AMPD professor receives prestigious Killam Prize

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York University Professor Janine Marchessault has been named one of the five recipients of the esteemed 2024 Killam Prize, recognized in the Humanities category, honouring her work in community-based and public art exhibitions, research creation and public outreach.

The Killam Prize celebrates the contributions of Canadian researchers across various disciplines. Each year, five eminent individuals are selected for their remarkable work in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering, with a prize of $100,000 awarded to each recipient. Previous York recipients of the Killam Prize have included Distinguished Research Professors Carl James, Stephen Gill and Ellen Bialystok.  

Janine Marchessault
Janine Marchessault

As a professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts and a Tier One Research Chair in Media Arts and Community Engagement, her expertise spans cinema studies, communications studies and contemporary art, positioning her as one of Canada’s foremost scholars in media and art activism.

As part of her ongoing work amplifying marginalized voices and fostering inclusive narratives, she serves as the principal investigator for Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Moving Image Heritage. The collaborative research initiative, which received a $2.499 million partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2017, involves over 14 community and artist-run archives in Canada that is dedicated to preserving diverse histories from Indigenous, LGBTQ, immigrant and women’s experiences.

Marchessault was also the co-founder of Future Cinema Lab, which explores how new digital storytelling techniques can transform state-of-the-art screens, and the inaugural director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology Research, a creativity-rooted research centre at York University. In 2012, she was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Fellowship to pursue her curatorial and public art research around sustainable development.

“Dr. Marchessault is a prolific researcher and a recognized global leader in media arts and activism,” said School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng. “The significance of her work is evident not only in her individual academic accomplishments, but also in Marchessault’s sustained commitment to community-engaged work through public art exhibitions, innovative approaches to moving image archives, and excellence in teaching and mentorship of students at the intersections of art, technology and society. She is an exemplary scholar and colleague from whom I continue to learn so much.”

For Marchessault, the prize isn’t so much an acknowledgement of her, as it is the significance of the type of work she does. “It is a recognition of the importance of public history, collective memories, and the need to find innovative voices and places for the exchange and creation of cultural knowledge in order to reimagine the future of the planet,” she says.

“The Killam has over the past several years recognized the role of public media culture (cultural festivals, film history, exhibitions, collective cultural experiences, performance) as vital forms of civic culture – recognizing the ways in which arts, digital media and new technologies have the potential to transform our material understanding of the world around us in an effort to enhance our cultural and civic engagement as Canadians and global citizens.

Read more about Marchessault’s work and achievements on her faculty profile page.