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Qualitative Interviewing Practices and Practising

Qualitative Interviewing Practices and Practising

A York University Resource Centre for Public Sociology Zoom Symposium

Thursday, January 19 – Saturday, January 21, 2023

Note: all times are in Toronto’s EST (Eastern Standard Time) zone

REGISTER by January 17, 2023. ZOOM LINK will be sent out January 18, 2023.

Thursday, January 19

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.                     Making Interview Research on Violence More Sustainable for Interviewers

Presenter: Ivana Maček, Associate Professor & Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Moderator: Santbir Singh, Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Program in Sociology, York University

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.                               Practising Qualitative Interviewing Hands-On

                                                                (Workshop limited to 3 participants)

Facilitator: Carolyn Podruchny, Professor, Department of History, York University

Friday, January 20

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.                           Teaching Qualitative Interviewing Differently: Reflections on the Hands-On Workshops 

Presenter: Katherine Bischoping, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University

Moderator: Selom Chapman-Nyaho, Professor, General Arts and Liberal Arts Program, Centennial College

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.                             Conducting Culturally-Responsive and Racially-Appropriate Research in Black Communities

Presenter: Giselle Thompson, Assistant Professor, Black Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta

Moderator: Carl E. James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community, and Diaspora, Faculty of Education, York University

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.                               Conducting Interview Research on Sensitive Topics

Presenter: Pamela Sugiman, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Toronto Metropolitan University

Moderator: Chris Sanders, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University

Saturday, January 21

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                   Practising Qualitative Interviewing Hands-On

                                                                (Workshop limited to 3 participants)

Facilitator: Zhipeng Gao, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Health and Gender, The American University Paris

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.                   Practising Qualitative Interviewing Hands-On

                                                                (Workshop limited to 3 participants)

Facilitator: Deborah Davidson, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University


Katherine Bischoping’s trajectory from statistics to applied survey research, and then to

qualitative approaches in sociology and beyond, including playwriting, derives from her abiding fascination with research methods. In her research collaborations, she examines the behind-the-scenes work and awkward moments of methodologists, applies narrative and discourse analysis methods to oral history data, and examines gendered discourses about emotional labour. With Amber Gazso (York University) she coauthored Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation, and Discourse Strategies, and with Yumi Isshi (University of Tokyo) she coedited a special issue of Oral History Forum d’histoire orale entitled “Generations and memory: Continuity and change”. A University-Wide Teaching Award recipient, she planned this symposium after giving nearly 50 workshops on hands-on qualitative interviewing practice during 2021-2022, the first of them at her Honours thesis students’ behest.

Selom Chapman-Nyaho is a professor in the General and Liberal Arts Program at Centennial College where he teaches courses in sociology, popular culture, and history. His various research projects have involved conducting interviews and focus groups on issues surrounding racism, culture, academic achievement and success, and youth engagement and intervention strategies with police officers, teachers, and teenagers. Prior to returning to academia, Selom was a youth restorative justice counsellor in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has published in Canadian Ethnic Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research, as well as in the collections Revisiting Multiculturalism in Canada, and The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities.

Deborah Davidson, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director at York University and a tattooed feminist sociologist with research and writing interests in the areas of health and well-being, loss and bereavement, disability, family and mothering, and pedagogy. Her current research is on tattooing to memorialize and commemorate: if she had a tagline, it would be ‘speak their names’. Check out her book, The Tattoo Project: Commemorative Tattoos, Visual Culture, and the Digital Archive (Canadian Scholars Press, 2017) and her website (, which includes information about her community presentations and media interviews. Methodologically, she has expertise in qualitative methods and creative methodologies, and is particularly experienced in participatory methods, visual methods, auto/biographical approaches, and researching sensitive topics with at-risk populations. In her down time, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets. 

Zed Zhipeng Gao holds a PhD in Historical, Theoretical and Critical Studies of Psychology, with a dissertation on psychology in China’s communist movement; his postdoctoral work was in sociology and anthropology. He now studies Chinese immigrants’ identity, belonging, and mental health, applying interdisciplinary methods, including qualitative interviewing, and discourse and narrative analysis, to situate these topics in racial relations, which are in turn embedded in (trans)nationalism and (de)globalization. While at the empirical level studying psychology in the China-globe dynamics, he has a theoretical interest in exploring how a “cultural politics” framework can bridge psychology and critical theory. He has published over 20 journal articles/book chapters, guest-edited two special issues of journals, and received awards in the fields of international psychology, history of psychology, and theoretical psychology. Recently, the Society of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods, Division 5 of the American Psychological Association, selected him for its Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry Award.   

Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University and is the 2022 Killam Laureate for Social Sciences awarded by Canada Council for the Arts. His research interests include examination of the educational experiences, opportunities and achievements of Black and other racialized youth. He seeks to move us beyond the essentialist, generalized and homogenizing discourses that account for the representation and achievements of racialized people–particularly Black Canadians–in educational institutions, workplaces, and society generally. His most recent publications include: “Colour Matters”: Essays on the Experiences, Education and Pursuits of Black Youth (2021); and, co-authored with Leanne Taylor (forthcoming in 2022/3), First Generation Student Experiences in Higher Education: Counterstories

Ivana Maček is Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. Shehas worked with mass political violence during the siege of Sarajevo during the early 1990s (Sarajevo Under Siege 2009, PENN), and methods beyond words (Engaging Violence 2014, Routledge). She has also worked and published on Swedes’ engagements in global war-zones, and intergenerational transmission of experiences of war among Bosnians in Sweden, contributing to volumes such as A Companion to the Anthropology of Death, Researching Perpetrators of Genocide, Civilians Under Siege from Sarajevo to Troy, and the forthcoming The Entanglements of Ethnographic Fieldwork in a Violent World. Her present research is on human relationships to the non-human world, connecting her interests in methodology, political ecology and more-than-human research. Her current project concerns the appearance of the Pacific Oyster on the Swedish West Coast.

Carolyn Podruchny’s research focuses on the relationships forged between Indigenous peoples and French colonists in northern North America. Descended from Ukrainian settlers, her personal and professional goal is to make sense of Canada’s colonial past and find a way forward in reconciliation by exploring the history of encounters, with a particular emphasis on land and cultural environments. Her Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade (2006) examines French Canadian voyageurs who worked in the North American fur trade based out of Montreal. Her three edited collections are Decentring the Renaissance: Canada and Europe in Multidisciplinary Perspectives (2001), Gathering Places: Aboriginal and Fur Trade Histories (2010), and Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility and History (2012). She is working on two collections about Indigeneity in the Philippines. 

Chris Sanders is a medical sociologist who specializes in the fields of rural sociology, public health, mental health and qualitative methods. Since coming to Lakehead University, he has partnered on several studies examining health care access in Ontario. His current projects examine beliefs about immunization and vaccine hesitancy in northern First Nation communities (CIRN-funded); access to personal identification as a social determinant of health in rural Ontario (SSHRC-funded); sex education curricula in Ontario (SSHRC-funded); the social meanings and identities of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum (SSHRC-funded); and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) use among men who have sex with men in northern Ontario. Recently he has published in: AIDS and Behavior; Canadian Journal of SociologyCulture, Health & SexualityHealth & PlaceInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public HealthJournal of Health & Social SciencesQualitative Health Research; and Thinking Differently about HIV/AIDS: Contributions from Critical Social Science.

Santbir Singh has almost two decades of experience as a community organizer and activist, currently writing for and creating educational material for the Sikh Research Institute. His graduate research is focused on Sikh activism and how the links between the Sikh tradition and anarchism can be explored in historical and contemporary Sikh movements, such as the Farmer’s Protests of 2020-2021. His Master's thesis was chosen by the York University Graduate Program in Sociology as the best thesis of 2021. He has co-authored an article on feminism and Sikh scripture in the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and has an article based on his thesis research forthcoming in Sikh Formations, the preeminent academic journal of Sikh studies. He is planning a dissertation on decolonizing Sikh education in the Peel District School Board.

Pamela Sugiman is a Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto, Canada. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto. She has written extensively on oral history, personal memory and racism in Canada. Dr. Sugiman is a recipient of the Errol Aspevig Award for Outstanding Academic Leadership (Toronto Metropolitan University), Outstanding Contribution Award (Canadian Sociological Association), and Marion Dewar Prize in Canadian Women’s History and has been named the Lansdowne Lecturer and Distinguished Women Scholar, University of Victoria, the W.L. Morton Lecturer, Trent University, and the 2022 Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada Recognition Award in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Atkinson Foundation and Pathways to Education Canada.

Giselle Thompson is the Assistant Professor of Black Studies in Education at the University of Alberta and a Research Associate at the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement. She obtained her PhD in Sociology from York University in 2020 and is a 2021 recipient of the Comparative and International Education Society’s Ernest D. Morrell African Diaspora Emerging Scholar Award. Dr. Thompson describes herself as a Black Caribbean feminist scholar of the ‘glocal’ educational experiences of people of African descent, paying keen attention to African diasporans in the Americas. Her work contributes to the ongoing project to understand how coloniality, racial capitalism, and modernity operate globally and are implicated in the ongoing (mis)education of Black people. To that end, her research is a combined articulation of the Sociologies of Race, Education, Diaspora, and International Development that is situated in anti-racism, anti-colonialism, and decolonization.