Faculty Spotlight

Welcome Sharon Luk

Associate Professor & Tier II Canada Research Chair, Geographies of Racialization

Upon learning about my new job and big move, many of my family and friends have remarked that Vancouver shares many similarities with my hometown of San Francisco, California, USA. And being here only a few weeks, some similarities are, indeed, obvious: a beautiful mix of mountain, sea, and city; an idealized multicultural society; a notable East Asian influence; and a haven for foodies! Moving on to spend my early adulthood studying and teaching in Los Angeles, California, I have been driven my whole life by questions about the contradictions I witnessed or experienced as I lived in these iconic cities of the American West.

Nothing I was exposed to in my childhood explained the segregation, partition, human hierarchy, and corporate brutality that was clear as day from an early age (even if I had no words to name it), and dominant references to both San Francisco and Los Angeles as progressive (even radical) global cities confused as much as comforted me in the midst of trying to understand suffering. For instance, how could San Francisco be called “progressive” when racial-sexual violence and financial embezzlement was rampant at my elementary school, and those with power protected the perpetrators rather than the victims? How could it be called “global” when only one worldview was honored and recognized as the standard against which all other worldviews, including my own, would be measured?

Now, as a professional researcher, teacher, and writer, I have had the privilege of participating in a rich intellectual life, in which communities of scholars just like myself are able to contextualize our individual experiences within a much deeper and broader scope of collective struggles. Research gives us the powerful opportunity to take ourselves out of isolation, to understand the contours of our daily lives in relation to others and to larger-scale processes of global development and mass killing. My goals in Human Geography revolve around building the social and intellectual resources necessary to move through these challenging problems and generate new possibilities out of planetary crisis.

I am energized by the wonderful gift of doing so with my new colleagues, students, and friends at SFU Geography!

Sharon Luk,
Associate Professor, Department of Geography