Professors Siyuan Yin, Svitlana Matviyenko, and Karrmen Crey Awarded Insight Development Grants

November 22, 2022

The School of Communication is delighted to announce that three of our professors, Dr. Siyuan Yin, Dr. Svitlana Matviyenko, and Dr. Karrmen Crey have recently been awarded SSHRC Insight Development Grants. These grants support research proposed by scholars and are judged worthy of funding by their peers and/or other experts. You can read about the three specific research projects below.

Dr. Siyuan Yin

Are Migrant Workers Essential? Politics of Recognition, Representation, and Advocacy in Labor Migration

Labor migration has been an intrinsic part of capitalist development. In the past decades, inequalities of transnational and internal migrant workers have become ever more noticeable across the global North and South. Despite their significant contributions, migrant workers are often deprived of political rights, have poor working conditions, and face social exclusion. During the outbreak of Covid-19, North American and European countries designated varied types of essential services, which draws unprecedented media and public attention to essential workers. Most people working in low-income essential services, such as agriculture and domestic caregiving, are migrant workers.

My project regards the pandemic as a critical moment to explore the possibilities and limitations to mobilize public support and promote changes for migrant workers' rights and equality. The project approaches Canada as an exemplary case for developed countries where low-income economic sectors heavily rely on temporary migrant workers. This project seeks to: 1) map out how policy, media, and public discourses have constructed and represented essential workers during the pandemic in Canada, 2) explore the impact of Covid-19 on migrant workers' living and working situations, their interpretation of essential work, and how the impact and interpretation are shaped by gender, race, and nationality, and 3) examine civil society advocacy groups' strategies and campaigns to protest injustice and inequalities of migrant workers. The project will shed light on the politics of recognition, representation, and advocacy in the process of labour migration in liberal democratic contexts.


Border as Medium: The Case of the Chernobyl Zone

On April 26, 1986 during a performance test, resulting in a series of explosions at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, vast quantities of radioactive material were released into the environment. As a result, the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion (ChZE), a 30 km radius around the area, was designated for evacuation and placed under military control. Now, the ChZE has a dual status as a hazardous site of restricted access as well as a cultural heritage site open for pulic visitation. Both sites are mediated by the Chernobyl Zone's border, currently controlled by the units of the National Guard of Ukraine. The border is a technology of state power established for identity screening that classifies visitors as self-settlers, workers, tourists, or police. Each visitor requires a different pass to enter. Such bureaucratic classification corresponds to the differences in personal accounts of how people related to the contaminated territory, how they remember the catastrophe, and how they understand its material and symbolic impact.

The goal of my project is to propose a conceptual framework for accomodating excluded evidence and voices in addressing the social and political contexts of the Chernobyl catastrophe, prior and after 1986, and creating a possibility for the plurality and polyphony of communcal rememberance. The project will accomplish this goal by answering the following research objectives: 1) discover what the Chernobyl Zone's border is as a medium; and 2) discover how the border operates as a medium in memory work. To do so, I will explore the correlation between memory work and regulated access to the hazardous site surrounded by the border through interviewing the participants from the four above-listed social groups. This project is significant because it will interrupt the understanding of the Chernobyl catastrophe as unifying and equalizing; instead, this research will demonstrate that the suffering of catastrophic consequences is extremely uneven in different strata of population, which suggests the impossibility of homogeneous collective memory as it is currently imposed and institutionalized by the Ukrainian state.


Dr. Svitlana Matviyenko

Dr. Karrmen Crey

Projecting Indigenous Media: Theory and Methods for Studying Indigenous Film Festivals

Indigenous media has proliferated worldwide over the past several decades, a phenomenon that has been accompanied by the growth of Indigenous media arts festivals, which currently number over 60 across the globe. It is an unfortunate reality that Indigenous production is rarely shown on mainstream cinema and television screens and platforms; as a result, these festivals produce crucial spaces and audiences for underserved Indigenous media and the artists that create it.

The goal of this project in part seeks to document histories of key Indigenous media arts festivals to bring them further into the historical record. It also aims to contribute theoretical frameworks and methodologies to the study of these festivals, arguing that they are sites where "Indigenous media" as a cultural category is debated and shaped by the festivals themselves: their physical layouts and locations, film and media screenings and programs, artist and industry panels, exhibits, events, and published materials. Festival design, activities, and operations shape public and audience perceptions of Indigenous media as a cultural form: its scope, aesthetic expectations, concerns, and priorities. The multisite design is unique, and intended to examine the overlaps and distinctions between festivals and how local, Indigenous contexts of the spaces festivals occupy inscribe the festivals themselves. This project will document Indigenous labour and contributions to media industries and histories that often go unacknowledged, while also bringing greater visibility to areas of Indigenous media history that deserve closer critical and scholarly attention.


Congratulations to these powerhouse faculty members! We are so lucky to have you in the School.