Geography graduate students win provincial essay awards

Two York geography graduate students won two of the three essay awards handed out by the Canadian Association of Geographers Ontario Division at its annual conference in October.

Anne Marie Murnaghan (left) won the doctoral-level prize for her essay, “Considering the Contradictions: How the city and the Country Constructed the Bloor Viaduct, Toronto, Canada 1897-1919”.  Her paper examines the context in which the Bloor Viaduct was built using the planning and newspaper records and Michael Ondaatje’s novel, In the Skin of a Lion (1987). With a discourse analysis of the language used in these sources, Murnaghan illustrates how nature was used positively to justify the improvement of urban infrastructure and contradictorily, nature was in need of mastery in the name of progress. Last year she also won an essay prize from the Association of American Geographers conference in Chicago. 

James McLean (right) won the master’s-level prize for his paper, “The Multiple Meanings of Muslim: Geographies of ‘Being’ and ‘Becoming’ Ismaili”. In his award-winning paper, McLean explores the ways in which social, cultural and material boundaries of being and becoming Ismaili are defined, regulated and contested through both social relations and spatial practices. Drawing on focus group and individual interviews with 47 first- and second-generation East African Ismaili Muslims in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, McLean’s paper analyzes the multiple meanings of Muslim as a counter discourse to polarized (mis)perceptions of what it means to be and live as a Canadian Muslim.

Visit the Graduate Program in Geography Web site for more information on the program and research undertaken by faculty and graduate students.