A&S scholars sharing their expertise in the media this week

June 26, 2020 by A&S News

Scholars from a range of disciplines across the Faculty of Arts & Science are sharing their expertise on pressing issues in the media — from the state of unrest across the United States to the spread of gang violence across the Greater Toronto Area.

Here’s some of what they had to say this week.

June 19, 2020

Department of Political Science professor Clifford Orwin pens an op-ed in the Globe and Mail about the current political, social and economic upheavals in America, comparing them to the turmoil of 1968. “The riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. were far more destructive than the recent ones, laying waste to whole city blocks. The disillusionment was both wider and deeper, turning many Americans against their country. And while the present political system is polarized, that of 1968 was fractured.”

Lynette Ong, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, comments on the decision by China to lay charges against two detained Canadians in the Globe and Mail (paywall). Of the charges, Ong says they are “a desperate act by Beijing to shore up its power in the post-pandemic world amid the accusation of a cover-up earlier. But it’s a miscalculation. I think it will backfire.”

Department of English professor Nick Mount draws a comparison between road trips and road novels in a Globe and Mail feature about how the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the need for some people to hit the open road. “Journeys give you a ready-made arc, a ready-made metaphor for discovery, self-discovery, or discovery of the other or of place,” Mount says. “Part of the pleasure of escaping is the knowledge that you can always return home and I think that’s a big part of the pleasure of the road novel.”

June 20, 2020

University Professor Janice Stein in the Department of Political Science and the Munk School joins a discussion about Canada being passed over for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, on CBC Radio’s The House. "I don't think it tells us anything about the way we're regarded in the world," Stein says. "So really, the argument I'm making is we were focused on the wrong institution and the wrong part of the UN system."

Valentin Pereda, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, discusses his research on organized crime and organized violence in a W5 feature on Mexican drug cartels operating along the Mayan Riviera. “The Cancun-Play del Carmen corridor is very lucrative for all of these organizations,” Pereda says of the region popular with Canadian tourists. “They see it as the chicken that lays the golden egg.”

June 21, 2020

Incoming Department of Economics assistant professor Michael Stepner speaks to Global News in a story about concerns for racialized groups in Canada in the post-pandemic economic recovery. “Canadian governments have hesitated to collect and release data on the racial breakdown of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” Stepner saiys. “Measuring these disparities is only a first step toward ameliorating them, so it is unfortunate that our governments have delayed taking even that small step.”

June 22, 2020

Michelle Cho, an assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, comments on the social and political activism among fans of K-pop on CBC Radio’s Here and Now. “They are incredibly media savvy and understand how to redirect attention to the things they want people to pay attention to,” Cho says. “Even if they aren’t old enough to vote, they can make an intervention into the political arena this way and that’s a really empowering experience.”

Department of Sociology associate professor Jooyoung Lee comments on the challenges faced by rap artists who emerge from neighborhoods with gang activity in the Toronto Star (paywall). “While the music may become a springboard from poverty, artists are often still seen as ‘representing’ their neighbourhood, which makes it harder to disentangle yourself from those people who are still deeply, deeply embedded in gang life,” Lee says.

Department of History PhD candidate Kassandra Luciuk discusses her graphic novel about a northern Ontario internment camp for Ukrainians in Canada a century ago, on CBC Radio’s Morning North. Of her decision to present her research as a graphic novel, Luciuk says, “It allowed me to present a complex historical topic in a way that was easy to follow without undermining the gravity of internment and without compromising on the kind of detail that you need to offer up a solid understanding.”

Lynette Ong comments on the link between the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the detention of two Canadians in China, in the Toronto Star (paywall). "I think Beijing sees this as U.S. bullying and Canada as a proxy that is willing to be used by the U.S. to bully China. And since they cannot get the bully, they can punish the proxy."

June 23, 2020

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, comments in a Global News story about efforts by the Canadian government to reform the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Professor Peter Loewen in the Department of Political Science and the Munk School speaks about the management of COVID-19 and the reopening strategy in Ontario on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Clifford Orwin contributes to a discussion on CBC Radio’s Ideas that looks at what lessons a plague that struck ancient Athens might have for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the Athenian general and leader Pericles, Orwin says, “The basic argument that he makes is you have to realize that your well-being as individuals really depends on the flourishing of the greater society. You've got to keep the well-being of the society foremost in your thoughts."

June 24, 2020

Shauna Brail, director of the Urban Studies Program and an associate director of the School of Cities, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic might change commuting and the use of public transit in a Global News story. “Actually, unfortunately, the pandemic and fear of public transit has transpired into increased attention and increased desire for people to own and use private automobiles, because there is a sense that private automobiles are a safer environment in which to travel,” Brail says.

Alex Luscombe, a PhD student in the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, comments on varying approaches to manage the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada, in a Global News story on the amount of fines issued to citizens disobeying emergency public health bylaws. “Many provinces very effectively ‘flattened the curve’ of the pandemic by relying on public health recommendations and education,” says Luscombe, a collaborator on the Policing the Pandemic project. “Other provinces, however, turned to punitive enforcement to secure compliance.”

June 25, 2020

Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies PhD candidate Adam Ellis speaks about gang violence in the Greater Toronto Area in a toronto.com story. “You can’t put everything on these young people’s backs. It’s racism, poverty, inequality,” says Ellis, a former gang member. “If you don’t put a dent in that you’re always going to have violence from the streets.”