Dr. Audrey Kobayashi
Distinguished University Professor Emerita, FRSC
Queen's Research Chair
Department of Geography and Planning
A native of British Columbia, I completed a B.A. (1976) and M.A. (1978) at the University of British Columbia, and a PhD (1983) at UCLA. I taught in Geography and East Asian Studies at McGill University from 1983 to 1994, when I came to Queen’s, initially as Director of the Institute of Women’s Studies (1994 to 1999) and thereafter as Professor of Geography. I have spent time as a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia, University College London and, most recently, Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1994, I was a Fulbright Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC. Other positions include President of the Canadian Association of Geographers (1999-2001), and Editor, People Place and Region, Annals of the Association of American Geographers.
My research interests revolve around the question of how processes of human differentiation − race, class, gender, ability, national identity − emerge in a range of landscapes that include homes, streets and workplaces. I place strong emphasis on public policy, on the legal and legislative frameworks that enable social change, and on the cultural systems and practices through which normative frameworks for human actions and human relations are developed. I am particularly interested in the public negotiation of these issues.
Continuing a long history of research on Japanese Canadian community, I am currently involved in two projects. The first is entitled “The right to remain” and involves a number of university researchers and graduate students in partnership with community advocacy organizations in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver, where rapidly increasing property prices and gentrification threaten the precarious residents in hundreds of single occupancy residences (SROs). Many of these buildings were erected by Japanese Canadians, who were forced from their homes during the 1940s. We have used activist art as well as more conventional research such as housing surveys and interviews to document this new uprooting.
“Landscapes of Injustice” is a historical project funded as an SSHRC Partnership Grant held at the University of Victoria. Using archival research, GIS, interviews, and legal analysis it documents the confiscation of property throughout British Columbia, but especially in Vancouver, during the 1940s.
With my Irish colleague, Mark Boyle, I am nearing completion of a book on the geographical ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre. This book is the culmination of a number of years of collaboration in which we have examined his conceptions of space, racialization, colonialism, war crimes, and community action, as well as several empirical case studies.
I am also working with a number of colleagues in the discipline to complete a book on geography in the 1970s, chronicling the rise and development of radical geography.