Sociology, Undergraduate, Awards

2021 Outstanding Graduating Student and Usamah Ansari Top Student Awards

June 24, 2021

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is pleased to announce that the winner of the Outstanding Graduating Student Award and the Usamah Ansari Top Student Award for 2021 is Benjamin Connor!

Benjamin Connor

I am very honoured to receive these awards. I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to study under the talented faculty and alongside my classmates within this department. I would like to recognize all of those who encouraged, supported, and helped me throughout my undergraduate journey. First, I would like to thank Dr. Cindy Patton. Not only did she teach me the skills to read, discuss, and explain theory, which has radically altered my perception of the world, but she also invested a lot of her own time in my success through answering my endless questions, teaching me how to hone and improve my writing and editing skills, and supervising my honours thesis despite being on sabbatical; all of these actions inspired me to create more complex scholarship, and pursue graduate studies. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Lindsey Freeman and Dr. June Scudeler for their support in my graduate endeavors; Dr. Dany Lacombe for providing me valuable feedback and support with my honours thesis; and Terrence Yang for all of his patience with many enrollment requests. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends (notably Sam Wong for always being available to discuss new theories and my work) for all of their continued support. I would not have been able to receive these awards without the support of all of these individuals.

A key moment during my undergraduate journey was my introduction to the theories of Jean-François Lyotard, which provided me a framework that could make sense of conflicts that extended amongst a plurality of discursive genres. Using this framework, I have researched and written about contentious issues such as the Canadian state’s reconciliation effort, the call to remove the statues of key residential school architects, and the representation of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders in the media. These projects taught me how to unravel complex colonial issues, which resulted in me understanding how interconnected discursive networks function both against and with each other in order to maintain the “legitimacy” of settler colonial violence. More importantly, these projects taught me how to continually questions whether my own scholarship is part of or contributing to these very networks. As I move forward with my graduate studies, I am looking forward to applying and building upon what I have learned from my time with this department in both my personal life and future scholarship.