SDF Luncheon Speaker Series 2013

The Senior Doctoral Fellows for 2012/13 are:


Luncheon Speakers Series, 2013 Calendar

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Stefanie Kennedy, Caribbean Studies Senior Doctoral Fellow
“To Bear the Marks of Servitude: Deformity, Disability, and the Politics of Freedom in the World of Atlantic Slavery”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Saskia Stille, International Foundation Program
“Language, Literacy, and Cultural Production in Education: Expanding Possibilities for Student Engagement in the K-12 Learning Context”

Friday, March 15, 2013
Timothy Makori, African Studies
“When Futures are in the Past: Labor and Late Capitalism in the Mines of the Congo”

Friday, March 22, 2013
Soma Chatterjee, Equity Studies
“The Discourse of Skill in Immigrants’ Labour Market Integration and Practices of National Bordering in Canada”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Rameet Singh, Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health
“Integrating Yoga into Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Holistic Mental Health Approach”


Lecture Summary & Speaker Bios

Stefanie Kennedy, Caribbean Studies Senior Doctoral Fellow
“To Bear the Marks of Servitude: Deformity, Disability, and the Politics of Freedom in the World of Atlantic Slavery”

ABSTRACT: My dissertation explores the intersections between slavery and disability in the early modern British Atlantic World. Atlantic and African diaspora scholarship has noted, but generally passed quickly over, the intersections between slavery and disability, discussing European views of Africans in isolation from wider discussions of the ‘deformed’ and disabled body. My research uncovers significant overlaps between European writings on disability and emerging conceptions of race and African “difference.” Early modern notions of monstrosity, deformity, and the corporeal as physical signs of an inner goodness or sin greatly influenced early modern understandings of Africa and the New World and undoubtedly shaped Africans’ entry into the Atlantic World.

At every level, enslavement in the early modern Atlantic World served to insert bodies of African descent into the emerging racialized world of transnational and imperial relationships as ‘disabled’ bodies – supposedly unfit for anything other than the most brutal and disabling forms of labour. The process of capture, imprisonment, forced march and transportation that constituted the slave trade frequently resulted in long-term physical and emotional damage. Permanent injury, severe scarring, maiming, and dismemberment were a routine result of the labour and punishments meted onto captive bodies on British Caribbean plantations. I argue that colonialism, race, and, specifically slavery are key to understanding the intersections between commodification of the laboring body and disability.

In addition to enduring physical impairments, the enslaved also suffered from legal disabilities. ‘Unfit’ to be tried by English law, African slaves were tried by a system of slave courts specific to the management and punishment of black bodies. Under this legal system, the enslaved were denied the freedom to marry, to amass wealth and purchase property, to exercise control over their own bodies, and to self-determination. This, I argue, can be seen as a process of enforced disabling. My research has uncovered that, among the enslaved, disability came to be revalued as a spiritual gift and a form of protest to one’s status as commercial object and labour power. My dissertation demonstrates that the physical and legal disabilities endured by the enslaved greatly informed their experiences in slavery and played a significant role in shaping modern understandings of race and disability in the Atlantic World.

BIO: Stefanie Kennedy
Stefanie Kennedy is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Toronto, working under the supervision of Professor Melanie Newton. Stefanie’s dissertation focuses primarily on Barbados and Jamaica in an Atlantic perspective, exploring the intersections between slavery and disability throughout the long-eighteenth century. Stefanie is a Senior Doctoral Fellow of Caribbean Studies at New College and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship holder.


Saskia Stille, International Foundation Program, Senior Doctoral Fellow
“Language, Literacy, and Cultural Production at School:  Expanding Possibilities for Engagement in the K-12 Learning Context”

ABSTRACT: International mobility and interaction among people with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds is increasingly part of life in urban and suburban communities across Canada. Within this context, Canadian classrooms are multilingual and multicultural, constituted by learners with a wide variety of affiliations, trajectories, knowledge, and experience.  Intensifying these intersections, rapid technological change has opened more diverse networks and public spaces, such as the internet and social media, through which people communicate, interact, and develop and sustain communities.  New forms and spaces of participation have emerged that require a model for education that accommodates the mobility, flexibility, and complexity of learning and the learning context.

Engaging with these considerations, the purpose of this talk is to elaborate findings arising from a school-university partnership and ethnographic study involving teachers and students at the elementary level.  Focusing in particular on students who are learning English at the same time as they are learning curriculum content in school, this research attempts to speak back to monolingual, monocultural perspectives in education, articulating an approach to teaching and learning that better reflects shifting orientations to language use, literacy, and social difference.  In particular, this research highlights the importance of pedagogies that draw on the full range of students’ cultural, linguistic, and representational skills and abilities as a foundation for learning, and as a means to promote new forms of participation in the contemporary social and linguistic landscape.

BIO: Saskia Stille
is a PhD candidate in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute of Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research focuses on language learning and literacy development in multilingual school contexts, and the role of digital media in supporting these processes. Publications from her recent work appear in several referred journals, including TESL Canada Journal, Language and Literacy, and TESOL Quarterly (forthcoming).


Timothy Makori, African Studies, Senior Doctoral Fellow
“When Futures are in the Past: Labor and Late Capitalism in the Mines of the Congo”

ABSTRACT: The Copperbelt of Congo was once the bastion of industrial development and the centre of an active labor movement in Central Africa. Today with the near collapse of State-run mining company Gécamines (formerly Union Miniére du Haut Katanga), not only is there no significant labor movement but it has become increasingly difficult to even define “labor” given the various forms it has taken in post-industrial Congo. Through a focus on miners, who I argue have been the historical embodiment of modernity in Congo, I want to highlight some the paradoxes of Congolese history and the conceptual difficulties of speaking about labor in present day Katanga where the majority of miners (over 250,000) are no longer trained industrial workers but children and youth eking out a precarious living as creseurs or “artisanal diggers”. The phenomenon of cresage, as I view it is paradoxical.  On the one hand it indexes the future as a flexible form of work produced in enclaves of late capitalism in Africa yet at the same time, its rudimentary organization of work and simple techniques of copper exploitation speaks of the pre-colonial past, of the times of “les mangeurs de cuivre” or the “copper eaters” of Katanga. Therefore, how can scholars understand labor in such a context where the present generation of miners in Katanga (creseurs) has less in common with their ‘fathers’ (the industrial Fordist generation) than their ‘grandfathers’ (les mangeurs decuivre)? My article suggests that a historical look at miners in Katanga may offer a means of re-conceptualizing labor in contexts where it has lost its reference to unionization and to Marxist forms of collective organization.

BIO: Timothy Makori is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. His dissertation titled, “The Domestic life of Copper: An Ethnography of Social Reproduction in Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo”, is an attempt to understand and theorize the viability of social reproduction in the wake of postindustrial collapse in DR Congo. His research is focused on showing how mining and the exploration of copper has structured relatedness and forms of domestic life in the lives of successive generations of Katangese residents. The research is in response to calls by anthropologists to take age itself as an analytic for studying the dynamics of social change in Africa. It builds on studies of colonialism, industrialization, and modernity in Africa but also seeks to broaden these approaches to social change by using social generations as an optic of viewing how change is experienced, imagined, and represented in the daily life of the Congolese.

Timothy Makori is also the Senior Fellow in African studies at New College, University of Toronto, and holds a Masters of Arts from the same institution. He recently presented his research at the African Studies Conference in Philadelphia and the American Anthropological Association Meetings in San Francisco. The School of Graduate Studies, New College, and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto have all variously supported his research.


Soma Chatterjee, Equity Studies Senior Doctoral Fellow
“The Discourse of Skill in Immigrants’ Labour Market Integration and Practices of National Bordering In Canada”

ABSTRACT: My dissertation explores the relationship between the discourse of ‘skill’ in immigrants’ labour market integration in Canada and Canadian nationalism. ‘Skill’ is the key focus of a significant body of government policies, advocacy initiatives, and academic scholarship addressing the challenges of immigrants’ labour market integration in Canada. In this particular presentation, I disrupt this near hegemonic discourse of ‘skill’, and locate it within the historic project of Canadian national identity formation. For this, I first draw on postcolonial scholarship on modernity, progressivism and otherness, and critical scholarship on work and learning for work to unpack the notion of ‘skill’ as an ideological practice constructing a skill-deficient immigrant worker-subject. Next, I draw on historic and recent government documents, and also scholarship on nationalism and border/boundary studies to ‘re-read’ the discourse of ‘skill’ as a practice of national bordering. Finally, I propose that to nuance our approaches to both immigrants’ labour market integration and Canadian nationalism these two bodies of scholarship need to be in dialogue.

Bio: Soma Chatterjee is a PhD candidate at the Adult Education and Community Development program in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education-University of Toronto. Her research explores how immigration policies, being the last bastion of state sovereignty in a globalized world, continue to be an important site in and through which racialized nationalism is practised and national subjects are imagined. Her research focuses on the discourse of skill training that came to inform policies and programs for immigrants’ labour market integration in the decades following the liberalization of Canadian immigration policies in 1962. She argues that skilled immigrants needing skills and trainings to integrate into the labour market is a particularly rich discourse to study in relation to post-liberalization Canadian nationalism. Soma’s research is supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, an OISE-UT doctoral fellowship and the New College Senior Doctoral Fellowship Program.
Rameet Singh, Buddhism Psychology and Mental Health Senior Doctoral Fellow
“Integrating Yoga into Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Holistic Mental Health Approach”

ABSTRACT: Yoga comes from the subcontinent of India and is an ancient practice that aims to integrate the mind body and spirit for total healing and freedom from suffering. The true practice of yoga leads one to experience union with their true nature and live life from their fullest potential. Yoga is one of the fastest growing holistic practices in North America. The increasing popularity of yoga as well as its ability to aid in mental health recovery has sparked the interest of many practitioners to look to yoga as a therapeutic intervention for mental health populations. The therapeutic application of yoga for mental health issues is a relatively new and emerging field. Although there is growing research looking at the outcome of yogic practices in special populations, such as the effects of yoga on depression and anxiety, research on how to integrate yoga into counseling and psychotherapy, such as the theory and framework involved, is presently lacking. As a result mental health practitioners currently have little or no information for embarking on such integrative practices. Without guidelines and recommendations of best practices, practitioners may not be utilizing yogic interventions in safe ways, or ways that provide the maximum benefits in counselling and psychotherapy.

My doctoral research attempts to fill these research gaps and examines the processes and framework involved in integrating yoga into counselling and psychotherapy. I will attempt to unravel the details and intricacies of an integrative yoga and mental health therapy practice by interviewing mental health practitioners who are currently using yogic methodologies in their counselling and psychotherapy practice. This research has important implications for mental health practitioners. A framework with guidelines will ensure that yoga is being integrated in a safe and effective manner. This research will also enhance the field of counselling and psychotherapy by broadening the scope of practice to offer a greater ‘wholesome’ approach to mental health. Lastly, practitioners who integrate yoga into their counselling and psychotherapy practice may benefit personally by learning new ways of understanding mental health and healing.

BIO: Rameet Singh is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Education program in Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research interests include examining multicultural issues in counselling and psychotherapy and looking at South Asian healing traditions and approaches to mental health. She has been an active member at the Centre for Diversity in Counselling and Psychotherapy (CDCP) at OISE since Sept 2010. Her most recent projects at the CDCP centre include coordinating the 7th Critical Multicultural and Diversity Conference, Integrating Asian Healing Traditions into Mental Health Care. Rameet is a practitioner of yoga and meditation for over 16 years. Her desire to help others achieve mental, emotional and spiritual well-being has motivated her to lead yoga and meditation classes and workshop in Toronto and GTA for over 5 years.


For more information about the Senior Doctoral Fellows and the Luncheon Series, please contact June Larkin at