Over the course of the 2022–2023 academic year, the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship sponsored a weekly dissertation writing workshop that included at least seven regular participants from four departments. On a recent Friday in May, four of the participants presented chapters from their works-in-progress to a symposium audience of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students.
The RIC dissertation writing workshop was the brainchild of RIC postdoctoral fellow Daniel Cumming and RIC graduate fellow Sheharyar Imran, who organized it with the assistance of Shawntay Stocks, associate director of fellowships and community engagement. The workshop created a reliable, structured space for the writers to support each other and bounce around ideas. Its simple premise was that the only the only way to progress through a multi-stage writing project like a dissertation is to sit down and write, sans distractions. By facilitating a regular meeting, the workshop developed a sense of accountability among its participants, which resulted in everyone making good progress over the year.
Fueled by coffee and bagels at their weekly Monday 9:00am meeting, the participants were writing from different disciplinary perspectives—Anthropology, History, Political Science, and Sociology. But all shared a set of thematic interests that match the key problematics of RIC’s work, including racism, colonialism, migration and borders, social movements, carceral power, and the articulations of race and class.
Workshop participant Steph Saxton (Political Science) noted, “The writing workshop provides a structured community to stay on task, commiserate, and share work during the dissertation phase. It’s been a great, interdisciplinary space to write.”
At the recent symposium, four workshop participants received copious and generous feedback that maintained the interdisciplinarity that RIC aims to foster, which is not always easy to elicit within the occasionally rigid parameters of departmental and disciplinary expectations. The four presentations were:
- Rishi Awatramani, “Racial Capitalism without Guarantees: Civil Society and the Decline of Working-Class Racial Politics” (Sociology)
- Daniel Cumming, “Banking the Archipelago: Toxic Debt from Medicalization to Hospitalization” (RIC/History)
- Sheharyar Imran, “Wastelanding and the Colonial Political Ecology of Global Capitalism” (Political Science)
- Magdalene Klassen, “Doing London: ‘Alien Prostitutes’ and Canadian Claims to British Subjecthood” (History)
According to RIC faculty board member PJ Prendese (Political Science), “This year’s RIC dissertation symposium showcased an impressive range of emergent scholarship spanning issues of racial capitalism, migrant identity politics, environmental racism, and the historical intersection of gender and citizenship in colonial contexts. It was a wonderful event full of insightful feedback and richly generative exchanges across disciplines. A real testament to RIC’s leading role in expanding and deepening our vibrant intellectual community.”
Cumming and Imran are looking forward continuing the workshop again next academic year, and plans are already afoot to run a version of it over the coming summer break. Whether the meeting will still be scheduled for 9:00am on Monday mornings remains to be decided.