Ongoing Projects

Landscapes of Injustice
REVITALIZING JAPANTOWN? A Unifying Exploration of Human Rights, Branding, and Place
Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities in the Legal Profession: Invisibility, Disclosure, and Equality
History of Radical Geography
Racialization, Racism and the University
Making Ontario Home: A Study of Newcomer Settlement Services Use and Needs

Landscapes of Injustice website

Principal Investigator: Jordan Stanger-Ross; Co-investigators: Alexander Freund, University of Winnipeg; Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University; Douglas Harris, University of British Columbia; Jeff Masuda, University of Manitoba; John Lutz, University of Victoria; Laura Madokoro, McGill University; Nolan Reilly, University of Winnipeg.

Landscapes of Injustice, a history all Canadians should know.

During the Second World War, Canada enacted mass displacement and dispossession of people on racial grounds, a collective moral failure that remains only partially addressed. Japanese Canadians lost their homes, farms, businesses, as well as personal, family, and communal possessions. Landscapes of Injustice is dedicated to recovering and grappling with this difficult past.

A society’s willingness to discuss the shameful episodes of its history provides a powerful gauge of democracy.

During the Second World War, Canada enacted mass displacement and dispossession of people on racial grounds, a collective moral failure that remains only partially addressed.
Landscapes of Injustice is dedicated to recovering and grappling with the forced sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned property.

In 1942 the Canadian government uprooted over 21,000 people of Japanese ancestry from coastal British Columbia and began the forced sale of Japanese Canadian property. These actions resulted in the eradication of Japanese Canadian enclaves throughout British Columbia. Whereas the uprooting, internment, and deportation of Japanese Canadians have been the focus of a rich scholarly literature, the dispossession has received only passing attention. This should not be so. Because of the dispossession, Japanese Canadians had no homes to return to when restrictions were finally lifted in 1949. Because of the dispossession, there is no historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood in Vancouver or anywhere in Canada. It transformed individual lives and the broader landscapes of Canadian life. Former property owners and their descendants still feel the shock of the forced sales, the destruction of their neighbourhoods, and the betrayal of the promise that the Canadian government would “protect and preserve” their land and possessions. Canadians are heirs of landscapes of injustice.

We will research and tell this history and engage Canadians in a discussion of its implications. This history still matters. Members of our society continue to be unjustly marginalized, differences among us can still seem insurmountable, and future moments of national crisis will inevitably arise. Our team shares the conviction that Canadian society will be better equipped to address these challenges if we continue to engage the most difficult aspects of our past.

Our team asks why and how the dispossession occurred, who benefited from it, and how it has been remembered and forgotten, in subsequent decades.

The dispossession was an epitomizing moment in the history of twentieth-century Canada: a core principle of liberal society—ownership in fee simple—collided with racial ideology. The latter prevailed despite acknowledgement by policy makers that the large majority of Japanese Canadians were British subjects by birth or naturalization (Canadian citizens) and their property ownership was lawful. Almost a year after the uprooting, policy makers commenced the forced sales of property, usually disposing of it at less than full value. Japanese Canadians in government camps were required to use the funds obtained from the sales to pay for their own sustenance. Although in 1988 the Canadian government apologized for the forced sales and other offences, the dispossession has never been adequately researched or explained. Landscapes of Injustice will give a full airing to this history by mobilizing the remarkable store of primary sources that converge on the dispossession. These sources include hundreds of existing interviews of Japanese Canadians; the records of community groups, local, provincial, and federal governments; a legal challenge to the sales in federal court; and thousands of records of the transactions of individual properties. Our project will trace the origins of this important Canadian policy, explain the failure of Canadian law to protect citizens, analyze the lasting ramifications of this failure, and make these insights available to Canadians.

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REVITALIZING JAPANTOWN? A Unifying Exploration of Human Rights, Branding, and Place website

Principal Investigator: Jeff Masuda, University of Manitoba; Co-investigators: Sonia Bookman, University of Manitoba; Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University; Sherri Kajiwara, National Nikkei Museum

Revitalizing Japantown? is a research project which engages Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents, organizations and artists who are working with a team of researchers with grassroots experience in the community. The goal of the project is to recover the long Human Rights history of the neighbourhood while doing our part to ensure that the rights of current DTES residents remain a public priority. To accomplish this we’re working with the 5 founding communities of the DTES: Coast Salish people, the Low-Income community, Chinese Canadians, Japanese Canadians and African Canadians.

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Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities in the Legal Profession:
Invisibility, Disclosure, and Equality

Principal investigator: Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University; Co-investigators:Barry Adam, University of Windsor; Kevin Alderson, University of Calgar;  Ellen Faulkner,College of New Caledonia; Kathleen Lahey, Queen’s University

This project is a sustained empirical, socio-legal study of the complexities and challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsex/gender, two-spirited, and intersex members of the Canadian legal profession as they negotiate issues of invisibility, disclosure, and acceptance by employers, colleagues, clients, judges, and communities in shaping their lives and careers.

Since the early 1960s, law and sexuality discourses have revolved around whether people characterized by their sexual orientation/gender identity are entitled to be treated equally and fairly. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsex/gender, two-spirit, and intersex lawyers have often played crucial roles in bringing about law reform, litigation, and institutional changes that have eliminated many deeply-entrenched forms of discrimination. In the intensity of these efforts, surprisingly little attention has been paid to how lawyers, judges, teachers, and other members of the profession who are themselves characterized by their sexualities have fared as professionals.

Our study centres on these legal professionals, asking three basic questions: 1) Where are such individuals located in the legal profession, especially those who are characterized by gender, race, Aboriginal heritage, religion, immigration status, disability, or economic class as well as by sexualities and identities? 2) What forms of bias do they encounter in legal institutions and what discursive practices do they use to counter bias and discrimination? And 3) what steps would substantively facilitate their integration into all aspects of the legal profession and justice system on an equal basis? Through indepth analysis of the structure, organization, and personnel of the legal profession, we aim to develop a coherent conceptual framework that will explain and theoretically situate LGBTTTI lawyers in professional formations and in their personal and work lives. Of particular interest will be how the specific dynamics of invisibility and disclosure might produce tension between work and non-work life and affect lawyers’ overall quality of life.

This study will use both qualitative and quantitative research methods to obtain comprehensive results. Qualitative research will focus on the legal and regulatory framework governing the legal profession and the many steps that have already been taken in recognizing diversity within the profession, and will include individual and group interviews with lawyers, teachers, judges, law firm, and other employers to identify key issues. Quantitative research will be obtained through online surveys to obtain information on as many LGBTTTI lawyers as possible, from all regions.

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History of Radical Geography

Co-investigators: Trevor Barnes, University of British Columbia; Nik Heynen, University of Georgia; Audrey Kobayashi ,  Queen’s University; Linda Peake , York University;  Jamie Peck ,University of British Columbia; Damaris Rose, Institut national de la recherche scientifique; Eric Sheppard, UCLA;  Bobby M. Wilson, University of Alabama

This project is undertaken by a joint Canada-US research team to write a history of the development of North American radical geography over the last fifty years. Radical geography, as it was initially called, was first systematically formulated in the mid-to-late 1960s (Bunge 1969; Peet 1977, 1985, 2000). Defined by a critical sensibility linking geographical theory, empirical study, and on-the-ground political practice, the movement drew inspiration originally from works in political economy (especially those of Marx and his interpreters, Harvey 1982), and later from writings in feminism, critical race studies, and postcolonial and queer theory (Sheppard 2006; Kobayashi 2003; Peake 2009). Radical geography (or critical geography as it generally became called in the 1990s) has become the dominant approach in Anglophone North American human geography, and defined by intellectual acuity, liveliness, and pluralism. Radical geography’s continuing pre-eminence and vitality, its past achievements, but the absence as yet of any comprehensive history, provide the impetus and justification for this project.

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Racialization, Racism and the University

Principal Investigator: Frances Henry, York University;  Co-investigators: Enakshi Dua, York University, Carl James, York University; Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University; Peter Li, University of Saskatchewan; Malinda Smith, University of Alberta;

This study will be the first of its kind to address the status of racialized and indigenous scholars in Canadian universities. As a national, multidisciplinary team of scholars, we will undertake a national analysis of Canadian universities with a more detailed analysis of ten universities that represent a diversity of regions and institutions. The study will gather data required to make an accurate assessment of the representation and position of racialized minorities within Canadian universities, and will analyze these data to reveal patterns of discrimination and racism with a particular focus on three questions: 1) How does the pattern of racism vary according to gender, sexuality, ability, age, and different kinds of racializations? 2) Are there any differences between institutions? 3) How do patterns of racialization affect the mission of universities to deliver equitable education and research and thus fulfill their public responsibility?

The research also has two broader goals: To contribute to inter- and multidisciplinary theoretical understandings of the social construction of racialization, racism, equity, and social justice; and secondly to assist policy makers, administrators, and faculty associations to develop more effective tools to ensure equity. A study of discrimination, racialization and racism requires a focus on more than numerical representation. Indeed the lack of representation is often tied to other dimensions of discrimination such as the everyday experiences with racism, the way in which institutions create an understanding of what equity is, and the effectiveness of the mechanisms to address inequities. Therefore we will examine the multiple and interrelated ways in which racialization and racism take place by analyzing data on:

1) Representation: hiring, tenure and promotion practices; the attitudes and practices of administrators  responsible for equity policy and practice. 2) Institutional/organizational culture: including barriers to  access and equity. 3) Mechanisms for inclusion: what have universities put in place to ensure inclusion? 4) Discourses: the social construction of knowledge about equity and use of discourses by the academy in informing its practices.

In using a mixed method approach — census data, surveys, interviews, textual and policy analyses – we gain analytical insights which otherwise might be lost using a single methodological approach. It affords us the opportunity to leverage the strength, breadth and depth of both qualitative and quantitative approaches: from the problem identification, through to the data collection, analysis and interpretation phases of inquiry. The mixed methods approach also provides an opportunity to triangulate and combine the generalizability of quantitative data with the rich insights of stories of the qualitative data. Research findings will be communicated through an ambitious dissemination plan to academic and non-academic audiences. Three goals are identified: to add to the growing academic literature about racialisation and racism in the academy; to inform policymakers, administrators, and faculty associations about national patterns of racialised inequities; and to train students to make effective presentations drawing on various kinds of data analysis and to write for academic and non-academic audiences. To reach diverse academic audiences, we plan a series of presentations and publications targeted to various disciplines, both national and international.

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Making Ontario Home: A Study of Newcomer Settlement Services Use and Needs

Principal Investigator: Audrey Kobayashi, York University; Mehru Ali, Ryerson University; Joanna Ochaka, Centre for Collaborative Community-based Research

Dr. Kobayashi is one of three Principal Investigators on this project, which is under contract with the Ontario Council of Agencies serving Immigrants, and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. The three partners are the Welcoming Communities Initiative (represented by Kobayashi), the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration (CERIS) represented by Mehru Ali of Ryerson University, and the Centre for Collaborative Community-based Research, represented by Joanna Ochaka.

Ontario receives about 120,000 immigrants every year from different socio-economic, ethno-racial, professional, religious and linguistic backgrounds. Over three quarters of them live in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Areas but growing numbers are choosing to live in other parts of Ontario. Their location on the continuum of settlement and integration depends partially on who they are and under what circumstances they arrive, but also on the settlement services they receive in Ontario. The purpose of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of which needs of immigrants are being met and how; which groups of immigrants are not well served and why; and how the settlement needs of immigrants across the province may best be served.

The location of settlement services, as well as the nature, form, and languages of programs they offer, make a difference to who uses them and how they benefit from them. The first task of this project is therefore to build a comprehensive inventory of settlement services in the province, including those provided by agencies other than typical ‘settlement agencies’ such as libraries, places of worship, and community centres. This work will be done by augmenting existing inventories, none of which include the entire province, and then the second step will be undertake by filling the gaps through a survey of survey providers, which will also seek their opinions on emerging issues and trends. Third, a survey of three categories of immigrants will be conducted: those who have used settlement services in the past, those who are currently receiving them, and those have not used them at all. Questions about services used, needs for other services or modifications in current ones, and demographic characteristics of users / non-users will be recorded. Fourth, a series of focus group discussion with service providers will be held to gather their reactions to the survey of immigrants, and their insights on emerging issues, trends and best practices in making services more accessible and useful to immigrants.

All 15 of the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), and 5 of the 27 Census Agglomerations (CAs) that are home to more than 1,000 immigrants who have arrived in the past ten years will be included in the study. The data will be collected and analyzed by a team of researchers representing three institutions: CERIS – the Ontario Metropolis Centre, the Welcoming Communities Initiative, and the Centre for Community-Based Research.

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