Professor Tahseen Shams featured on “Pandemics” – the first episode of Migrations: A World on the Move Podcast

Professor Tahseen Shams was recently featured in the first episode of Migrations: A World on the Move Podcast, titled Pandemics. In this episode, Professor Shams spoke with host Eleanor Paynter and guests Dr. Gunisha Kaur and Dr. Katie Fiorella on the topic of how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped our understanding of borders and migration.

Professor Shams discussed the history of migrants being blamed for global epidemics, including the blaming of the Irish immigrants for cholera, Chinese immigrants for the bubonic plague, and Haitian refugees for AIDS. These narratives perpetuate fear of migrants in the U.S. society and justify border restrictions that hurt vulnerable immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Contrarily, immigrants and refugees rarely travel compared to frequent tourists and business travellers. This has shown its effects during the COVID-19 pandemic as cruise ships continued to sail for weeks and help spread coronavirus around the world.

Professor Tahseen Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus. Her research interests are in the areas of international migration, globalization, race/ethnicity, nationalism, and religion. Her book, Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World was released earlier in 2020.

We’ve included a transcript excerpt from Professor Tahseen Sham’s discussion below. The complete episode, Pandemics, can be found here.

Pandemics
Migrations: A Global Grand Challenge

Tahseen Shams: “The United States has, in fact, a long historical precedent in immigrant scaremongering in the face of global epidemics. Immigrants have been associated with diseases and have been perceived to threaten and contaminate the health of the American nation. We see, for instance, in the 1800s that Irish immigrants were blamed for bringing cholera to the United States. Italian immigrants for bringing polio and Jews for tuberculosis. In the 1900s, Chinese immigrants were similarly accused of spreading the bubonic plague. When the influx of Haitian refugees in the 1980s coincided with the AIDS epidemic, we saw that Haitians and Africans were blamed for the disease. Today in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, the coronavirus—having believed to originate in China—is feeding into pre-existing anti-Chinese racism. It’s not something that suddenly has emerged because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And this is despite the fact that the virus that actually led to the outbreak in New York, which has had the largest U.S. death toll thus far, actually came from Europe.”

Listen to the full episode here…

PhD graduate Tony Zhang and Professor Brym’s publication selected by John Wiley & Sons to promote LGBT+ History Month in the UK

Tony Zhang Robert BrymA 2019 publication titled Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries: Education, Political Freedom, and Liberalism by PhD graduate Tony Zhang and Professor Robert Brym was recently selected for a special collection in John Wiley & Sons as one of five journal articles across disciplines and published over the last two decades to promote LGBT+ History Month in the UK. The article studies how tolerance of homosexuality is shaped by individual education and political freedom.

Tony Huiquan Zhang obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto in March 2018. He currently works at the University of Macau as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. His research concerns public opinion research, social movements, and Chinese politics.

Robert Brym is a professor of sociology and S.D. Clark Chair in Sociology at the University of Toronto. He has conducted research on the sociology of intellectuals, social movements in Canada, Jews in Russia, and collective and state violence in Israel and Palestine. Currently, his research focuses on the democracy movement in the Middle East and North Africa.

We have included the abstract of the article below. Find the LGBT+ History Month special collection by John Wiley & Sons here.

Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries: Education, Political Freedom, and Liberalism
Sociological Forum, 2019
By Tony Huiquan Zhang and Robert Brym

Abstract

Researchers have repeatedly found a positive correlation between education and tolerance. However, they may be victims of an unrepresentative sample containing only rich Western liberal democracies, where political agenda have a liberalizing effect on curricula. In this paper, we specify the relationship between education and liberal attitudes by analyzing data on educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality (one dimension of liberalism) drawn from a heterogeneous sample of 88 countries over the period 1981–2014. We argue that nonliberal political agendas in some countries undermine the supposed universality of the positive relationship between educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality. In relatively free countries, education is indeed associated with greater tolerance. However, in relatively unfree countries, education has no effect on tolerance and in some cases encourages intolerance. Specifically, our analysis demonstrates that education is associated with tolerance of homosexuality only when regimes energetically promote liberal‐democratic values. The larger theoretical point is that the agendas of political regimes shape civic values partly via education systems. Especially in an era when democracy is at risk in many countries, it is important to recognize that education is not always a benign force.

Professor Jerry Flores’ personal story with education and academia featured in a new University of Toronto Magazine article

Professor Jerry Flores was recently featured in the University of Toronto Magazine. The article recounts Flores’ personal experiences in education as a young marginalized person, what redirected his path towards higher education, and some of the projects he has worked on to “participate in social justice” as an academic.

Professor Flores is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. His areas of interest include studies of gender and crime, prison studies, alternative schools, ethnographic research methods, Latinx sociology and studies of race and ethnicity.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post in the University of Toronto Magazine here.

A Path Out of Poverty
U of T Mississauga professor Jerry Flores says caring teachers inspired him to seek better opportunities in life. Now, he wants to do the same for others

By Cynthia Macdonald

As a sociologist, Jerry Flores wonders incessantly about “turning points” – those moments, for example, when a marginalized young person manages to break free from systemic oppression and poverty.

Flores has known such moments himself. As a youth, he lived in a low-income Latino neighbourhood in suburban Los Angeles, where he did poorly in school. Now, he’s an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, teaching others how the criminal justice system regularly ensnares poor, racialized teenagers and adults in a cycle of crime, surveillance and punishment that many find impossible to escape.

“Growing up, I had the feeling I just wasn’t wanted at school,” he remembers. “I started skipping class, doing all kinds of other stuff I shouldn’t have been doing. Eventually, I failed every single class in my first two years of high school.”

And yet, education, and caring educators, would ultimately prove to be Flores’s ticket out. The son of an autobody worker and hotel cleaner who had immigrated to escape Mexico’s collapsing economy in 1982, Flores initially found himself stuck in a crowded, under-resourced, very segregated public school where almost every student was working class and Latino or Black. The neighbourhood was heavily patrolled by police who would pull him over at gunpoint, “often for not doing much of anything.” He saw family members arrested and jailed. Unsurprisingly, he lost interest in school and dropped out.

Then came his first turning point. Flores registered in a supportive alternative school, the exact opposite of the one he had left. For the first time, teachers encouraged him to think about enrolling in university; within several years, he had graduated, earned three degrees, and was writing his first book.

Read the full article here…

Professor David Pettinicchio’s featured by Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor David Pettinicchio was recently featured in an article posted on the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences website. This article provides an overview of various Canadian researchers and highlights Pettinicchio for his collaborative efforts with Professor Michelle Maroto of the University of Alberta in their research to understand the effects of COVID-19 among people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and other underlying health conditions.

David Pettinicchio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, an affiliated faculty in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and an associate member of Trinity College. His research interests are social policy, political sociology, law and society, disability politics and social movements.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences website here.

Canadian researchers examine the effects of COVID-19 within the disability community

Everyone has stories about how their life has been altered due to COVID-19 and related containment measures, but it is also clear that the direst effects of dealing with the pandemic have not been distributed equally. Some argue that the disability community has been largely overlooked in the design of COVID-19 precautions and has been left with few resources to mitigate negative impacts. Researchers across the country are working with community partners to better understand the impacts of the pandemic on people with disabilities.

At the University of Alberta, Professor Michelle Maroto, in collaboration with Professor David Pettinicchio at the University of Toronto, is studying the social and economic effects of COVID-19 among people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and other underlying health conditions.

Preliminary findings from a nationwide survey demonstrate that people with disabilities and chronic health conditions are not only very worried about getting COVID-19, they also feel excluded from the work of policy-makers and are concerned about their long-term economic situation.

Read the full article here…

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah follows up on Canada’s two-year anniversary of marijuana legalization – The New York Times

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah was recently featured in a New York Times article, following up on the consequences in Canada’s legal system after two years of legalizing cannabis. This article reviewed the changes that marijuana legalization promised to make for Canadian society, and whether or not these changes were effective. Owusu-Bempah argues that the legalization did help reduce the “heavily racialized” arrests for marijuana possession, but still has a long way to go for reparations to those with outstanding criminal records, equity issues with Indigenous operations, and increasing Black and Indigenous executives of legal marijuana businesses.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We have included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on The New York Times here (paywall).

2 Years After Legalizing Cannabis, Has Canada Kept Its Promises?

When Robert was 18, he was arrested by Montreal’s police for possession of a small amount of hashish, an event that would upend his young life.

The charge brought him 30 days in jail, and the conviction ended his part-time job as a translator.

“Back then, you smoke a joint, you would get arrested,” said Robert, who asked that only his first name be used because of the continuing stigma of his criminal record. “Then the cops would put you in a car, then pull over and give you a couple of shots in the head. You get slapped around just because of smoking.”

His arrest in 1988 as a teenager marked the start of a long, unhappy history with Canada’s legal system, with his first jail stint opening up a new trade: burglary.

“It was like school,” said Robert, who spent a total of 14 years locked up, roughly divided between convictions on drug offenses and thefts to buy more drugs. “I went there for smoking and then guys are showing me how to open doors.”

The recreational use of cannabis was legalized in Canada two years ago, and when the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made its legalization pitch to the country, it was stories like Robert’s — a life derailed by a possession charge — that most resonated with many Canadians.

Read the full article here…

Foodie culture in the COVID-19 era: Professor Josée Johnston, Shyon Baumann and UIC’s Merin Oleschuk’s new article in the American Sociological Association’s Footnotes

Josée Johnston Shyon Baumann

Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann recently published an article with recent PhD graduate Merin Oleschuk (currently Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) in the American Sociological Association’s member newsletter Footnotes. Titled “Foodie Tensions in Tough Times”, the authors review social pressures and inequalities heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their effects on foodies and foodie culture.

Josée Johnston is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research interests include Sociology of Food, Sociology of Consumerism, Consumer Culture, Globalization, Political Ecology and Critical Social Theory. Shyon Baumann is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and specializes in the sociological study of the media, culture, and the arts. His research centres on several key concepts, those of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on the American Sociological Association website here.

Foodie Tensions in Tough Times

Merin Oleschuk, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Josée Johnston, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto
Shyon Baumann, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

Foodie culture has long walked a razor’s edge of snob appeal and accessibility. Foodie culture celebrates eating styles that cut across lines of highbrow and lowbrow, upscale and down-market, home-grown and remote—from street-food festivals and truck-stop pecan pie to truffle shavings and French wines.Navigating these tensions has always been a balancing act, but today’s troubled times seem to further complicate foodie culture’s fraught relationship with culinary democracy and distinction. Amid a global pandemic that has brought death, illness, and economic hardship to millions, do people still value food fashions and pleasure-seeking food experiences? What challenges do the food system pressures and amplified inequalities prompted by COVID-19 pose to foodies?

Read the full article here…

Professor Jennifer Adese recently named Canada Research Chair at UofT Mississauga

Professor Jennifer Adese at U of T Mississauga was recently named a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Métis Women, Politics, and Community, as featured in an article published in University of Toronto Mississauga news. In this article, Adese expresses her excitement for this opportunity to develop more research of Métis women’s experiences in Métis activism. Her own experiences from her Albertan Métis culture and previous research in contemporary Métis studies have shaped her interests in this field of study.

Jennifer Adese is an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Department of Sociology. Her research interests include the broader field of Indigenous Studies, as well as Métis Studies, Cultural Studies, Visual Sociology, and Critical Race Theory.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read more about Professor Adese here, or hear more in her interview on the View to the U: An eye on UTM Research podcast here.

Newly named Canada Research Chair at UofT Mississauga

By Carla DeMarco
Weds., Dec. 16, 2020

Professor Jennifer Adese has been named a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Métis Women, Politics, and Community, and with this designation will focus her efforts on the impacts of colonization, sexism, and racism on Métis Women.

“This CRC project will allow me to advance Indigenous research more broadly, but also to pursue a vital, yet relatively underexamined area within Métis Studies research,” says Adese.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity to work to push the conversation in the area of Indigenous peoples’ political organizing even further and will generate new research in the scholarly understandings of Métis women’s responses to colonization via political mobilization, and Métis women’s experiences in the context of the wider landscape of Métis activism.”

Read the full article here…

Professor Jerry Flores calls for long overdue international investigations in the U.S. and Canada amidst forced sterilization of ICE detainees

Professor Jerry Flores recently published an article titled “ICE detainees’ alleged hysterectomies recall a long history of forced sterilizations” on theconversation.com. Flores recounts the longstanding history of forced sterilizations in U.S. institutions to expose the ongoing harm on Latina, migrant, refugee, Black, Indigenous and at-risk women in the medical sphere.

Professor Flores traces stories of medical negligence and forced medical procedures from the 1950’s in Puerto Rico up until recent accusations against U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) facilities. The recurring scandals of coerced, non-consensual sterilizations in U.S. hospitals and prisons lead Professor Flores to call for international investigations in both the U.S. and Canada, as an effort to end “this type of genocide” against immigrants and people of colour.

Jerry Flores is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. His areas of interest include studies of gender and crime, prison studies, alternative schools, ethnographic research methods, Latinx sociology and studies of race and ethnicity.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post on The Conversation here.

ICE detainees’ alleged hysterectomies recall a long history of forced sterilizations

By Jerry Flores, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto
Mon., Sep. 28, 2020

[…]

I am motivated by stories from women like my mother, Carmen, who gave birth to me in 1985 when she was 19 years old. When Carmen recounts the story of my birth, she always mentions how I was born on a sunny afternoon. But she spent multiple weeks with a high fever, likely due to a post-birth infection. She was surrounded by medical staff who did not speak Spanish.

My mother still doesn’t know why or how she became unwell.

After hearing many more stories of medical negligence and forced medical procedures in the course of my research, I am no longer surprised when I hear about the U.S. victimizing Indigenous Peoples like my grandparents or other members of my community.

The most at-risk women are usually the ones who experience the brunt of these forced sterilizations.

A tragic example comes from women who lived in Puerto Rico in the ’50s and ’60s. They were given an experimental drug by researchers interested in creating a birth control pill. Those women experienced serious side effects like blood clotting and infertility. They were not given information. These trials, also connected to a sterilization program, were in part eugenics and in part corporate pharmaceutical research. Approximately one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterilized — many involuntarily.

Read the full article here…

PhD student Anson Au elected a Full Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

PhD student Anson Au was nominated and elected as a Full Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Founded in 1823, the Royal Asiatic Society recognizes distinguished scholars in the fields of history, languages, cultures and religions of Asia. Fellows of the Royal Asiatic Society gain access to the society’s resources and facilities such as their library of books, journals, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, and archives on a variety of subjects concerning Asia. They are also offered opportunities to meet fellow Asian Studies scholars, attend lectures and cultural events, and receive the triannual Royal Asiatic Society Journal.

Read more about the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland on their website here.

Anson Au is enrolled in his fourth year in the Ph.D. at the Department of Sociology. Anson was recently awarded with a 2020 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship for his dissertation research.  Anson earned a M.Sc. in Social Research Methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was also a research officer in social policy, and a B.A. in Sociology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Toronto. He has previously held visiting fellowships and professorships at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, Seoul National University and Yonsei University in South Korea, the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, among others.

Anson’s dissertation examines the social order instituted in Chinese guanxi networks on social networking sites through new networking behaviors and network structures. With a regional focus on East Asia, his research more broadly examines social and economic networks, professions and organizations, social scientific research methodology, and social theory.

Anson’s current work examines global flows of capital and knowledge among and to firms in legal and financial markets in Hong Kong, as well as the culture and patterns of digital social networking site use in China.

His latest publications include:

Liu, Sida, and Anson Au. 2020. “The Gateway to Global China: Hong Kong and the Future of Chinese Law Firms.” Wisconsin International Law Journal 39(2): 308-349.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Japanese Sociology in a Global Network: Internationalization, Disciplinary Development, and Minority Integration in the Road Ahead.” International Journal of Japanese Sociology. Published Online Ahead of Print.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Guanxi 2.0: The Exchange of Likes in Social Networking Sites.” Information, Communication, & Society (Online First): 1-16.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Reconceptualizing the Generation in a Digital(izing) Modernity: Digitalization, Social Networking Sites, and the Flattening of Generations.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 50(2): 163-183.

Au, Anson. 2020. “Feminist Methods in a “Post-Truth” Political Climate: Objectives, Strategies, and Divisions.” Sociological Spectrum 40(2): 99-115.

Congratulations to Taylor Price, recipient of the 2020 Daniel G. Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology

PhD student Taylor Price recently won the 2020 Daniel G. Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology. This award is presented annually to an Ontario resident graduate student and is chosen on the basis of the quality of a paper published between July and June of the award year.

Taylor received the award for his paper, “Posthumous Consecration in Rock’s Legitimating Discourse” which was published in the June 2020 volume of Poetics. We featured his paper in an earlier article here. We have posted the abstract below and the full text of the article can be accessed through the Poetics website here.

Taylor is currently in enrolled in his fifth year in the Ph.D. program.  He received his BA and MA in sociology from Lakehead University.  He recently published a paper entitled “Cognition in Situations” in Symbolic Interaction which examines Blumer’s epistemological statements and the interactionist tradition more broadly to consider how dual process models of cognition could be applied to naturally occurring situations.  The paper can be found on the Symbolic Interaction website here.

Talyor’s supervisors are Dr. Shyon Baumann, Dr. Vanina Leschziner and Dr. Clayton Childress.  He is currently conducting participant-observation and interviews with songwriters, producers, and engineers. This project is designed to contribute theories of creativity and collaboration in sociology with recourse to naturalistic and ethnographic data.

Posthumous consecration in rock’s legitimating discourse
Poetics, Volume 80, June 2020
By Taylor Price

Abstract

This article advances the concept of posthumous consecration. I first draw on previous literature to demonstrate that posthumous reputations are important components of fields before conceptualizing a “posthumous” variant of cultural consecration and then adopting this concept in thematic and content analyses of rock album reviews. Through my analyses of 336 lifetime and posthumous album reviews, I find two salient discursive processes in the album review sections of rock magazines that follow in the wake of the death of a consecrated figure. First, critics revise the categorical boundaries spanned by rock artists after their deaths. I find striking patterns in how critics draw comparisons between rockers who made their recording debut either before or after 1975 that suggest the categorical membership(s) ascribed by critics to living and dead public figures in a cultural field are dependent on the degree of autonomy at the level of the field. I use this finding to develop the argument that death plays a critical role in how cultural fields achieve autonomy. Second, I find that irrespective of whether the field has a high or low degree of autonomy, critics ascribe coherence to an artist’s body of work to a much greater extent in reviews of posthumous offerings compared to reviews of lifetime offerings. I argue that coherence is highly valued within rock’s legitimating discourse and critics are more likely to attribute coherence to the works of deceased rock musicians which contributes to their symbolic advantage over their living counterparts.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah opposes RCMP union’s ‘thin blue line’ symbol endorsement, in The Star article

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently weighed in on the RCMP union’s endorsement of the ‘thin blue line’ symbol in an article titled “RCMP union pushes back against ban on ‘thin blue line’ symbol, says it has ordered custom patches” by Douglas Quan on The Star. In the article, he explains what the symbol means in today’s society and why he believes that it must go.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We have included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post on The Star here.

RCMP union pushes back against ban on ‘thin blue line’ symbol, says it has ordered custom patches
By Douglas Quan
Mon., Oct. 12, 2020

The union representing RCMP members is pushing back against a directive issued by management banning officers from wearing or displaying controversial “thin blue line” patches while on duty, calling them an “important and selfless” symbol.

In fact, the National Police Federation told its 20,000 members in a weekend letter that it has ordered custom thin blue line patches for all front-line officers that are expected to arrive in weeks.

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a University of Toronto sociology professor specializing in race and criminal justice research, said Monday that RCMP management did the right thing issuing the ban and that the union’s stance is out of touch with prevailing public sentiment.

“They’re going to be on the wrong side of history. I just don’t understand why they’re not engaging in a more positive manner and putting policing in a better — rather than a worse — position,” he said.

Breaking barriers in academia: How Professor JooYoung Lee is innovating the online classroom using Twitch (Featured on CBC Radio One)

Jooyoung Lee

Professor JooYoung Lee recently spoke on CBC Radio One 99.1FM on how he has been adapting to the changes of online teaching, using the popular video game streaming platform Twitch. In this conversation, Professor Lee discusses the benefits of using Twitch, his typical online lecture, how students are responding to this platform, and the future of online learning.

Professor JooYoung Lee says that using Twitch as a teaching tool gives professors the use of polished software features (such as chat rooms and microphone settings) and the fun of a familiar, modern platform for students. Professor Lee believes that the growth towards online learning allows for greater ease and accessibility, breaking down the exclusionary practices of traditional academia. He is interested in preparing a “starter kit” for fellow professors to learn the basics of Twitch for teaching purposes.

JooYoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, and Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project. His research interests are focused around how gun violence transforms the social worlds and health of young Black men in different contexts. His new work examines how murder transforms families and communities; how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction; and a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Julian Tanner and Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto.

Listen to the full CBC Radio One interview here.

The (lack of) diversity of Canada’s cannabis industry: report by Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah featured on CBC News and CBC Radio One

A recent report by Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Nazlee Maghsoudi of the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation about the diversity of Canada’s cannabis industry leaders was featured on a CBC News article by Joyita Sengupta and a CBC Radio One interview. In these appearances, Professor Owusu-Bempah and Nazlee Maghsoudi cite the findings of their policy brief to emphasize the severe underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people and women overall in the executive teams of Canada’s cannabis industry.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We’ve included an excerpt from the CBC News article below. Read the full article here, and listen to the CBC Radio One interview with Nazlee Maghsoudi here.

Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs struggle for traction in Canada’s cannabis industry
By Joyita Sengupta
Sat., Oct. 17, 2020

[…]

policy brief released Oct. 14 by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the University of Toronto looked at c-suite level executives, parent companies and licensed producers in Canada. The research reveals that two years after legalization, 84 per cent of cannabis industry leaders are white and 86 per cent are men.

The report found that only 2 per cent of industry leaders are Indigenous, and just 1 per cent are Black.

Lead author Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, says the lack of Black and Indigenous leadership in the industry goes beyond just an issue of representation or diversity.

“Black and Indigenous people that we found to be underrepresented in leadership in cannabis were the two groups that were most targeted by prohibition. So they were the groups that were most criminalized, for example, for minor possession,” said Owusu-Bempah.

In order to qualify for a retail or cultivation licence, applicants must clear a criminal background check, and this eliminates potential cannabis industry entrepreneurs who have a record for possession.

“And when we look at other jurisdictions, for example, south of the border, there have been purposeful attempts to ensure that those groups are included,” said Owusu-Bempah.

Some places like San Francisco and Oakland have created social equity programs for individuals affected by the criminalization of cannabis, not only clearing their records but providing pathways to starting their own legal businesses.

“That simply has not happened here in Canada,” Owusu-Bempah said.

Dr. Ito Peng takes up Canada’s treatment of the elderly in response to COVID-related deaths in long term care facilities on The Massey Dialogues

Ito Peng

Dr. Ito Peng recently participated in a Massey Dialogue event titled “COVID, the old and Canada: What’s wrong with us?” alongside former Dean of Nursing Dr. Dorothy Pringle and doctoral candidate Husayn Marani, moderated by Senior Fellow Michael Valpy. This discussion was prompted by the overwhelming proportion of COVID-related deaths among the elderly in long-term care facilities in Canada. Together, Dr. Ito Peng and the fellow dialogue participants examine why Canada has the highest COVID death-rate among the institutionalized elderly, and what this means about Canada’s attitudes towards its older population.

Dr. Peng reviewed the latest Canadian COVID statistics to highlight how older people (age 70+) are disproportionately affected by COVID through both hospitalization and death rates, even though the majority of cases are currently concentrated among younger age groups (age 20-59). Although the overall Canadian COVID death rate is lower than many other OECD countries, the proportion of elderly COVID-related deaths occurring in long-term care residences stands out at 85%. Dr. Peng associated this outlying statistic with the higher proportion of Canadian seniors living in long-term care residences compared to other OECD countries, as well as the privatized long-term care system in Canada. She expanded on the difficulties of regulating a non-nationalized long-term care system, and pointed to other countries where support for the aging population begins far earlier than the admission into a long-term care home.

Dr. Ito Peng is the Canada Research Chair in Global Social Policy and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the Department of Sociology, and the School of Public Policy and Governance. She is also the Director of the Centre for Global Social Policy, University of Toronto. Her research specializes in family, gender, and demographic issues in migration and comparative social policy.

The complete video of this Massey Dialogues event can be found here.

Cannabis prohibition’s racial and gender disparities continue to thrive in the legalized cannabis industry: Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah publishes new article on The Globe and Mail

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently co-authored an article titled “Who is profiting off of cannabis in Canada? Not those who suffered most under cannabis prohibition” on The Globe and Mail with Nazlee Maghsoudi, a Knowledge Translation Manager at the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) and a Doctoral Candidate in Health Services Research at the University of Toronto. This article reflects on the racial and gender disparities during the cannabis prohibition that continue today in the legalized cannabis industry.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We have included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post on The Globe and Mail here.

Who is profiting off of cannabis in Canada? Not those who suffered most under cannabis prohibition
By Nazlee Maghsoudi and Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah
Weds., Oct. 14, 2020

It is becoming increasingly recognized that drug laws have long been used as a tool for policing and controlling Black and Brown populations, contributing greatly to their overrepresentation in the criminal-justice system. Canada is no exception, although this feature of our past and present has received far less attention than it has in the United States.

As one of the few research efforts on this issue, a forthcoming analysis in the International Journal of Drug Policy demonstrates stark racial and gender disparities in the rates of arrest for simple cannabis possession in five Canadian cities, with Black and Indigenous people (particularly Black and Indigenous men) being more likely to be arrested than white people, despite evidence of similar rates of use across racial groups.

Against such a backdrop, the promise of a newly legalized cannabis industry in Canada was heralded by many as an opportunity to rectify the harms experienced by Black and Indigenous people under cannabis prohibition.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of cannabis legalization, a new policy brief released by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the University of Toronto shows that the potential of a diverse and equitable legal cannabis industry has been far from achieved.

Professor Scott Schieman examines the work-from-home divide between parents and non-parents in two recent articles in The Star

image of Scott Schieman

Professor Scott Schieman recently published two articles on The Star about the changing work-life conflict and workplace culture for parents and non-parents during the pandemic. His first article titled “The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky” uses data collected from September 2019 to June 2020 to observe the changes in work-life conflict for parents and non-parents. In this study, he found that work-life conflict decreased among non-parents, whereas variation was found for parents depending on the age of their youngest child. As parents of younger children saw no decrease in work-life conflict, Professor Schieman warns that this disparity between workplace peers has the potential to create new inequalities in health.

His second article titled “One quarter of workers say those without kids are being asked to work harder than parents — is that fair?” interprets a survey conducted in the final week of September 2020 to observe how the pandemic has reshaped workplace culture and created new inequalities between parents and non-parents. While workplaces are now giving further accommodations to workers with children at home, this study showed how non-parent workers are feeling a burden to make up for the loss of productivity from their parental peers. Professor Schieman calls for an open discussion on parent and non-parent accommodations to find the “sweet spot” on what’s fair for both current and post-pandemic workplaces.

Professor Schieman is the Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health, a Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, St. George Campus. His research focuses on work/stratification, the work-family interface, stress, and health.

We have included an excerpt from Professor Schieman’s first article below.

Read the full first article, “The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky” on The Star here (paywall).

Read the full second article, “One quarter of workers say those without kids are being asked to work harder than parents — is that fair?” on The Star here.

The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky 
By Scott Schieman
Sun., Sept. 27, 2020

How often does your job keep you from concentrating on important things in your family or personal life? How often do you not have enough time or energy for the important people in your life because of your job? How often does your work keep you from doing as good a job at home as you could?

If you answered “often” to these questions, you’re experiencing what sociologists call work-life conflict.

With the pandemic suddenly transforming the way many of us work, did work-life conflict increase or decrease during the onslaught of COVID-19?

It depends who you ask.

People with work-life conflict say their jobs make it difficult for them to give time and attention to their families or personal lives. They feel they have insufficient time or energy for their closest relationships, and that work undercuts their ability to perform their home-related duties.

We should strive to reduce work-life conflict because decades of research shows it takes an emotional and physical toll on our health and well-being.

Manal Choudhry examines the Korean Wave as a transnational tool for economic and political relations in U of T’s Undergraduate Sociology Journal

image of Manal ChoudhryManal Choudhry published an article entitled “Transnational Diplomacy and the Korean Wave” in the third volume of the Undergraduate Sociology Journal (USJ). Her work explores the Korean Wave (the global popularity of Korean culture and cultural products) and its use by the South Korean government as a tool on both international and domestic levels. Manal explains the Korean Wave in the context of the East Asian region as it influences relations, trade and policies between South Korea, China and Japan. She argues that the Korean Wave can be disadvantageous to the South Korean government in certain situations. On the whole, Manal examines the global impact of the Korean Wave and its role in globalization.

Manal published this article while in her 3rd year, and graduated earlier this year with a double major in Sociology and Human Biology, and a minor in Cell and Systems Biology. She enjoyed taking SOC395: Transnational Asia and SOC354: Sociology of Serial Homicide while studying. She also enjoyed practicing archery at the Hart House Archery Club range and socializing at the events hosted by USSU. Manal hopes to attend medical school and find research opportunities related to her interests in social epidemiology and public health.

Read Manal’s full article in Volume III of the USJ here…

“We need a more globalised response to pandemics for immigrant integration”: New Blog Post by Professor Tahseen Shams

Image of Tahseen ShamsProfessor Tahseen Shams recently published a blog post titled “We need a more globalized response to pandemics for immigrant integration” on oecd-development-matters.org. This blog is part of a series observing COVID-19 in developing countries and analyses the roles of immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. society during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this blog post, Professor Tahseen Shams discusses the rise of anti-immigrant xenophobia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its epidemiological, economical, legal and social implications for U.S. migrants. She connects these reactions to those of previous epidemics such as Zika, Ebola, and SARS, which reveal the underlying divide in U.S. society between immigrants and “natives”.

Professor Tahseen Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus. Her research interests are in the areas of international migration, globalization, race/ethnicity, nationalism, and religion. Her book, Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World was released earlier this year.

We’ve included an excerpt of the blog post below. Read the full post on the OECD Development Matters blog here.

We need a more globalised response to pandemics for immigrant integration

By Tahseen Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto
Tue., Sep. 29, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what happens in a faraway land does not stop at its borders but can produce domino effects forceful enough to lock down the entire world. How have we as a globalised society responded to this moment with regards to immigrant integration?

Not well. Immigrants, long singled-out as disease carriers, are again being blamed for the world’s epidemic. Because the Coronavirus originated in China, xenophobia has now turned its gaze on those perceived as Asian immigrants. Pre-existing anti-Chinese racism, for instance, has spiked in the United States even though the virus that led to the outbreak in New York, which has the largest U.S. death toll, came from Europe. Anti-immigrant xenophobia has risen in general despite immigrants comprising the bulk of our essential workforce. Right-wing advocates, based on what could only be described as poorly disguised racism, are using the pandemic as evidence of the dangers of immigration. Their fearmongering taps into the public’s fears and suspicion towards “foreigners”—a label that never seems to detach itself from immigrants and their descendants. Social media, fake news, and political discourse are also helping to depict immigrants as foreigners who bring dangers from faraway lands into our country.

Read the full post…

De-tasking police and restructuring community safety – Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah featured in discussion about police and public safety on The Agenda

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently appeared on an episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin alongside former RCMP officer Chad Haggerty, London police chief Stephen Williams and staff lawyer at Black Legal Action Centre Fareeda Adam. They discussed the role of police in society, given recent events in the U.S. and Canada. In this conversation, Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah sheds light on his views regarding defunding the police, the consensus between police, community and political leadership, the oversight of the police in Ontario, and a re-imagined police service where weapons are not carried.

Highlighted in this discussion is the term “de-tasking the police” to emphasize the delegation of current police tasks towards more appropriate organizations and institutions, thus reducing the negative consequences of police engagement in unsuitable activities and reducing the police budget. Such a budget reduction, to Professor Owusu-Bempah, requires close examination of the situation to sensibly reduce funds without jeopardizing public safety. De-tasking the police may also help with mental health, homelessness and youth programming. Professor Owusu-Bempah calls for a drastic re-imagining of public safety and policing that places more emphasis on social institutions, civil society organizations, and citizens.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice. He is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice.

We’ve included a transcript excerpt from Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah’s discussion below. The complete episode, Rethinking Policing, can be found here.

Who Should Keep the Public Safe?
The Agenda with Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin: “Akwasi, maybe you could follow up. We talk about taking responsibilities away from police. On the other hand, I have heard the expression defund the police meaning the police are just not the best people to carry out this function and therefore we need to take that money, not to punish police, but to more appropriately spend it on others who can better perform those tasks. Help us understand what your understanding of all this means?”

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah: “I think we’re hearing all of the things you said and more, and I particularly appreciate the term that one of my colleagues kind of lended to me, which is actually “De-tasking the police.” what we’ve acknowledged is that the police are doing too much and that their budgets reflect that, and we want to take away some of those tasks, and importantly we know that when we have the police engaged in activities that they’re not the best organization or institution to engage in, we have a number of negative consequences that might flow from that, one being the criminalization of people that might not otherwise be criminalized, so we can think about this in the context of homelessness, with respect to drug use, when we’ve got police in schools, but also of course in relation to the use of force as well. So I particularly like… I’m using the term in the work that I’m doing in the area, de-tasking the police, which recognizes that we’re going to take some of the tasks away from the police, and that there will be a corresponding reduction in the police budget to go along with that. This isn’t new. This has been acknowledged by the Canadian association of chiefs of police, this has been acknowledged by the Canadian government, and in other western nations long before the current conversations around defunding the police emerged as they have now.”

Watch the full episode here…