Culture and Identities

Rawan Abdelbaki

Photo of graduate studentRawan Abdelbaki (doctoral candidate). Rawan holds a BA in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Toronto, and completed her MA studies at York University (Sociology) with a research review paper titled Neoliberalism and Canadian Immigration: Rethinking the Land of (In)Opportunity. Her research interests lie in the areas of transnational migration, citizenship, political economy, racialization, political subjectivities, and diaspora studies. Her work is inspired by a smorgasbord of theoretical traditions, namely marxist, feminist, anti-racist, and postcolonial approaches. Rawan is also a labour activist, and is a graduate student affiliate of York University’s Global Labour Research Centre.

Nadiya Ali

Photo of graduate studentNadiya Ali (doctoral candidate). Nadiya’s doctoral research focuses on exploring issues revolving around identity, racialization, belonging and resistance, with a focus on Muslim subjecthoods and politics in the Post-9/11 era. Empirically, the growing Anglophone North American Muslim Art scene sits as the site of investigatory concentration."

Sonia D'Angelo

Sonia D'Angelo (doctoral candidate). Sonia is interested in the relation between race and Canadian agriculture. More specifically, she is investigating how racial identities of Canadian growers/farmers coordinate and organize agricultural production. She is chiefly interested in questions around subjectivity and race. What are the subject forms which arise in the field of agricultural production? And how does race anchor the conditions of productivity in Canadian agriculture? By focusing on Canadian growers/farmers, she intends to conduct an investigation of the formations and meanings of whiteness in Canada.

Amrit Dhillon

Photo of graduate studentAmrit Dhillon (master's candidate). Amrit is researching the beauty practices of skin lightening, having already conducted interviews among South Asian Canadian women and South Asian female beauticians to find the how and why behind skin lightening. She examines this beauty practice primarily through the lens of shadiesm, discrimination based on skin tone, to further develop an understanding of this beauty practice in the Canadian South Asian context. Going forward, she hopes to take the interview and exploration skills learned in academia and apply it in future roles focusing on insights and communication. When she's not shedding light on the issues of shadeism, you can find her coffee shop hopping throughout downtown Toronto!

Alixandra Holtby

Alixandra Holtby (doctoral candidate). Alixandra's research interest broadly concerns the historicity of sexual and gender identity categories. She is particularly interested in the relationship between the emergence of sexual identity categories and statistical modes of reasoning within the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on how these two domains overlap with the ideology and social policies of eugenics.

Dann Hoxsey

Dann Hoxsey (doctoral candidate). Dann's dissertation will consist of an ethnography on men seeking men in public for sex in public places (aka. the male cruising culture). He will be looking at a broad range of venues but is particularly interested in public parks and washrooms and the impact of the environment on how people cruise in relation to the criminality of the act. He will be using Foucault’s analytic of governmentality to understand how power is exercised through (heterotopic) space and (dividing) practices. This is particularly relevant to understanding the transmutability of space as public and/or private. Interestingly, some of his preliminary work challenges the notion of the isolated, closeted, 'gay’ male that came out in Humphreys’ work. Rather than exhibiting feelings of shame or a need to hide their activities from others, preliminary research indicates that people who cruise are quite eager to talk about their experiences and are less isolated, desperate, and even ugly! than is assumed. This lack of shame has led him to consider the possibility of 'pleasure-cruising' as a quasi-counter-conduct.

Caitlin Janzen

Caitlin Janzen (doctoral candidate). Caitlin's research works at the interface of the social and the psychic to explore the role of women as spectators, witnesses and/or consumers of graphic depictions of violence against other women. Influenced by feminist uses of psychoanalysis, critical theory, critical race theories, and postcolonial studies, her research uses case studies from the Canadian news media to film and television in order to analyze women's aggression towards the feminine, and the social and political structures that support and perpetuate such forms of aggression.

Azar Masoumi

Azar Masoumi (doctoral candidate). Broadly, Azar works in the field of Critical Citizenship Studies, and has a background and interest in Critical Race Theory and Queer Theory. Her dissertation work explores the intersections of gender, sexuality and citizenship, by looking at processes of requesting asylum for lesbian refugees from Iran. She also has an interest in methodology, especially questions of epistemology in qualitative and interview methods.

Sabrina Paillé

Sabrina Paillé (doctoral candidate). Sabrina's research interests include classical and contemporary sociological theory; the sociology of modernity; ethnicity and race relations; multiculturalism; nationalism, as well as social and political philosophy. Her PhD research project will investigate the mobilization of the language of gender equality and sexual freedoms in the rejection of multiculturalism and anti-immigration discourses in Western Europe. She will address the meaning of the mobilization of gender equality and sexual minority rights, depicted as uniquely national values, with respect to the construction of the symbolic borders of the ‘nation’. Her interest in these issues was triggered by the debate on the proposed Charter of Quebec values in the fall of 2013. It relates to her broader concerns regarding processes of ‘othering’, the contemporary transformations of racism and the multiculturalism backlash.

Janice Phonepraseuth

Janice Phonepraseuth (master's candidate). Janice's research interests include ethnicity and race relations, gender inequality, critical qualitative research methods, postcolonial theory, as well as classical and contemporary social theory. Her thesis will focus on ethnic peer groups on the York University campus. Specifically, she will look at the shared social meanings and cultural experiences among members of the same ethnic group, and how a sense of belonging to the ethnic peer group affects either positively or negatively relations with out-group members compared to in-group members. She would like to explore the meanings these individuals assign to their group membership and by extension to the group itself. Janice will look at the symbolic nature of the group: whether the group symbolizes anything other than a means of socialization and interaction. For example whether or not the group may be used as a symbol of resistance and protection against any stigma or discrimination the group may face from out-group members. Additionally she would like to explore any symbolic identifiers the group may have, which may be physical and tangible or vocal and expressed through commonly used words or phrases amongst in-group members.

Rehanna Siew

Rehanna Siew (doctoral candidate). Rehanna's doctoral project investigates how pathways to citizenship shape the social mobility of East Indians from Trinidad and Tobago (Indo-Trinidadians) who arrived to Canada in the late 1980s during tightening immigration policies. Specifically, this project examines the daily lives of these immigrants who settled as either non-status residents or inland refugee claimants, and the way they (1) accessed employment, education, health, and housing, and (2) now define their sense of belonging and social mobility almost three decades after their precarious migration.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith (master's candidate).  In her master’s thesis, Rebecca is studying the experiences of Indigenous students at a small Canadian university. Through a focus group and individual interviews, she has gained insight into the challenges they face, the supports they receive, and where they see room for improvement. By rooting her findings in their narratives, she hopes to be able to provide the community with meaningful research and recommendations for future action.

Suzanne Spiteri

Suzanne Spiteri (doctoral candidate). Suzanne's research interest focuses specifically on female sex tourism in the West Indies, specifically Jamaica. She is particularly interested in the enactments of masculinity and race on part of the local men who engage in transactional sex with tourist women.

Ishrat Sultana

Ishrat Sultana (doctoral candidate).  Ishrat's research examines the identity construction of the Burmese Rohingya refugee youth who were born and/or raised in Bangladeshi camps, and how their sense of belonging is influenced by their refugeeness and lack of citizenship. Her research location is both registered and unregistered refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Using an ethnographic qualitative approach, she has conducted individual in-depth interviews and Focused Group Discussions with them in early 2016. She is expecting to complete data analysis by early 2017.

Sam Tecle

Sam Tecle (doctoral candidate).  Sam's dissertation analyzes the experiences and perspectives of race and blackness of East African Diasporas across the US, UK and Canada asking how these might differ across the various national contexts. This research aims to develop a novel approach of understanding race, diaspora and ethnicity that signal a break away from static and monolithic post-Cold War permutations.

Tracy Thomas

Tracy Thomas (doctoral candidate). Tracy's research interests include South Asian Diaspora; culture and identity; immigration; women and development; colonialism and imperialism. Her proposed area of doctoral study will examine the changing concept of South Asian Canadian womanhood through the cultural practice of arranged marriage. She hopes to explore how ideas of womanhood are engaged with, preformed, and evolve. It is her aim to better understand the correlations between the cultural practice of arranged marriage and its role/influence on South Asian identity construction. Furthermore, her research aims to disrupt monolithic and static conceptions of South Asian womanhood and seeks how South Asian women are able to reconstitute themselves and better understand their identity through this cultural practice.