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Kritee Ahmed-cropKritee Ahmed

PhD Candidate, Sociology. Kritee’s interests lie in the study of the dailiness of work in Toronto and London, UK public transport organizations, in which the importance of customer service is increasingly emphasized.  To investigate how this organizational discourse influences the understanding of work that serves the public, he uses a broad theoretical approach that integrates governmentality studies, political economy and cultural studies. Kritee also has an evolving interest in race and racialization in the contemporary Canadian policy-making context.Umit Aydogmus



PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology. Umit’s research interest lies in intersections of neoliberalism, urban poverty, new governmentalities and local governance issues in Istanbul, Turkey. He aims to understand how local governance under neoliberalism became the site of constellation of a new Islamist governmentality and sites of contested and negotiated performances and practices of citizenships. In addition, Umit is interested in adult education, neoliberalism, the workfare state, anthropology of non-spaces, masculinity and space relations, European Capitals of Culture and appropriations of past, present and future and culture industries in urban areas.


Adrina Bardekjian

 PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental StudiesAdrina’s research explores the evolution of urban forestry as a discursive and contested practice by examining the interaction between socio-cultural and political urban forest ecology processes and narratives. She is particularly interested in the social constructions of nature and the cyclical struggle between the “human/nature” divide that has led to conflicted methods of human consumption within, and behaviour towards, the urban forest. Adrina’s research explores the social psychology of environmental justice (and justifications), the creative influences in photography and literature, and the political polarizations in social forestry and urban culture in Toronto and Montreal.

Simon Black

PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science. Simon’s research employs a feminist political economy lens to examine how state and civil society groups respond to, manage, and/or mediate crisis tendencies in social reproduction resulting from the neoliberal restructuring of welfare in two urban political economies – Toronto and New York. He is also interested in the theory and practice of community unionism, and organized labour’s changing relation to the city and urban governance.

Peter Brogan

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography. Peter’s research examines the geography of contemporary capitalism, urbanization, and workers’ power through an analysis of education restructuring and teacher unionism in Chicago and New York City. His dissertation is entitled, Our Union, Our City: The Geography of a Rank and File Teachers’ Rebellion. Taking a critical ethnographic approach that draws on heterodox approaches in urban political economy, antiracist and feminist scholarship in labour studies, education policy, and human geography, it examines the relationship between global city development in Chicago and New York and the nexus of education policy and teacher unionism. In it he unravels the unique constraints and possibilities that exist in global cities for the revitalization of working class power.

tdXxZ3EAFrancesca D’Amico

PhD Candidate, Department of History. Francesca’s research explores the relationship between 20th century Black American liberation movements (Civil Rights and Black Power) and afro-diasporic genres of urban music. With an interest in the genres of Soul, Funk and Hip Hop, she explores the ways in which black urban music functioned in a socio-political capacity to reinscribe public consciousness on the social, political and economic issues confronting the inner city and the black underclass within a larger debate on the parameters of liberalism, democracy and the post-WWII nation state. Francesca is also interested in bridging the gap between community and academia, and has worked extensively with Toronto’s Hip Hop community to curate, archive and render public Canada’s Hip Hop history. An advocate of arts education, she is also the creator of ‘Learning Through Hip Hop’; an arts-based workshop that remixes the Ontario elementary school curriculum subjects of history, math, science and language through the lens and resources of Hip Hop culture for youth between the ages of 12-18 years old.


Rob Fiedler

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography. Rob’s research explores Toronto’s evolving ‘middle-landscape’. Specifically, he is interested in how current suburban residents are adapting, reordering and reconstituting the physical, social and political spaces of Toronto’s suburbs to meet increasingly diverse needs.


aflynn Alexandra Flynn

PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School. Alexandra’s research focuses on the alternatives available to the City of Toronto to delegate responsibility to community councils by reframing what are understood as “local” issues in a large urban centre. Alexandra’s academic and professional interests include municipal authority, governance, and housing issues. She has a JD from Osgoode Hall Law School and LLM from University of California at Berkeley.


BHalpin photoBryony Halpin

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Bryony’s research interests include environmental justice, the racialization of space and settler colonial urban geographies. Her dissertation entitled, “The Toronto Waterfront as Terra Nullius and the New Frontier of Space-Making in Settler Colonies” seeks to reveal the role that revitalization of urban space plays in the ongoing settlement process. With this work, she is particularly interested in questioning how urban development can come to terms with (as an imperative), the past and present social violence of the colonial. Attendant to this her research asks, what part does resistance – in its many forms – play in this unfolding process?


David HugillDavid Hugill

Phd Candidate, Department of Geography. David’s research is concerned with how colonial dynamics have been (and continue to be) productive of urban space in North America. He is particularly interested in how urbanists have sought to recalibrate Lefebvrian approaches to be sensitive to the centrality of colonial/postcolonial considerations in addition to questions of political economy. His dissertation looks at the production of urban Indigenous landscapes in the Phillips neighbourhood of South Minneapolis. David spent the academic year 2011-2012 as a visiting Fulbright scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota.


Cory Jansson

PhD Candidate, Political Science. Cory researches gentrification in Berlin from the perspective of those most affected by it – the gentrified. He examines how the Berlin state is currently driving the gentrification process in the historically working class neighbourhood of Neukölln through welfare state restructuring. By focusing on the neoliberalization of public housing, the labour market and welfare, he argues that the Berlin state devitalizes Neuköllners so that the neighborhood can be ‘revitalized’ by future residents armed with more social capital and, most importantly, bigger wallets. As urban theorist Loïc Wacquant notes, “it is high time students of gentrification recognize that the primary engine behind the (re)allocation of people, resources, and institutions in the city is the state (2008: 202).” Using this point as a key theoretical anchor, Cory adds to the gentrification literature by spotlighting how the Berlin state is the main author behind gentrification in Neukölln today.


Azam Khatam

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Azam has an MA and BA in Social Science from Tehran University and has continued her study within the PhD program in Environmental Studies at York University. She is currently working on her dissertation titled “Beyond Developmentalism and Populism: Restructuring  Urban Governance in Iran.” Azam’s broader interests include critical analysis of urban governance, public spaces and land and housing policy in the non-western world. As a research fellow at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), she researched how the settlement policy of the Iranian Oil Company has transformed from building company towns to labour camps in 1980-1990. She has worked as administration and research assistant with the MCRI on Global Suburbanism at the City Institute.


Punam Khosla

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Punam’s research is an extension of her work as a social justice activist. Her dissertation research theorizes the intersectionality of gender, race, and class within processes of urbanization. Focusing on the position, survival strategies, and resistance of low income women of colour, she uses case studies based in the ghettos and slums of Toronto and Nairobi.

Markus Kip

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology.  The Left and Labour’s problematic history of representing marginalized  populations constitutes my main area of interest. In my dissertation  research I plan to compare labour unions’ engagement with workfare  issues in Toronto, Frankfurt and Stockholm.


Burak Kose

PhD Candidate, Graduate Program of Sociology. Burak Kose is a PhD candidate in Graduate Program in Sociology at York University, Canada. He holds BA degrees in Political Science & International Relations and Sociology from Bogazici University, Turkey, and an MA degree in Social & Political Thought from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Burak’s academic interests are in urban studies, development studies, and political ecology as well as Marxist, poststructuralist, and postcolonial theories. His research areas are developmental and post-developmental geographies of urbanization, political ecologies of planetary urbanization, urban-rural relations and accumulation by dispossession, neoliberalization of urban governance and planning and the politics of land and housing in squatter settlements, and urban and rural social movements with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia.

LeffersPictureCityInstituteDonald Leffers

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography. Donald is interested in the power and politics of land use and development at the urban-rural fringe. His current research investigates the role of land developers in the governance of land use in the Toronto region. Drawing on interpretive institutionalism and critical property theory, he examines the dynamic, historical, and place based ways in which land-based value is negotiated and produced through complex and often contradictory interrelationships between the development industry and the state.


Photo on 14-09-18 at 5.13 PM #3Loren March

Loren is currently completing a BA in Urban Studies at York University. A freelance writer and journalist, youth mentor and teacher, she has spent a large portion of the past ten years working with youth in educational and community art environments. More recently her work has been centered around several research projects focused on affordable housing in Toronto.  Some of her primary interests have concerned social effects and repercussions of city development, planning, and renewal. She hopes to find innovative new ways to build communities, to share new ideas, and to imagine new directions and realities in sustainable urban living.


Claire Major

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography. Claire’s research interests include regional economic geography, precarious labour in post-Fordist / post-industrial contexts, social reproduction, resource geographies, labour mobility, [sub]urbanization, and [sub]urbanism. Her dissertation is on the relationship between suburbanism, labour and opportunity in the oil sands, and community as an act and enabling of social reproduction in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Her research in Fort McMurray also explores experiences of mobile contract workers living in camp accommodations, homelessness among migrant men seeking work in the oil sands, and immigrant experiences in northern Canada.


IMG_0182Karen O’Connor

PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology. Karen has conducted extended fieldwork in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic on diverse issues, including state and gender violence, health care, and technology. Her master’s research explored police raids that were orchestrated by the Ministry of Public Health, the National Police, and the Machalan municipal government against sex workers who work in the central market during an urban regeneration campaign in coastal Ecuador. Karen’s PhD research explores how people in the Dominican Republic live with unstable electrical service and disintegrating infrastructure, in part due to the imposition of neoliberal policies from international lending groups and transnational corporations.

IMG_1083Grace Adeniyi Ogunyankin

PhD Candidate, Gender, Feminist & Women’s Studies. Grace’s research examines the extent to which  urban experiences and socio-political views of women from Idaban, Nigeria are occluded from the theoretical and political spaces that inform neoliberal urban polices. In doing this, she illustrates that Ibadan women have their own visions for the city and they make claims to the urban by leveraging their culturally valued roles as mothers. She also argues that in a postcolonial landscape like Ibadan, the government uses limited and gendered approaches to women’s issues that often tend to shy away from feminist politics of gender and socio-economic equalities in attempts to label such social transformation projects as “un-African”. While leveraging the “African difference” discourse to maintain patriarchal and cultural ideologies of gender relations and roles, the government uncritically pursues western modernist visions for the city through its desire for Idaban to become a globally recognizable city and transcend its image as a ‘failed’ city.


Darren Patrick

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Darren’s research brings together queer theory, sociospatial theory, and urban political ecology as the basis for a queer/ed urban ecology. Broadly, his work is concerned with gentrification as an increasingly naturalized urban process. In this vein, queer urban ecology constitutes an attempt to counter capital-driven transformations of urban-natures (e.g. parks and public spaces). Through both critical and reparative gestures, Darren’s work seeks to articulate an embodied agency sensitive to sexual difference and driven by desire. His work can be tracked at and he’s always up for taking a walk through Toronto’s shifting urban landscape.

Nathan Prier

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography. Nate’s research looks at undocumented people’s movements in North American and European cities, focusing on their relationship to historical and contemporary notions of imperialism and colonialism, particularly the distinctions between resistance to settler colonialism and global capitalist imperialism. Using migrant justice as a lens, Nate’s research in Frankfurt and Toronto hopes to explore anti-colonial movements as a force in (re)shaping urban politics, spatial justice, citizenship and claims to the city.

Sara Ross

Sara Ross photoPhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School. Her research centers on the intersect of law and culture in the city. Sara’s legal education includes a Master of Laws from the University of Ottawa that focused on the repatriation and return of cultural objects and two law degrees from McGill University, where she received a major in Commercial Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. Sara also holds an Honours BA in Anthropology from McGill, and a BA in French and Spanish language, literature, and culture from the University of Alberta. She is licensed to practice law in the the Province of Ontario as a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, having completed her articles as clerk to the Honourable Justice Luc Martineau of the Federal Court of Canada. Between 2014 and 2016, she is serving as the Graduate Student Representative on the Canadian Law and Society Association’s Board of Directors.


Michelle Switzer

PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology. Michelle’s research interests include political ecology, borders and territoriality, political mobilization, and development. Based in the cities of Montevideo and Mercedes, her current research looks at the growing foreign-owned forestry/pulp mill industry in Uruguay at a time when the left-wing party has come to power. Rejecting the divide between nature and society, she explores how the tension around the forestry/pulp complex is linked to the ways people interpret progressive politics and understand the concepts of “nature” and belonging.

KutuphanedeGökbörü Sarp Tanyildiz

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology. Gökbörü’s research focuses on the ways in which the reorganization of space and time happens in the social movements after the global slump era of 2007-8. In particular, he is interested in exploring the ongoing Gezi Resistance of Turkey. He argues that the Gezi Resistance, which accommodated explicitly queer engagements, offers striking portraits of the creation of queer time and space in-so-far as it has generated non-normative temporalities and spatialities that allow people, whose lives have been unlivable by existing political arrangements, to build alliances in intergenerational, sensuous, affectionate, responsible and responsive ways through the various forms of performances, such as marches against the stark violence of the state, casserole marches against the neoliberal market imperatives that left people without food and shelter, and gender transgressive street theater, dance and music.

Kathryn Travis

PhD Candidate, Department of Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies. Kathryn’s research examines how banlieue/suburb communities around Paris use various forms of cultural artifacts and texts – media clips, film, music, YouTube clips, graffiti and street art, among other in-the-moment, temporary modes of expression (graffiti, sticker-ing, unplanned art, and street musicians) – to counter discourses that work to stigmatize these places. Focusing on two banlieues in the Paris region, Hauts-de-Seine (92) and Seine-Saint-Denis (93), Kathryn’s research anchors a critical feminist framework that not only understands power and representation as overlapping, but also as inseparable, relational concepts and asks: if the ability to ‘represent’ is closely tied to power, then how can ‘opening up’ the kinds of artifacts used to represent banlieues reveal new perspectives on these places?

photoCityMurat Ucoglu

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Murat’s academic interests include global urbanization, neoliberal governmentality, studies on heterotopia and social exclusion in Istanbul. His research aims to examine how neoliberalism and neo-Ottomanist conservatism attempt to create a new urban hegemony in Turkey (essentially in Istanbul under the discourse of creating a global city) by excluding many people through the several tactics and strategies of the neoliberal governmentality.


Thorben Wieditz

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Environmental Studies. Thorben Wieditz studied urban planning at the University of Dortmund, Germany before coming to Toronto in 2002.  He holds a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University and is studying for his PhD at the Faculty of Environmental Studies.  Thorben’s research focuses on the myriad ways in which gentrification is being normalized as a natural process of urban change and ever more tightly integrated as a ‘soft’ urban policy in contemporary planning and policy regimes. He is particularly interested in forms of post-recession and new build gentrification that manifests itself in the urban landscape in the form of residential high-rise condominium developments and the conversion of industrially designated spaces to accommodate ‘higher and better’ uses.  He understands gentrification as a window into larger political and economical restructuring processes and tries to reconcile structural forces with the agency of local actors.


PhD Candidate, Social Anthropology. Alex’s research interests include the symbolic urban landscape paying particular attention to the practice of place/destination branding. With Toronto as his primary site of analysis, he is interested in the multiple political and economic techniques used at both public and private levels to create a distinct and “competitive” city “brand”. His current research considers the cultural, political and economic implications of the upcoming 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games hosted in the Greater Toronto Area. Theoretical concerns revolve around the perceived necessity of such a branding strategy as urban identities are re-articulated within a global discourse of neoliberalism.  Further, he is interested in the particular aspects of the city that are represented in the branding process and those left out of the picture altogether. His research also re-examines the notion of “city limits” taking into consideration the potential global breadth of the neoliberal city’s symbolic, cultural, political and economic resources.