Category Archives: news

Richard B. Lee Named to Order of Canada

Irv and Richard at SAfA in Toronto June 2012
Richard B Lee (right) with Irv DeVore at the Kalahari Reflections Event held at U of T in June 2012. Photo is courtesy Alison Brooks.

Congratulations to Prof. Emeritus Richard B. Lee! He was recently named as an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of science. For a list of the other 100 appointees, see

Mehran Shamit Wins Richard B. Lee Award

Mehran Shamit
Mehran Shamit, winner of the 2016 Richard B. Lee Award

Congratulations to Mehran Shamit, winner of the 2016 Richard B. Lee Award for her essay “Rethinking Microcredit and Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.” The Awards Committee felt that this essay, written for ANT 374H (Rethinking Development or the Improvement of the World) stood out as a rigorously researched review of the politics of microcredit and development in Bangladesh.  The committee also commended the clear writing style and cited it as a fine example of the best undergraduate research in anthropology.

Honourable Mention was awarded to Anna Shortly for her essay “Board Proposals, Bingo, and a Band: Strength in Numbers at the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s Annual General Meeting.” This paper was written for Prof. Tania Li’s course, ANT473H (Ethnographic Practicum: The University).
The Awards Committee felt that this essay stood out as a lively and original ethnographic analysis of university student politics.

Pedagogies for Water Justice Around the Great Lakes

Paul Baines (Great Lakes Commons) and Prof. Bonnie McElhinny co-hosted a video campfire in late November, 2016 on teaching about water and social justice around the Great Lakes. The video can be viewed at They asked people who teach about water in a range of sites – universities, community-based organizations, schools – to share their thoughts on 3 questions: what they are doing now, a resource or project they have been wanting to do, and some ideas for linking people around the Great Lakes. Coming soon: a list of resources recommended by the participants……

Terrific list of participants included:

Paul Baines, Great Lakes Commons, Outreach and Education coordinator. Paul leaped into the GLC work after reading ‘Our Great Lakes Commons: a peoples plan to protect the Great Lakes forever’ and then founded the Great Lakes Commons Map in 2012 to crowdsource people’s worry and wisdom for water health through data, discussion and story. He comes to this water reconciliation work with a background in critical pedagogy, democratic media, and environmental and cultural studies. He just finished a 5 month tour of the Great Lakes connecting people, issues, and perspectives.

Sheila Boudreau is a landscape architect and urban designer at the City of Toronto, with over twenty years professional experience in both the public and private sectors. She represents the OALA on the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition Steering Committee, and acts as an advisor for Ryerson Urban Water courses related to blue/green infrastructure. She recently organized a weekend-long hack-a-thon for over 70+ students in Toronto, in which interdisciplinary teams designed innovative contributions to blue/green infrastructure in an intensive weekend of workshops, talks and social events.

Marcie Cunningham is a partner in CGC Educational Communications. She and her partner John Gregory are working on several water literacy projects, two of which were created for the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and are rolling out across the province. The OneWater program, operating in over 20 school boards, brings local water operators into the Grade 8 classrooms to work with students to explore local water, both clean and wastewater, and their personal responsibilities to “treat our water well.” As an adjunct to that program CGC has created The Changing Great Lakes, a program focused on the geography and art curriculum, which engages students in their local watershed to develop an understanding of the affect that climate change is having on our Great Lakes. A range of activities, from a field trip encompassing “a Portrait of the Shoreline,” to innovating local solutions to climate change adaptation in their homes, schools and communities gives students an opportunity to get tangibly engaged in the Great Lakes’ issues. This program is currently in pilot test in several Ontario classrooms.

Stephen P. Gasteyer is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. Dr. Gasteyer’s research focuses on the nexus between water, land, community development. Specifically, his research currently addresses: 1) community capacity development and civic engagement through leadership training; 2) the political and social processes that enable or hinder community access to water and land resources, specifically (but not exclusively) in rural communities; 3) the class and race effects of access to basic services (water, sanitation, food, health care); 4) community capacity, community resilience and water systems management; 5) the impacts of greening in economically depressed small cities; 6) the community aspects of bioenergy development; 7) international social movements and community rights to basic services; and 8) facilitating cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary partnerships to address water and land resources management.

Rachel Havrelock is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line (University of Chicago Press, 2011). After writing about how the conflicted borders of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict formed and congealed in Palestinian and Israeli cultures for River Jordan, Rachel became invested in water sharing as an approach to Middle East peacemaking. Havrelock’s current book project, Pipeline: How Oil Created the Modern Middle East and How Water Can Transform It, chronicles the role of oil extraction and infrastructure in the militarization of the Middle East and suggests how regional water management could transform the landscape. In addition to the Middle East, Rachel’s work addresses the Great Lakes as a transborder water system both abundant and imperiled. She has been awarded a Global Midwest grant from the Mellon Foundation in order to explore the common challenges of international transborder water systems; she is developing a web-site on water and the environmental humanities.

Deborah McGregor is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Indigenous Environmental Justice. Her research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, forest policy and management, and sustainable development. She is currently involved in three more: “Indigenous Knowledge Transfer in Urban Aboriginal Communities” with Professor Kim Anderson (Wilfred Laurier University); “Maple Syrup, Climate Change and Resilience: A Longitudinal Study” with Professor Brenda Murphy (Wilfred Laurier University); and “Exploring Distinct Indigenous Knowledge Systems to Inform Fisheries Governance and Management on Canada’s Coasts” with Professor Lucia Fanning (Dalhousie University).

Bonnie McElhinny is associate professor of anthropology and women and gender studies at the University of Toronto. She teaches courses and does research on water, anti-racist, feminist and de-colonial approaches to place, migration and multiculturalism, and language and social justice. Her most recent co-edited book was Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility; she has written on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Her course Living at the Water’s Edge in Toronto, was cited out as one of 14 innovative pedagogical initiatives at U of T for building connections with community partners. Singled out for particular attention was a partnership with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOW), in which first year students participated in a pilot project for collecting watermark stories. She has also taken students to Hawai’I to engage in land and water restoration projects, in a course on critiques of multiculturalism and settler colonialism. This year, she again partnered with LOW at the Great Lakes Public Forum; 40 students gathered over 150 watermark stories from participants. This work was featured in an article in the Great Lakes Connection (newsletter of the International Joint Commission) which went out out to 17,000 stakeholders interested in transforming the Great Lakes.

Elizabeth Miller is an independent documentary maker, trans-media artist, and professor at Concordia University. She is interested in new approaches to community collaborations and the documentary format and my work connects personal stories to larger social concerns. My new project, The Shore Line, is in interactive documentary looking at the tensions between unchecked development and climate change on coastal towns and cities around the world. Her film Hands-on: women, climate, change profiles five women from four continents tacking climate change through policy, protest, education and innovation. She developed the film in collaboration with directors from Kenya, India, Norway and Canada, all IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and Film) members. Her documentary film The Water Front (2007) brings the controversial issue of water privatization in Michigan to the larger public.

Andrea Most is Professor of American Literature and Jewish Studies in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of modern American literature and culture, Jewish cultural studies, the environmental humanities, food studies, theatre and performance. Selected as a Jackman Humanities Institute Faculty Fellow on the special theme of Food for 2012-13, Prof. Most continues to conduct research on the relationship between Jews, Judaism and agriculture in the modern era, with a special focus on the contemporary Jewish food movement. She works as a co-founder and designer of Bela Farm, a centre for land-based Judaism in Southwestern Ontario and as an activist in the Jewish food movement both locally and internationally. Prof. Most’s current research and teaching focus broadly on the crucial role of the humanities in confronting environmental crisis. As part of this initiative, this year she will be completing an ecocritical memoir entitled A Pain in the Neck and developing a new experiential pedagogy for teaching in the environmental humanities.

Alexandra Thompson is a Lecturer at Lakehead University. Alex Thomson was born in Toronto and has spent much of her formative years in north central Ontario, including the coniferous forests on Anishnaabe territory near Sudbury and Temagami, Ont. She has been a canoe guide, outdoor education instructor, and workshop facilitator. Alex teaches many sections of the required course Aboriginal Education, EDUC 4416 and the elective Outdoor Experiential Ecological Education. She enjoys learning about the forest, ecosystems and waterways of the Orillia area. Alex is studying to become an naturalist through the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. She completed a Masters Degree at Trent University in Canadian and Indigenous Studies, a B.A. in Social Justice Studies at McGill University and a B.Ed. from Lakehead in Thunder Bay Intermediate/Senior with teachables in Native Studies and Outdoor Experiential Ecological Education.

Krystyn Tully is vice president and co-founder of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Krystyn Tully has been organizing community events and organizations since her days as a high school student in Oshawa, Ontario. Since co-founding Lake Ontario Waterkeeper with Mark Mattson in 2001, Tully has written or edited more than 400 articles about water and environmental policy. She has appeared before numerous municipal, provincial, and federal government committees. For four years, she coordinated a mentoring program that connected aspiring lawyers with communities facing environmental challenges. For two years, she was editor and co-host of a weekly radio program. In 2012, she wrote a series of features on beaches for blogTO and became a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Through Ryerson University’s part-time degree program, Tully has received extensive education in Public Administration and Governance, with a specialization in nonprofit sector management. She was profiled in NOW Magazine’s “Class Action” feature in October, 2012.

Marie Wee is an undergraduate student in women and gender studies/equity studies. She is taking a course with Dr. McElhinny on water and social justice issues, and will offer an undergraduate student’s perspective on pedagogical needs and projects.

Bricoleur Call for Submissions

The Bricoleur

Volume 1: Call for Submissions

The Bricoleur is a new periodical published by graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. We publish innovative work from contributors worldwide in an accessible format, bringing anthropological conversations into the public domain. We welcome diverse, multi-media submissions from all sub-fields of the discipline.

The editorial board is now inviting submissions that speak to our inaugural theme: “emergence”. The following questions may be helpful in guiding your submissions, but please feel free to propose other interpretations of this theme:

  • Does your work involve an emerging technology or method?

  • Does your research engage with emerging social formations?

  • Did you encounter novel challenges during your fieldwork work that encouraged you to take your research in a new or unexpected direction?

  • Are unexpected findings emerging from ongoing archaeological excavation?

  • What material grounds allow (or prevent) something to emerge?

  • What are the ethical or political stakes of working with emergent forces, materials, or methods?

  • How can we trace or problematize the etymology of ‘emergence’, or, more simply, what does it mean to ‘emerge’?

  • Is your research on the forefront of emerging theoretical trends in anthropology?

We accept text, photographic, video, and audio submissions. Please send us a 250 word abstract or proposal that outlines what your submission intends to discuss or show. The editorial board reviews all submissions and works with authors and content-creators to establish guidelines for submission length and format. Submissions may be tied to existing research or to theoretical and methodological explorations (including future research directions).

We have a full peer-review process in place for scholarly submissions, but we also welcome submissions that provide commentary on emerging public issues, which will be posted to our blog.

For more information, visit our website,, where you’ll find detailed submission guidelines as well as example submissions.

Unsure if your work fits within this theme?  Wondering if your research can be published on our platform?  Please contact us at

Andrea Muehlebach Awarded JHI Fellowship

Photo of Andrea Muehlebach
Prof. Andrea Muehlebach

Prof. Andrea Muehlebach has been awarded a six-month fellowship for 2017-18 from the Jackman Humanities Institute at U of T, one of only six awarded in a very competitive application pool.  Her successful project is titled Property, Right, or Commons? On the Water Insurgency in Europe. Learn more about this project below, and visit t to read about the other fellowship recipients.

Andrea Muehlebach, Department of Anthropology (UTM)
Andrea Muehlebach (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2007) is Associate Professor of Anthropology. She is the author of The Moral Neoliberal: Welfare and Citizenship in Contemporary Italy (University of Chicago Press) and has published articles in the American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology, Public Culture, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. Her current work focuses on water and the new political ethics that are emerging around this highly contested resource in Europe. She is on the Editorial Board of Quaderni di Teoria Sociale and Etnofoor.

Property, Right, or Commons? On the Water Insurgency in Europe

My project is a historical-ethnographic exploration of how water has become a vehicle through which Europeans have not only challenged the privatization, commodification, and financialization of water but also proposed new models for the collective care of this precious resource. Having recently completed twelve months of ethnographic research on water insurgencies in Italy, France, Germany, and Ireland, I will be writing a monograph that investigates how water has become a vehicle for Europeans to pursue designs for a better life, all within a context of a Europe reeling from the effects of austerity and a growing democratic deficit. I hope to make two contributions: First, to show that water has become one of the most effective vehicles through which people are pursuing novel projects in law and democracy-making; and second, to demonstrate that water has become an important vehicle through which people have formulated very diverse popular critiques of privatization, financialization, and austerity. I thus respond to a challenge posed by Ben Orlove and Steve Caton, who recently asked what it means to call water a commodity or a right, especially in contexts where these concepts are “highly contested or do not hold sway.” How then can we look to water as a vehicle for novel forms of political practice and social imagination?

Heather Miller Appointed Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning at UTM

Photo of Prof. Heather Miller
Prof. Heather Miller has been appointed Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning at UTM

Congratulations to Prof. Heather Miller! Effective January 1, 2017, she will be taking on a new role at UTM as the Vice-Dean of Teaching and Learning. She will serve in that position until June 30, 2018. Prof. Miller is currently the Chair of Anthropology at UTM and we wish her great success in her new administrative appointment! Here’s what the UTM Vice-Principal Academic and Dean had to say about Prof. Miller in the formal announcement:

Heather Miller has an admirable reputation as an outstanding teacher with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and an exemplary record of service within the University, serving on governance bodies, acting as graduate coordinator for the tri-campus graduate department, as well as various other committees.  Professor Miller has the capacity to work well with colleagues across the university and insight into both undergraduate and graduate teaching.  Her administrative abilities and collegial and consultative approach will serve the university well.

Bonnie McElhinny Wins Larkin Award

Anthropology professor Bonnie McElhinny with her students.
Anthropology professor Bonnie McElhinny with her students. Photo by Diana Tyszko.

Dr. Bonnie McElhinny has been selected for the June Larkin Award for Pedagogical Development for 2017-18 for her project “Something in the Water: Watershed Pedagogies and Teachings about Water in Toronto”. This award recognizes past achievements, and provides for course release to continue to develop innovative pedagogies, and educational technologies in classroom, community and field settings on these topics for 2017-18.

This award honours Dr. June Larkin, an award-winning teacher recognized for her excellence in teaching, educational leadership and community-university connections. Larkin’s book Sexual Harassment: High School Girls Speak Out is cited on the list of the most important 80 books for 21st Century Girls. She is the founding director of Equity Studies at New College. She has headed up curriculum initiatives that include expanding local and international servicing learning programs, developing writing programs, a global food equity initiative with local groups, and a New Media Project that provides instructors with the training to teach students in the multi-modal arguments new media require. Through her community-based research program, the Gendering Adolescent AIDS Prevention (GAAP) project, Dr. Larkin creates opportunities for students to work with youth, community workers, research and policy makers on youth, sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Larkin’s overall goal is to produce socially engaged citizens who can apply their academic knowledge to real-life situations for social justice ends.

Excerpt from Dr. McElhinny’s Project Description: “Something in the Water.”

There must be something in the water is used to talk about the emergence of a musical scene, or a social movement. It also marks forms of water contamination. This week, some of the key headlines in the global, national, provincial and local news were about water-related conflicts. There was a massive police crack-down on pipeline protesters, most of them indigenous, at Standing Rock. The Labrador government conceded that the flooding of a dam would be delayed, until Innu and Inuit concerns about the creation of methyl mercury were addressed. The Ontario government agreed to a two-year moratorium on water extraction, in light of massive public protests over Nestle. The City of Toronto hosted a public forum on indigenizing public space in Toronto at OISE, with a key focus on rivers, land features, and Lake Ontario.

What are the best ways for universities to educate students and publics about these issues? In Voices of the Watershed, Lavigne and Gates (2000:212) argue that the most pressing challenge for building a watershed movement for restoration and healing is not more environmental studies, but increasing public understanding of rivers and lakes, enhancing ecological literacy, recruiting and empowering leaders, building citizenship organizations, and linking up water activists so they can work together for a common goal. These goals are those that universities are uniquely positioned to support, as we can learn from community partners facing the same challenges. One strategy that has been developed for such education, within and beyond classrooms, is called place-based education (debates on this term are detailed more fully below)…..Some argue for a place-based approach argues that students learn to think differently through reinhabitation, which requires a series of practices for engaging students outside classrooms (Gruenwald and Smith 2008). However, place-based approaches have been critiqued for failing to take into account indigenous understandings of territory (see e.g. Tuck, McKenzie and McCoy 2014). Some call, therefore, for a feminist, decolonial place-based pedagogy (Somerville 2008, Someville et al 2011) or a land-based pedagogy (Tuck et al 2016)….. With this proposal, I request a half-course release in order to deep and broaden conversations on decolonial place-based pedagogies, with a focus on water, amongst faculty, staff and students and with the many water-based activists in the GTA.

Gillian Gillison Wins 2016 AAS Article Prize for Oceania Article

Congratulations to Prof. Gillian Gillison for receiving the 2016 AAS (Australian Anthropological Society) Article Prize in recognition of her article ‘Whatever Happened to the Mother? A New Look at the Old Problem of the Mother’s Brother in Three New Guinea Societies: Gimi, Daribi, and Iatmul’. A panel of three independent anthropologists judged this article to be the best among many strong submissions in terms of theoretical sophistication, ethnographic depth, quality of writing and originality. Prof. Gillison will be awarded the prize at the Anthropocene Transitions AAS Conference December 12-15, 2016 at the University of Sydney.

Kristin Bright Helps Design Breast Cancer Information Tool

Photo of Kristin Bright
Kristin Bright, assistant professor, teaching stream, at U of T’s Department of Anthropology. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

The following article was posted on Arts & Science News and can also be read at

Breast cancer “decision tree” helps women navigate treatment options

“There is no other tool like this anywhere in North America”

A free information tool largely designed by breast cancer survivors and a University of Toronto medical anthropologist is now available online to explain treatment options for the most common form of cancer in women.

Breast cancer “decision trees” that map out the treatment options for every form of the disease are a key feature of the Be The Choice website, which also includes plain language explanations of medical terminology and the various types of the cancer.

“There is no other tool like this anywhere in North America,” says Kristin Bright, assistant professor, teaching stream, at U of T’s Department of Anthropology.

“Everything from the language and graphics to the colours and fonts is informed by patients and survivors.”

Helping patients understand their disease and consider their options

Screengrab of website
The website also includes plain language explanations of medical terminology and the various types of the cancer.

With many patients facing surgical treatment within a few weeks of diagnosis, the site is meant to help them understand their disease and consider their options.

“A lot of people leave their doctor’s office feeling they either got too much information or too little, and they’ve heard medical terms that haven’t been explained,” says Bright, who was at the New York University School of Medicine and Perlmutter Cancer Center before joining U of T.

“When they go into the decision tree, they’ll see a short description, and then they can choose to read more. It’s sort of an iterative design, so you’re not getting too much information at once.”

While the type of breast cancer may dictate certain procedures that must be followed quickly, there will also be decisions the patient has to make, notes Bright.

These include choosing radiation or chemo treatment before or after surgery, and whether to have immediate breast reconstruction or to wait until later.

Designed to empower and spread cancer health literacy

The tool is not intended to be used in isolation but to empower the patient to discuss the information and options with their care providers. Bright says the designers anticipate that at the very least, the site will reduce anxiety and improve communication.

It’s also an important education tool for spreading cancer health literacy.

“In a very diverse population like Toronto, that’s important, because people might have pre-existing ideas or concepts of what a tumor might be.”

Bright recalls a patient she interviewed while in New York who was from Haiti. The woman put off surgery for two years because, like many in her community, she thought the lump in her breast was caused by menopausal blood that would dissipate.

The site is accessible on any browser or mobile device and is still in the testing phase. Bright and a team of advisors and clinicians have been working on the site for two years, and they hope to gather more feedback from visitors that they can incorporate prior to its official launch in June 2017.

The text is written in Eighth Grade English, and it will be translated for a French-language mirror site before the official launch.

Site to grow and develop

As the site grows and develops over time, the designers hope to add information about post-treatment care, survivorship resources, and complementary and alternative care, such as acupuncture, massage and meditation.

Bright also harbours ambitions the site could eventually contribute to existing patient advocacy movements to improve care in underserved areas by raising awareness.

Start-up funding has come from a grant from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). That money will take them through the launch next year, and then they will be looking for additional funders.

“We’re hoping to spread the word so that people can see that this is often a manageable disease, and there is life after breast cancer,” says Bright.

“I also hope that this tool will help people understand they need to continue monitoring their health, even after treatment.”

Anna-Louise Crago Receives Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case

photo of Anna-Louise Crago
Anna-Louise Crago

Congratulations to PhD Candidate Anna Louise-Crago! She is one of six recipients of the 2016 Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, which honours Canadians who advance gender equality. Anna-Louise was chosen because of her two decades of work as a human rights advocate, social service-provider and researcher alongside, and as part of, sex worker and street-involved communities. Learn more about the other recipients at

Below is more on why Anna-Louise is so deserving of this award!


Anna-Louise Crago is dedicated to following an inclusive path toward building gender equality, with courage and integrity, in Canada and abroad. Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, she brings her lived experience in sex work to her studies in anthropology and ground-breaking human-rights initiatives. For two decades, she has been a human rights advocate, social service-provider and researcher alongside, and as part of, sex worker and street-involved communities. At Stella, Montréal’s centre for and by sex workers, Ms. Crago served as coordinator of health and social services. Along with her colleagues at Stella, she was co-recipient of the AIDS Action Award in 2006, given by Human Rights Watch. Ms. Crago has worked with sex workers in over 25 countries in many regions to document the human rights violations they face. She was lead author of a report on violence against sex workers by state-actors in Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia that Human Rights Watch called “ground breaking research” that should serve as a “catalyst to the human rights community.” In 2013, she received the prestigious Trudeau Doctoral Scholar Award from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, to pursue research on sex workers’ experience during armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ms. Crago has been influential in advancing policies on a global level that are key in changing country-level approaches to the HIV epidemic to include thousands of sex workers in access to prevention and treatment while addressing violence against sex workers and the harms of criminalization.