Students and Alumni

Abraham, Shantini

Title: The NYBitLicense: Bitcoin Regulation in the Context of Attempts to Regulate Hawala.
MRP Supervisor: James Williams
MRP Reader: Margaret Beare
Year: 2015

This paper examines the New York BitLicense regulations; particularly the manner in which they deal with anti-money laundering concerns. There are a range of different views of and approaches to innovative technologies like bitcoin. Government regulators tend to respond from the perspective of the potential for illicit use as crypto-currencies like bitcoin are largely unregulated. By looking at other examples of government regulation of informal value transfer systems in the past, such as hawala networks, I can draw some conclusions regarding the motivations, structure and potential of the NY BitLicense.


Affara, Sana

Title: Family Mediation as an Alternative to the Family Justice System? Issues, Problems and Critiques of Family Mediation.
MRP Supervisor: James Williams
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2010

Family mediation has been praised as being a "superior alternative" to litigation because it is an agreement–oriented, problem solving, co–operative method designed to address the emotional aspects of the marriage breakdown that the court system fails to do. Despite the recognition family mediation has received, it has come under much criticism for mimicking much of the formality and legality that occurs in the family justice system and ultimately functioning in the "shadow of the law." Many feminist scholars have also criticized family mediation for exacerbating the inequities of the formal system by seriously undermining the legal rights of women and neglecting to consider patriarchal and broader social inequalities. These critiques have however primarily focused on women’s inequality relative to men, "a gender only" lens that primarily looks at differential gender impacts or discrimination between women and men and fails to account for the other complexities in women’s lives.

This analysis is based on a literature review from a number of interdisciplinary sources seeking to examine from a critical anti-racist feminist perspective, if court-annexed family mediation is a better alternative to the family justice system for subordinated women going through a divorce. The results of this paper indicate that the current practice of family mediation is not in fact a better solution for resolving barriers encountered by women in accessing the justice system but, has simply reproduced them in forms that remain outside the purview of legal standards and public scrutiny. The lack of attention given to intersectionality often leaves women feeling further victimized and excluded from the process.
Despite its current shortcomings, the practice of family mediation may be improved through the following main recommendations: Consideration should be given to breaking down language barriers for racial and ethnic minorities, aboriginal women and non-English speaking women. Recognition should also be given to intersectionality through anti-racist education and training for mediators. Comprehensive screening protocols should also be implemented in order to address all forms of violence against women and not be limited to domestic abuse.


Akinyemi, Atinuke

Title: Traveling into Legality: An Exploratory Inquiry into the Legal Consciousness of Canadian Immigrants
MRP Supervisor: Miriam Smith
MRP Reader: Soren Frederiksen
Year: 2016

We know relatively little about the legal experiences of immigrants as they take on the challenging process of integration and assimilation in Canada, and how their interaction with and understanding of legality evolves in the process. To help fill this gap in the literature, this study investigates and addresses the following research questions: How do immigrants to Canada experience the law? Moreover, in what ways are Canadian immigrants unique in how they understand and recognize the law, legality and themselves as legal subjects? And finally, how does an immigrant status shape and constrain ones engagement with the law and unfolding legal consciousness. Utilizing and reviewing a subset of CanLII Court Case data and Tribunal Decisions to conduct a content/narrative analysis, this study suggests that Ewick and Silbey's (1998) three-tiered model of legal consciousness, (‘before the law’, ‘with the law’ and ‘against the law’), is an appropriate framework to study and classify the legal consciousness schemas of Canadian immigrants. The study focused on three immigrant intensive jurisdictions within Canada, namely the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Notwithstanding the limitations arising from the methodological approach of this study, the analysis of the available case data affirms the descriptive and explanatory power of Ewick and Silbey's model. Canadian immigrants appearing in our sample displayed all three types of legal consciousness. However, in some instances, we discovered scenarios in which we encountered difficulty applying Ewick and Silbey’s theory of legal consciousness. It appears that Ewick and Silbey’s analysis overlooked certain segments of the population as well as key immigrant specific concerns and experiences, which have been discussed within this study. Moreover, the findings suggest that there exists novel and inspiring ways in which Canadian immigrants engage ‘with the law’ and perhaps more interestingly, resist, dispute and invoke the law, in an attempt to achieve personal or collective goals. This study concludes by proposing directions for future inquiry and discusses the implications of those cases that could not neatly be accommodated within Ewick and Silbey’s theoretical categories.


Anis, Maryum

Title: Race, Culture and Patriarchy: Social Constructions of Honour Killings in Canada.
MRP Supervisor: Annie Bunting
MRP Reader: Richard Weisman
Year: 2011

The east has been constructed by the west as pre-modern, barbaric and violent and is associated with culture while the west is considered to be modern, civilized and acultural. Honour killings have become a site to display western superiority as they are considered to be a culturally specific phenomenon that only exists in eastern cultures. A murder paralleling an honour killing, committed by a non-racialized person, is individualized and deemed a crime of passion in Canadian society. I argue that by labelling a murder an honour killing in a case where the perpetrator belongs to a racialized culture reflects the racist ideologies prevalent in dominant society. Instead, honour killings should be placed on a continuum of domestic violence that takes into account not only the cultural aspects of the crime but is also inclusive of the patriarchal factors affecting violence against women in racialized and non-racialized societies. This major research paper examines the relationship between domestic violence and honour as well as how notions of honour have survived and continue to persist in Canadian society. A media and case law analysis were conducted in order to explore how culture is used to alienate racialized groups and how hegemonic racist ideologies are perpetuated through the media and legal representations of racialized cultures and men. The analysis explores the role of the media and the legal system in creating popular narratives surrounding honour killings while also reinforcing these narratives. The use of the provocation defence by racialized and non-racialized defendants is also explored as it is a medium though which culture is introduced into the courtroom and the embedded notions of honour in society are evident and verified in the success of the provocation defence.


Arrobas, Ashley

Title: Neo–liberal Risk Management and Sexual Violence: A Comparative Case Study of Feminist Inspired Safety Advice to Women.
MRP Supervisor: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2010

This paper explores the intersections between neo-liberalism, risk and sexual violence. In a neo-liberal climate, a key technology of the governance of crime is the "responsiblization" of the individual through risk management. To avoid the risk of sexual violence, safety advice is offered to women on the various ways that they can protect themselves from the dangers that men pose to their safety. Feminist scholarship has examined and critiqued safety advice literature that is based on official criminal justice strategies. In official risk discourses, women are not only made responsible for managing men's violence, but these strategies are also of limited utility in that they do not offer strategies that women do not already adopt to avoid such harm. Drawing on these insights, this paper tests the applicability of the feminist critique of risk through an investigation of feminist inspired safety advice to women. A comparative case study is conducted of safety pamphlets that are available online by two feminist oriented institutions, the Ontario Women's Directorate (OWD) and the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC). Through a textual analysis, this study finds that the content of these safety pamphlets are seemingly parallel to those that are based on official criminal justice strategies. Ultimately, this paper concludes that rape prevention discourses is a form of governance that attempts to regulate the ways in which women engage in the public and private sphere rather than act as a protective measure for the safety of women.


Asaph, Sarah

Title: Protecting Women's Safety or Regulating Women's Sexuality: A Critical Analysis of the I'm not for Sale Campaign as a Moral Campaign.
MRP Supervisor: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Patricia McDermott
Year: 2014

This MRP seeks to remedy the lack of critical analysis of Canadian anti-trafficking initiatives through an analysis of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's report entitled Human Trafficking in Canada: A Threat Assessment, also known as Project SECLUSION (2010), and the I'm Not for Sale (2012) campaign. Specifically, this MRP seeks to make three contributions to the broad range of literature on human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. First, in its focus on Canada, I shed light on the specfically Canadian politics of this international campaign. In doing so, my second contribution is to analyze previously unexamined documents and comment on both Project SECLUSION and the I'm Not for Sale campaign. Finally, I employ a moral regulation approach in my analysis of these documents in order to emphasize that these campaigns are not merely about the repression of activity deemed to be harmful but, more significantly, are about the production of particular sets of social relations that have historical continuity. There are some notable similarities between the contemporary efforts to regulate trafficking and the historical campaigns surrounding the white slave traffic in particular, and prostitution in general, that circulated at the turn of the twentieth century. Drawing on this historical example, I argue that the contemporary Canadian efforts to combat trafficking have a great deal to teach us about the ongoing anxieties about women's and girls' sexuality as moral and national concerns. Although this MRP focuses largely on historical continuities, there are some distinctively modern aspects to the contemporary documents as well.


Baczkowska, Izabela

Title:Falling Between the cracks: A critical analysis of Gladue and the Battered Woman Syndrome in the context of Aboriginal femal offenders.
MRP Supervisor: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Jonathan Rudin
Year: 2012

In cases involving violent offences, R. v. Gladue (1999) and the Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) work to hinder the ability of Aboriginal women to access meaningful justice. In Gladue, the seriousness of the offence continues to overshadow the efforts of s. 718.2(e) to compel judges to consider alternative sentences. An examination of Gladue, and other relevant cases, reveals how judges continue to lose sight of the unique impact that Canada's colonial history has had on the lives of Aboriginal women. In particular, there is a lack of discussion in the courts on the gendered violence that is rampant within Aboriginal communities and the significant role that such abuse can play in a woman's decision to commit a violent offence. In regards to the use of the battered woman syndrome as a defense, many Aboriginal women tend to be overlooked as they continue to be portrayed as aggressive and violent, thereby not fitting into the stereotypical profile of a real battered woman. What a focus on BWS and Gladue reveals is that Aboriginal women fall between the cracks of two significant, yet problematic, efforts at reconciliative justice. While these efforts represent an attempt to reconcile the implications of past wrongs and recognize the unique circumstances of both Aboriginal peoples and battered women, the rising rates in Aboriginal female incarceration are in indication that further research needs to produced in order for these efforts to reach their full potential.


Baldeo, Sashendra

Title: Exploring Barriers to Policing White Collar Crime.
MRP Supervisor: James Williams
MRP Reader: Livy Visano
Year: 2013

This paper analyzes the barriers policing agencies experience when investigating white collar crime. This is an important question as policymakers and academics have proposed feasible, yet different solutions, usually split between a practical and theoretical divide. It is important to assess both the policy implications and academic research when coming to an effective solution. The paper begins by outlining what white collar crime is and how it has been interpreted in academic scholarship. The discussion then shifts to how white collar crime is policed and associated difficulties. While Canada does not have the strongest record of charges and convictions of white collar crime offences compared to the US and the UK, there are several factors which make the Canadian environment unique in its ability to police financial crimes. Next, the discussion focuses on the barriers to policing securities offences. The barriers are examined to contrast proposed solutions from policymakers and academics. The conclusion then proposes a number of recommendations based on the analysis of barriers to policing white collar crimes.


Bryan, Timothy

Title: Miscegenation Law and the (Re)construction of Racial boundaries in Post–Civil War Virginia.
MRP Supervisor: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Carmela Murdocca
Year: 2010

Miscegenation laws were one of the first legal attempts to preserve the racial purity of white citizens by banning interracial sexual relations and marriages. In the United state, these laws developed in the colonial period, but took on added significance during the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras as the abolition of slavery, and the granting of greater civil rights to African Americans, intensified concerns over the potential of white blood mixing with black blood. This paper investigates how conceptions of black and white blood, traced through narratives of contamination, degeneration and taint, turned the body into a site of nation building and functioned to maintain Virginia's social system based on white supremacy. This essay investigates how miscegenation laws maintained white supremacy by solidifying racial categories, ideological conceptions of race and preserving visibly white and black bodies.


Carrey, Alison

Title: For Protecting Health, Safety and Community Development: Exploring the History of Winnipeg’s Grass and Weeds Regulation
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Amanda Glasbeek
Year: 2014

The regulation of grass and weeds through municipal by-law is a feature of every major Canadian city. While each city has its own unique wording of the law, all are premised on the ability of the City to regulate space for the purposes of avoiding aesthetic blight. This paper focuses on the regulation of grass and weeds from the perspective of the City of Winnipeg where the by-law imposes a maximum height standard for grass and prohibits the presence of noxious weeds. With the understanding that complaints of by-law infractions are made on the basis of personal preference and levels of tolerance, this paper explores why cities have come to regulate grass and weeds and why citizens have chosen to mobilize their concerns. The City of Winnipeg is the focus of this paper, as it looks at both the history of grass and weed by-laws in that city, as well as the social context that accompanies the development of by-law to its current context. Exploring these issues will lead to a continuing discussion on the conformity to norms and issues of inclusion and exclusion in the City context.


Carter, Carolyn

Title: Stories of Mandatory Information Program Sessions Attendees: A Plea for “Meaningful Access to Justice”
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Jacqueline Krikorian
Year: 2016

The Ontario Ministry of Attorney General (MAG) designed the Mandatory Information Program (MIP) to resolve low-level conflict and relatively uncomplicated family law cases more quickly, freeing up resources for high conflict and more complex cases. Hence, the major goal of the MIP is to support accessible, fair, timely, and effective justice services to those commencing family law proceedings. Professor Ellis, in an evaluation of the MIP for the MAG, reached the conclusion that the MIP changes how attendees understand their legal problems, their expectations for resolution, and the process for reaching resolution – thus providing attendees’ access to family justice. This paper questions Professor Ellis’ claim about the MIP sessions.

Examination of the MIP through observation and participants interviews rather than literature review only shows that despite Professor Ellis’ claim, people in Ontario experiencing family legal problems do not believe that the MIP provides “meaningful access to justice”. Drawing on Lesley Jacobs’ “problem-centred” approach to family justice, this paper maps the legal consciousness of people in Ontario experiencing family legal problems, focusing on their experiences with the MIP. What are the lessons from participants’ interviews and the MIP session observation? The approach taken in this paper is that the MAG should re-think how public legal education and information sessions (PLEIs) are evaluated, specifically the MIP, in order to better advance “meaningful access to justice” for those experiencing family legal problems. The reason for the problem-centred approach comes from the finding that there is too much information packed in the three hours of the MIP session, so presenters read as quickly as possible to get through the entire script within the allotted time — a pedagogy that attendees found “boring”.

This paper is organized into four parts. The first provides a history and overview of the MIP and how they function. The second situates the project in the theoretical framework of “meaningful access to family justice” and legal consciousness. The third section presents the methodology, description of research participants, an ethnographic thick description of the research site, my observation of the MIP, and analysis of major findings. The final section draws some conclusions about the MIP.


Cave, Elizabeth

Title: The Law's Probing GA[YS/ZE]: A Cultural Study of a Judicial Narrative on Legislative Intention.

This paper investigates a legislative genealogy propounded in R. v. C.M. [1995] O.J. No. 1432. In this case Abella J.A. opined that charging a man for having consensual anal intercourse with his adolescent female partner under s. 159 of The Criminal Code of Canada violated s. 15 of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She reasoned this was because the law against anal intercourse had as its "predecessor provision" the 1885 proscription gross indecency. She ultimately found this provision of no force and effect, deciding that it unreasonably limited young men from receiving testing for HIV. This paper seeks to account for how Abella J.A. could use the conventions of legal analysis to conclude from the undefined offence against gross indecency that a nineteenth century Parliament exercised its intention to discriminate against "gay sex"--an inference that contradicts social science evidence about the history of sexuality. Employing methodological insights from Kahn's "cultural study of law," narratology, and critical discourse analysis, this paper traces the social, legal, and historical factors that disposed Abella J.A. to identify gross indecency with anal intercourse, public health risks, and sexuality involving vulnerable, young men. It concludes by considering how Abella J.A.'s conclusion ironically contributed to naturalizing social inequality.


Centen, Carly

Title: "If everyone believes the same fiction, it's real:" Legal Consciousness & the Regulation of Protest at the G20 Summit"
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Alan Young
Year 2011

Since anti–globalization protestors presented an unprecedented challenge to city officials in Seattle in 1999, transnational protests associated with meetings of international institutions like the G20 have represented highly visible confrontations. 'Free speech zones' evoke police–protestor standoffs and tactics now include the incorporation of new technologies, increased surveillance, intelligence-gathering and pre-emptive arrests, information sharing across jurisdictions and nations, the creation of special units and the control of space. As Toronto hosted a G20 summit in June 2010 and attempted to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and safeguarding freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression, events culminated in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history during peacetime, and complaints arose concerning police actions and the poor treatment afforded to individuals—both protestors and bystanders—who were searched, detained, kettled, or aggressively arrested.

Drawing on interviews with protestors, bystanders, and observers, this major research paper uses a differentiated legal consciousness perspective to analyse individual perceptions of the G20 and explore the social construction of legal meaning. This study asks two primary questions. First, how do groups with different interests in the G20 protests in Toronto perceive of the role that law played in the events and their experiences? Second, this study seeks to situate these responses using a legal consciousness analysis to explore the ways in which these discursive constructions work to construct, sustain, or challenge dominant understandings of legality and law's hegemony. Using schemas developed by Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey, these interviews support existing research that shows that individuals draw on similar cultural resources in reflecting on experiences like those at the G20, which are implicated in the construction of legal meaning. The cultural resources employed affect the subsequent meaning produced in relation to legality. Resources drawn upon differ depending on an individual's position in relation to an experience like the G20 and therefore a differentiated analysis can shed light in which these processes are operating.


Costa, Andrew

Title: Singular Snapshots and Moving Pictures: Spatial and Temporal Investigations of Legal Consciousness Studies (1990 to the Present)
MRP Supervisors: Miriam Smith
MRP Reader: Lesley Jacobs
Year 2016

The spatial and temporal aspects of everyday legality have long been implicated among the most fundamental research questions of legal consciousnes. Such questions are usually concerned with how legalities change over time, how legalities are influenced by the spaces in which they are situated and how the spaces and times upon which legal consciousness research take place impacts how researchers perceive the everyday legalities of their participants. In spite of such concerns however, space and time as categories of analysis, fore the most part, are implicitly dealt with in key works of legal consciousness. This study therefore, proceeds with goal of providing an analytical framework upon which to situate the spatial and temporal aspects of legal consciousness study. The purpose of this framework is to determine how space and time are implicated in several key studies of legal consciousness from the 1990s to the present, and whether or not the literatures’ internal disputes over how law is implicated on an everyday level in turn impact how space and time are to be perceived within the literature as well.

It is a further goal of this study to present an alternative to how law has been understood spatially and temporally throughout key works of legal geography and legal anthropology. Much of the work in these two disciplines tends to neglect how human agency is a significant factor in how law is made determinable both spatially and temporally. In essence, such works privilege law as a spatial and temporal category through how it structures lived experience, as opposed to lived experience structuring space and time. This study thus also looks to privilege agency as significantly impacting how law is perceived as a spatial and temporal phenomenon.


Crosby, Dayna

Title: The Politics of 'Community' and the Scarborough Youth Justice Committee: A Conversation of Governance, Risk and the Production of the "Good 'Canadian' Citizen"
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Livy Visano
Year 2009

The focus of this Major Research Paper is found in the field of youth justice in order to interrogate the conception of 'community' both in the Youth Criminal Justice Act (2003) and through the corporealization of community under the Youth Justice Committee Program (YJC). I approach this work informed by my professional experience as the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre (WSNCC) YJC Facilitator. I put forth a site specific analysis of the WSNCC YJC framed by neo-liberalism and by Canada as a colonial state to enter a discussion of the major themes of governance, risk and citizenship through an interrogation of the meaning of community as a quasi-legal concept and its effects within this context. It is through the review of relevant literature, fieldwork and interviews that I articulate that the guise of community under youth justice legislation conceals the complexities of governance operating within this framework while contradicting its claim to a restorative approach to justice. By providing an in-depth analysis of the how community is governed and its operation as a site of governance, I conclude this project by converging my major themes in order to assert that community is assimilationist in its partial success in (re)affirming the "good 'Canadian' citizen' through the community members and by its attempts to produce the "good 'Canadian' citizen' in youth who engage in the YJC program.


D'Angelo, Sonia

Title: "To what world am I being released to?": An Analysis of the Repatriation of Omar Khadr.
MRP Supervisors: Carmela Murdocca
MRP Reader: Allyson Lunny
Year 2012

This thesis examines the potential repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada from the carceral space of Guantánamo Bay. Khadr’s repatriation provides a point of entry into tracing forms of racial governance within Canada and Guantánamo Bay. First, I draw on Canadian national news narratives to evidence how the repatriation of Omar Khadr is situated within a larger story about racial governance in Canada. I explore how forms of racial governance manifest in three ways within national news narratives: 1) through discussions about Khadr’s family history; 2) through expressions about Canadian citizenship and values; and 3) through the biopolitical notion of contagion. Subsequently, I situate Khadr’s repatriation within the history of Guantánamo Bay in order to demonstrate how processes of racial governance are anchored within this carceral space. This thesis engages with the broader question of how forms of racial governance persist and change within various geographical spaces — Canada and Guantánamo Bay.


Dill, Mary–Elizabeth

Title: Configuring and Contesting Subjectivities: Migrant Domestic Workers and the Canadian Nation–State.
MRP Supervisors: Anna Pratt
MRP Reader: Carmela Murdocca
Year 2010

On December 12th, 2009, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, announced four key changes to Canada’s Live–In Caregiver Program (LCP). These policy changes were the outcome of "widespread consultations" conducted throughout the spring of 2009 as well as the deliberations and reports generated by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) that same year. In this paper I engage in a critical analysis of relevant Standing Committee meetings, reports, Ministry briefings, and policy reforms in order to understand what these consultations, reports, and reforms reveal empirically and theoretically about the workings of subject production, nation-building, and contestation in micropolitical domains. I first contend that last year's consultations represent technologies of rule deployed in order to lessen emergent tensions between competing nation-building projects. I then explore the effects of the two migrant domestic worker subject-positions most prominent throughout the relevant committee consultations, reports, and briefings: that of hapless, pained victim and "temporary foreign worker". I elucidate the ways in which the "sentimental politics" and "logics of pain" at play in the configuration of migrant domestic workers as pained, hapless victims work to individualize and depoliticize structural injustice and construct performances of national benevolence as appropriate correctives. I then argue that the categorization of LCP workers as "temporary foreign workers" others migrant domestic workers by rendering such women as bodies 'out of place'. Through a micro–spatial analysis, I then demonstrate that those ideological and material boundaries that contour the lives of migrant domestic workers generally also configure the experience of two LCP workers — Magdalene Gordo and Richelyn Tongson — in the Standing Committee meetings. Finally, I delineate how contestation was manifest in the committee meetings through a discussion of important moments of tension, contradiction, and of interruption produced through an introduction of counter–discourses.


Dimitrievska, Elena

Title: Co-operation, Refusal, and In-Between: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Three Canadian Police Chiefs and Their Willingness to Collect Race Data.
MRP Supervisor: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Rosemary Coombe
Year 2015

Allegations of racial profiling are nothing new. In fact, racialized communities, especially young, Black males, have always felt disproportionately and unfairly targeted by the police. Recently however, racial profiling concerns have gained more public attention than ever as a result of outrage over a series of brutal police shootings and public allegations of racial profiling both in the US and Canada, as well as due to controversial Canadian police practices, such as carding, a policy that increases the opportunity for racial profiling but is nevertheless consistently supported by the Toronto police. Despite such allegations, there has been a consistent refusal among Canadian police leaders to engage in race data collection as a way of encouraging transparency and accountability among front-line officers. This research project seeks to consolidate the data available through media sources deploying a critical race perspective, performed as a critical discourse analysis of the statements by three diverse Canadian police chiefs- one who voluntarily engaged in race data, one who was court-mandated to do so, and one who outright refused this request. This MRP argues that when juxtaposed on a continuum, the variation in the three case studies demonstrates that formal police positions on racial profiling, and the degree of discrimination present in these responses, is contingent upon subjective definitions of racial profiling. The necessity to improve police legitimacy through exercises of public accountability only shifts as a result of external pressure and outside intervention. Considering the degree of opposition among Canadian chiefs to address racial profiling as a systemic and pervasive policing problem, defined through the experiences of racial profiling victims, and to enhance police accountability to the public to respond to this issue, it is not surprising that there have been only two data collection projects in Canada - one which was mandated by an external agency.


DiSanto, Julianne

Title: What's in a Name?:Re-reading the legal identity of the criminal sexual psychopath as a cultural artifact, a hybrid identity, and a legal classification.
MRP Supervisor: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Allyson Lunny
Year 2010

In June of 1948, following the lead of many American states, Parliament unanimously accepted s.1054a into the Criminal Code of Canada, which pertained to criminal sexual psychopath laws. According to Chenier (2003; 2008), the criminal sexual psychopath represented the 'marriage of law and psychiatry' in the post World War II period. This paper further explores Chenier's argumentand takes it a step further. While the criminal sexual psychopath was testament to shifting legal discourse surround sex crime, this character further represented how cultural knowledge was implicated in legal knowledge and knowing processes. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this paper re-reads the criminal sexual psychopath as a cultural artifact, a hybrid identity and a legalclassification. The first half of the paper explores who the criminal sexual psychopath was and how he emerged. It is established that the criminal sexual psychopath was a chronotopic expression of the postwar period, and thus a cultural artifact. In exploring the postwar era and the multiple knowledges, fears, and ideals circulating, the criminal sexual psychopath is revealed as a hybridized legal identity which represented the calibration of cultural and psychiatric knowledges within legal knowledge. The second half of the paper focuses on understanding the criminal sexual psychopath as a distinct legal classification. To this end, I analyze two judicial decisions and explore how law came to know the character which it ultimately created, and how law necessarily relied upon cultural knowledge to know and evaluate offenders suspected of being criminal sexual psychopaths.


Ellis, Marsha

Title: Law in the Everyday Life of Rural Protest: Customary Legality and Legal Consciousness in Melancthon Township.
MRP Supervisors: Miriam Smith
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year 2011

This study examines law in the everyday life of rural protest in Melancthon Township, a small rural community where a 2400 acre open-pit mine is proposed to be built. Moreover, this study will explore the types of legal consciousness that are mobilized in how rural protestors and local residents are understanding and using the law, or not, in this highly legalized dispute.


Fiorella, Giancarlo

Tile: Police Reform in Venezuela: Security and Jurisdiction in the Bolivarian Age.
MRP Supervisors: Anna Pratt
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year 2011

Hugo Chávez’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) has been involved in the process of infusing Venezuelan society with Bolivarian ideals since coming to power in 1998. While Chávez enjoys widespread support amongst Venezuelans, he faces the difficulty of reconciling the devastating problem of crime tormenting the Venezuelan population with the principles and promises of the Bolivarian revolution, the foundation of his political platform. Following the recommendations of the National Commission on Police Reform (2007), Chávez created the National Bolivarian Police (NBP) in 2009. The establishment of this new body, the nation’s first national police force, signals a drastic change in the way that the Venezuelan government understands and carries out policing practices. For the first time, the Venezuelan people find themselves living in a unified jurisdiction under the supervision of a single police body — not just any police body, but a Bolivarian one.

This paper begins with an overview of the security situation in Venezuela leading up to the creation of the NBP. While crime in the country had been steadily increasing since the 1990s, a pair of high profile murders in 2005 and 2006 brought to the forefront of the public psyche a number of security rationalities which would lead directly to the creation of the NBP. I then place these developments within a larger socio-historical context by providing a brief political and economic history of Venezuela. By doing so, I highlight how this latest round of police reform in Venezuela is part of a larger political process, in place since 1998, to redefine Venezuelan national identity. I follow this discussion with an examination of some of the critical legal literature on jurisdiction, and highlight how the case of the NBP is informed by, and helps to inform, current understandings of jurisdiction in this field.


Fraser, Faye

Title: The Politics of Prostitution in Canada: Race, Aboriginal Women and the Bedford Decision.
MRP Supervisors: Les Jacobs
MRP Reader: Anna Agathangelou
Year 2014

This paper interrogates the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision, Canada v. Bedford. Disagreeing with the celebratory optimism by those who view this a progressive moment for all women in prostitution, this paper argues that the proposed reform is Eurocentric and ethnocentric as it completely ignores the racialized nature of prostitution in Canada. Drawing on reports provided by The Native Women’s Association of Canada and Amnesty International, this paper suggest that the Bedford decision is a product of apathy and the exploitation of Indigenous women’s experiences of victimization in prostitution due to colonizing experiences. In this context, the desire to restructure Canada’s stance on prostitution is made possible at the cost of sacrificing the health and wellbeing of Indigenous women who occupy the most violent spaces of prostitution, because the proposed reform will provide little, if any, benefit to Indigenous sex workers. Supported by power/knowledge regimes of liberal [pro-sex] and radical [anti-sex] feminist ideology that frame the debate and justify the proposed reform, this paper argues that, Canada v. Bedford acts as a colonizing structure that disguises its violence—both systemic and material—under the cloak of liberal ideological benevolence and altruism.


Hall, Megan

Title: Arbitrating Property Disputes in Virtuality: An Exploration of Virtual Property and a Proposal for Resolving Virtual Property Disputes.
MRP Supervisors: Miriam Smith
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year 2010

Virtual worlds have grown in both size and importance over the past decade. The residents of these virtual worlds have invested millions of real-world dollars in property development and generating virtual goods, although their rights to thier virtual property have remained unclear. While second life, the largest virtual world , offers an arbitration system, the courts still settle many disputes both between users and between the company and users. This paper is a socio-legal analysis of the various options for virtual worlds and virtual property is examined and there is a focus on the issues that give rise to virtual property disputes. The analysis of past and present virtual property disputes leads to a proposal for developing an independent third-party arbitration system modeled after the Universal Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The goal of this model is to provide an arbitration system that can resolve all virtual property disputes, and would be beneficial to both virtual world residents and the publishing comppany of the virtual world.


Hedayat, Fatemeh

Title: Designated Country of Origin: Spatialization and Specialization of Mexico
MRP Supervisor: Dagmar Soennecken
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2016

This major research paper studies the Designated Country of Origin (DCO) policy within the securitization context to highlight its importance to the construction of spaces of safety. Within this perspective, spatialization stimulates the preservation of the White nation-state’s image as a rescuer of the desperate flows of people through (re)construction of spaces of safety and unsafety. However, the designation of Mexico as a safe country of origin has stressed the underlying concern of the DCO policy as engaging in regulatory means of movement of temporary and seasonal workers under the contemporary neoliberal market governance. This paper concludes that the DCO policy is set to (re)produce not only spaces of exploitation but also to establish the Mexican workers as permanently temporary by labelling them as bogus refugees.


Hicks, Natalia

Title: See You in Court! Public Intervention as Access to Law and Policy: The Case of Sex Work in Canada
MRP Supervisor: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Miriam Smith
Year: 2016

While most studies addressing the evolving roles of the Supreme Court of Canada and Canadian Parliament logically present historic overviews of these institutions so as to emphasize changes to the Canadian law making processes under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this MRP presents an alternative methodology by engaging in a narrow and temporally contained comparative case study focusing specifically on public involvement in Charter politics. Through document analysis, it examines public interest intervention during Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford (Bedford) and the resulting parliamentary hearings hosted as part of designing the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) by both the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights — a subset of the House of Commons — and by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. A close reading of submitted factums and briefs demonstrates that intervenors, in this case, took up wider theoretical debates surrounding the proper jurisdiction of courts and of parliament so as to seemingly regulate decision makers into favouring their core positions. Further, though intervenors were largely very consistent in how they framed their policy priorities, the delivery of these positions altered from the legal arena to the political arena indicating an internalization of institutional stereotypes. Within this MRP, these observations are put into discussion not only with existing theory of intervenors, the Supreme Court, and Parliament, but also with the political climate of the time - as led by Stephen Harper. The cunning politicization of intervenors observed throughout is therefore understood as being a consequence of anticipated silencing and the perceived need to capture the ear of decision makers when adequate consideration of public positions is not guaranteed. It concludes by proposing potential procedural advancements to the process of intervention so as to improve the quality of knowledge gathered through intervention, and the experience of intervenors. Because of the more confined methods used in the project, these conclusions mainly address the state of Canadian democracy, rather than the Charter itself.


Hosseini, Denize Shah

Title: Colonization, Be Quiet: An Analysis of the RCMP’s (2014) Report on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Canada
MRP Supervisor: Bonita Lawrence
MRP Reader: Carmela Murdocca
Year: 2016

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (2014) report on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Canada is examined. This project argues that through the exclusive utilization of decontextualized qualitative methods to discuss gendered violence, the use of the term ‘female’, and the sole reliance on data drawn from a backlogged police information system, the effect of the RCMP report is to obscure a broader analysis of the impacts of the web that is colonialism, sexism, racism, and classism in the lives of victims. Furthermore, the report does little to explain why it is that Indigenous women are more likely to be violently victimized than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Through silencing discussions that are critical, historical, and systemically oriented in their nature, the RCMP insinuates that victims themselves should be blamed for their fates, effectively muting dialogues centered around their own complicity in the crisis. By injecting historical contextualization and debunking colonial ideologies, this paper works to illuminate the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada in light of a history of colonial interventions in their lives. This research paper concludes by describing the anti-colonial model and suggests extending this approach into a wider educational system to encourage more respect for Indigenous women.


Huang, Jason

Title: The State and Small Arms: A Critique of the relationship between State Sovereignty and its Duty to Protect.
MRP Supervisors: James Sheptycki
MRP Reader: David Mutimer
Year: 2014

There has been a traditional perspective, coming from classical sociologists, that the state's sovereignty and legitimacy spurs from its duty to keep its people safe from harm or injury. Alongside this theoretical tradition, an examination of real life case studies relating to small arms proliferation and uses calls the source of the state's authority into question. Specifically, in many instances, the state is either incapable of protecting its people or are contributing to their harm. This Major Research Paper will take the reader through a guided tour of 13 years of literature compiled by a non-governmental think tank called the Small Arms Survey. The purpose of this guided tour is to criticize the traditional perspective's position that the duty to protect is a necessary condition of state sovereignty. It does so by demonstrating that states still retain sovereignty in light of a failure to protect its people and their rights, leaving them in a dangerous and insecure society.


Huizenga, Daniel

Title: Documenting 'Community' in the #khomani San Land Claim in South Africa.
MRP Supervisors: Annie Bunting
MRP Reader: Alison Crosby
Year: 2010

While past studies explore some of the methodological issues involved in studying the impact of transitional justice mechanisms, there are no critical explorations of the sources that are available to conduct studies in transitional states. This paper uses some of the insights gained in literature on colonial archives to develop a conceptual frame for how legal related documentation around a single claim can be examined as a repository of information with a particular form, the transitional archive. The study begins with a look at archives but narrows in on the form of documents to illustrate how they reveal taken for granted knowledge practices in legal and human rights based work. The case study of the ?khomani San land claim in South Africa is used to demonstrate the way in which documents are created for different administrative and bureaucratic purposes and to further illustrate how legal terms and definitions are used differently by government and civil society groups for social, political and legal ends. Finally, the paper demonstrates how documents represent particular legal and administrative processes that demand that complex issues such as community, indigenous identity, and gender are recorded as objective facts and according to specific conventions. As a consequence the documents as a collective constitute a particular form of archive that represents the motivations and aspirations of the transitional state. The paper is divided into three sections. The first includes the introduction and methodology. The second consists of a short history of apartheid and the land restitution program in South Africa. This section also includes a discussion of the development of indigenous title in South Africa to provide some context for the importance of the ?khomani San case in the larger realm of land restitution and indigenous rights. The third section delves into a theoretical analysis of the documents created throughout and after the land claim. The paper concludes by arguing that a critical exploration of documents created to alleviate historical injustices provides insight into how administrative procedures and legal requirements can influence the practice of transitional justice.


Joseph, Jason

Title: Neoliberalism & Workers’ Rights: A Case for the Rejuvenation of Labour & Law.
MRP Supervisors: James William
MRP Reader: Stephanie Ross
Year: 2014

In this research paper I interrogate the effects of neoliberal policy on modern-day working conditions. I analyze neoliberalism closely (in its existence as a commonsense doctrine in society, its origins in anti-labour rhetoric and philosophy and its suitability for application in the real world) and I conclude that the neoliberal arrangement of capital and labour necessitates state intervention in the employment relationship. To augment my findings, I use interview data from two corporations - Wal-Mart and Bell Canada - and show that employees, both in non-unionized and unionized environments, are routinely subjected to unfair and unjust working conditions that have negative physical and mental consequences. Following my analysis of interview data, I sketch out some future directions for the state to take in the ever-elusive quest for the legal and political protection and empowerment of workers.


Kazmi, Sabeen

Title: Canadian Muslim Women as Right Bearers: Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion within the Canadian Legal System
MRP Supervisor: Nergis Canefe
MRP Reader: Chris Kyriakides
Year: 2016

Through an in depth analysis of court cases involving Canadian–Muslim women, I attempt to answer the following questions; Why do courts include Canadian–Muslim women in some cases while exclude them in others? Are courts impacted by mainstream cultural/racial stereotypes of Muslim women? Do cultural/racial stereotypes impact Canadian–Muslim women’s access to justice? Does prejudice against Canadian–Muslim women reach beyond their choice of clothing (particularly their observance of niqab/hijab). To what extent are Muslim women’s experiences adequately represented and understood by the justice system?

My findings suggests, that Canadian–Muslim women are implicated in a double bind as they attempt to access the justice system. Canadian–Muslim women as individuals who have experienced a harm motivated by their social identities. As these women establish a claim concerning the discrimination or harm they faced, they are appealing to the legal institution. Their appeals are met with a legal structure which is embedded in negative cultural stereotypes, thereby resulting in further marginalization of Canadian–Muslim women whose experiences cannot be explained through the cultural stereotypes held by the legal system. Informed by negative cultural stereotypes against Muslim women, the court views Muslim women as perpetual victims — yet, not as victim of a racist state, but as victims of Muslim men and the Muslim culture. This process, which views Muslim women as perpetual victims of Islam, fails to see them as anything more, thereby, redirecting their claims of victim status.

Keywords: Muslim–Women, Legal Rights, Discrimination, Canadian Justice System, Cultural Stereotypes, Agency, Social Context


Khan, Nadia

Title: Citizenship Law, Exclusion and the Case of Deepan Budlakoti: Examining the Historical Development of the "Authentic" Canadian Citizen
MRP Supervisors: Amanda
MRP Reader: Kimberly White
Year: 2014

This Major Research Paper examines the historical development of the “authentic” Canadian identity through an historiographical analysis of citizenship and immigration law in Canada. It critically examines the ongoing Deepan Budlakoti case to argue that the new state powers to revoke citizenship and to order residents deported formalize an unlawful denial of citizenship to certain individuals. This paper also argues that the recent amendments that were made to Canada’s citizenship laws signify a new state strategy with respect to citizenship and an approach that risks producing the racialized ‘other’ as an undeserving and dangerous citizen. This approach marks a return to a more narrow conception of an “authentic” Canadian and, specifically, one that aligns closely with traditional British Anglo-Saxon values and ideals. Using the growing literature on representations of the terrorist and the casting out of Muslim men, this paper further argues that the Strengthening Citizenship Act, 2014 participates in explicit discrimination and reifies a problematic message about Muslim men, which is that they are terrorists and threaten national security.


Kozera, Agnieszka

Title: Marginalized Women and Legal Aid: A Transnational Feminist Critque.
MRP Supervisors: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2014


Kryszajtys, David

Title: Intelligence at all Costs: The Legal Consciousness of Nootropic Consumers on the Internet.
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2015

Nootropic products are compounds that are legally available to consumers and which are marketed with a promise to enhance cognitive abilities. The consumption of these products creates consumer legal issues because they are often unregulated for safety, quality, and efficacy under U.S. and Canadian federal laws. Six online forum discussions are interpreted with Ewick and Silbey’s legal consciousness meta-narratives to understand how nootropic consumer’s viewpoints on legality structure their legal decisions in an unregulated market. For their individual consumer issues, users do not discuss mobilizing legally and rarely contact the other party, perhaps because they perceive such actions futile when vendors and manufacturers are not held accountable by regulations. Instead, users use the forum as a medium to collectively determine which vendors will deal with them reasonably, and which products work and are safe, standing with the law of the unregulated market without necessarily approving of it. Users are reluctant to mobilize politically for increased regulation because some stand against the law distrusting it in its ability to handle their interests. While others stand before the law, having faith in it to make satisfactory changes and/or believing its power too far out of reach for everyday people. This analysis acts as a starting place from which to map user’s legal consciousness with recommendations for future research.


Lattrell, Liam

Title: Instrumental Law: America and the Coast Guard's Use of the Law throughout the War on Drugs.
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Paul Cravern
Year: 2010

Not currently available.


Layne, Brenton

Title: The Safety Dance: Moral Regulation and Electronic Dance Music Culture in Toronto.
MRP Supervisors: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2015

Electronic dance music (EDM) has become a global cultural phenomenon for the current generation. In Toronto, the popularity of electronic music is evidenced by a number of EDM-oriented nightclubs and a proliferation of summer festivals. Yet at the same time, the social history of EDM in this city reveals a persistent tension between members of the subculture and Toronto city officials. City councillors have repeatedly attempted to ban electronic music on public property, police have raided private clubs, and there has been a litany of by-laws implemented to specifically target EDM venues. These discriminatory actions represent clear instances of moral regulation against EDM culture.

Therefore this paper investigates a central research question: how has law been used in attempts to morally regulate electronic dance music culture in Toronto? The two main sites of analysis explored herein are the 2014 Exhibition Place EDM ban and the regulation of nightclubs through by-laws. EDM events are shown to be spatially governed through the use of a chronotope that depicts them as risky and dangerous. Discourse analysis is used to demonstrate that the language of “risk” and “harm” employed by city officials represents a hybrid moralizing discourse. This paper contributes to socio-legal literature by providing insights into processes of municipal governance and contemporary regimes of ‘quiet’ regulation.


Malankov, Mayoori

Title: Discourse(s) of Genocide: The Canadian–Tamil Diaspora and the Politics of Naming and Narrating the Claim of 'Genocide' in the Public Sphere.
MRP Supervisors: Fuyuki Kurasawa
MRP Reader: Cheran Rudhramoorthy
Year: 2012

This paper studies the role of activists from the Canadian-Tamil diaspora in constructing and advancing the claim of genocide in the public sphere. As "genocide resistors" the Tamil diaspora were, and still are, instrumental in lobbying for the popular recognition of genocide as a necessary step towards official and legal recognition. However, there were many external observers who regarded Tamils' invocation of the word 'genocide' as an exaggeration. I am not seeking to conduct a legal analysis that will determine whether or not what happened to the Tamils in Sri Lanka constitutes genocide. Rather, in asking the question of why the mass killings of the Sri Lankan Tamils is less well understood in the world as a case of genocide, I intend to examine the claim of genocide as a contested terrain, a field of discursive and political struggle, which will lend insight into the moral and cultural power of the term that goes beyond its strictly legal meaning. Constructing an event as genocide requires more than factual indicators that the crime is underway or imminent, since it also involves an extensive amount of cultural and political work to code the event as such. The latter refers to cultural processes of meaning-making that require coding, weighting, and narrating the event as a profound moral evil that will hopefully offend the audiences' sense of moral reasonability and compel them to act. The legal orientation of genocide on its own does not determine this moral and cultural coding, which depends on the unique circumstances, context, and the capacity of a given group to access the means of symbolic production. Rather, there first has to be cultural work and political work for something to be coded as a moral evil, followed by having it recognized as such, which leads to its legal validation or recognition.


Mandin, Stephany

Title: Economic Rights, Regulation and the Quest for Human Dignity in Contemporary Society.
MRP Supervisors: Richard Weisman
MRP Reader: Jaqueline Krikorian
Year: 2009

An examination of the welfare reforms and policy initiatives that emerged as part of the Harris Government's 'New Right' political platform in Ontario in the mid–1990's. The implications and effects of these reforms will be explored including the effect that such welfare reforms and other 'poor' legislation has had on the human dignity and citizenship of those already marginalized in contemporary society. Specifically, a focus on the role of law in these new reforms in light of Charter principles will beg the question; should economic status have a place under s.15 equality rights jurisprudence in the Charter, and how does law support the connection between citizenship and consumerism?


Machtinger, Yael

Title: Sounds of Silence: A Socio-Legal Exploration of Siruv Get and Iggun in Toronto.
MRP Supervisor: Annie Bunting
MRP Reader: Susan Drummond
Year: 2009

Have legislative, judicial, and social changes corrected the aguna issue in Toronto? Further, if there are still instances of get refusal that arise in Toronto, why does there seem to be sounds of silence regarding this issue?

Since the legislative remedies both provincially and federally to the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act, compounded by the precedent setting Supreme Court of Canada case, Bruker v. Markowitz, there has been a contention that there are no longer instances of agunot who are mesuravot get - women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish religious divorce - in Toronto. The goal of this research project was to get to the core of the issue in Toronto by talking to experts and leaders in the community, as well as individual women in the community, including mesuravot get. Consequently, Jewish women will be accurately portrayed in locales of active negotiation and navigation, rather than locales of bound, chained, or anchored complacents. Ultimately, I seek to prove get refusal and extortion, persist in Toronto.


McCarrol, Valerie

Title: Elsipogtog and the Legacy of Oka: A Critical Environmental Justice Analysis.
MRP Supervisors: Danya Scott
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2014

This Major Research Paper analyzes the regulation of Indigenous protest against cases of environmental justice and the issue of sovereign authority over land and resource management. I examine the competing claims to sovereignty made by Indigenous nations and the Canadian government in two case studies: the Oka Crisis of 1990 and the RCMP raid on Elsipogtog First Nation in 2013. My analysis of these case studies draws on settler colonial theory to understand how the surveillance and regulation of Indigenous activism has evolved since the Oka Crisis, in which the Mohawk Warriors protesting at Kanesatake were constructed as terrorist threats to the nation through mainstream media coverage and state actions. I then trace the securitization of Indigenous activism since the Oka Crisis to illustrate how the characterization of Indigenous protesters as terrorists expanded police powers to monitor and regulate individuals involved in demonstrations. This evolution, I argue, stems from the highly visible conflict at Kanesatake and currently operates to subvert Indigenous claims to sovereignty over land with natural resources. I raise questions as to how the state can use the law, through injunctions, and legitimate violence, through state police agencies, to dismantle blockades on unceded territory. I explore the interplay between discourses of reconciliation and discourses of securitization that attempt to delegitimize Indigenous opposition to the pursuit of natural resource profits and national economic benefit.


McManus, Angelica

Title: Law, Culture and Inequality: Toward a Critical Legal Hermeneutics.
MRP Supervisors: Livy Visano
MRP Reader: Jay Goulding
Year: 2014

This paper utilizes critical legal hermeneutics in examining discursive, historical, and legal frameworks of analysis in order to explore the fundamental concepts and models of exclusion that have shaped the governmentality of Canadian immigration. Its emphasis is on exclusionary elements in law that inhibit or prevent immigrants from full and equal participation.

This paper is divided into five core sections that convey the historical background of Canadian immigration policy and reveals how despite purportedly progressive changes, the policy continues to deny equal rights to immigrants which consequently displays how law and policies continue to prioritize security provisions over human rights and equality rights of immigrants.

Legal hermeneutics is highly relevant to this project as it shows how law impacts on immigrants not only in the abstract but also in the experiential social environment, which is characterized by pervasive injustice and denial of rights.


Mendez, Graciela Flores

Title: Alien/ation: Race, Citizenship, and the Construction of the Mexican 'Illegal Alien'
MRP Supervisors: Carmela Murdocca
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2010

The purpose of this paper is to examine im/migration and citizenship discourse in the United States as it pertains to the racialization of the Mexican 'illegal alien.' In order to trace how the legal category 'illegal alien' has become racialized code for 'Mexican criminal,' this paper examines the national "official story" in two time frames. Through an exploration of the United States' colonization of Mexico in 1848 and the emergence of the 'illegal alien' classification in immigration law, I examine the influence of racialized thinking in conceptualizations of citizenship in the United States. Contemporary im/migration and citizenship discourse is then examined through an inquiry of the multiple sites that create and enforce the racialization of the 'illegal alien.' This examination of im/migration and citizenship discourse will emphasize the role of law in sustaining the relationship between Mexican racialized identity and 'illegality.' I conclude that citizenship status and racialization have maintained an interlocked relationship for Mexican migrants since 1848, and that the racialized 'illegal alien' category in law sustains the dehumanization and alienation of migrants in the United States.


Million, Vanessa

Title: A Case Study on Reporting Sexual Violence: The Dalhousie Dentistry ‘Scandal’.
MRP Supervisors: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2015

There has been an increase in reporting coverage of incidents that support a rape culture on Canadian University campuses within recent years. One of these incidents involved Dalhousie University and the posting of misogynist Facebook comments by male dentistry students about their female classmates. This project offers insight into the way that Dalhousie University responded to the incident and how the media reported on the incident. The following questions will be explored: How does the reporting reflect the anxiety of Dalhousie University in handling the incident? What do these conversations/incidents reveal about the feminist debate surrounding rape culture? This case study provides evidence of institutional and public anxiety when faced with having to confront and deal with practices within a rape culture. Data collection consisted of articles from major Canadian news media sources, 20 articles were examined in total. The dominant narratives within the articles were explored using a critical, feminist discourse analysis.


Milosevic, Jovan

Title: Access to Justice in Ontario: Addressing the Need for Reform in the Era of Self-Litigation.
MRP Supervisors: Jaqueline Kirkorian
MRP Reader: Les Jacobs
Year: 2015

The purpose of this paper is to explore and to present a broad-spectrum synopsis of the hardships self-represented litigants face as they endeavor to access and navigate the justice system in Ontario across diverse areas of law. The paper focuses on identifying the existing setbacks self-represented litigants experience and on exploring the potential causes and effects of the established challenges. This paper’s intent is to challenge the appropriateness of self-representation in the current legal sphere of the Ontario courts and its being representative of the notion of fair access to justice. Scholarly literature in the area of law and politics is used to situate and substantiate the analysis complemented with an extensive study of 378 Ontario Superior Court cases and 78 articles from two major daily newspapers.


Multani, Surinder

Title: (Dis)Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: the Dilemma over the Regulation of Traditional Knowledge.
MRP Supervisors: Rosemary Coombe
MRP Reader: Peer Zumbansen
Year: 2012

In the past three decades, the emergence of the information economy through the processes of globalization as well as the massive loss of biological diversity through industrialization and urbanization have led to a growing interest in the knowledges and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. In particular, the significance of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Indigenous peoples in sustainable development, maintaining biodiversity and the potential it holds for producing new pharmaceutical products has raised awareness among the global civic society for the need to protect it in order to reap future benefits. This awareness has manifested in discussions and debates over the ‘protection,’ preservation as well as the fair use and compensation of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge at the national and international level. Yet solutions generated so far have tended to exclude the interests of Indigenous peoples, who have suggested that their own customary laws are well suited to protect and regulate their TEK. Using legal pluralism as a framework, I will examine Indigenous customary laws in theory and practice at the local level, how these laws have been shaped by state law, and their potential in empowering Indigenous peoples to recapture their knowledge systems. This framework is important not only for understanding the limitations of state law in protecting and regulating TEK but takes into account alternative normative orders that possess legal authority external to state law that are better suited to protect TEK in the long term for Indigenous peoples.


Murdoch, Chandra

Title: Amending and Enforcing the Indian Act: The Role of the Indian Agent, 1876–1910.
MRP Supervisors: Shelly Gavigan
MRP Reader: William Wicken
Year: 2011

In the late nineteenth–century, the Indian Act of Canada was amended almost yearly to expand the Department of Indian Affairs’ legal powers. Many of these changes were not significant departures from earlier policy, but had serious ramifications for Indigenous peoples. The changes strengthened provisions to regulate life on Indian reserves in almost every aspect—social, familial, political, financial, religious and legally–imposed racial identity. This paper examines the role of the Indian Agent (tasked with implementing Departmental policy and Indian Act provisions), in amending and enforcing this legislation. It examines letters written by Indian Agents to the Department suggesting changes to the Indian Act, and provides a case study of one Agent’s work on the St. Regis Reserve. These demonstrate that far from being a result of top–down bureaucratic decision–making (although this was the case in some instances), the process of amending the Indian Act to make its enforcement more effective and its policy goals more attainable was in many cases the result of on–the–ground processes of colonialism through the reserve and Indian Agent system. This raises important questions about the dialogic relationship between the process of colonialism and the development of colonial law in Canada. In examining the problems that arose in the enforcement of Indian Act provisions, the limits of colonially–imposed law and the resistance of Indigenous peoples is also made visible.


Nintai, Alvine

Title: Does the International Finance Corporation(IFC) comply with Compliance Advisor Ombudsman(CAO) recommendations?
MRP Supervisor: David Szablowski
MRP Reader: James Williams
Year: 2017

This research project is interested in how independent recourse mechanisms use soft law to regulate the social and environmental outcome of Multilateral Development Bank projects. My focus is the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its corresponding recourse mechanism, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO). As part of its mandate, the CAO audits eligible cases to evaluate IFC compliance with IFC rules and policies. Where the IFC is determined to be noncompliant, the CAO makes recommendations on how the rules ought to be interpreted and operationalised to bring projects back into compliance. However, the CAO lacks enforcement authority and its recommendations are non binding. My research poses the following questions: Given the CAO’s inability to sanction noncompliance, does the IFC comply with CAO recommendations? Put differently, do CAO recommendations (soft law) influence how the IFC resolves concerns about the social and environmental impact of its projects? What forms does this influence take and how does the CAO secure IFC compliance? Drawing from case documents and semi-structured interviews with key informants, I suggest that the IFC has a mixed record complying with CAO recommendations. I also propose that IFC compliance with recommendations (where it is discernible) is the outcome of a dialogic audit process characterized by reason giving and justification.


Orser, Beverly

Title: Embodying Disorder: Street-Involved Women and Radical Community in “Toronto the Good,” 1880 — 1890.
MRP Supervisors: Amanda Glasbeek
MRP Reader: Kimberly White
Year: 2014

Constructed as “disorderly” bodies, street-involved women’s visible presence on the city streets posed a challenge to the ideological image of “Toronto the Good” as a city of order and morality, prompting intense efforts to manage the “moral problems” associated with women’s visible poverty. Within this socio-historical context, I examine street-involved women’s stories by drawing on specific examples and case studies built by tracing women’s experiences through newspapers and institutional records. Specifically, I document their relationships of mutual support as evidence of a radical community that street-involved women formed as a mechanism of survival and resistance, and exploring how this community would have been perceived as a challenge to the moral and social order of “Toronto the Good”. Using the framework of radical community, I aim to restore street-involved women to the historical record not as the deviant or helpless women they were understood to be but, rather, as women who exercised some agency, employing unique strategies to survive despite their marginalized social positions. As my research demonstrates, the concept of radical community provides a useful tool for examining how this particular group of women worked both independently and together to negotiate power in urban space. Furthermore, by recounting the stories of street-involved women through the framework of radical community, I demonstrate how we can begin to unsettle problematic assumptions about women’s poverty and street-involvement that have been reinforced over time.


Romo, Alice

Title: From Rights to Freedom and Dignity: Implementing International Laws in Education and the Proposal for the Right to Childhood Talent
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Karen Robson
Year: 2015

This research paper will attempt to contribute to implementing rights in education by applying the capabilities approach to human flourishing. A central document that I will be looking at to analyze ideas around rights within education is General Comment 13 Right to Education, elaborated by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in collaboration with UNESCO. This extensive commentary is inspired by provisions from previous Conventions such as the Convention Against Discrimination in Education. This makes it an appropriate document to refer to when analyzing international law norms around rights to education.

I will then examine a proposal from an emerging non-profit organization, the ELIC Foundation, which has been engaging in educational advocacy in Latin America through their World Congresses, their book Education for Talent and Peace, and through their schools, after-school programming, workshops, and teacher training. This research paper will be looking at how their proposal to the 'Right to Childhood Talent' can contribute to existing educational rights and freedoms, as well as bring children to the forefront of being part of the educational process.

An emphasis on developing childhood talent is consistent with international legal norms on education, and can contribute to a national implementation of Article 13 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 29 (1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Samsel, Aaron

Title: Know Your Rights Trainings: The Production of Legal Subjectivity Within Law and Organizing.
MRP Supervisors: Carmela Murdocca
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2012

Since the 1980s, civil violations of US immigration law have been increasingly criminalized, both formally and culturally. In mainstream discourse, the term "illegal" is often applied to anyone who does not have proper immigration status in the US. This has powerful consequences including the loss of an immigrant's ability to invoke their rights in interactions with various state and social actors in positions of power. In response, public interest lawyers and community organizers have worked in collaboration to conduct Know Your Rights Trainings for immigrants. Through semi–structured interviews with lawyers and organizers, and textual analysis of Know Your Rights pamphlets, this MRP critically examines the collaboration in order to analyze the relationship between the organizing-orientated and litigation-oriented strategies active within the trainings. The author concludes that there are direct contradictions between the two frameworks. For example, litigation-orientated Know Your Rights Trainings tend to work paternalistically to keep participants from becoming politically active in organizing initiatives. Instead of fostering collective identity and participants as a group, the litigation-oriented framework reinforces individualism, isolation, complacency and dependency on social elites for problem-solving strategies.


Sandhu, Ajay

Title: YouTube: A New Space For public Protest? Flipping the Dziekanski Script through Digital Activism.
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Anna Pratt
Year: 2010

In 2007, Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport after receiving five taser charges from RCMP officers. A bystander, named Paul Pritchard, used his camera to record Dziekanski's final moments and his footage soon made its way onto YouTube.com. My MRP examines the ways that Pritchard's footage has been taken up on YouTube.com. I argue that YouTube.com has given Canadian citizens the ability to closely examine and protest police actions through techniques of digital witnessing and digital dissent.


Saravanamuttu, Krisna

Title: Political Identities, Human Rights, and International Justice: An Investigation of United Nations engagement in post-war Sri Lanka
MRP Supervisors: Annie Bunting
MRP Reader: Obiora Okafor
Year: 2016

In this paper I have traced the complexity of UN engagement in Sri Lanka over the last seven years. Although my main focus is on the UNHRC process itself, I have also studied Canadian refugee cases. The statist imagination of the world, ascending to primacy after the Second World War, informs our most basic assumptions about the range and limitations of international human rights law and international refugee law. This particular rendition of international relations—a community of interlocking nation-states, informs UN action on Sri Lanka too. The various resolutions and human rights reports emanating from the UNHRC process establishes a body of knowledge about Sri Lanka’s state violence, its Tamil victims, and the case for a credible inquiry into the last stages of the war. Along with the UNHRC process, Canadian refugee determinations circumscribed Tamil claims of political and victim identity, channeling them into a mold consistent with the statist imagination. Dominant refugee narratives tend to wipe out the political, social and economic issues fuelling the creation of refugees. In spite of decades of systemic and structural violence directed at dismantling the existence of the Tamils as a nation, the post-colonial state escapes international investigation. Sri Lanka’s human rights record is justly critiqued, but the state itself remains beyond reproach.


Scheer, Kerri Ann

Title: Blood Donation Policy in Canada: risk, Citizenry and the exclusion of "Men Who Have Sex with Men"
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Allyson Lunny
Year: 2010

A nationwide public calamity took place in Canada in the late 1970s and 1980s. the incident resulted in the infection of thousands of Canadians with Hepatits C and HIV. Blood donation was transferred to a new structure created exclusively to manage Canada's blood supply- Canadian Blood Services(CBS). The memory of "The Tainted Blood Tragedy" is frequently invoked by CBS to validate the safety of the contemporary blood supply and to justify current policies that are stringent and, for some, exclusionary.
This paper examines CBS policy standards that exclude "men who have sex with men" (MSM) from the blood donation process in Canada. In particular, an analysis of the knowledge production and discourse construction surrounding thes exclusion will be undertaken.


Singh, Jazba

Title: Drawing from the Unknowable: A Vedic Comspolitan Approach to Human Rights.
MRP Supervisors: Fuyuki Kurasawa
MRP Reader: Carmella Murdocca
Year: 2009

This Major Research Paper (MRP) puts into conversation selected concepts of Vedic philosophy with cosmopolitanism in order to present an argument for expanded notions of identity, specifically, universal human identity, to the discourse which underpins international human rights law. The contemporary human rights narrative understands the identity of its subject, the recipient of rights, as well as how their subjectivity is constituted, according to modern liberal parameters, which contradicts its claims of ontological and epistemological neutrality. This paper will analyze how the subject of human rights is reflected and produced, within this narrow narrative, as an individual, and argue that this is not a culturally neutral representation of human beings' complex and multi-dimensional identities, as well as their relation to a universal human identity. On the other hand, Vedic cosmopolitanism articulates and reflects identity in way that the current discourse does not consider: beginning with an ontological foundation which is fitted in the metaphysics of an unknowable and ultimate Truth (Brahman), and expressing its epistemological rendering of human identity and its relation to universal human identity via the principle of non-duality (advaita vedanta). By juxtaposing this schema to the modern liberal narrative of human right law, the assumptions and false universalization of its particular normative frameworks are exposed. As such, this MRP's ultimate suggestion is simply that international human rights law actually consider substantively, wider worldviews on how to constitute and justify human rights.


So, Dorinda

Title: An Exploration of Automobility and Perceptions of Risk in the 2009-2010 Toyota Recall Crisis
MRP Supervisor: David Szablowski
MRP Reader: Dayna Scott
Year: 2011

This MRP provides an explanation to an otherwise extraordinary and unexpected recall crisis experienced by Toyota, the public and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) by combining risk and automobility theories. It uncovers some of the hidden assumptions that we have about driving using automobility literature and lays bare the contradictions hidden underneath. The fact that unrestricted movement in a vehicle has become a right generates fears and anxieties when the risk of experiencing unintended acceleration (UA) is present in an otherwise reliable vehicle and exacerbated by substantial media coverage. This MRP examines how the media helped construct the risk perceptions of Toyota, the public and the NHTSA, which affected subsequent risk mitigating actions. The analysis of the economic and political interests that underpin the perspectives and actions of the three actors in tandem demonstrated how interconnected and interdependent the three actors are when faced with such a significant risk as UA. Finally, by considering the tensions that the actors face individually and with each other, the entire regulatory regime is questioned and this MRP suggests that changes are necessary.


Stone, Kris

Title: In Pursuit of Liberal Democracy: Charter Review and the Role of the Supreme Court of Canada.
MRP Supervisors: Ian Greene
MRP Reader: Dagmar Soennecken
Year: 2012

The Charter dialogue theory was originally proposed by Peter Hogg and Allison Bushell Thornton in the 1997 article titled "The Charter Dialogue Between Courts and Legislatures (Or Perhaps the Charter of Rights Isn't Such A Bad Thing After All)". After analyzing 65 cases where legislation was judged in breach of the Charter the authors found that in two–thirds of the cases the legislative body would respond by way of amendment. They concluded that "Where a judicial decision is open to legislative reversal, modification, or avoidance, then it is meaningful to regard the relationship between the court and the competent legislative body as a dialogue". While this concept has been subject to considerable skepticism, their goal was to respond to critics of judicial review who contend that this power greatly diminishes democratic ideals, and offer a new way by which to characterize the interaction engendered by the Charter and evolution of judicial review.

In order to establish whether the judiciary, having the power of Charter review, is in fact contributing towards a democratic deficit we must first establish what a liberal democracy is and how the current Canadian electoral system is 'flawed'. We must then analyze what the legitimate function of the judiciary ought to be within this governance regime. Moving from this normative perspective, we must move into a more pragmatic (prescriptive) analysis of the activity of the judiciary within the triangulation of governance. Once established, we must analyze the legislature and their role, juxtaposing their respective function to that of the judiciary, addressing whether legislative supremacy is in fact necessary qualification for liberal democratic regimes. Last, this MRP will examine the role of lawyers both as legal representatives of interest groups and as members of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Focusing on four indispensable principles of liberal democratic theory—liberty and equality, representativesness and accountability—this paper will examine the relationship between legislatures and the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) post–Charter era and the role of lawyers in Charter dialogue, subsequently identifying not only how the Canadian regime is flawed, but how judges, legislatures and lawyers satisfy these values.


Tasker, Heather

Title: A Multifaceted Consideration of UNHCR'S Do You See What I See? Photography Project.
MRP Supervisors: Anna Pratt
MRP Reader: Gerald Kernerman
Year: 2014

Do You See What I See? was a photography project implemented by UNHCR in 2008 to teach refugee youth about story telling through the medium of photography, and to present refugee stories to a global audience. While this project appears to be designed to give refugee youth and opportunity for self authorship and presentation, the location of the project in unstable spaces marked by permanent temporariness, the humanitarian logics and agenda driving the project, and the reliance on photography as an objective documentation of truth serve to underscore the ongoing problems and concerns of the UNHCR's relationship to those people classified as refugees.


Thirsk, Lisane

Title: "This is How the Law Protects Us as Women": A Case Study of Street Harassment in Mexico City.
MRP Supervisors: Susan Ehrlich
MRP Reader: Linda Peake
Year: 2012

This paper examines street harassment, or the unsolicited and unwanted attention from strangers that many women and girls experience on a daily basis in public and semi-public places. Gender-based street harassment is increasingly becoming a mainstream topic of concern around the world thanks to academic research, legal reform, news coverage and social justice activism. In this paper, I argue against an essentialist approach to street harassment and emphasize the importance of contextualizing street harassment in different cultural locations. To do this, I consider the social and legal implications of street harassment in one specific time and place: present–day Mexico City, a place characterized by public insecurity and violence that exacerbates many different forms of violence against women. My research strategy involves the use of a case study of the harassment experience of a woman named Nancy Rojo Pastelin, whose story went viral after she posted a testimonial YouTube video on the Internet. My paper considers her interpretation of the case as well as the popular and institutional responses to it. Drawing from multiple disciples including socio–legal studies, feminist geography and discourse studies, I consider four themes from Nancy's case that I consider valuable for further investigation of street harassment in the context of Mexico City: 1) the contradictory role of law and the lack of institutional accountability; 2)spatial negotiations of street harassment moving beyond the gendered public–private divide; 3) the discursive practice of piropos, frequently invoked to dismiss or trivialize verbal street harassment; and 4) social and mobile media, tools that are successfully used by some to contest street harassment and other injustices. I conclude that taking these particularities in Mexico City seriously contributes to a decentring of Anglo American street harassment in Mexico City seriously contributes to a decentring of Anglo American street harassment discourse. In addition, I suggest that law is a valuable point of entry into a discussion about the problem of street harassment, but it should be invoked with caution so as not to inadvertantly end the discussion.


Tokar, Irina

Title: Protecting the Sacred: Extractive Industries & Cultural Heritage in Madagascar.
MRP Supervisors: Rosemary Coombe
MRP Reader: Kean Birch
Year: 2014

The relationship to land forms the basis of most indigenous peoples’ identities, and their livelihoods cannot be maintained nor their cultures preserved without their capacity to engage in traditional spiritual practices, which requires a certain degree of control over their sacred land. In many areas of the world, however, mining industry access to regions where natural landscapes contain rich mineral deposits is prioritized over subsistence livelihoods and traditional uses of land. During the last decade large-scale (often open-pit) mining operations in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and Latin America have devastated many indigenous communities both through environmental destruction and by restricting their access to their traditional lands and constraining their capacities to engage in practices of cultural significance. What legal recourse do such people have? What legal resources are available to them? Although some peoples can take advantage of international human rights, indigenous rights, and environmental norms, for many peoples in these regions, international law is either inapplicable, or inaccessible, offering little in terms of possible redress.

This paper will look at the gap in legal protections afforded to ethnic minorities in Madagascar. More specifically, it will look at the displacement of the Bezanozano of Madagascar due to specific mining activities and explore the reasons for the legal lacuna in which they find themselves. This paper also looks at how corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies enable mining companies not only to legitimate the exploitation of mineral resources in sacred places, but also to claim that they are preserving ‘global heritage resources’ while they visit enormous destruction on the natural landscape-based heritage of the peoples resident in the regions in which they operate.


Tsui, Diana

Title: Justice in Context: A Socio-Legal Analysis of Self-Represented Tenants’ Experiences and Perceptions of Justice.
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Jacqueline Krikorian
Year: 2016

The Landlord and Tenant Board’s goal is to provide fair and accessible justice to Ontarians. Yet there is relatively little empirical research on the experiences and opinions of individuals who have used the Board’s services. This major research paper makes a unique contribution to socio-legal research on access to civil justice in Ontario by examining the “barriers to justice” faced by tenants who have navigated the Board’s processes and procedures without legal representation. Drawing on interviews with tenants who have represented themselves at the Board, I use the theoretical framework of legal consciousness to analyze their perceptions of justice and how they made sense of their experiences.

This major research paper offers two important findings. First, tenants’ understandings of what justice and access to it mean are reflections of their legal consciousness, or how they make sense of law and legality. Getting justice to them means more than simply achieving desired legal outcomes. They understand justice in broader terms, which includes ideas about the equality of the process, fairness, and being able to make informed decisions when they encounter housing issues and problems. Second, a critical assessment of how they conceptualize justice and access to it exposes the power dynamics between disputing parties in an adversarial context. Most importantly, a critical assessment of their experiences provides context and gives meaning to the ideas of justice and access to it, which are fundamental values of the Board.


Vaccaro, Josie

Title: A Critical Analysis of Ontario's Domestic Violence Death Review Committee.
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly
MRP Reader: Amanda
Year: 2014

This Major Research Paper examines the official discourse on domestic violence produced and maintained through Ontario's Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC). Drawing from a feminist socio-legal perspective, this investigation provides insight into how the concept of domestic violence has been and continues to be shaped and defined as a social problem. It is here that we recognize that the socio-legal category of domestic violence deaths, as defined by the DVDRC, embodies a particular social construction of gendered subjects that fails to address "the contingent and discursive nature of all identities" (Randall, 2010, p. 116). Consequently, this analysis reveals traces of social, legal, and economic elements that continue to shape gendered policy in the image of binary definitions of 'man' and 'woman'. In tracing the shifts in language around the socio-legal construct of domestic violence deaths and examining how the role of 'experts' shape official discourse, it becomes clear that there is a distinct relationship between expert discourses on risk, victimhood, and legal subjectivity, and popular narratives of gendered violence.


Vadasaria, Shaira

Title: The Racial ‘State of Emergency’: Palestinian Womyn’s Testimonies of Prison, Occupation, and the Zionist Colonial Settler Project.
MRP Supervisors: Carmela Murdocca
MRP Reader: Anna Agathangelou
Year: 2010

This paper examines the specificities of racial and gendered State violence experienced by Palestinian womyn incarcerated in Israel’s prison system and under daily living conditions of occupation. By analyzing Palestinian womyn’s resistance literature in the form of anti–colonial poetry and prison/occupation testimonials, I trace a particular set of methods used to advance Israel’s contemporary practices of state violence in both sites. I discuss how these practices of violence are organized through common methods of corporeal and spatial control which effectively blur the geo–political boundaries between Israel’s prison system and the occupied Palestinian territory. Moreover, by tracing an intricate regime of emergency regulations enacted in both sites, I demonstrate how Israel’s ‘state of emergency’ discourse conceals and licenses state practices of violence through the power of social and material death. Through attending to Palestinian womyn’s daily experiences of violence presented in the testimonies, I suggest that corporeal violence and carcerality are not only central to prison life experience but extensions of daily life under occupation. Although I identify a common set of methods used to organize violence in Israeli prisons and occupied Palestine today, I maintain that violence has never been a symptom of ‘state emergency’ that is specific to our contemporary moment of the Zionist project. By returning to Nakba (1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine) as an important point of reference, I conclude by suggesting that the colonial settler project of Israel has consistently relied upon varying methods of racial and gendered violence to consolidate the project of Zionism in Palestine, and that what we see occurring today in both Israeli prisons and occupied Palestine, is a slower and more discrete continuation of the 1948 Nakba.


Ventrella, John Paul

Title: The Toronto Aboriginal Persons (Gladue) Court: Thinking Seriously about the Role of a Unique Criminal Justice Initiative for Aboriginal Offenders.
MRP Supervisors: Annie Bunting
MRP Reader: Bonita Lawrence
Year: 2009

In analyzing the Gladue Courts my research documents the evolution of criminal justice policy and the ways in which the court has implemented the many recommendations of past governmental inquiries concerning the issue of Aboriginal (in)justice. Through research on this understudied site of analysis I hope to expose the merits of the Gladue Court as a system of remediation and discuss its ultimate limitations in "fixing" the problem of Aboriginal over–incarceration.


Virdi, Preet

Title: Silence: Resistance or Acquiescence? Uncovering Sikh women’s perspectives on Canadian Law.
MRP Supervisors: Lesley Jacobs
MRP Reader: Annie Bunting
Year: 2010

My major research paper is centred on Canadians who are informed by non-western understandings of law and society. By giving voice to the perspectives of Sikh women who immigrated to Canada at the time when multiculturalism was first instituted as a policy directive of the Canadian government during the 1970s and 80s, my project seeks to uncover how minoritized women perceive and interact with the Canadian legal system.


Virjee, Nadir

Title: Impact of Ideology on Institutional Interpretations: Hermeneutics, Criminalizations and Inequalities.
MRP Supervisors: Livy Visano
MRP Reader: Jay Goulding
Year: 2013

This paper examines the differential impact that ideologies have on institutional interpretations with respect to the administration of criminal justice in Canada. Using three specific examples of policing and police relations, it provides an analysis of inequality vis-à-vis police practices, the impact of this inequality, as well as the role that ideologies of race and class play in creating the stereotypical ‘criminal’. The initial focus surrounds protest policing and includes an examination of orthodox notions of police emergence, riots and labour, modernization and the G20. This is followed by an examination of racial profiling – specifically – its social implications in relation to aboriginal youth. This section contains an overview of the Young Offender’s Act, as well as an examination of the disparities between Aboriginal and Canadian values. Finally, a third study focuses on gang policing; emphasis here is placed partially on social disorganization, subculture, and inner-city communities.

Through the examination of these three contexts, the primary objectives of this research are to examine the intersections between the dominant popular ideologies and the actual administration of criminal justice. Using a theoretical perspective based on hermeneutics, cultural legal studies and critical cultural theory, this paper proceeds using a methodology closely related to the logic of triangulated procedures. These perspectives and methodologies are used to seek answers to several important questions. Specifically, this paper seeks to understand the ways in which police officers and administrators interpret criminality, and how these individuals negotiate their respective resistances and accommodations to ideologies of racism. It analyzes the extent to which organizational and institutional factors create particular social relations, as well as how the dominant cultural values form and inform interpretations of criminality. Attention is also paid to how police representations in the media compare with the way police actually articulate their biases.


Weisbart, Caren

Title: Beyond Recognition: Alternative Rights-Realizing Strategies in the Northern Quiche Region of Guatemala.
MRP Supervisors: David Szablowski
MRP Reader: Alison Crosby
Year: 2011

This paper explores the innovative rights–realizing strategies of the Historical Memory Initiative (HMI), a group of indigenous campesinos located in the northern Guatemalan department of El Quiche, as they struggle against the incursion of national and transnational mining, oil and hydroelectric projects on their land. The paper provides a detailed historical analysis of the Guatemalan laws and policies that have had an impact on indigenous organization and community structures. It focuses on a series of geopolitical re–territorialization strategies carried out by the Guatemalan government and military that caused the re–ordering and dislocation of indigenous people, clearing the land for the construction of large-scale neoliberal development projects. The paper examines the neoliberal multicultural discourse that peace-time governments mobilize in order to distract attention away from the final phases of these strategies and their present–day impact on largely indigenous communities. The paper argues that the complex and sophisticated mechanisms that HMI members use to expose the corruption and manipulation taking place at the local and national level undermines this multicultural discourse and is constitutive of an innovative political project. By emphasizing the importance of remembering the violence and dispossession that has led to their present situation, these community members are engaged in a (re)construction of their past and present. They want to ensure that this past continues to inform the socio–political and economic analyses of present–day decision–making processes regarding development and that indigenous people must play an active role.


Yango, Jenna

Title: Missionaries and Nation–Building: Constructing the State and the 'Indian'
MRP Supervisors: Kimberly White
MRP Reader: Benjamin Berger
Year: 2012

In my MRP I am analyzing the relationship between missionaries and First Nations peoples in Ontario, during the eighteenth and early twentieth century. In tracing narratives produced by the missionary about 'the Indian', I demonstrate that the missionary's targeting of soulful transformation through Christian salvation allowed him to discipline the body of the Indian and in turn, First Nations peoples, on a community level. In transforming the body of the Indian, the missionary produced Indian subjects who were compliant to the Euro–Canadian state. I argue that the role of the missionary in the nation–building process has been largely minimized in the contemporary literature. In order to construct a more comprehensive understanding of Canadian–colonial history, it is necessary to draw out the missionary's narrative and his effect on First Nations communities, as his utilization of Christian doctrine allowed for a unique transformation of the Indian body.


Yanko, Melanie

Title: The Promise of Equal Citizenship and the Struggle Against Racism: Ethiopian Jews in Israel.
MRP Supervisors: Bruce Ryder
MRP Reader: Lesley Jacobs
Year: 2012

The Declaration of Independence, the Basic Laws and the Law of Return of Israel extend a promise of equal formal rights to all Jews in Israel. The Law of Return grants citizenship status to Jews immigrating to Israel and the Basic Laws establish a Jewish and democratic state that seeks to protect the "human dignity and liberty" of citizens. However, as a result of anti–Black racism and other barriers to full participation in Israeli society, Ethiopian Jews have confronted differences between their lived experiences and equal formal rights. This paper seeks to situate Ethiopian Jews' experiences within the broader context of the Zionist conception of equal citizenship, the role of the state as a Jewish homeland, and Ethiopian Jews' lived experiences of racism. This paper explores the gap between social citizenship and legal citizenship as experienced by Ethiopian Jews, and discusses the strategies they have used to close that gap.

The inequality and discrimination experienced by Ethiopian Jews is explored with a focus on three areas: housing, employment and education. Housing policies face challenges in achieving their objectives by overlooking racial and cultural differences. Well–documented inequalities in access to employment have persisted due to lack of improvements in employment absorption policies. Similarly, the denial to choose the school system of their choice creates a struggle in achieving equal access to education. In response, Ethiopian advocacy groups have adopted several initiatives to address situations of inequality. Their strategies include community organization and political activism, public education and media attention, and litigation. While these strategies have contributed to positive outcomes, equally important is the need for policies to incorporate Ethiopian's cultural differences. Ethiopians continually experience conflicts between their desire to uphold their customs and culture, and integrate into Israeli society.


Zubari, Zoha

Title: Is Torture Legal at Guantanamo Bay? A Comparison of American Laws with International Human Rights Standards.
MRP Supervisors: Nergis Canefe
MRP Reader: Lesley Jacobs
Year: 2013

In my Major Research Paper, 'Is Torture Legal at Guantanamo Bay? A Comparison of American Laws with International Human Rights Standards' I will be examining the relationship between space and law through the naturalization of the use of torture during the 'War on Terrror'. The particular focus of the paper is on how spaces of lawlessness legitimize the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay. The initial consideration will involve an investiation of the term torture as defined by the Convention against Torture. I will examine how openness within the definition is exploited by the United States, and the reflexivity of the wording gives way to the use of torture during America's 'War on Terror'. This will include an investiation of the term 'enemy combatant' as defined by the American administration and how this is used to forgo the universal standards governing the treatment of captured enemy aliens in comparison to the expectations of the treatment of prisoners of war during armed conflict defined by the Geneva Convention. Moreover I will draw parallels between this linguistic legal manipulation of the term torture, enemy combatant and the spatialized jurisdiction governing the use of torture and how the euphemistic manipulation of codified law at both the national and international level is manifested in the movement of racialized bodies to spaces of exception, in this case Guantanamo Bay, in which torture is centralized as a means of disciplining the savaery of the Oriental man. This will directly be associated to the concept of extraordinary rendition and ghost detainees in which the silence of the torture chamber in off the grid locations serves to erase the experiences of the imprisoned and normalize the use of torture within the construct of the United States 'War on Terror'. Moreover, I will communicate how the modern 'War on Terror' has created a near permanent state of emergency using the military tactic of both 'Shock and Awe' to destabilize the national imaginary of the American citizenry and implement the radical reforms to individual liberties for the cause of national security. Moreover, this same 'Shock and Awe' is exercised on the bodies of foreign terror suspects who are disoriented from their experience of the world through torture to be coerced into false confessions, indefinite detentions and constant physical abuse as an act of state violence. In this way, state violence is manifested in a global and imperial narrative through western superiority as an extension of the historicized colonial project of the oppressor marking the oppressed through systemic violence within spaces of death. These spaces of death are localized in areas such as Guantanamo Bay. I will relate this concept to the 'banality of evil', and the normalization of torture into the American administrations response to preceived threat and how the limitation of individual liberties has become the accepted response to quelling fear of the 'Other'. Additionally, the 'banality of evil' has extended to a global silencing and lack of engagement with the issue of unlawful torture abuses, due to the proliferation of torture imagery that has unjustly become an expectation of the conduct at American war prisons, during the United States' occupation of Middle-Eastern regions around the world as a result of America's 'War on Terror'.

Yael Machtinger

Yael Machtinger close upYael’s Doctoral Dissertation focuses on law and religion, exploring Jewish divorce (get) refusal in Toronto and New York. Using both interviews and archival sources, she hopes to contribute to women’s historiography of marriage as well as examining the overlapping legal norms of Jewish and civil laws relying on socio-legal literatures dealing with religion, identity and culture, as well as gender and storytelling. Applying social theory, religious feminism and legal pluralism, her dissertation examines women’s narratives of being “chained” to a marriage. The research has been funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and more recently, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and the Religion and Diversity Project Fellowship.

Yael has worked as a Research Assistant on Modern Slavery and Forced Marriage projects with Annie Bunting and as a Teaching Assistant in the Law and Society Program, having recently won the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Yael sat on the Socio-Legal Studies Admissions Committee, Hearing Committees for Graduate Studies Appeals and Academic Honesty, Tenure Track Hiring Committee in the Law and Society Program, and most recently, on the Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Committee on Teaching and Learning for a double term. She has also served as Treasurer of the Socio-Legal Studies Graduate Student’s Association and as a member of the Canadian Law and Society Association. Yael has presented papers at numerous academic conferences and panels internationally; at New York University School of Law, Columbia Law School, Brandeis University, and Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University, in Israel. As well, Yael’s chapter, “Socio-Legal Gendered Remedies Get Refusal: ‘Top Down, Bottom Up” in Women’s Rights and Religious Law: Domestic and International Perspectives, was published in 2016 by Routledge Press.

Palmer Taylor

As a PhD student in the Socio-Legal Studies program, his research explores how surveillance contractors obtain competitive corporate and state financial records, and the extent to which this information influences financial investments. His research will help define how state intelligence agencies are merging with the corporate sector to produce human electronic communication for market intelligence purposes. His PhD research is based on his MA Criminology thesis, “Endarkened Governance: A Genealogical Analysis of the Pentagon Papers and The Global Intelligence Files.” Palmer can be reached at palmer1@yorku.ca

S.F. Zandnia

S.F. Zandnia is a fourth year PhD student in Socio-Legal Studies at York. Her research interests include population control policies, nation-building, immigration,  legal consciousness, and judicial activism. Her doctoral work focuses on the legal and social challenges experienced by foreign trained professionals in Canada as well as the impact of these struggles on their employment opportunities.  She can be reached at shoukou@yorku.ca

Mariful Alam

Mariful AlamHis research interests focus on critical theories of law and state violence, political policing and surveillance, and social movement mobilization. His PhD dissertation investigates the relationship between legal regimes, state surveillance, and political dissent through and empirical focus on the rationalizations, operations and effects of undercover police infiltration of social-justice, environmentalist, and indigenous-rights organizations in Canada. More specifically, this study is an empirically-grounded exploration of how juridical knowledge both enable and inhibit discrete surveillance practices and the role of legal discourses in the construction of 'dangerous/criminal' protestor within the context of on the ground surveillance operations and in courtroom proceedings. Alongside graduate studies and various activist work, he is a musician and practices Muay Thai kickboxing

Emily Lockhart

BiopicEmily Lockhart is a third year PhD student in Socio-Legal Studies at York University. Her research interests include teenage sexual agency, citizenship, and teenage legal consciousness. Her doctoral work focuses on the impact of social, political, and legal responses to the Rehtaeh Parsons case on the way Nova Scotian teenagers understand sexual violence

Ali Malik

Ali MalikAli Malik is a second year PhD student in Socio-Legal Studies at York University and completed his MA in International Human Rights Law at the American University in Cairo. His research interests include international and transnational law, human rights, development, and global governance. His doctoral work focuses on intellectual property law and access to medecines in the Third World.

Harini Sivalingam

Harini Sivalingam is a PhD candidate in Socio-Legal Studies at York. Her PhD dissertation will focus on the public, legal, and political discourses surrounding the arrival of asylum seekers to Canada by boats. She obtained her LL.B. at Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006. Harini completed her LL.M. in International Comparative Law at McGill University. Her Master's thesis explored the discourses of fear and victimization in the national security context and how these discourses impact on community groups. She has a diverse set of interests including immigration and refugee law, international and domestic human rights,  and national security law

Matt McManus

Matt McManusMatt is a fourth year PhD student in York's Socio-Legal Studies program. His research focuses on developing a sympathetic critique of the liberal model of consciousness and its relationship to our understanding of law and legal rights in particular. He argues that the popularity of this model of consciousness has contributed to many states' adopting of a "liberty" approach to justice. The liberty oriented approach argues that guaranteeing and protecting individual rights to non-coercion by the state exhausts the requirements of justice. In his upcoming dissertation, Matt will argue that social actors should instead adopt a dignity oriented approach to justice which realizes and amplifies the context transcending expressive powers of human consciousness by democratizing political-legal institutions and the egalitarian re-distribution of goods.  Following John Rawls, he claims this approach is attractive along the twinned dimensions of the just and the good. The link between the twinned dimensions of the just and the good in this model is that it both respects and realizes human dignity. Human rights should be re-conceptualized as legal tools through which individuals amplify their expressive powers. In this way individual dignity would be respected and amplified. Matt can be reached at garion9@yorku.ca

Katrin Roots

katrootsKatrin Roots is a PhD candidate at York University. Her research interests are in
international human rights, international law in domestic courts, and Canadian courts. Her dissertation explores the issues of human trafficking in a Canadian context, and focuses on the way in which Canada's anti-trafficking mandates and policies are put into practice, and given meaning, by criminal justice actors.

Daniel Huizenga

profile picHis research focuses on customary law and Indigenous rights in South Africa. He considers how Indigenous people and their advocates use community-based research to contribute to law and policy reform and affirm their rights to land and natural resources. He draws from disciplinary fields of anthropology and geography and use theories of property, legal pluralism, territory, neoliberalism, postcolonial archives, and law and materiality in his work. He is a recipient of Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctorate).