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Faculty Research Projects

Below is a list of some of the research projects currently being conducted by our graduate faculty members.  We invite you to contact project directors directly if you would like to know more about these projects.

This project concerns the lives of a subset of the immigrant men, women, and children who departed Ireland in and around the years of the Great Potato Famine (1845-1851). A million or more died and a further million emigrated during these years, making the Irish famine the worst demographic calamity to hit nineteenth-century Europe. The project has three specific objectives: first, to complete an exploration of the lives and settlement experiences of Toronto’s poorest Irish in the aftermath of catastrophe, with consideration given to how they interacted with each other and were represented to various audiences; second, to pursue a biographical history of a single, Irish-dominated Toronto street – Stanley Street – during a period of dramatic urban transition; and, third and finally, to position the story of these survivors-cum-settlers in the wider transatlantic historical geography of Irish famine migration.

Investigator: William Jenkins
Funding Agency: SSHRC Insight Grant
Term: 2018-2022

In February 2012, the residents of Aysén, a remote, mountainous, and sparsely populated region of Chilean Patagonia, staged a three-week blockade of all the region's roads and ports, a move to which the Chilean government responded with fierce repression. This project uses archival and ethnographic methods to trace the emergence of vernaculars of private property in Aysén and show where and how they they diverge from the practices for legitimating dispossession that have been deployed by HidroAysen, a proposed project for building five hydroelectric megadams on two of Aysén’s powerful wild rivers. By showing how Ayseninos were formed as agents of the "last frontier" (Nouzeilles 1999), I explore how challenges to the global expansion of extractive capitalism may also emerge from fractures within its own logics. In so doing, I seek to open intellectual space for imagining a broader range of both cultural and ecological alternatives to capitalism and political alliances to bring them about.

Investigator: Carlota McAllister
Funding Agency: SSHRC 

This project is recruiting both MA and PhD students.  Explores labour's response to and role in shaping urban populism in four North American cities and involves students as part of the research team.

Investigator: Steve Tufts
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2015-2021

The ‘Urbanization, gender, and the global south: a transformative knowledge network’ (GenUrb) project is a SSHRC funded six year global comparative research and public education project with over 35 feminist and academics and activists based in eight cities in the global south (Cairo, Cochabamba, Delhi, Georgetown, Ibadan, Mumbai, Ramallah, and Shanghai) under the academic direction of Professor Linda Peake, Director of the City Institute and Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Chang. The aim of the project is to investigate the gendered implications of urbanization to advance an understanding of how the relationship between poverty and inequality in these cities is reconstituting gender relations and gendered rights to the city. The partnership aims to: conduct research on how gendered inequality is experienced in the lives of poor women in these cities; investigate how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and policies relating to women and cities map on to the experiences of these women; and to engage in public engagement and education initiatives as well as knowledge mobilization to promote inclusive, equitable and just urban development.

Investigator: Linda Peake
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2024

In collaboration with Manchester University, the University of Toronto, and the City Institute, this SSHRC Connections grant will bring the Summer Institute in Urban Studies to York University in Summer 2022 (originally scheduled for June 2020, but postponed due to COVID).

Investigator: Linda Peake
Term: 2021-2022

This project will comprise three online seminars with Chinese feminist scholars based in China and beyond to discuss issues of gender and urbanization in Chinese cities.

Investigator: Linda Peake
Term: 2020-2021

Investigate how lakes are changing in response to thawing permafrost in the Taiga Plains and Mackenzie Delta Uplands regions (Northwest Territories), using lake sediment cores as natural archives of long-term environmental change.

Investigator: Jennifer Korosi
Funding Agency: NSERC
Term: 2017-2022

Our field measurement program records the profound effects that the eastern white cedar forests of the Bruce Peninsula have on rainfall interception and CO2 emissions from the forest floor. These represent important missing components of a more comprehensive understanding of the forest ecosystem's role in drainage basin hydrology and carbon budgets that will ultimately entail incorporating remote sensing and GIS.

Investigators: Richard Bello, Katie Marple, Rosalyn Kish
Term: 2018-2020

This study examines the return intentions of African immigrants in Canada, drawing on the experiences of Ghanaians and Somalis in Toronto and Vancouver.  More pointedly, the project seeks to understand the intersections of African immigrants’ integration, transnationalism, and return intentions, and to predict the background and spatio-temporal attributes of African immigrants who are more likely to return to their home countries.

Investigator: Joseph Mensah
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2022

Using reanalysis model results we are examining monthly changes in the surface radiation and energy balance components on Hudson from 1979 to present to quantify the factors responsible for disappearing sea ice. We are applying special focus to periodic changes in climate, like the Arctic Oscillation, to better understand its role. Along the Hudson Bay Lowland coast we are using hybrid model and field data collection to examine the impact of ice changes on the sea breeze and the advective effect of Hudson Bay on the adjacent development of permafrost. Modelled soil warming is then used to drive ecosystem models of carbon assimilation. Field based photosynthesis measurements are being used to predict how changes in the water budget will impact the peatland's role as a global carbon sink.

Investigators: Richard Bello, OlalekanBalogun. Devin Ali, Ratiba Munir
Term: 2015-2020

Since the 1980s, various parts of the world have been strongly shaped by the interplay of neoliberalism and right-wing populism. A minor aspect within this dynamic until recently, neo-fascism is now an increasingly central political force, from India to Hungary, Poland to the U.S.A. As a result, anti-fascism - one of the biggest themes in 20th century history – is back on the agenda. This research project focuses on the multiple meanings of anti-fascism in France today. It places current developments in historical and international context: in comparison to the 1930s and the period since the 1980s, as well as in relationship to France’s imperial past and present. In particular, the project pays special attention to the difficulty of countering the growing ‘normalization’ of right populist and neo-fascist politics and their claims to multiple, local and national scales of urban life.

Principal Investigator: Stefan Kipfer

English Translation: Free Trade, Gateways and Municipal Democracy: Study of Four City-regions: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

This research program focuses on comparing the impacts of infrastructure funding for international transport purposes on municipal democracy in four city-regions in Canada, in order to understand the impact of free trade mentality on the transportation projects and local configurations of power.

Investigators: Dorval Brunelle (UQAM), Claudia De Fuentes (SMU), Peter Hall (SFU), Jean Michel Montsion (York)
Term: 2017-2022

Seeks to understand the dynamics underlying global knowledge and human capital flows and the significant role of Canada as a nexus in these flows by exploring who among the highly educated China-born population are likely to migrate, why they migrate, where they migrate to, and specifically, to what extent country-specific migrant attraction, retention, and/or recruitment policies affect their migration, and what policies Canada can pursue to enhance its competitiveness in the global race for talent.

Investigator: Lucia Lo
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2017-2022

Historically traces the geopolitical impacts on cities and schools through questions of conflict and displacement in Havana, Toronto and Kolkata.

Investigator: Ranu Basu
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2015-2020

Addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Investigator: Alison Bain
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2016-2020

Examines how India's neoliberal-capitalist industrialization causes new forms of class inequality and new forms of geographically uneven development.

Investigator: Raju Das
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2016-2020

This research aims at understanding the experiences of Asian international students as migrants to specific communities in Canada. Beyond students’ academic paths, it explores how racialization affects these student groups on and off-campus, and has repercussions on their migratory experiences and trajectories as a whole

Principal Investigator: Jean Michel Montsion
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2019-2023

Explores the ecological and social processes that shape labour relations and working conditions for migrant workers from Southeast Asia, who are seafarers in global and regional fisheries. The focus is on industrial fishing vessels owned operated from Taiwan and Thailand. Principal Investigator Peter Vandergeest, with Melissa Marschke (University of Ottawa) and Philip Kelly (York University) co-investigators (2020 to 2024). For more information, see the project website here. Possible support for qualified and experienced MA and PhD students. Peter Vandergeest is not accepting new supervisions.

Investigator: Peter Vandergeest
Funding Agency: SSHRC
Term: 2020-2024

Develop the explicit logic and corresponding software to extend morphological segmentation to become a true 3D characterization of landscapes. Methods will be subject a sensitivity analysis and be used to compare the effects and recovery of landscape processes such as fire, harvesting, and forest road building activities, and to identify critical structural differences among them; improvements will benefit appraisals of database accuracy, carbon accounting, and inform forest management planning. Students will receive extensive training in STEM as we strive to extract the vast amount of information that exists in 3D data.

Investigator: Tarmo Remmel
: 2021-2026

Using a quad-copter UAV with a multispectral sensor, vertical transects over a fixed ground point are flown with images captured at a set interval of ascent. This approach provides imagery of ground features using a consistent sensor and illumination conditions at multiple spatial resolutions. Common objects through the transect are extracted and processed by classic shape metrics to assess the scaling functions that describe the shape—resolution relationship to inform object recognition and feature extraction.

Investigator: Tarmo Remmel
Term: 2021-2022

With the commodification of many sports, an increasing emphasis on sporting spectacles in the media, and the growth of identity politics at the level of the city and the state, there is increasing competition to host major sporting events. This requires the state to have a credible team in the sport(s) to be presented. Having been selected to present the 2022 Winter Olympics (in and around Beijing) China has embarked on a program to produce credible athletes in a range of winter sports. This study examines the development of an elite hockey team in time for these Winter Olympics. This is being achieved by building global production networks linking with Canadian expertise in hockey.

Investigator: Glen Norcliffe
Funding Agency: SSHRC Insight Development
Term: 2018-2022

This project examines the gap between the stated principles of liberal democracy and the reality of exclusion, injustice, exploitation and oppression for individuals and communities whose bodies, practices or ways of inhabiting the world bring them into conflict with their surrounding communities and even the state. The project approaches politics from the perspective of the marginalized, and has a particular interest on studying questions of identity and belonging through creative and artistic expressions.

Investigator: Patricia Wood.

Evaluates the impact of tephra (dust and volcanic ash) on the hydrologic dynamics of diverse wetland landscapes in Iceland, and the utility of smart sensors in monitoring water levels, soil moisture across a wetland site in southeast Iceland.

Principal Investigator: Kathy Young

The last major Canadian population of the native cactus Opuntia cespitosa is assessed to determine health, ecology and positive interactions in its Point Pelee community.

Principal Investigator: Taly Drezner

Identifies the patterns, trends and underlying causes of climate change and carbon dynamics, emphasis on changes in Canada and its Subarctic and Arctic regions. Faculty Contact: Richard Bello; Adjunct Professors Dr. Kaz Higuchi, Amir Shabbar.

Principal Investigator: Rick Bello

Explores the ways in which non-capitalist economic transactions and practices link Canada and the Philippines through networks forged by transnational migrants. MA and PhD students will benefit from a team of collaborating researchers in Toronto, Vancouver and Manila, and fieldwork opportunities in both countries.

InvestigatorPhilip Kelly
Term: 2015-2019

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The Graduate Program in Geography at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.