On a dark evening in November, our spirits were lighted by an online reception for the fall 2021 Queen’s Cultural Studies graduates and their faculty supervisors. We are so proud of these graduates, courageous, incisive, and imaginative as they all are, and we are honoured that they chose to study and work amongst us. Here is a small window into the work and personalities of the four new Doctors of Philosophy who attended.
Dr. Yasmine Djerbal came to Queen’s from Algeria as an international student, and quickly made herself indispensable in Cultural Studies as a warm mentor to incoming students and staff and the co-chair of the Steering Committee. As her supervisor Dr. Katherine McKittrick puts it, Yasmine’s “work is difficult to capture because her vision—for better futures, here, now—is expansive and in constant realization.” In her dissertation, Unbelonging and the Citizen Other in Canada and France, Yasmine shows “how racist cultural imaginaries are anchored in colonial and orientalist repertoires that continue to inform discourses of citizenship and belonging.” But as Katherine noted, “the project also draws attention to feminist resistance, illuminating how different Muslim activists not only negotiate, but refashion, the terms of belonging.” We at Queen’s are very fortunate that Yasmine has decided to stay here in the position of Educational Developer, Anti-Racism and Inclusion, at Queen’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.
Dr. Miles Howe made his way here from the Halifax Media Co-op and other journalistic work to study RCMP surveillance of Indigenous anticolonial struggles. His topic broadened out, as his supervisor Bob Lovelace noted, to take up “security and surveillance, and the weaponization of the Canadian academy.” Bob lauded Miles’s investigative skills and said, “he is a master at document retrieval. Basically you can’t hide anything from Miles: he will find it.” As for the future, Bob is certain: “we’ll stay friends for the best of our lives.” You can check out Miles’s accomplishment in Military Grade: Maurice Tugwell, the Centre for Conflict Studies and Counterinsurgency on the Canadian Campus. He is excited about his new job as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brock University.
Dr. El Jones joined Cultural Studies as an established prisoners’ rights activist and poet from Halifax. Her thesis, Abolitionist Intimacies, theorizes state policing of intimacy at carceral sites, and the building of anti-racist, anti-colonial, and otherwise liberatory intimacies through organizing inside and around these sites. The second section, Canada is so Polite, mobilizes poetic and creative non-fiction and personal history to imagine activist and abolitionist futures. El’s supervisor Dr. Lisa Guenther had this to say about her: “I have so much respect for El! She’s not afraid to speak truth to power, and to fight like hell for what she believes. But she’s also committed to bringing our minds and hearts and hands together to create a little more joy, a little more warmth.” El is an Assistant Professor in Political and Canadian Studies at Mount St. Vincent University.
Dr. Natasha Stirrett, a member of Ermineskin Cree Nation who grew up in the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee (Cornwall/Akwesasne area), is a community based researcher committed to Indigenous cultural continuity and resurgence. As her supervisor Jill Scott said, “Natasha has harnessed her passion as an activist and academic to develop a strong VOICE, a voice that advocates for change but also charts a path toward change, both inside and outside of academic settings.” Natasha’s thesis, Revisiting the Sixties Scoop: Relationality, Kinship and Honouring Indigenous Stories, examines the impacts of residential schools and child welfare displacement on Indigenous peoples, and how communities are addressing the resulting challenges of systemic oppression and violence. Jill says, “I am just so proud of her! I’m convinced that her ability to make herself heard will change people’s lives and change the world.” Natasha is a lecturer in the Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice at Carleton University.
The last words go to Yasmine Djerbal, who characteristically deflected praise for her own work by saying, “this is also a collective project we are working on... it is the people who make it a better place, and you are all part of that work.”
Other fall 2021 Cultural Studies graduates to admire and celebrate:
MA: Lubna Alarda, Joanna Dermenjian, Chloée Godin-Jacques, Samantha Lall, Laura Scott, Isabelle Semmelhack, Leah Skerl, Isaac White, Rebecca Wissink, Roy Zheng
PhD: Rawaa Baksh