Public lectures and events

The 2020 Conversation Series on Identity and Citizenship

Why and how do we belong to communities and nations—and what kinds of narratives shape this belonging? As tides of nativist populism sweep our landscapes, along with humans displaced by conflict, poverty and climate change, what are the prospects for citizenship as a pluralist idea?

In this free series, six Canadian public figures from the arts, law and politics converse with SFU’s Dr. Amyn Sajoo, exploring the pathways ahead.

Where Are You (Really) From? - POSTPONED

NOTE: This event has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Please stay tuned for a new date to be announced. 

Presenters: David Chariandy, professor of English at SFU and novelist
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

David Chariandy’s award-winning books have been published internationally and translated into several languages. His first novel, Soucouyant, “crosses borders, cultures, and generations” to tell the story of a young man returning home to care for his aging mother. His second novel, Brother, is set in a Scarborough housing complex during the summer of 1991 and explores “questions of masculinity, family, race, and identity.” It was a Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star book of the year. Chariandy’s latest work, I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You: A Letter To My Daughter, is creative non-fiction, a meditation on the politics of race. Chariandy teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at SFU, specializing in Black, Caribbean and Canadian fiction. His scholarly criticism has been published in various academic journals, as well as in academic texts including The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature. He has co-edited three special issues of journals, most recently Transition Magazine’s  “Writing Black Canadas.”


Why Art Matters

Saturday, May 23, 2020 – 2 p.m.
Vancouver Art Gallery, 3rd Floor Courtroom

Presenters: Ann Webb, associate director of Vancouver Art Gallery
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

Ann Webb is recognized as a leader in the visual arts and cultural sector. She has worked in Canada and internationally with many of the art world’s most important artists, curators, writers, filmmakers, galleries and collectors. Over the course of her career she has organized innovative exhibitions, programs and art tours, published a contemporary art magazine and founded a film festival. In her current role as associate director, engagement and strategic initiatives, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, she provides strategic direction for education and public programs, marketing and communications and government relations. Her previous roles include: executive director/CEO of the Canadian Art Foundation and publisher of Canadian Art Magazine; and managing director, contemporary culture, at the Royal Ontario Museum. Webb’s educational accomplishments include recent completion of the The International Leadership Program in Visual Arts Management at the University of Deusto, New York University and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.

Register here


Here and There: In-Between Worlds

Saturday, June 20, 2020 – 1 p.m.
Ismaili Centre Vancouver

Presenters: Anar Ali, novelist and screenwriter
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

Anar Ali’s first book, Baby Khaki's Wings, is a collection of short stories set in Canada and Africa. It depicts the lives of East African Ismailis, a Muslim community with origins in India and a history of dislocation, and it was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, the Trillium Book Award and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Night of Power, her debut novel, is a portrait of a family expelled from Uganda in 1972 and having to start over in Canada. It sparked rave reviews from David Chariandy, Lawrence Hill, Camilla Gibb and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. It was one of Now Magazine's "Best Books to Read in Summer 2019" and CBC's "Fall 2019 Reading: 30 Books to Read Now." Ali holds an MFA from UBC and is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre. She works as screenwriter in television and film, most recently on the medical drama Transplant. Ali was born in Tanzania, grew up in Alberta, has lived in Mexico and the U.K., and now makes her home in Toronto.

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Why Can’t I Say What I Want?

Saturday, September 26, 2020 – 2 p.m.
Room 1700, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre)

Presenters: Richard Moon, professor of law at the University of Windsor
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

Richard Moon is Distinguished University Professor and professor of law at the University of Windsor. His research focuses on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and religion. He is the author of Putting Faith in Hate: When Religion is the Source or Target of Hate Speech, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and the Report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission Concerning Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Regulation of Hate Speech on the Internet. He is also editor of Law and Religious Pluralism in Canada, co-editor of Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority and contributing editor to Canadian Constitutional Law. He has been the recipient of both the law school and university-wide teaching awards as well as the Mary Lou Dietz Award for contributions to the advancement of equity in the university and community. Moon has held a number of academic positions including president of the Canadian Law and Society Association.

Registration information coming soon.


Why Can’t I Be Where I Want?

Saturday, October 24, 2020 – 2 p.m.
Room 1900, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre)

Presenters: Antje Ellermann, professor of political science at UBC
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

Antje Ellermann originally trained in social work and served as a community worker. She is now an associate professor of political science (comparative politics) and director of the Institute for European Studies at UBC. She is also founder and co-lead of the UBC Migration Research Excellence Cluster, and co-president of the American Political Science Association’s Migration and Citizenship section. Ellerman’s research focuses on the politics of migration and citizenship in liberal democracies, including the areas of coercive state power and resistance, legal precarity, and gender and other identities. Her book States Against Migrants: Deportation in Germany and the United States analyzes the different approaches of those two countries to immigration. She has been published in a range of academic journals and is currently working on a book about policy making on immigration in liberal democracies. Ellerman was born and raised in Germany and has lived, worked and studied in Northern Ireland, England, the U.S. and Canada.

Registration information coming soon.


Here and There: The Pilgrim’s Progress

Saturday, November 14, 2020 – 2 p.m.
Room 1900, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre)

Presenters: Nazanine Hozar, novelist
Amyn Sajoo, scholar-in-residence at SFU

Nazanine Hozar was born in Tehran, and lives in British Columbia. She holds an MFA from UBC. Her work has been published in The Vancouver Observer and Prairie Fire. Her debut novel, Aria, is set in Tehran from the 1950s to the 1980s, and has been described as “a Doctor Zhivago of Iran” by Margaret Atwood. John Irving describes it as “a feminist odyssey… a poised and dramatic historical novel with contemporary relevance." Last year Hozar told the Vancouver Sun, “I guess I was born into a very chaotic life… in a way there were two wars happening… on the one hand you feel sort of pride and support and want to defend your people and your nation then on the other hand the government that is leading that war is often against the people… I think probably one of the reasons I write is generally the stories I always have in my head are always trying to come to terms with these two sides of things.”

Registration information coming soon.


Conversation host: Amyn Sajoo

Amyn Sajoo is scholar-in-residence at SFU, where he lectures in international studies. His research and teaching focus on human rights, transnational law and public religion. His early career was with the Canadian departments of Justice and Global Affairs. He then served as Canada-ASEAN Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, with fieldwork in Malaysia and Indonesia, followed by academic affiliations on both sides of the Atlantic, including at Cambridge, McGill and the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. Sajoo has contributed extensively to the newsmedia, including the GuardianOpen Democracy, the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. His books include Pluralism in Old Societies and New StatesMuslim Ethics, and Muslim Modernities: Expressions of the Civil Imagination (editor). He is contributing editor of the Muslim Heritage Series, the fifth publication of which, The Shari’a: History, Ethics and Law, was selected as a 2019 “Choice” Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association.