Me in white with my Shifu in black.

"Shanny is an accomplished artist-scholar whose creative and academic goals are always motivated by service to others.  Her exciting research brings together the studies of dance and movement, migration history, health and wellness, and media technology.  She is also a trained dancer, a decorated tai chi practitioner, and a videographer who has documented precarious artistic and spiritual practices for refugee and migrant communities. It has been a joy to accompany this multi-talented, generous, and spirited young woman on her intellectual journey!"

Dr. Helen Leung
 

"I love the collegiality of my Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies department. I have a close rapport with my supervisor, my professors and my colleagues, including the Masters students. They are very supportive, encouraging and always ready to lend a listening ear."

Shanny Ram

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Student Profile: Shanny Rann

Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies doctoral student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

July 23, 2021
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I'm a dance anthropologist who studies human cultures through embodied practices and the editor of Dance Central. I come from Penang, an island off the Northwest coast of Peninsula Malaysia, famous for its colonial history and char kuey teow among many other things. I am second-generation Malaysian-Chinese and my mother tongue is Hokkien, a Southern Min language facing extinction. I did extensive fieldwork with Tibetan refugee monks in the Himalayas to observe their ritual dances and to understand the Tibetan Buddhist culture in exile. I speak five languages, love all things cross-cultural and am a feminist in the making.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I chose SFU because of the special place it holds in my heart. I did my bachelor degree at SFU in the early 2000s before its expansion with UniverCity, SFU Surrey and SFU Woodwards. I worked as a Community Advisor in the student residences at Burnaby Mountain (which is very different from what it is now) and stayed for one semester at Madge Hogarth House, the historical women’s student residence, which has now been demolished. I was very active in the student community and met some of the most important people in my life there. It is interesting to return to SFU 13 years later and to witness the changes and growth SFU is experiencing. I hope to continue building new and beautiful memories at SFU.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

I'm doing community-engaged research and what one might refer to as feminist auto-ethnography with a group of Tai Chi practitioners in East Vancouver to learn about the ancient martial arts practice and Chinese culture in diaspora. I have been practising Tristar Taiji under the tutelage of Master Li Rong since 2016 and am now the assistant instructor at the Li Rong Wushu and Qigong Academy. During the 2020-2021 lockdown, I trained online with a group of Asian immigrant women who took up Tai Chi for the first time to improve their health. I am interested in how the practice has helped them survive the pandemic in relation to the various roles they juggle as wives, mothers, their professions and as women in general. This is a mini-documentary about my research in collaboration with SFU’s CERi (Community-Engaged Research Initiative). 

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I love the collegiality of my Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies department. I have a close rapport with my supervisor, my professors and my colleagues, including the Masters students. They are very supportive, encouraging and always ready to lend a listening ear.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

Grace Woodsworth MacInnis Graduate Entrance Scholarship. The award has boosted my confidence as a returning scholar and allowed me to continue flourishing in my studies. It also inspired me to write about women and lend my voice to women in marginalized communities.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies is the perfect course if you are someone who enjoys combining academic studies with research and social action. It is less an armchair theorizing and more a socially-engaged program. It challenges me to question everything that I take for granted--not just in society, but also within myself.

Contact Shanny: shannyc@sfu.ca