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Mary McEwan Memorial Award

The Mary McEwan Memorial Award – Named in Honour of Dr. Mary McEwan, a feminist psychiatrist, this annual award of $1000.00 is awarded to one PhD dissertation produced each academic year at York University in the area of feminist scholarship.

Dr. Reena Shadaan

2020-2021 Winner

Reena Shadaan is the Mustard post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Work and Health and a researcher at the Environmental Data Justice (EDJ) Lab (Technoscience Research Unit, University of Toronto). Shadaan has a PhD in Environmental Studies at York University and an MA in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. She is a former recipient of the Canada Graduate Scholarship to Honour Nelson Mandela and York University’s President’s University-Wide Teaching Award. Shadaan’s research intersects environmental and occupational health and justice. In her doctoral work, Shadaan used feminist and worker-centered visual methods to map the occupational health of nail technicians who contend with musculoskeletal aches and pains, routine exposure to harmful toxicants, verbal abuses, and labour exploitation. Shadaan’s work further traces common toxicants in the nail salon to their roots in petroleum extraction and petrochemical production, underscoring connections across sites of violence and harm. This latter focus is rooted in Shadaan’s work on gendered and colonial environmental violence, including through her participation in the Land and Refinery project, which attends to the intersections of fossil fuel extraction and settler colonial violence.

Multiscalar Toxicities: Mapping Environmental Injustice in and Beyond the Nail Salon attends to the entanglement of toxicities at multiple temporal and spatial scales – from bodies to workplaces to homes and across generations. This work centers the nail salon – a site of occupational harm due to routine exposure to toxicants, labour exploitation, and verbal abuses. These hazards are rooted in structural inequities that position immigrant-settler women of colour in precarious and unsafe work environments. The dissertation employs multiple methods grounded in intersectional feminist methodologies, centering the experiential and embodied knowledges of 37 Toronto-based nail technicians through body- and hazard- mapping – a worker-centered visual method that maps workplace hazards, harms, and worker-defined solutions. This analysis reveals that dangerous workplace conditions – rooted in the racialized and gendered manifestations of capitalist exploitation – are embedded in/on workers’ bodies. Further, the toxicants that harm nail technicians’ health find their material and symbolic roots in the colonial, gendered, and environmental violence of petroleum extraction and petrochemical production. These processes manifest corporeal-level and community-wide intergenerational harm. To approach and link these multiple scales of violence, this work puts forth an expanded conception of environmental justice (EJ) – one that conceptually and methodologically rejects the politics of borders, such as between bodies, work, and home; between those deemed “unwelcome” and those welcomed, and; between nodes in the commodity chain. Embodied and local manifestations of harm in the nail salon are one node in a broad and interrelated web of gendered violences fueled by extractive logics.