagonist Seong Gi-hun’s backstory is that he “accrued a significant debt, after being laid off from his stable factory job at ‘Dragon Motors,’ which took him down to a downward spiral of irregular employment and failed venture at small business.”

To South Korean viewers, his story “is a clear reference to SsangYong Motor, which is a significant event that prompted a militant strike and a violent police raid.”

That strike, by the way, is the focus of Choo’s recent research, appearing in a soon-to-be-published book. She notes the strike was a pivotal historical event that illustrates globalism’s negative effects on the middle class. Among globalism’s more negative outcomes, she writes, has been the rise of “ghost capital” in which money and corporate ownership are no longer are bound by national borders, making it much easier to lay off workers while ignoring the financial hardship they cause.

In the case of SsangYong Motor, many workers committed suicide after the layoffs, Choo explains.

“To many South Koreans, the SsangYong case shows the precarity of the stable working class under global capitalism.”

Squid Game may be an exaggeration of the impacts of globalism, automation and the decline of the middle class in Korea, but many Canadians are likely feeling stung too.”


Professor Hae Yeon Choo’s research centers on gender, citizenship, transnational migration, and urban sociology to examine global social inequality. In her empirical and theoretical work, she employs an intersectional approach to social inequalities, integrating gender, race, and class in her analyses.

Her book Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea (Stanford University Press 2016) and related articles (published in Gender & Society and Qualitative Sociology) offer an account of how inequalities of gender, race, and class affect migrants’ practice of rights through a comparative study of three groups of Filipina women in South Korea—factory workers, wives of South Korean men, and hostesses at American military camptown clubs.

More on Professor Hae Yeon Choo, her accomplishments, and her publications can be found here.

PhD Student Youngrong Lee’s Practicum Research on Heterogeneity of Gig Workers was published

Sociology PhD Student Youngrong Lee’s practicum research was recently published in Critical Sociology. Her research is titled “After a Global Platform Leaves: Understanding the Heterogeneity of Gig Workers through Capital Mobility”. This article outlines the importance of heterogeneity in understanding divergent worker subjectivities found in the case of capital mobility in the platform economy. Lee dives into the economic and social impacts upon gig workers, addressing both the financial and emotional connections these gig workers experience, as well as the workers’ surfaced political views from the platforms’ exit. The full article can be found here.

The abstract of the article is below:

“We know a great deal about global capital mobility in traditional industries, such as manufacturing, but very little about emerging capital mobility in the gig economy. Using the case of Canadian Foodora, a multinational platform that left Canada in 2020, I situate global capital mobility in the local labour market. Drawing upon interview data with former Foodora couriers and ethnographic data collected from a gig workers’ union, I investigate the social, economic and political subjectivities of gig workers activated by a global platform’s capital mobility. My findings reveal unexpected parallel effects caused by capital mobility in the gig economy and traditional industries. My research highlights how heterogeneity is salient for understanding divergent worker subjectivities. The economic and social impacts upon financially dependent gig workers and the emotional connections of devoted and organized gig workers challenge the dominant discourse that gig workers are simply part-timers and hence free from work commitments.”

Youngrong Lee is in her 3rd year of the PhD program. She previously completed her MA in Sociology at Syracuse University in the US. Her dissertation is titled “Comparative Study of Gig Work in Canada and South Korea”, Hae Yeon Choo and Yoonkyung Lee as dissertation committee members. Cynthia Cranford acts as her faculty supervisor. Youngrong’s areas of specialization are work and labour, gender, social movements, and platform economy.