Social and Cultural Geography


Research and teaching work within a range of themes in social and cultural theory. The context of globalisation is pervasive, accentuating different subjectivities and life chances based on immigrant and refugee status, class, gender, race, religion and lifestyle as these play out in (especially) urban spaces and places. The shifting emphases of the state are central, with policies for spectacular and consumer landscapes, and neo-liberal self governance competing with the older service delivery functions of the welfare state and its objective to limit inequalities. Housing and labour markets reflect these growing inequalities; segregation, social marginalisation, housing affordability and gentrification are all conditions and processes that merit attention. The place of the arts, artists and popular cultures has been examined in the context of theories of performativity and cultural distinction.

A variety of methodological perspectives are employed, including qualitative and interpretive approaches and the use of quantitative data bases. Among these are projects on immigrants and the housing market; return migration, transnationalism and family life; immigrant enclaves and poverty concentrations; immigrant places of worship as sources of social capital; citizenship and ideas of belonging; and unaccompanied youth asylum seekers. Another stream of research topics has considered informal housing strategies, housing careers, homeownership, affordability issues, and gentrification. A third stream of work has examined art as practice, performance and pedagogic project. The objective in this research is to move between specific empirical projects and the theoretical currents of a broader human geography.

Field research for these projects has taken place in Vancouver, other Canadian cities, Hong Kong, China, the Philippines, Britain, France, Mexico, Senegal and Spain.

Faculty working on Social and Cultural Geography


I have two main research interests: international migration; and the relationship between national security, cultural diversity, and human rights. I have been working on the first of these issues a long time and try to understand Canadian immigration policy within the wider global context, and the impact of immigration on Canadian cities—particularly Vancouver. I have taken up the second these more recently and hope to gain a better understanding of the impact of national security policies on minority populations.

Professor Emeritus

I have two current projects in urban social geography. The first is a comparative study of housing market bubbles, their causes, social consequences, and policy responses in five global cities. A second project involves participation in the national Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership that is examining growing income inequality and polarization in large Canadian cities.

Head of the Department
Canada Research Chair in Transnationalism and Precarious Labour

My research focuses on transnational migration, labour precarity and performance. I am preoccupied with how to put stories of transnational migration and family separation into circulation, with the politics of testimony and witnessing, and the obligations of witnessing and dialogue within, beyond and across national and community borders. I am developing new research on the outsourcing of eldercare.