This story is published in YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2021, part two. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments. Part one was published on Sept. 3.
Eighteen new faculty members join the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) this fall: Damilola Adebayo, Kelly Bergstrom, Duygu Biricik Gulseren, Jessica Braimoh, Asad Haider, Desirée de Jesus, Paul Lawrie, Sunwoo T. Lee, Zhixiang (Steven) Liang, Ann Marie Murnaghan, Katherine Nastovski, Katarina O’Briain, Margaret O’Brien, Jay Ramasubramanyam, Isha Sharma, Rianka Singh, Liz Smeets and Zachary Spicer.
“LA&PS is delighted to welcome a strong cohort of new faculty members to York this
fall,” said J.J. McMurtry, dean of LA&PS. “These new faculty, hired in many of our diverse programs across LA&PS, will add to our already impressive research and innovation initiatives and provide first-class teaching practices for our students, whether remote or in-person.”
Damilola Adebayo is an assistant professor in the Department of History. He is a historian of anglophone West Africa whose research and teaching interests are at the intersection of social and economic history; science, technology and society; and the role of international organizations in the African past.
Adebayo earned a BA in history from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where he was a Grace Leadership Foundation Scholar; an MA from the Graduate Institute, Geneva in Switzerland, as a Hans Wilsdorf Foundation Scholar; and a PhD in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Cambridge-Africa Scholar.
Adebayo’s current research investigates the socioeconomic life of Western technologies in Africa since the 1850s. He is keen to understand the varied contexts within which Western energy, communication and transportation technologies were adopted, appropriated, hybridized, reinvented or discarded by the upper class and everyday people; and the ways in which these technologies have been a cause and effect of change in African societies. A product of this theme is his ongoing book project, provisionally entitled Electric Urbanism: Technology and Socioeconomic Life in Nigeria.
Internationally, Adebayo was the 2019 recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Life Members’ Fellowship in the History of Electrical and Computing Technology. In 2017, he won the Melvin Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship awarded by the Society for the History of Technology. His has also won grants from the Past and Present Society, and the Economic History Society in the U.K.
Kelly Bergstrom is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at York University. Prior to her return to Canada, she was an assistant professor in the School of Communications at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Previously, she was a postdoctoral Fellow at York University’s Institute for Research on Digital Learning and a MITACS postdoctoral researcher at Big Viking Games.
Bergstrom’s research examines drop out and disengagement from digital cultures, with a focus on digital games and social media. She is co-editor of Internet Spaceships are Serious Business: An EVE Online Reader (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and her work has been published in journals such as Feminist Media Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication and Social Media + Society.
In 2023, she will join the Markham Centre Campus to teach in courses in social media and public relations.
Duygu Biricik Gulseren
Duygu Biricik Gulseren is an assistant professor in the School of Human Resources Management. Prior to York University, she worked as a senior research associate at the Haskayne School of Business; taught at Haskayne, Saint Mary’s University and the Sobey School of Business; and worked as a human resources consultant. She has a BSc in chemical and biological engineering and an MA in social and organizational psychology from Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey, and she completed her PhD in industrial/organizational psychology at Saint Mary’s University.
Biricik Gulseren’s research focuses on healthy and safe work and leadership, and aims to create meaningful knowledge for theory and practice in collaboration with organizations. She studies these topics at the individual, team and organizational levels using a wide range of methodologies, including experiments, interventions, qualitative and quantitative methods. She has published a number of research articles and book chapters on these topics.
Being guided by the experiential teaching and learning philosophy, Biricik Gulseren has designed and delivered several courses, and she is very much interested in working with graduate and undergraduate students.
Jessica Braimoh is an assistant professor in the Criminology program in the Department of Social Science. Her research and teaching interests include the interrelation between social inequality and criminalization; socio-legal processes and organizing institutions; and the experiences of “at-risk” populations.
Prior to coming to York, Braimoh was a postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Criminology at Wilfrid Laurier University. There, she explored the criminalization of homelessness in B.C. and more specifically the socio-legal processes managing encampments and the use of public space by unhoused people. She has published her work in Critical Sociology, The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The Canadian Journal of Public Health, PLOS One and Social Science & Medicine. Guided by principles of social justice, her work seeks to uncover the ways that inequality is perpetuated and maintained.
Asad Haider is an assistant professor in the Department of Politics. He completed his PhD in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2018. He also holds a degree in cultural criticism and theory from Cornell University. After finishing his PhD, Haider was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Penn State University, and then a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research.
His dissertation, “Party and Strategy in Postwar European Marxist Theory,” was a comparative study of social movements in France and Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on developments in Marxism that arose as Communist parties and extra-parliamentary movements addressed the social and political changes of the period.
His dissertation research paralleled his work as founding editor of Viewpoint Magazine, which combined journalism on contemporary social movements, intellectual histories of past movements and translations of historically significant texts of revolutionary theory. Alongside this research, Haider pursued a project on the theoretical interventions of anti-racist movements in the United States, resulting in the book Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump, which was published by Verso in May 2018.
Haider has published articles in scholarly journals, including History of the Present, Radical Philosophy, and Comparative Literature and Culture. He also frequently publishes in popular publications like The Baffler, n+1, The Point, Slate and Salon. He has been invited to speak in both academic and public contexts at universities and institutions around the world.
Desirée de Jesus
Desirée de Jesus is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. She is also a video essayist and moving images curator. Her research and teaching explore the intersections of race, gender, aesthetics, and technology in narrative film and media through traditional, creative/curatorial and maker methodologies.
Paul Lawrie is an associate professor in the Department of History. A historian of Afro-America whose research examines the intersections of race, labour, disability, urbanism and time in modern America, his book Forging a Laboring Race: The African American Worker in the Progressive Imagination (NYU Press, 2016) details how evolutionary science and industrial management crafted taxonomies of racial labour fitness in early 20th-century America.
His article “Mortality as the Life Story of a People: Frederick L. Hoffman and Actuarial Narratives of African American Extinction” won the 2014 Ernest Redekop Prize for Best Article in the Canadian Review of American Studies. He was also a contributor (“Race, Work and Disability in Progressive Era America”) to the Oxford Disability Handbook (Oxford University Press, 2018) and winner of the 2021 George Rosen Book Prize from the American Association for the History of Medicine. His current Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project, ”The Color of Hours: Race, Time and the Making of Urban America,” traces how time – as both lived experience and a category of analysis – mediated racial difference and identity in the American city, from the time-work management of the factory floor to the vagrancy statues of the streets.
Sunwoo T. Lee
Sunwoo T. Lee is an assistant professor in the School of Administrative Studies at York University. She received a BSc in consumer sciences and business administration, and an MSc in consumer sciences from Seoul National University, and a PhD in consumer sciences from Ohio State University. Her research interests include household economics, financial behaviours, financial decision-making processes and the personal characteristics affecting those financial decisions.
Zhixiang (Steven) Liang
Zhixiang (Steven) Liang is an assistant professor of management, teaching strategy management and international business at York University. He received his PhD in business administration from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.
Liang’s research interests focus on how institutional environments interact with corporate governance and strategies in different business contexts. His recent works address such issues as comparative corporate governance, business groups, market entry and foreign direct investment. He has publications in a wide range of academic journals, including the Journal of World Business and Industrial and Corporate Change. Before joining academia, Liang held various roles in the finance industry, non-profit organizations and consulting firms in China.
Ann Marie Murnaghan
Ann Marie Murnaghan is an assistant professor in the Children, Childhood and Youth Program in York’s Department of Humanities. Her research expertise and publications focus on discourses of childhood, children’s worlds and material cultures in cities, both historically and in the present period.
Murnaghan’s previous research analyzed how the material cultures of play and playgrounds influenced discourses of childhood and children’s identities in early 20th-century Toronto. In her current research, she examines how museums act as sites of children’s informal education and how integral these are to the formation of children’s identities, using film studies, critical museology and participatory, playful methodologies. In future research, she will explore children’s play in communities and public spaces, and what this means for children and families in the local community.
As a committed collaborator, she currently participates in three Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded projects and is passionate about community-oriented teaching and research. Authoring over 20 articles and chapters, she co-edited the internationally representative and interdisciplinary Children, Nature, Cities, published by Routledge in 2016. She has held teaching positions at University of Manitoba and Ryerson University, and research fellowships at the Centre for Digital Humanities at Ryerson and the Centre for Research in Young Peoples Texts and Cultures at the University of Winnipeg.
Katherine Nastovski is an assistant professor in the Work and Labour Studies Program in the Department of Social Science at York University. Her research explores possibilities for transformative models of transnational trade union action, solidarity and co-ordination. Rooted in her experience as a union activist and educator, her community-engaged research agenda works to advance the field of global labour studies. On a practical level, her scholarship contributes to efforts to explore new strategic directions for building workers’ collective power and solidarity in light of the changing nature of work.
Nastovski is currently completing a book manuscript, titled Transnational Horizons: Workers in Canada Enter the Global Sphere (under contract with the University of Toronto Press). The book provides a dialectical analysis of the way workers and workers’ organizations in Canada have acted globally from the mid-1940s to the present. With attention to the social dimensions of transnational labour practices, the book advances a theoretical framework to understand how ideas of race, gender and citizenship shape transnational resistance strategies, and how racialized and gendered class formation in Canada continues to influence ideas of workers’ justice and responses to imperialism, colonialism, nationalism and the regulation of the border.
Katarina O’Briain specializes in transatlantic 18th-century literature and culture. Before joining York, she taught courses in literary history, Black Atlantic literature and research methodologies at St. Mary’s University in Calgary, where she received a Teaching Excellence Award in 2021. Her classes often centre around the development of slow, close readings of texts to offer new perspectives on old works of literature and to think carefully about how some of the most urgent social questions of the 18th century live on in our present moment.
O’Briain is at work on a book manuscript, titled Georgic Possibilities: Craft Labor and the Transatlantic Eighteenth Century, which examines the ways georgic poetry – often defined as the poetry of agricultural labor – imagines alternatives to racial capitalism in the long 18th century, as well as in 20th- and 21st-century activist, anticapitalist and eco-poetry. This project ends by tracing the ways georgic poetry has been used to justify an ongoing history of dispossession and settler colonial violence in what is now called Canada. She has published articles relating to this research on the poetics of craft labour and on the political economy of accident in the development of the novel.
Margaret O’Brien is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy. Before starting at York, she taught at the University of Edinburgh in both the law school and the Philosophy Department. She received her PhD in philosophy from McMaster University in 2016 and completed a master’s in studies in law from the University of Toronto in 2017. Her areas of specialization are social and political philosophy, but she also works on a set of related topics in moral and feminist philosophy. She writes on judicial review, public reason, hypocrisy, privacy, candour and standing.
Jay Ramasubramanyam is an assistant professor in the Law and Society program at York University. He obtained his BA in criminology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in 2009; he received a postgraduate diploma and LLM in international human rights from Birmingham City University in the U.K. in 2011; and he received his PhD from the Department of Law and Legal Studies and the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in 2021.
Ramasubramanyam is a global south migration researcher whose expertise includes forced migration, international refugee law, statelessness, third world approaches to international law, human rights, race and racialization, postcolonial theory and South Asian studies. His research explores the asymmetries of power, knowledge production, and the ostensible legitimacy of norms in the field of refugee studies and refugee law. He recently published an article in the Asian Yearbook of International Law on refugee law in the Indian subcontinent, and two book chapters in The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law.
Ramasubramanyam has taught at Carleton University in the areas of social justice and human rights, refugee rights, international law, and race and racialization, and won the Contract Instructor Teaching Award in recognition of his teaching excellence.
Isha Sharma is an assistant professor in the School of Administrative Studies and holds a PhD in management. Her teaching interests include consumer behaviour, digital marketing, advertising and communications, and brand management. Her research focuses on studying consumer behaviour pertaining to emerging technologies, exploring the application of artificial intelligence in marketing, gamification in marketing, brand identity, consumer brand relationships, online consumer culture and services transgression. She has published research articles in reputed peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Product and Brand Management, the Journal of Consumer Marketing, the Journal of Global Information Management and the Online Information Review. She has also earned a competitive research grant this year from the AIM Sheth Foundation for her research proposal on service inclusivity for differently-abled consumers.
Rianka Singh is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto, and was formerly a postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information and a researcher at U of T’s McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology.
Singh’s research, which has been published in First Monday, Feminist Media Studies and ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, is primarily concerned with the relationship between platforms and feminist politics.
She is currently working on a monograph titled Platform Feminism and the Politics of Elevation. In it, she puts feminist media studies, geography and critical race studies in conversation with digital platform studies. She is also co-editor of the forthcoming book MsUnderstanding Media: A Feminist Medium is the Message (Duke University Press).
Liz Smeets is an assistant professor of linguistics in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. She received her PhD from the Department of Linguistics at McGill University in 2020 and two bachelor’s degrees, in linguistics and Italian language and culture, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2012.
Her research interests include the second language acquisition of the syntax-semantics interface, the syntax-discourse interface and the syntax-prosody interface. Most of her projects focus on conditions for language transfer on interface phenomena in bilingual populations (adult L2 learners and bilingual children).
Smeets is also interested in how knowledge and strategies from linguistics can help students and language instructors in the foreign-language classroom to improve their understanding of how languages are structured, how they function and how they are learned.
Zachary Spicer is an associate professor in York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. Prior to joining York, he served as the director of research and outreach with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Western Ontario, and began his career as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University after completing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance and the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University. He has also served as a senior policy advisor with the Ontario Public Service. He is the recipient of both the Susan Clarke Young Scholars’ Award and the Norton Long Young Scholars’ Award from the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.