"  I am curious about the qualities, metaphors, and capacities humans allow and refuse of nature, and the ways our emotions, morals, and politics underwrite our sense of fungal interspecies relations."

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Morgaine Lee

January 18, 2024

Anthropology master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I am a filmmaker and second-year master’s student in anthropology. I appreciate the broadness of anthropology and the space for experimenting creatively the discipline offers. Many of my favourite anthropologists are the ones pushing the boundaries of what anthropology can be, staying deeply critical of the ways anthropology has supported and continues to support settler colonialism, and finding ways to use the tools of anthropology for change and liberation.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I am so grateful to have worked with Dr. Michael Hathaway during my undergrad honours project, “ANTHROPO a story about fungi in four parts” (2019) a short film about fungi. After graduating, I was still curious about the fascinating and mysterious worlds of fungi and the ways we talk about them. With questions lingering, an idea for a creative research project, and the hope to continue working with Dr. Hathaway, I chose to apply to SFU. I am thrilled to have Dr. Lindsey Freeman and filmmaker and professor Nadia Shihab as mentors on my MA committee. I am so fortunate to work with such generous and brilliant mentors — I truly feel that I am working with the dream team.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My MA project uses experimental documentary film to explore the ways we write ourselves into the stories we tell about fungi—including the scientific ones. I am curious about the qualities, metaphors, and capacities humans allow and refuse of nature, and the ways our emotions, morals, and politics underwrite our sense of fungal interspecies relations. I am often asked why I study mushrooms as an anthropologist, and I love this question. Humans exist because of and in deep relation with all the living beings around us. Even our body contains more microorganisms (including fungi!) than 'human' cells. Our humanness is dependent upon our relationships with fungi. I believe it is especially important to challenge human exceptionalism and notice the emotions, morals, and politics that we embed into dominant science narratives to stay committed to fighting for a future in the face of climate change.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Multispecies studies, Experimental documentary, Affect theory

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

Over the past year and a half, I have been working as an RA, TA, and am a Teaching Support Staff Union Steward in my department. My RAship with my supervisor Dr. Hathaway has been immensely supportive of professional opportunities for learning and growth that align with my research interests. Being a TA has been rewarding and a fun opportunity to share the things I love about anthropology. As a TSSU steward, I have learned valuable organizing skills and this work has connected me with the community in my department and beyond. Through the first year of my graduate studies and with the phenomenal mentorship of my supervisor, I was able to publish one academic and one public-facing article, travel to Finland for a workshop where I was invited to screen my film, assist editors of an upcoming trilogy by Anicka Yi Studios, and present on a round-table at the American Anthropological Association/Canadian Anthropology Society Conference in Toronto with scholars whose work I deeply admire (Zoe Todd, Shiho Satsuka, Suzanne Katsi'tsiarihshion Brant, Keith Williams, Jen Rose Smith, Iván Sandoval Cervantes, and Michael Hathaway). It has been a wild, exciting, and growthful journey and I look forward to this upcoming year with gratitude.

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

I am grateful to have recieved a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship - Master's, departmental Graduate Fellowship, FASS Travel Award, and GSS Professional Development Grant that have supported my research.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

I think one of the most important pieces of my graduate student journey has been building community. Making friends, and getting involved with the grad student caucus and TSSU. Having community through all the whirlwind of everything grad school brings has made a world of difference.


Contact Morgaine:morgaine_lee@sfu.ca

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