Departmental News

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2019-20 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Applications for the 2019-20 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program may now be submitted to the Department of Anthropology

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is intended to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally; develop their leadership potential; and position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow, positively contributing to Canada’s economic, social and research-based growth through a research-intensive career.

The Department of Anthropology reviews submissions to go forward to the Faculty of Arts & Science for consideration. Our departmental deadline for receiving applications is Monday, July 15, 2019.

Please send your complete application to with the subject line: 2019-20 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Complete requirements are available on the Banting website and on the SGS website.

Emily Gilbert & Hannah Quinn receive 2018-19 TA Award

Congratulations to Emily Gilbert and Hannah Quinn, who both won the 2018-19 departmental TA Award.

Emily Gilbert has proven her ability to provide meaningful feedback through excellent communication skills, and helping students creatively imagine the possibilities of their anthropological education in ways they had previously not considered.

Hannah Quinn is a conscientious leader who designed curricula to include LGBTQ and indigenous perspectives, making sure everyone is welcome, and helping new TAs find their feet as they begin their university teaching career.

Undergrad student Tara Suri’s paper published in Semiotica Journal & to be presented at conferences

Congratulations to our fourth year undergraduate student Tara Suri, who was recently selected to be published in Semiotica, the Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, this July 2019!

Tara Suri, Fourth Year Undergraduate

The name of her publication is ““Do You Understand These Charges?”: How Procedural Communication in Youth Criminal Justice Court Violates the Rights of Young Offenders in Canada.”

The paper will be presented by Tara on a panel entitled “Taking Language and Law Seriously” at the International Language and Law Association Conference this September 2019 at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

She will also be presenting at the Canadian Criminal Association Congress this November 2019 in Quebec City.

Congratulations Tara!

Girish Daswani, UTSC, Awarded SSHRC Insight Grant

Congratulations to Professor Girish Daswani, from UTSC, who was awarded with a SSHRC Insight grant. 

Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funding is available to both emerging and established scholars for long-term research initiatives of two to five years.

Professor Daswani’s research project is entitled Act Now: Responses to Corruption in Contemporary Ghana.

Michael Chazan & Hilary Cunningham Awarded SSHRC Insight Grants

Congratulations to Professor Michael Chazan and Professor Hilary Cunningham, who were both just rewarded with SSHRC Insight grants. 

Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funding is available to both emerging and established scholars for long-term research initiatives of two to five years.

Professor Chazan’s research project is entitled The Archaeology of the Precursors of Modern Humans at Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, and Professor Cunningham’s research project is entitled Fur, Feathers and Phobias: The Role of Fear and Compassion in Animal Sanctuaries

Prof. William J. Samarin, Emeritus, awarded “Lifetime Achievement Award”

Professor William J. Samarin, Emeritus, was recognized with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” on January 5, 2019 at a special session of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in New York City, held in connection with the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Tributes were made by Salikoko Mufwene, Peter Bakker, and Marlyse Baptista, and Professor Samarin gave a report of his research on ‘The origin of Lingala: Evidence and Argumentation.’ Professor Samarin retired in 1991 at age 65.

Congratulations Professor Samarin!

Michael Lambek to Give Tanner Lecture at University of Michigan

Professor Michael Lambek has been invited to give the Tanner Lecture on Human Values at the University of Michigan on January 31, 2019. The title of his lecture is “Concepts and Persons.”

The Lectures are given in parallel at nine universities in the UK and the USA: Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, Michigan and Utah. Previous lecturers include Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler, Umberto Eco, Didier Fassin, Michel Foucault, Peter Galison, Clifford Geertz, Michael Ignatieff, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Marshall Sahlins, Elaine Scarry, Amartya Sen, and Charles Taylor.

“Appointment as a Tanner lecturer is a recognition for uncommon achievement and outstanding abilities in the field of human values.” Read the official description of the appointment of a Tanner Lecturer.

Congratulations to Bonnie McElhinny recipient of an IRCRC Grant from SSHRC

We are delighted to announce that Nancy Rowe, Dr. Debby Danard, and Dr. Bonnie McElhinny are the recipients of an Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation Connection (IRCRC) Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, for a project entitled “13 moon Journey and Water Gathering” (a description follows).

IRCRC grants affirm the important, holistic and interdisciplinary contributions to human knowledge that Indigenous knowledge systems make. Furthermore, the call respects Indigenous knowledge systems, including ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, as important avenues for exploring the contours of Indigenous knowledge, supporting Indigenous research paradigms, contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration and extending the boundaries of knowledge in western research paradigms.

This funding will support community gatherings, workshops, or other events or outreach activities that will mobilize existing knowledge, facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing, and result in the preparation of a position paper. The position papers will be shared at a national dialogue event scheduled for March 2019 to develop, in partnership with Indigenous communities, a strategic plan for an interdisciplinary Indigenous research and research training model that contributes to reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.


Project Summary:  Thirteen Moon Journey and Water Gathering

The Thirteen-Moon journey or annual cycle of the Aanishinaabek is widely known within Aanishinaabek communities.  It is a model that mirrors and uses the natural environment to assist in an understanding of how we are governed by and connected to Skaagaamik-Kwe (Mother Earth). Before the western calendar widely used today, the Aanishinaabek depended on the annual cycle of Creation, to observe and determine time.  The traditional Aanishinaabek year follows the thirteen-moon lunar cycle. Each moon is named for a natural phenomenon – the activity of a seasonally active animal, an important cultural practice or belief, or a prevalent environmental condition.  For example, Mnoomin Giizis (wild rice moon) is when wild rice is harvested, but also a time for reflecting on meanings and histories of wild rice.

The Caribbean scholar Sylvia Wynter argues that decolonization requires changing the way that people understand space, and time, and what it means to act in a good way or be a good person. This means that we change how we understand land and water and territory, that we change notions of progress and seasonal cycles, and that we elaborate a model of what it means to be a good person that is not linked to the competitive individual of settler colonialism and capitalism, or the humiliated or abject victim of colonialism. This project, the 13 moons project, is built precisely around these premises. Each month, Nancy Rowe, and Deb Danard, the project directors, will invite respected Elders or traditional Practitioners to offer the appropriate teachings linked to that month at Akinomaagaye Gammik:  House of Learning, a lodge which provides an appropriate environment and atmosphere for Indigenous Knowledge Carriers to teach the Mississaugas of New Credit and surrounding Indigenous communities. Simpson notes that “Building diverse, nation-culture-based resurgence means significantly re-investing in our own ways of being:  re-generating our political and intellectual traditions; articulating and living our legal systems; language learning; ceremonial and spiritual pursuits; creating and using our artistic and performance-based traditions (2011:18). This project builds on the success of an earlier, partial 13 moon journey project which was funded for 6 moons (by the Indigenous Cultural Fund, Ontario Arts Council, also held by Danard, Rowe, McElhinny) but proposes to elaborate it in two ways. First, it proposes to travel through a full 13 moon cycle, using ceremony for participants as a strategy for researching the 13 moon and related teachings; second, it proposes to investigate a set of community capacity-building skills each month that is directed, influenced and supported through the teachings of that month; third, Dr. Debby Danard will develop Indigenous forms of evaluation, and fourth Nancy Rowe  will  develop appropriate forms of  curriculum. This curriculum can be further developed to be scalable and replicable by other appropriate traditional practitioners. The project will conclude with a water gathering on the Credit River in July 2019 which reconvenes elders and traditional knowledge practitioners who have participated in the various moon teachings, to consider next steps in building a Grandmother’s Council which can consider how to share the teachings of the 13 moons with Indigenous people and allies, and build a broader circle of women and girls familiar with the teachings, in a good way.


Giidaakunadaad (The Spirit who lives in high places), Nancy Rowe is a Mississauga, Ojibwe of the Anishinaabek Nation located at New Credit First Nation, ON. Nancy holds an honours BA in Indigenous Studies and Political Science, and is currently completing a master’s degree in Environmental Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo, with the support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council: Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.  She is an educator, consultant, and a Traditional Practitioner of Anishinaabek lifeways, views and customary practices. Nancy has also received a number of other scholarships and fellowships, including the Stella Kinoshameg Award: Outstanding Native Studies Scholarship, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Harvey Longboat Memorial Scholarship:  Overall Highest Average at Six Nations Polytechnic.  She founded and coordinates Akinoomaagaye Gaamik, a grassroots initiative to provide educational opportunities for all people interested in Indigenous perspectives on life, health, education, history and the environment. She has co-authored several publications, including: McCarthy, D. D. P., Millen, M., Boyden, M., Alexiuk, E., Whitelaw, G. S., Viswanathan, L., Larkman, D., Rowe, G., and Westley, F. R. (2014). A First Nations-led social innovation: a moose, a gold mining company, and a policy window. Ecology and Society. She works on a collaborative project In Our Words Video Series @, which produces  videos which explore how the dispossession of land from Indigenous Peoples took place throughout what is now called Canada. These videos provide several perspectives through the personal narratives of Oneida and Anishinaabe Elders and recognized Knowledge Holders.


Dr. Debby Danard is Anishinaabekwe, sturgeon clan, born in Atikokan Ontario and member of Manitou Rapids, Rainy River First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. She is a traditional knowledge keeper, artist, lecturer, water ambassador, Life promotion activist and Eagle staff ogitch-e-daakwe. She has a Ph.D. in Aboriginal & Indigenous studies in education from the University of Toronto (2016). Her thesis work “Medicine Wheel Surviving Suicide-Strengthening Life Bundle” (2016) focuses on traditional knowledge as a way tried and true (evidence informed practice) to mobilize life promotion community bundles.  She has been actively involved working with and within primarily First Nations urban (Friendship Centres, MNO, COO) and several on-reserve communities since 1987.  She is the author of “Be the Water” (Canadian Woman Studies, 2013).  She held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, and is the owner of Union Star Consulting Life Teachings Lodge.  She has completed numerous reports on good governance, life promotion and water teachings for Temagami First Nation, Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, Chiefs of Ontario, and the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle.


Dr. Bonnie McElhinny is of Irish, Slavic, German, French and English ancestry.  She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in linguistics.  She is the Principal of New College, at the University of Toronto.  She is associate professor of women and gender studies and anthropology, and former Director of Women and Gender Studies.  She currently has an ATLAS (Advanced Teaching and Learning in the Arts and Science) grant to focus on decolonial approaches to land-based pedagogy, with a focus on water.  She directs Great Lakes Waterwork/Water Allies @ New College, with the support of a Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching and Learning Grant.  This initiative focuses on decolonial, feminist, queer and anti-racist approaches to environmental justice, with a focus on water.  Projects include designing and re-designing a cluster of courses on the Great Lakes, research and teaching collaborations with community partners, designing experiential learning opportunities for students, and curating public events. Her books include Words, Worlds and Material GirlsFilipinos in Canada (edited with Roland Coloma, Ethel Tungohan, J.P. Catungal and Lisa Davidson) and, most recently, Language, Capitalism, Colonialism:  Toward a Critical History (with Monica Heller, published by University of Toronto Press in 2017).   She teaches courses on water and social justice, unsettling settler colonialism, language and political economy, research methods, and experiential approaches to land-based education (most recently, a birchbark canoe build with canoe builder Mike Ormsby and Wahnipitae First Nation).

Call for Papers: Medusa Graduate Conference 2019 — Futures

The Anthropology Graduate Student Union invites proposals for the 6th annual Medusa Graduate Conference. The conference will take place on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29, 2019 in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, St. George campus.

The Medusa Graduate Conference is an annual event hosted by the Anthropology Graduate Student Union since 2013. Medusa is intended to provide both internal and external students with early-career conference and networking experience in a collegial and interdisciplinary environment. Generally, participants come from universities across Ontario, Quebec, and the eastern United States, with many presenting their research for the first time. Medusa is an important plank of the AGSU’s mandate, and marks a highly anticipated event in the calendars of graduate students in our department and across the University of Toronto.

The theme of Medusa 2019 is “Futures”. We encourage inventive and thought-provoking submissions of quality student research from both graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Applicants working in all sub-disciplines of anthropology and related fields are welcome to apply. Our committee gratefully receives all submissions, but especially those that creatively engage with themes of temporality, futurity, historicity, uncertainty, risk, “progress”, prediction, imagination, and hopefulness.

We ask that interested applicants submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to by Monday, January 21, 2019. Please refer to the attached call for papers [link] for more details. In the instance that you require further clarification, please contact”