From exploring immigrant identities to treating cancer: U of T awarded 29 Canada Research Chairs

The University of Toronto’s Neda Maghbouleh seeks to better understand how borders, wars and other geopolitical forces influence the formation of immigrants’ identities.

“My work is fundamentally motivated by unresolved questions about integration, assimilation, and racialization,” says Maghbouleh, an associate professor in U of T Mississauga’s department of sociology.

“Through a strategic focus on Syrian refugees and others from the Middle Eastern/North African region, I am building a multilevel analysis of the evolving identities of newcomers to Canada and the U.S. today.

“The goal is to advance new theories that explain the influence of geopolitics, borders, war, sanctions and surveillance on everyday people’s racial identifications and attachments.”

An international expert on the formation of racial identity, Maghbouleh is one of 29 new or renewed Canada Research Chairs at U of T. Her tier two chair in migration, race and identity will allow her to further expand her scholarship on how racial identities traffic across borders and categories.

The Canada Research Chair Program was established in 2000 to fund outstanding researchers in this country. It provides approximately $295 million annually to universities to help retain and attract top minds, spur innovation and foster training excellence in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

“Congratulations to the University of Toronto’s new and renewed Canada Research Chairs,” says University Professor Ted Sargent, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives. “This investment will further strengthen and build on the exceptional research environment at U of T.

“The Canada Research Chairs Program enables our nation’s researchers to make ground-breaking discoveries, create new knowledge and attract talent that ultimately benefits all Canadians.”

Maghbouleh is among those emerging researchers who are making their mark. Her 2017 award-winning book The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race explored the culture and identity of Iranian Americans as well as the discrimination they face. It has been adopted in courses at over 30 universities in North America and the U.K.

Since she became a faculty member at U of T Mississauga in 2015, Maghbouleh’s research has received consistent funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), including a major Insight Grant for the project “Settlement, Integration, & Stress: A 5-Year Longitudinal Study of Syrian Newcomer Mothers & Teens in the GTA.” She recently presented early findings from the project to the research and evaluation branch of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Maghbouleh says the research chair will help fuel her ambitious research program and further communicate her findings.

“The CRC will turbo-charge my work,” she says. “And most excitingly, it solidifies the status of UTM, U of T and the Greater Toronto Area as a premier North American hub for research on migration and race.”

Kent Moore, U of T Mississauga’s vice-principal, research, said he was thrilled with the campus’s success in securing three Canada Research Chair designations. In addition to Maghbouleh, they include Sonia Kang in the department of management, who is a newly named tier two chair in identity, diversity, and inclusion, and Iva Zovkic in the department of psychology, who is a tier two chair in behavioural epigenetics.

“This recognition exemplifies the innovative work being undertaken by our researchers,” says Moore.

“With the impressive and exceptional breadth of work Professors Kang, Maghbouleh and Zovkic are doing, they continue to forge new ground in many areas of research and elevate UTM to a higher level of excellence. This support and validation of their work by the Canada Research Chair program demonstrates the outstanding caliber of their scholarly leadership.”

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