The Senior Doctoral Fellows for 2016-2017 are:


Luncheon Speaker Series, 2017 Calendar

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All talks take place 12:00pm-2:00pm in the Sally Walker Council Chamber, Room 2053, Wilson Hall.
A light lunch will be served.

Thursday, March 2: Marlon Valencia, International Foundations Program
“Why Study English? The ESL Class as a Critical Space to Examine and Re-think our Identities and Imaginaries”
Go to abstract

Thursday, March 16: Christopher Webb, African Studies
“The Tithes of Education: Family, Debt and South Africa’s Fees Must Fall Movement”
Go to abstract

Friday, March 24: Mary Jean Hande, Equity Studies
“‘Radical Alternatives’ and Revolutionary Futurity: Disability Care Praxis and Class Consciousness in Toronto”
Go to abstract

Wednesday, March 29: Christopher Smith, Equity Studies
“Black Pride! Queer diasporas, dissident spatial emplacements and bodily reverberations”
Go to abstract

Friday, April 7: Anthony Briggs, Caribbean Studies
“Precariously Employed Black Male Youth at the Margins: How Second Generation Caribbean Black Male Youth Make Sense of Schooling Experiences, Social Mobility, Social Networks and Job Preparedness in Toronto”
Go to abstract

Thursday, April 20: Bethan Fisk, Caribbean Studies
“‘The Wilderness Within’: African Diasporic Religion in New Granada and the Iberian Atlantic, 1690-1790”
Go to abstract


Anthony Briggs

Anthony Briggs

Anthony Briggs (Caribbean Studies)

Anthony Q. Briggs is a 5th-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

Anthony’s research focuses on understanding how personal, social, and ideological factors influence the educational choices of young marginalized students, especially young Caribbean black male youth (CBMYs), and prevent them from gaining access to stable employment and navigating the precarious labour force. How do these CBMYs make sense of the precarious labour market and what informs their decisions, whether that be schooling experiences, family, peers or the changes in the labour market itself?

Anthony has been elected for the second consecutive year as Junior Fellow of Massey College and was recently awarded the Doctoral Completion Award for Fall/Winter 2016/ 2017 academic year. In June 2009, Anthony graduated with academic distinction, earning an honours bachelor’s degree in Social Science. He then moved on to OISE in September 2009 where he pursued a Master’s of Education. During his community college years at Sheridan College from 2003-2005, he served as President of the Corrections Program (also known as Community and Justice Services). His position involved attending meetings and advocating on behalf of the student issues in his program and across the campus. This program has also led to his continuous involvement in many different capacities with disaffected youth in the criminal justice system (youth detention centres, open custody facilities), group homes, community organizations, and Toronto District School Board. These experiences have informed his research interests through interdisciplinary sociological perspectives and practices.

Friday, April 7, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “Precariously Employed Black Male Youth at the Margins: How Second Generation Caribbean Black Male Youth Make Sense of Schooling Experiences, Social Mobility, Social Networks and Job Preparedness in Toronto”

This study explores the ways in which working class Caribbean Black Male Youth (CBMY) who are  precariously employed seek to get full time employment. These CBMY are subjected to being unprepared to access employment for two main reasons: either they fall into the 50% drop out rate (Allahar, 2010; Dei, 2008; Gordon & Zinga 2012; James, 2011) and are transitioned into a market abyss or these men fall into the 52 %  precariously employed bracket in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton (Lewchuck et al. 2014; Block & Galabuzi, 2011). Post high school transitions into the job market for these Black Males are expressed through their viewpoints. My research is theoretically grounded in Critical Race Theory by acknowledging that racism is embedded in Canadian life and moving to capsulize the various complex ways CBMY navigate the demands of the market place in the city of Toronto. The aim is to conceptualize the meaning making process through key elements  (i.e. schooling experiences, family experiences, peers conversations) that shape their choices in deciding on particular kinds of employment.

I critically examine how CBMY address social issues of mobility, schooling experiences, family dynamics, peer influences and job preparedness from their lived experiences.


Bethan Fisk

Bethan Fisk

Bethan Fisk (Caribbean Studies)

Bethan Fisk is a PhD candidate in History, whose research analyzes African and Afro-creole religions in New Granada, colonial Colombia, at the height of Atlantic slavery.

Using civil and criminal trials, government correspondence, and parish and ecclesiastical records from archival collections from Colombia, Spain, and the United States, her dissertation offers a material cultural analysis of the genealogies of religions of African, indigenous, and European descent, while placing them within the social and political relations that constituted them.

A Natalie Zemon Davis Fellow in History, Bethan has taught Caribbean and Latin American History extensively at the University of Toronto and in Colombia.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “‘The Wilderness Within’: African Diasporic Religion in New Granada and the Iberian Atlantic, 1690-1790”

Bethan will be talking about her dissertation project, which examines African diasporic religions in colonial Colombia. It challenges the notion of separate histories of Pacific and Caribbean African-descended communities in Colombia through an examination of the movement of black bodies, religious knowledges, and ritual objects. Her project situates African diasporic religious creations within their social contexts and the church and state’s project of racialized gender through their criminalization. She argues that Atlantic and Pacific sites, spaces traditionally understood as separate, were in fact connected by black mobilities, ritual materials, and cultures of enslavement. New Granada was a space where culture and capital flowed between different regimes of slavery and systems of free labour. Diverse everyday epistemologies and material objects circulated among people of African descent across eighteenth-century New Granada within a shared world, one created by the power structures of the Catholic church, the colonial state, and the institution of slavery.


Mary Jean Hande

Mary Jean Hande

Mary Jean Hande (Equity Studies)

Mary Jean Hande is a doctoral candidate in the Adult Education and Community Development program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She is the recipient of three Ontario Graduate Scholarships and a Fellowship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Her research brings together theorizing in the areas of Disability Studies, Labour Studies, Socialist Studies and Social Movement learning. In her dissertation “Disability Care as Survival and Revolutionary Practice” she looks at Toronto-based informal and formal disability care provision and organizing within the context of a rapidly financializing global economy. Using a relation/reflexive method, she dialectically traces the relations between everyday embodied organizing activities and reproductive labour of activists and workers in Toronto to the global historical relations of austerity, imperialism, and financialization, with a particular focus on revolutionary transformations. Recently, she has turned her attention to the contradictions of disability identity and care labour in the context of gentrification and harm reduction work.

Mary Jean has presented her research at community research forums such as OPIRG Toronto’s Community Research Symposium as well as internationally at the Society for Disability Studies and International Labour Processes conferences. She continues to publish for both popular and academic audiences. Recent publications include her 2015 journal article “Organizing survival and resistance in austere times: Shifting disability activism and care politics in Ontario, Canada” in Disability and Society, co-authored by Christine Kelly and several short articles for OPIRG-Toronto’s Action Speaks Louder. She also has a forthcoming popular review of “Keywords for Radicals” in Canadian Dimension, and two forthcoming co-authored book chapters: “Operation ASD,” co-authored by Sharry Taylor and Eric Zorn in Bonnie Burstow’s Psychiatry Interrogated (Palgrave Macmillan), and “On Strike in the Ivory Tower,” co-authored by Emil Marmal and Raluca Bejan in Anthony J. Nocella and Erik Juergensmeyer’s Fighting Academic Repression and Neoliberal Education (Peter Lang Publishing).

She stays committed to community-based anti-poverty and anti-imperialist organizing. She also leads workshops and guest lectures on topics related to disability justice, care work and organizing in the context of austerity and neoliberalism in York University’s Social Anthropology Department, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education’s Adult Education and Community Development Program, New College’s Equity Studies, and Ryerson University’s School of Disability Studies. This is Mary Jean’s third and final year working as a Teaching Assistant in Equity Studies and she is honoured to have the opportunity to make further academic and teaching contributions to this program as a New College Senior Doctoral Fellow.

Friday, March 24, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “‘Radical Alternatives’ and Revolutionary Futurity: Disability Care Praxis and Class Consciousness in Toronto”

Disability organizing has proliferated across North America, particularly in the historic centres of disability organizing: San Francisco and Toronto. Similarly, “care” in its multiple practices and formations has proliferated in radical organizing. This proliferation is linked to the historical developments of austerity, financialization, and neoliberalism. In this context, “disability” and “care” are being reworked and reconceptualized by the state, grassroots organizers, non-profit agencies, and a variety of financial interests. This reworking has consequences for people negotiating survival in these conditions and social relations. For disability organizers and activists seeking to consciously intervene and change these conditions and social relations, they must grapple with the disability care of the past as well as possibilities for the future to re-shape their projects from forms of survival and resistance to revolutionary praxis.

In my doctoral research, I draw on oral stories, zines and blogs of disability (and) care activists and organizers, and use a dialectical relational/reflexive method (Gorman 2005) to investigate how disability activists, anti-poverty organizers and political care workers engage in this struggle. This method allows me to relate these stories and accounts with each other, but also with the larger relations of gentrification, financialization and imperialism.  I also examine historical examples of radical and revolutionary care to better map the future disability care praxis.

In this talk, I will discuss how these methods allow me to investigate the formation of class and “crip” consciousness in the immediate, global and historical relations of contemporary disability care in Toronto. Next, I explore how these formations of disability care might help forge revolutionary futurity. Discussion questions will focus on the how this research applies to emerging and ongoing conversations around the importance of care in crip futurity in disability studies and revolutionary praxis in adult and community education.


Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith (Equity Studies)

Christopher Smith is a doctoral candidate in the Dept. of Social Justice Education – OISE/ University of Toronto. His is currently the recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2015-16, & 2016-17). His current research interests are interdisciplinary but are mainly situated in the fields of Black Diaspora studies, Social & Cultural Geography, Queer, Feminist, and decolonial theories, with an emphasis on black expressive cultures and politics.

Christopher has worked in the Department of Historical & Cultural Studies at University of Toronto, Scarborough (UTSC) since 2010, where he has taught courses in Women’s and Gender Studies related to feminist theories and research methodologies including theories of intersectionality and their critical and practical application.  In addition, he has been a guest lecturer at Queen’s University for both undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Gender Studies, and the Department of Cultural Studies.

His dissertation “Apprehending Black Queer Diasporas: Transnational Circuits and Emplacements” – examines circuits of political and cultural exchange that have shaped configurations of black queer community formation(s) in three global cities. By centering the phenomenon of Black Pride festivals as a counter narrative to homonormative discourses of citizenship, and the political practices that are enacted in pursuit of this goal, this project highlights the complexity of LGBT equality and human rights efforts in our current era. This project is the result of ethnographic as well as archival research in three research sites including Toronto, Los Angeles, and London, U.K. Findings from this research have been presented at various conferences in Canada, United States, France, and Australia.

He has contributed to FUSE magazine, the Encyclopedia of Ethnic American Literature, among other publications. He is the author of “How (not) to do Queer Studies in the classroom: Teaching to think beyond tolerance,” in Beyond the Queer Alphabet: Conversations on Gender, Sexuality &  Intersectionality, ed. Malinda Smith, which was commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities, in 2012. “Gettin’ ‘Down’ with the ‘Below’: Visual AIDS 2016 and the Politics of ‘Archival Activism’ ” was recently published in the special issue “AIDS & Memory”, in DRAIN: A Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture. Forthcoming publications include a co-authored chapter on trans-inclusion in sports curriculum and practice with Dr. Heather Sykes (OISE/UofT) in Social Justice in Physical Education: Critical Reflections and Pedagogies for Change (Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2016).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “Black Pride! Queer diasporas, dissident spatial emplacements and bodily reverberations”

This lecture draws upon a compendium of archival and ethnographic research on the phenomenon of Black Pride festivals. Emerging primarily in U.S. metropolitan centers, Black Pride festivals surfaced as a response to a felt white solipsism of “mainstream” lgbt community organizations that often elided the impact of anti-black racism on black queer livelihood while simultaneously refusing to adhere to a “respectability politics” within black community organizing.

Initially, as a response to the AIDS crisis in the later quarter of the twentieth century (and beyond?), it is argued – Black Pride festivals have served as sites of “intravention” (to echo – Marlon Bailey, 2013) that would provide spaces to enable greater and more nuanced dissemination of HIV prevention information to black queer populations, as well as their increased political visibility. Modelled as an alternative to consumer driven LGBT Pride festivals, the concept of  “Black Pride” provided a template for Black queer communities to organize similar or like-minded festivals internationally including Canada,  United Kingdom and abroad.

Understood through a black queer diasporic analytic, this lecture discusses the manner in which Black Pride as a veritable social movement negotiates with a politics of “inclusion” that is relational, and simultaneously contested.  Of interest is the modes by which these festivals (re) invent and cultivate spaces of survival and celebration for Black queer individuals, and how such a praxis is not only malleable but yearned for in a global context.


Marlon Valencia

Marlon Valencia

Marlon Valencia (International Foundation Program)

Marlon Valencia is a PhD Candidate in Language and Literacies Education, as well as Comparative International and Developing Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

His research interests include second language teacher education, language policy and planning, multiliteracies, and language in social identities.

He has taught English and Spanish as additional languages (second/foreign) in Canada, Colombia, and the United States. His work also involves pre-service language teacher proficiency assessment, and curriculum design for the teaching of both languages in colleges and universities in North America.

He is currently a lecturer at Ryerson University, where he teaches an ESL class titled “Language and Identity”.

Thursday, March 2, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “Why Study English? The ESL Class as a Critical Space to Examine and Re-think our Identities and Imaginaries”

This talk shares findings of a larger international comparative narrative case study researching diverse teacher candidates’ (TCs) investment in their imaginaries when negotiating their professional teacher identities in pre-service language teacher education (LTE) programs. This research was conducted in LTE programs in Canada (a program preparing teachers of French as a second language), Chile (EFL teachers), and Colombia (teachers of both English and French).

Data includes interviews, surveys, and multimodal autobiographies or identity texts (Cummins, 2009). This presentation builds on the notion of intercultural communicative competence (Wagner & Byram, 2015), which goes beyond mutual intelligibility among speakers of a language to an understanding between users of this language (English in this case) with both common and different beliefs and values. The presenter aims to engage with the New College community in a critical reflection on the reasons and motivations for instructors and learners to study the English language. This reflection will serve as a starting point to examine both teachers’ and learners’ construction of their identities and imaginaries. Thus, the researcher will present data from his doctoral research, which suggests how imagination plays a key role in negotiating language learners’ and teachers’ identities. Last, some ideas to use the ESL class to learn more about ourselves (yes, both teachers and learners) and our imagination will be introduced and discussed with the audience.


Christopher Webb

Christopher Webb

Christopher Webb (African Studies)
Christopher Webb is a PhD Candidate in Human Geography at the University of Toronto. He holds and MA in Development studies from York University and BA in Journalism and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.

He is currently a Research Associate at the International Labour Research and Information Group in Cape Town, and has held visiting research positions at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies and the South African Labour and Development Research Unit.

Christopher’s SSHRC-funded doctoral research explores the political economy of post-apartheid youth and inequalities in the country’s higher education system. He is particularly interested in how recent protests by South African students are related to aspirations and expectations of upward mobility, indebtedness and structural forms of poverty rooted in apartheid and colonial histories. He recently completed 10 months of ethnographic research on this topic. He is also interested in the development of new forms of welfare in the global south and the relationship between these welfare regimes and financialization.

Prior to his graduate studies he worked as a writer and editor for a range of magazines and newspapers. His academic and popular writing has appeared in the Global Labour Journal, The Review of African Political Economy, the Canadian Journal of Development Studies and Jacobin Magazine.

Thursday, March 16, 2017 – Lecture Abstract: “The Tithes of Education: Family, Debt and South Africa’s Fees Must Fall Movement”

South Africa’s ‘Fees Must Fall’ movements highlighted not just institutional coloniality, but the degree to which social relations in South Africa remain shaped by colonial-era racial capitalism. Among many Black youth this takes the form of high rates of post-school unemployment, precarious livelihoods constructed across formal and informal economies, and, for those few who are upwardly mobile, familial and community obligations in a context of unemployment and poverty. For students from poor and working class backgrounds, the value and utility of education is intimately shaped by these intersections of race, class, debt and kinship. While education offers a potential escape from structural poverty, it also comes with immense economic, social and psychological costs. Sky-rocketing enrolments coupled with declining state funding has led to rising levels of student debt (both public and private), described by the theorist Achille Mbembe as a “predatory and racialized apparatus of capture and expropriation.”  For many, education is a collectivized form of indebtedness (one born by entire families) that is both liberating and constraining—it is also experienced unequally among the student population. How then do these factors shape student understandings of higher education and involvement in the recent protests? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted with youth from Khayelitsha township attending three institutions in the Cape Town area, this presentation examines the meanings and values they assign to higher education and their responses to the Fees Must Fall movement.