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Identity, Home, and Belonging

The research cluster ​on Identity, Home and Belonging first emerged informally in 2020 ​through the collaborative efforts of emerging and established scholars from different disciplines, ​all associates of the Centre for Feminist Research at York University. ​The research cluster brings together academic researchers, practitioners, graduate and undergraduate students seeking to understand gender-based interpretations of identity, home and belonging, ​emphasizing an integrative anti-racist and anti-colonial feminist perspective. ​In particular, the concepts of identity, home and belonging are problematized by local, national and international power structures, ​including patriarchy, ​imperialism and colonialism, ​racisms and neo-liberalism. ​​Although often understood as personal spaces, an integrative anti-racist feminist and anti-colonial perspective recognizes that identity, home and belonging are all informed by ​these national and international structures of unequal power. 

​We follow contemporary anti-racist and anti-colonial feminist geographers in analysing: “(1) the ways that identity, home and belonging are shaped by their location in space, whether conceived of at the level of the household, the nation or globally; (2) the ways in which specific places become imbued with particular social meanings; and (3) "the ways in which meanings and representation associated with certain places are contested, negotiated, and transformed through individual and collective action” (Falah and Nagel, 2005, p. 4). ​Thus, we understand identity, home and belonging as spaces that are shaped by and given contested meanings within unequal patriarchal, racialized, colonial contexts. 

Furthermore, we ​emphasize that “feminist practice can render permeable the boundaries between classrooms and communities, research and lived experience, academic and everyday knowers (Addleson & Potter, 1991, p. 275).  In this way we include and integrate many forms of knowledge and ways of knowing, ​scholarly, activist and from lay people, while expanding our understanding of identity formation, home and modes of belonging. 

The objectives of this research cluster are as follows: 

  • To provide spaces in which members are invited to critically query, reflect on, discuss issues of identity, home, and belonging. 
  • To interrogate how identity, home and belonging are shaped by structural inequalities and (re)produced through gender relations and roles in the neo-liberal, (post)colonial and globalized era, as well as the ways that women challenge these inequities in their own struggles to give meaning to their identities, homes and belonging.  
  • To challenge modes of oppression that have defined the personal and social spaces and relationships of identity, home and belonging; in particular, to appeal to decolonizing, cosmopolitan, antiracist, indigenous and other practices as methods for women to reinvent their sense of self, connect to their own memory, their home space and how they choose to belong in a local, national or global community.   
  • To advance feminist research activities on gender, race, class, indigeneity, disability, sexuality, and other women's issues relevant to identity, home and belonging.   
  • To contribute to the development of empowering initiatives at a local, national and international level, through the sharing of our experiences, memories, ​knowledges and resources and by encouraging discussion between academics, activists and members of our communities. 

Additionally, activities of this cluster will include the following: 

  • Meeting periodically to share their research interests, questions, findings and other concerns relevant to the foci of this research cluster. 
  • Producing and sharing knowledge nationally and/or internationally as well as within and beyond the academy through events held annually, such as workshops, panel discussions, symposiums and conferences. 
  • Working towards collectively publishing their work. 


Addleson, K., and E. Potter (1991). “Making Knowledge.” In (En)Gendering Knowledge: Feminists in Academe, edited by J. Hartman and E. Messer-Davidow, pp. 259-77. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. 

Falah, Ghazi-Walid & Nagel, Caroline (2005). Geographies of Muslim Women: Gender, Religion and Space, New York: The Guilford Press 

hooks, b. (2009). Belonging, A culture of place. New York, Routledge Press. 

McKittrick, K. (2006). Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

Past Events

Women's Voices from Conflict Zones: Experiencing, Understanding, and Embodying Identity, Home, and Belonging in Diaspora & War Zones 

Date: June 16, 2023 
Time: 10:00am – 1:30pm EDT 
Location: Online 

Diaspora triggers an intense articulation of identity, belonging, and home. These three fundamentals are intertwined and inseparable. In the diaspora, and migration the once-considered stable identity experiences tremor as individuals or communities undergo the travail of uprooting, dispossession, displacement, marginalization, and ignorance. As the diaspora is surrendered by others who claim the shared and fluid space specifically in mainstream culture, the issue of identity comes to the forefront and becomes a contested issue. Diaspora brings instability and fluidity to the notion of self and leads to such questions as: “Who am I” or “Who are we?” or conversely “who are they?” Moreover, the question of where I belong and where is my home are critical questions, that lead to human rights, privilege, and the concept of citizenship. As the result, for many women experiencing war and conflict in their home country, the concepts of home, identity, and belonging are complicated and multi-layered. 

A deep understanding of the women’s story is the first step towards solidarity and empowerment, and it strengthens the sense of global sisterhood. This one-day seminar endeavors to collate and curate the narratives and stories of female migrants and refugees from war and conflict zone countries, to create synergy and solidarity to jointly overcome the main struggles and challenges that these women are facing. To shape this solidarity, we will collaborate with academics, activists, artists, and local leaders to ethically and carefully platform the processes and plight of migration and female refugees. Consequently, this seminar, has aim to build upon the scholarship of contemporary Integrative anti-racist, anti/post-colonial feminist perspective and transnational feminism of geographers and other social scientists to discuss the relationship between women’s experience of living in conflict and war zones and their sense of belonging and identity in North American host societies, such as Canada and the United States, however, the other host societies are strongly welcome. 

Our panelists will elaborate women’s experiences from Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Rwanda/Congo, Sudan, and Turkey, and they are in the hopes of imagining and working towards a world that is safe for women, family, and next generation. 


Adela Jušić was born in 1982 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Printmaking, University of Sarajevo in 2007, and holds MA in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe from Sarajevo and Bologna Universities, since 2013. Jušić has exhibited in more than 100 international exhibitions (Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain; Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Image Counter Image, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, Balkan Insight, Pompidou Center, Paris). She has participated in many artists in residence programs (ISCP, New York; Kulturkontakt, Vienna; i.a.a.b. Basel, Museums Quartier, Vienna) and in numerous panels, workshops and conferences. In 2010 she won the Young Visual Artist Award for the best young Bosnian artist in 2010, Henkel Young Artist Price in Central and Eastern Europe in 2011, and the Special award of Belgrade October Salon in 2013. Her works are part of many private and public collections. She is a co-founder and worked at cultural projects at the Association for Culture and Art Crvena from 2010 – 2019, and is one of the 2 creators of the Online archive of the Antifascist struggle of women of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yugoslavia. 

Timothy Longman is professor of political science and international relations at Boston University, where he serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Pardee School of Global Studies. He is also the director of CURA: the Institute on Culture Religion and World Affairs and previously served as director of the African Studies Center for nine years. His research focuses on state and society in Africa, particularly human rights, transitional justice, the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender, and religion and politics. He has published two books on Rwanda, Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda and Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda, co-authored a textbook on South Africa, Confronting Apartheid, and is currently writing a book on church-state relations across Africa. He has previously held teaching or research appointments at Vassar College, the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University, the National University of Rwanda, and the University of the Witwatersrand, and he has served as a consultant for USAID, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Justice Department, and Human Rights Watch in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr Zahra Khosroshahi (she/her) is and Associate Professor at the University of Glasgow in the Film and Television Studies department. Her research explores the representation of women and gender politics in contemporary Iranian cinema. Her forthcoming monograph Iranian Women Filmmakers: A Cinema of Resistance (Edinburgh Press) considers how artists use the visual medium to challenge various systems of power. She is also the co-founder of Thousand&One: an enterprise that supports women of colour in their professional lives.  

Tijana Okić is a philosopher with an interest in history. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the class of humanities, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. She studied at the Universities of Sarajevo, Tübingen and the Scuola Normale. With Andreja Dugandžić, she edited a volume dedicated to Yugoslav Women's Antifascist Movement entitled "The Lost Revolution: Women's Antifascist Movement between Myth and Forgetting". The book is based on archival work of one of the biggest women's antifascist organizations in the world which counted over two million members and was active between 1942-1953. Tijana has published on contemporary French philosophy, Marxism, Marxist philosophy and Marxist feminism, historical revisionism and historiography. Her work has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. She is a long standing militant of the CADTM (Commission for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt). 

Kawther Ramadan (She/her) is an ardent proponent of journalism and women's rights. She currently serves as the Executive Director at the Women for Justice Foundation. Alongside her professional commitments, Kawther is pursuing a graduate degree in Women and Gender Studies and is also a Teaching Assistant at Carleton University. Her academic journey includes studying journalism at Sheridan College, where she was selected as the Valedictorian of the 2022 journalism program. 

Kawther actively engages in community projects for immigrants and marginalized groups. She leads a project aimed at preventing gender-based violence among the Arab community in Halton. Additionally, she has been awarded the Leading Social Justice Collective (LSJC)- School of Cities, University of Toronto fellowship to engage in a project called "Fearless City: Fighting Gendered-Islamophobia and Racism in GTA," demonstrating her commitment to social justice causes. 

Born into a country plagued by political turmoil and civil wars, Burmese-native Phyu Phyu Sann has witnessed first-hand the atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the military government— particularly against women. Her advocacy for women's rights led her to join the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization, where she became its leading Senior Researcher and Director of Operations. For more than a decade, she has spearheaded numerous research on legal, political, constitutional, and dismantling structural and legal barriers to gender equality in Burma. Most of her research and advocacy projects focused on conflict related sexual violence and engagements with the UN Human Rights mechanisms including UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace, and Security. She has orchestrated collaboration amongst Burmese and ethnic women’s organizations in Burma to report to the relevant UN bodies the human rights violations and sexual violence that has taken place in Burma from 1990s to current day. Presently, Sann is an independent human rights consultant, and her current work includes research on sexual violence in ongoing conflict, and gender inequality while promoting the protection of women’s rights. She earned a MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management in the U.S and received her MBA in Thailand and BA from Yangon University with a concentration in International Relations. 

Vildan Mahmutoglu

Dr. Vildan Mahmutoglu received master’s and doctorate degrees from the Social Sciences Institute, Marmara University in Turkey. She has been working in Galatasaray University since 2001. Her doctorate thesis was about television and local cultures. She is currently working on diaspora and gender. She studies differences of generations and identity change in the diaspora.

She is Associate Professor at Galatasaray University, communication faculty and lectures about scriptwriting, film making, and migration.

Hamsa Fawzi is a senior engineer and advocate for women's rights in Baghdad, Iraq. Hamsa's work has been recognized with certificates and letters of gratitude, including the "Perfect Engineer" and "Ideal Employee" letters in 2019. She is currently the Director of the Women Empowerment Department at the Mayoralty of Baghdad. Hamsa vision is to create a society where women have equal access to education, employment, and leadership roles, where their voices are heard and valued.  

Khawlah Mousa is an experienced professional who has made significant contributions to the promotion of human rights, women's rights, and gender equality in Iraq. Her work as the Chairwoman of the Women Empowerment Committee at the Mayoralty of Baghdad from 2012 to 2015 has played a significant role in empowering women and promoting gender equality in Iraq. In addition, she is Director of Foreign Affairs, Translator and Editor, and Relation with the Media Committee Chairwoman with the Mayoralty of Baghdad and other organizations. 

Dr. Zahra Hojati has received her doctoral degree in an interdisciplinary program; Higher Education/Women and Gender Studies program at OISE/ University of Toronto. Her research interest is using an anti-colonial and integrative anti-racist feminist perspective to challenge the integration of capitalism and patriarchy in oppressing the Middle Eastern/ Muslim women in North and South. The intersection of gender with race, class, religion and all other social inequality is projected in her feminist analysis to pursue the concept of “identity” and “racialized women’s resilience”. She has published her book: Between 2 rocks, Iran-Canada Iranian Immigrant women speak out in 2013 and translated it in Farsi in 2018. Zahra has several journal publications as well as numerous conference presentations national and international in English and Farsi . She has the experiences of teaching the subject of women and gendre, and Women in Islam from the West and East perspective at former Ryerson University and University of Toronto. She is deeply active in different charities nationally and internationally. She serves as a board member in non-for profit organizations at MAGO ( Multicultural Action Group for Orphans ) and CCMW( Canadian Council of Muslim Women) . In the past years, she works as a research associate at Centre for Feminist Research, CFR at York University.

Fazileh Dadvar-Khani is a Professor Emerita at the University of Tehran, Iran, with a background in geography, rural planning, and gender geography. She specializes in rural development, specifically on gender analysis and local community engagement. Dadvar-Khani has published numerous books and articles on rural planning, gender geography, and tourism development. She is currently working at the Urban Economy Forum in Canada, where she serves as the Secretariat of the Academic Platform and leads capacity building and partnerships at the World Urban Pavilion in collaboration with UN-Habitat powered by Daniels. In these organizations, she mostly focuses on building a global dialogue and capacities regarding the implementation of SDGs, particularly SDG11.  

Dr. Balghis Badri is a Professor of Sociology and Women Studies since 2001. She is a Director of the Regional Institute of Gender, Diversity, Peace and Rights (RIG/DPR) She worked at the Dept. of Social anthropology and Sociology, Khartoum University as professor assistant, associate professor since 1972-1994. She established and headed the research section at the Centre for Arab Women for Training and Research in Tunisia 1994-1996. She is the founder of  four master programs on Gender and Development, Gender and Governance, Gender and Peace Studies and Gender, Migration and Multicultural Studies at the Regional Institute for Gender, Diversity, Peace and Rights from 1996 to 2010. She is a founding member of Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women Studies and its previous president from 1988-2003. Dr. Badri is an expert and consultant on gender issues for several UN agencies in Sudan and the Middle East. Activist on women's rights and member of several NGOs, coordinated several international cooperation projects at universities, NGOs, and for political parties on gender related issues. 

Suad Musa (Ph.D) is a British national, originally from Darfur, Sudan. She is the author of the 2019 Aidoo- Snyder Prize-winning book “Hawks and Doves in Sudan’s Armed Conflict. Al-Hakkamat Baggara Women of Darfur.” She works as an assistant professor of sociology at the universities of Qatar and Bahrain and a visiting lecturer at American and British universities. She is the founder of “The Gender Centre for Sustainable Development and Peace building" in El-Fasher, Darfur. She is a researcher and a writer in Arabic and English, a development practitioner, and an activist in the field of gender equality, peace building, and good governance. She is a member of the ASA Women’s Caucus of America, the African Feminist Initiative (AFI), the Oxford University OxPeace Conference, and many other groups.

Empowering Solidarities: Sharing Women's Experiences from War Zones and Beyond

Date: November 15, 2021  
Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm (EST)  

Join CFR Visiting Scholars Dr. Zahra Hojati & Dr. Fazileh Dadvar-Khani as they host a roundtable discussion of women’s experiences in war zones, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bosnia, Somalia, and Iran.

With speakers: Alina Haidary, Asma FaiziAdela Jusic,  
Narges Abyar, Khanim Raheem Latif, Khawlah Mousa M. Ali Al-Khazraji,
Fatina Ahmad Jameel, Istar Ahmad, Mania Elendari, and Mayson Al-Misri.

See speaker bios here.

The goal of this roundtable was to achieve a collective voice from authorities, activists, scholars, and average women who have experience in conflict zones, from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Yugoslavia. This initiating global gathering and sharing of experiences will increase capacity building of women/people who suffer because of war, conflicts, and the consequences of both, such as a fearful environment, to share and learn the ways they can empower themselves.

We strongly believe there is a need to promote women’s leadership as peace-makers in the world in order to have a better and safer place to live, regardless of the race, gender, culture and religion.


Dr. Zahra Hojati has received her doctoral degree in Higher Education/Women and Gender Studies program at OISE/ University of Toronto. Her research interest is using an anti-colonial and integrative anti-racist feminist perspective to challenge the integration of capitalism and patriarchy in oppressing the Middle Eastern/ Muslim women in North and South. The intersection of gender with race, class, religion and all other social construct is projected in her feminist analysis to pursue the concept of “identity” and “racialized women’s resilience”.  She has published her book in 2013 and translated it in Farsi in 2018. Zahra has several journal publications as well as numerous conference presentations, national and international.  Zahra has experience teaching as a sessional instructor at Ryerson University as well as at the University of Toronto. Recently, she works as a visiting scholar at York University on the subject of “War and its impact on Middle Eastern Women”.

Dr. Fazileh Dadvar-Khani is a professor at the University of Tehran, Iran and a visiting scholar at York University. She is also collaborating with Urban Economy Forum and UN-Habitat.  Her educational background is in the discipline of geography, particularly in gender geography and rural planning. Her work is focused on applying gender analysis and local community engagement in rural development. Due to her experience in coordinating and teaching in women studies departments in Iran, she has been a pioneer geographer in Iran which combined geography and women studies and introduced gender geography to Iranian academic geography. Her book, An Introduction to Paradigm of Gender Geography, was the first Persian book in this field which was published by the Organization for the Study and Compilation of Humanities Books of Universities (SAMT) in 2006.  Fazileh Dadvar-Khani has been recognized as a prominent figure of the country in research and was honored to receive an award from the President of Iran. Her work is focused on applying gender analysis and local community engagement in tourism and rural development. She has published many books in Persian about women’s studies, gender geography and tourism planning including: Gender and Development; Foundations of Planning in Changing Rural Space; Introduction to Fundamental Approaches and Methods of Tourism Planning (translation); Credit for Women: Why It Is So Important (translation); with an additional chapter, "Geography of Development in the World and in Iran." Currently, she serves as an editorial board member for academic journals. She is editor-in-chief of the Human Geography Research Journal and was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Research on Women, Development and Politics from 2009-2011, both of which belong to the University of Tehran. She is also cooperating with many ISI Journals including Gender, Place and Culture and Current Issues in Tourism as a reviewer.

Dr. Katherine Entigar is an Assistant Professor of Critical Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Dr. Entigar is a member of the Adult Education and Community Development program in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education. Dr. Entigar's research examines adult immigrant learning and languaging in nonprofit and community-based learning contexts. Dr. Entigar teaches courses on adult education, multilingual and multidialectal meaning-making in adult learning contexts, and anti-racist and feminist approaches to settlement education. In addition to academic work, Dr. Entigar supports refugee-serving organizations in Toronto as a teacher, interpreter, and consultant to language learning programming for LGBTQ2+ refugees and multilingual community members.

Juliana Crema (she/her) is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science, with a specialty in Women and Politics. Her research interests lie in the intersection of gender, foreign policy, and geopolitics. She has a background in political science and international relations and holds an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree completed at Charles University, Prague; Jagiellonian University, Krakow; and Leiden University, Leiden. She has a range of experience across multidisciplinary areas and Prior to starting the PhD she was a Research Associate at the CyberPeace Institute, where as part of the Public Policy team, she researched and analysed how to advance the role of international law and norms in order to promote greater accountability in cyberspace. 

Najiba Khaliqi is an experienced professional with a strong and diverse background in the nonprofit sector, international NGOs, and global Aids development programs. With over six years of experience, Najiba has played a pivotal role in various initiatives centered around women empowerment, policy review, gender equality, human rights, and immigrant and refugee resettlement programs. Najiba holds a Master of Arts degree in Development Studies, specializing in Forced Migration and Human Rights, from York University. She has also completed certificate programs in Women and Gender Studies, Peace Building and Conflict Transformation, Leadership, Management, and Communication, as well as Restorative Justice and conflict resolution. Her research interests revolve around immigration, refugee resettlement, labor, human rights, women’s rights, war and conflict zone, peace, and policy development. Currently, her research focuses on the social, economic, and cultural integration of refugee women in the context of war and conflict, in collaboration with Queens University. Throughout her career, Najiba has been recognized for her academic excellence and dedication to her field, receiving prestigious awards and scholarships such as the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), Canada Graduate Scholarship Master - SSHRC, York Graduate Fellowship, and York International Student Scholarship. These accolades attest to her exceptional capabilities and commitment to making a positive impact. In addition to her professional endeavors, Najiba actively contributes to the community through volunteer activities. She has led research projects, organized impactful events, and actively participated in organizations such as the Center for Refugee Studies (CRS) and the Canadian Muslim Community Council (CMCC). She also serves as a research associate at the Centre Feminist Research (CFR), showcasing her dedication to advancing social justice and gender equality.