“Here, There, and Elsewhere”: New Book by Professor Tahseen Shams

Professor Tahseen Shams’ newly published book, “Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World,” looks at how immigrants’ lives are both influenced and influence the societies of their origin, their destination, as well as societies elsewhere in an interconnected global community.  The book draws from the South Asian Muslim American experience, tracing how the homeland, hostland, and elsewhere combine to affect the ways in which immigrants and their descendants understand themselves and are understood by others.

Professor Tahseen Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto.  Her research interests are in the areas of international migration, globalization, race/ethnicity, nationalism, and religion.

The book’s publisher, Stanford University Press, includes the following synopsis on their website:

Challenging the commonly held perception that immigrants’ lives are shaped exclusively by their sending and receiving countries, Here, There, and Elsewhere breaks new ground by showing how immigrants are vectors of globalization who both produce and experience the interconnectedness of societies—not only the societies of origin and destination, but also, the societies in places beyond. Tahseen Shams posits a new concept for thinking about these places that are neither the immigrants’ homeland nor hostland—the “elsewhere.” Drawing on rich ethnographic data, interviews, and analysis of the social media activities of South Asian Muslim Americans, Shams uncovers how different dimensions of the immigrants’ ethnic and religious identities connect them to different elsewheres in places as far-ranging as the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Yet not all places in the world are elsewheres. How a faraway foreign land becomes salient to the immigrant’s sense of self depends on an interplay of global hierarchies, homeland politics, and hostland dynamics. Referencing today’s 24-hour news cycle and the ways that social media connects diverse places and peoples at the touch of a screen, Shams traces how the homeland, hostland, and elsewhere combine to affect the ways in which immigrants and their descendants understand themselves and are understood by others.

Read more about the book and Professor Shams’ research on her website.

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams who has been awarded a 2020-2021 Bissell-Heyd Research Fellowship for the Centre for the Study of the United States

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams who recently received a 2020-2021 Bissell-Heyd Research Fellowship for the Centre for the Study of the United States at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. The goal of her research is to examine and elaborate on the impacts of racial and social injustice, drawing from immigrants’ experiences in the United States and Canada.

Professor Shams plans to study the ways in which international and transnational social inequalities intersect with race and ethnicity to affect immigrants’ life experiences and identities. For her fellowship period, she will work on her next book project Searching for Halal Love, which aims to study immigrants’ marital lives. She will examine what native-born North Americans and immigrants think about dating and marriage as well as the factors that motivate them to form friendships and relationships. The research will be conducted via interviews and the analysis of manuscripts.

For her research event, Professor Shams proposes to have a one-day conference consisting of three research-based panels as well as one discussion forum, which will include distinguished scholars from various disciplines. The conference will aim to situate topics of race, immigration, and nationalism within a globalized context. Each panel will have invited guests, a U of T faculty, and a graduate student. Faculty members and students from the Munk School of Global Affairs as well as other departments are widely invited to attend the event.

The first panel of the conference will discuss the types of racism in the US and abroad. The second panel will discuss the severe impacts of surveillance. The third panel will discuss racial disparities in the context of health crises. Lastly, the discussion forum will talk about ways in which the academia can build and bolster solidarity amongst minority groups both in schools and within a globalized context.

Professor Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the St. George Campus. Her research focuses on immigration, globalization, race, ethnicity, and nationalism.

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams whose article received an honourable mention in the Global and Transnational Sociology Section of the ASA

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams who recently received an honourable mention from the Global and Transnational Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) for her scholarly article titled “Successful yet Precarious: South Asian Muslim Americans, Islamophobia, and the Model Minority Myth” in Sociological Perspectives. Professor Shams received the honourable mention for her excellence of writing and discussion in a sociological topic.

Professor Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the St. George Campus. Her research focuses on immigration, globalization, race, ethnicity, and nationalism.

We have posted the abstract and the citation of the article below. The article can be accessed through U of T Libraries: https://doi-org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/10.1177/0731121419895006.

Tahseen Shams, “Successful yet Precarious: South Asian Muslim Americans, Islamophobia, and the Model Minority Myth,” Sociological Perspectives, (December 2019): 1-17.

Precariousness is the notion that unstable and temporary employment can induce feelings of vulnerability and insecurity. As a “successful” minority because of their high education levels and economic attainments, South Asian Americans can hardly be described as precarious. However, ethnographic observations reveal a collective precariousness felt by this group. Despite measures of success, their positionality as a racialized and stigmatized religious “Other” induces in them an insecurity akin to that felt by those un(der)employed. They fear that despite their achievements, they can be discriminated against in their workplace because of their race and religion. This anxiety influences their education and career choices, and political engagements. Theoretically, precariousness is largely conceptualized as a phenomenon contained within national borders. However, South Asian Muslim Americans’ precariousness is influenced by that of Muslims of other nationalities abroad, underscoring the transnational dimension of precariousness and how it can extend beyond immediate networks and physical borders.

Read the full article here…

U of T Sociologists at the 2019 ASA

This year, 71 faculty members graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are participating in the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association in New York City. In addition to the people presenting papers, a number of our community are also participating as session organizers, discussants or journal editorial panel members. The meetings happen between August 10th and August 13th. We have listed the papers we’re presenting below by the day of the presentation, with student and recent grad presenters shown in italics. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 10th

Ellen Berrey, U.S. Universities’ Responses to Hate Speech Incidents and Free Speech Politics and the Implications for Inclusion Policy

Yvonne Daoleuxay, The Most Canadian Neighborhood Ever: Social Disciplining and Driving in the Greater Toronto Area

Ethan Fosse and Jason Settels, Population-Level Variability of Happiness Trends in the United States

Chris Kohut, Unanticipated Gains in Homeless Shelters: A Study Examining the Social Networks of the Homeless Population

Ron Levi (with Holly Campeau of U of Alberta and Todd Foglesong of U of T, Munk School), Legality, Recognition, and the Bind of Legal Cynicism: Experiences of Policing During an Unsettled Time

Matthew Parbst, Gender Equality, Family Policy and the Convergence of the Gender Gap in Depression

Kristin Plys, Politics and Poetics in Lahore’s Pak Tea House during the Zia Military Dictatorship (1977-1988)

Markus Schafer (with Matthew Andersson of Baylor University), Looking Homeward with the Life Course: Early Origins of Adulthood Dwelling Satisfaction?

Sunday, August 11th

Philip Badawy and Scott Schieman, When Family Calls: How Gender, Money, and Care Shape the Family Contact and Family-to-Work Conflict Relationship

Irene Boeckman, Work-Family Policies and Working Hours’ Differences Within Couples After Childbirth

Lei Chai and Scott Schieman (with Alex Bierman of U of Calgary) Financial Strain and Psychological Distress: The Mediating Effect of Work-Family Interface

Clayton Childress, Shyon Baumann, Jean-Francois Nault (and Craig M. Rowlings from Duke University), From Omnivore to Snob: The Social Positions of Taste Between and Within Music Genres

Ethan Fosse (with Fabian T. Pfesser of U of Michigan), Bounding Analyses of Mobility Effects

Susila Gurusami, Carceral Complicities: Holding Institutions of Higher Education Accountable for Our Carceral Crises

Julia Ingenfeld, Parents’ Division of Housework and Mothers’ Labor Force Participation: Result of Selection and Assortative Mating?

Jonathan Kauenhowen, Framing Indigeneity: A comparative analysis of Indigenous representation in mainstream and Indigenous newspapers

Yangsook Kim, Doing Care Work in Korea Town: Korean In-Home Supportive Service Workers in Los Angeles

Kim de Laat, De-stigmatizing flexible work arrangements: The promises and pitfalls of buy-in from ideal working fathers

Chang Zhe Lin, Social Capital, Islam, and Labor Force Outcomes: Explaining Labor Force Outcomes among Muslim Immigrants in France

Martin Lukk, Fracturing the Imagined Community: Income Inequality and Ethno-nationalism in Affluent Democracies

David Pettinicchio and Jordan Foster, A Model Who Looks Like Me: Representing Disability in the Fashion Industry

Ashley Rubin, Target Populations or Caught in the Net: How Race and Gender have Structured Prison Reform Efforts Throughout American History and What it Means for Reforming Mass Incarceration

Ioana Sendroiu, Imagination, from Futures to Failures

Sarah Shah, Gendering Religious Reflexivity in Minority Groups: The Case of Pakistani Canadian Muslims

Michelle Pannor Silver, Embodiment and Athletic Identity

Lawrence Williams, How Career Identity Shapes the Meaning of Work for Referred Employees

Dana Wray, The Causal Effect of Paternity Leave on Fathers’ Responsibility for Children

Monday, August 12th

Katelin Albert, “The decision was made for me. I’m okay with that”: HPV Vaccine and Adolescent Girls’ Selves

Monica Boyd and Shawn Perron, The Vietnamese Boat People in Canada: 30 Years Later

Gordon Brett, The Embodied Dimensions of Creativity

Soli Dubash, “My House Is Your House”: Genre Conventions, Myspace Musicians, and Music Genre Self-Identification

M. Omar Faruque, Privatizing Nature: Resource Development and Nationalist Imaginaries in Bangladesh

Fernando A. Calderon Figueroa,Trust thy Neighbour, but Leave Up the Hedges: Trust in the Urban Scene

Vanina Leschziner, The Specter of Schemas: Uncovering the Meanings and Uses of “Schemas” in Sociology

Patricia Louie, Race, Skin Tone and Health Inequality in the U.S.

Neda Maghbouleh, Anti-Muslim Racism and the ‘MENA’ Box: Expulsions and Escapes from Whiteness

Gabriel Menard, Latent Framing Opportunities for Movements and Counter-movements: The US Network Neutrality Debate, 2005-2015

Sebastien Parker, ‘Both roads lead to Rome’: Pathways towards commitment in a far-right organization

Kim Pernell, Imprinting a Risky Logic: Graduate Business Education and Bank Risk-Taking

Sagi Ramaj, The Homeownership Attainment of LGB Immigrants: The Role of Social Relationships

Jeffrey Reitz (with Emily Laxer of York U and Patrick Simon of INED), National immigration ‘models,’ social welfare regimes, and Muslims’ economic incorporation in France and Canada

Ioana Sendroiu and Andreea Mogosanu, Stigma spillover and beyond: Resistance, appropriation, and counter-narratives in stigmatized consumption

Tahseen Shams, The Precariousness of South Asian Muslim Americans: Geopolitics, Islamophobia, and the Model Minority Myth

Lance Stewart, The Judgment of Objects: The Constitution of Affordances through the Perceptual Judgment of Digital Media

Laura Upenieks, Reassembling the Radius: Trust and Marginality across East-Central Europe

Tuesday, August 13th

Milos Brocic, Higher Education and the Development of Moral Foundations

Jerry Flores (with Janelle Hawes of U Washington-Tacoma and Kati Barahona-Lopes of UC, Santa Cruz), What are the challenges of girls in involved in the foster care and juvenile justice system?

Ethan Fosse (with Christopher Winship of Harvard University), Bias Formulas for Mechanism-Based Models: A General Strategy for Estimating Age-Period-Cohort Effects

Angelina Grigoryeva, An Organizational Approach to Financial Risk-Taking: The Role of Firm Compensation Plans

Cinthya J. Guzman, Rethinking Boredom in (Inter)action

Andrew Nevin, Cyber-Psychopathy Revisited: An Alternative Framework for Explaining Online Deviance

Laila Omar, “What would my future be?”: Conceptualization of the “future” among Syrian newcomer mothers in Canada

Natalia Otto, The violent art of making do: Gendered narratives of criminalized girls in Southern Brazil

Laura Upenieks and Ron Levi (with John Hagan of Northwestern University), The Palliative Function of Legality Beliefs on Mental Health



Meet the Professor: Tahseen Shams

The Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto has a diverse faculty of professors who have a wide range of experiences. While they share backgrounds in sociology and its intersecting disciplines, each faculty member has individual experiences that have shaped their academic careers. In this series, we interview faculty at the St. George campus to acknowledge and share these stories, and get to know the influences behind their journeys.

Professor Tahseen Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests involve the intersections of international migration, globalization, race/ethnicity, nationalism and religion, in order to understand how these topics affect immigrant groups. In this interview, she discusses the benefits and influences behind her career in sociology.

What led you to pursue a career in sociology?

This is a funny story! I was a college sophomore, majoring in neuroscience. I was required to take Intro to Sociology as one of the degree requirements. It was huge class and we were all packed in the room like canned sardines. The professor began her lecture with C Wright Mills’ concept of “the sociological imagination,” and the rest was history! I was always interested in history and sociology growing up. But, the idea that my biography and the society’s history are connected—that I live in society as much as society lives in me—was a life-changing way to look at the world. There was no going back after that. I often liken this experience to the moment in the movie The Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the red and blue pills and Neo decides to take the red pill and enter the Matrix. I decided then that I wanted to keep exploring the world sociologically and changed my major to sociology the day after.

How did you narrow down your areas of research and ultimately decide your field?

My research interests stem from my personal story as a first-generation Bangladeshi American. My family and I had immigrated to the United States when I was a teenager. We settled in a small college town in Mississippi, which is overwhelmingly white, conservative, and Christian. My family and I were noticeably the only non-white and non-black folks for miles around. But my interactions in the first few weeks made me realize that my difference from most of the population there ran deeper than the color of my skin and my accent. It was also that I was raised Muslim and that we were now in post-9/11 America. I wanted to know if there were others like me in Mississippi and what their experiences were like. So, I launched an ethnographic research project during my senior year of college for my honours thesis. The findings of this year-long project led to a publication, the only one on Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants in Mississippi. While doing research for that undergraduate project, I fell in love with the literature on immigrant identities, race/ethnicity, and nationalism. I carried these passions with me to UCLA where I focused primarily on international migration.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students taking your classes?

I want my students to fall in love with sociology much like I did when I was an undergrad. I want my students to focus on the big picture rather than minute details. I want them to think about the ways in which the big concepts and ideas in sociology shape the world around them. And if they challenge these ideas and their own beliefs in the process, that would make me very happy indeed!