Honouring the Scholarship of Dr. Agnes Calliste
I have the honour of co-organizing the symposium entitled “Honouring Dr. Agnes Calliste: Innovative Critical Race and Intersectional Perspectives in Canadian Sociology.”
Dr. Calliste, born in Grenada, was a nationally and internationally celebrated academic. Her scholarship focused on the complex interrelation of migration, work, race, ethnicity and gender in Canada. Her ground-breaking interdisciplinary research with African-Canadian railway porters and Caribbean-Canadian nurses and domestic workers explored under-researched dimensions of our social history.
Dr. Calliste studied not only the institutionalized oppression of such communities, but also their organized resistance. Her research is now widely cited by academics as essential reading in various fields. She also edited critically acclaimed collections, such as Power, Knowledge and Anti-Racism Education and Anti-Racist Feminism, with Dr. George Dei.
This symposium, inspired by Dr. Calliste’s foundational work, showcases the relevance and richness of creative intersectional research and theorizing (including race/ethnicity, colonialism, gender, class, citizenship, and sexuality) in extending the conceptual boundaries of understanding Canada’s white settler colonial and racialized formations. The papers, presented by established and emergent Carleton University scholars examines topics such as identity and masculinity in the Black and African diaspora, the disposability and resilience of Caribbean migrant labour, theorizing anti-colonial, anti-racist feminism, the transnationalism of racialized (Indian and Argentinian) communities, racism and power in Canadian children’s literature, and positionalities of racialized feminist scholars and students.
The symposium, composed of three chaired panels with continental breakfast and lunch included, will be held at Carleton University, Ottawa, on November 23rd, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at Residence Commons room 270.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Migration and Diaspora Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
On October 6, 2016, I organized the screening of Migrant Dreams at Carleton University, a powerful feature documentary by multiple award-winning director Min Sook Lee (El Contrato, Hogtown, Tiger Spirit) and Emmy award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson (Herman’s House). After the secreening, Prof. Min Sook Lee and activist Dr. Evelyn Encalada from Justicia for Migrant Workers were in attendance for a Q&A session.
Migrant Dreams tells the undertold story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers. Under the rules of Canada’s migrant labour program, low wage migrants are tied to one employer.
Migrant Dreams exposes the underbelly of the Canadian government labour program that has built a system designed to empower brokers and growers to exploit, dehumanize and deceive migrant workers who have virtually no access to support or information in their own language. Workers willing to pay exorbitant fees to work at minimum wage jobs packing the fruits and vegetables we eat in our homes. Migrant workers who deserve basic labour and human rights. Canada it seems, has failed them.
Calacs Congress 2013
As part of a small but energetic team of volunteer organizers, I collaborated in organizing the annual congress of the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) at Carleton University (Ottawa) from May 3rd to 5th, 2013. The general theme of the congress was ‘Canada and the Americas: Travelling Knowledges-Peoples-Solidarities.’ The congress featured several renowned key-note speakers, such as Julia Sánchez, former President and CEO of the Canadian Council of International Co-operation (CCIC), Sergio Aguayo, professor at the Centre for International Studies of El Colegio de México, a well known expert on Mexican and US foreign policy, refugees and asylum processes, and Adrián Bonilla, then Secretary General of the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO), and a specialist in Latin America foreign policy.
The agenda for the CALACS 2013 Congress included 82 panels and roundtables and more than 240 presentations from people belonging to 62 diverse institutions and organizations from North and South America. Discussions revolved around topics such as Canadian foreign policy relations with the Americas, corporate social responsibility, mining, human rights, and the rise of New Left governments in the region. In addition to academic participants, the event brought together members of the diplomatic community, Members of Parliament, as well as representatives of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC).
The Congress also constituted an excellent opportunity to celebrate the approval by Carleton University’s Senate of an undergraduate minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies that commenced in September 2013. The program’s approval signaled the expansion of the work of Carleton University’s Latin American and Caribbean academic community.