What is neoliberalism? The word is everywhere, but what does it mean? Is it just a new word for capitalism or does it indicate a specific kind of capitalism? This course will start with the proposition that neoliberalism involves a fundamental reconfiguration of the field of regulation that entails a reengineering of the state and a transnational field of market-oriented ‘regulatory transfer’. Regulation is shaped by law and state initiatives, but it is also “a social activity that includes persuasion, influence, voluntary compliance and self-regulation” (Braithwaite 2006: 19). This is especially the case under contemporary conditions of neoliberal ‘governmentality’, in which non-state actors (international institutions, NGOs, public-private partnerships, religious institutions, and corporations) increasingly engage in activities which govern populations and encourage people to adopt new forms of self-regulation.

ANTH 5180: Commodifying Culture: Ethnographic Explorati ons in Knowledge Economies from Global Intellectual Property to Moral Economies of Exchange

This course addresses the ethnographic exploration of the implications of the global expansion of intellectual property (IP) into new regions, new subject areas, new fields of technology, and new areas of human life since the 1990s. We explore how the field of anthropological research and practice has been transformed by these developments, considering all areas of IP and drawing examples from societies around the world, including our own. The course will begin by providing an interdisciplinary sociolegal framework to introduce students to the Western philosophical rationales for protecting IP and the significance of corporate interests and technological developments in consolidating what is variously known as “informational capitalism,” the ‘knowledge economy,” or “cognitive capitalism” in global trade regimes through the Trade Related Intellectual Property Agreement (TRIPs). These changes in the global political economy set the stage for an ever-increasing expansion of IP rights into new countries and new fields — from human cells to plant genetic resources, traditional cultural expressions and heritage foods, hip hop music and new dance forms, biotechnologies and digital software – as well as new social movements of resistance to this encroachment of the commodity form. We will then turn to ethnographically-based scholarship to show how anthropologists have explored the impact of IP in field-sites as various as open-source software development hubs, pharmaceutical firms, social movements for food sovereignty, and museums and indigenous cultural heritage centres.


The course is designed as a collaborative professionalization seminar for SLS doctoral students. Its primary purpose is to familiarize you with the various bodies   of study which constitute the interdisciplinary field of Sociolegal Studies and to ethnographically understand the historical currents of scholarly activity and the institutional topography of the field, and its major forms of expression (undergraduate and graduate programs, conferences, associations, journals, book series). This is terrain that we will map together; no authoritative summary of the field and its history exists. Scholars disagree about the field’s parameters, depending upon their own disciplinary backgrounds, nationality, teaching experiences, and mentors.


The course covers concepts of key significance to contemporary anthropological theory and is designed to address current student interests, exposing you to the history of the concept in anthropology and considering the way it has been taken up in and informed by ethnographic research. The course is open to non-Anthropology graduate students interested in contemporary social theory informed by ethnographically grounded research.

ANTH 4410: The Anthropology of Human Rights

This fourth-year seminar surveys anthropology’s attempts to confront, analyze, and reframe claims about the nature of human beings implicit in the discourse of human rights.


The course will explore the law and politics focusing upon indigenous peoples in law and anthropology. Who are indigenous peoples? How is this question addressed, in law, in anthropology and by indigenous peoples themselves? We will focus primarily upon the concept of sovereignty, the historical formation of modern states, the emergence of international law, and changes in international capitalism to address these issues over time.

CMCT 6301: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Policy

This course of reading provides graduate students with an introduction to theoretical concepts and approaches to the policy dimensions of culture. Theoretical approaches that have shaped critical scholarly discourse on cultural policy are studied, drawn from disciplines of social science and the humanities. The course of reading will examine the origins, development and paradigmatic shifts within cultural policy studies and its relationship to cultural studies. Key theoretical perspectives on cultural policy and on the study of policy will be presented, particularly the tension between conceptual and applied perspectives. We consider how policy perspectives contribute to the analysis of culture—whether the arts, ways of life or cultural heritage, as well as visions of ‘community’ and citizenship—and how the management of culture operates as a form of power under conditions of neoliberalism and how globalization has transformed the way we understand cultural policy and provoked its ‘transnationalisation.’

CMCT 6318: Owning Culture – Intellectual Property as Cultural Politics

The course explores the ways in which law shapes popular culture, with emphasis upon the intellectual property regimes of copyright, publicity rights, and trademark, with final reference to some new forms of intellectual property that are still matters of political negotiation. Copyright will serve as our primary area of extended study but materials are provided for doing a similar study in trademark. We consider how law creates rights to control meaning and effect forms of censorship, while provoking particular forms of resistance and the emergence of alternative community norms. We work with the constructivist assumption that law is a socially productive force and so begin the course by addressing particular themes, such as the subject positions that law constructs, affords and invites, as well as the politics it engenders.

CMCT 6116: [Trans] National Identities: New Media/tions and their Publics

The course will explore changing relationships between communications technologies and national identities paying attention to challenges that Canada faces along with other multicultural states under conditions of neoliberalism, globalization, and the intensification of migration and cultural flows. We consider key concepts such as the nation, national territory, the mediation of personal and social identity, publics and public spheres, globalization, cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and diaspora. The course readings employ and elaborate theories derived from Benedict Anderson, Benjamin, Butler, Calhoun, Gramsci, Habermas, Jameson, David Morley, and Michael Shapiro.

CMCT 6308: The Politics Of Intellectual Property, Human Rights And Development

The expansion of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has become a major area of international controversy and global resistance as these properties come into conflict with broader public interests and, arguably, often violate human rights. The course explores the new regimes of trade that are expanding the privatization of more and more areas of human life, and the drive to develop new IPRs to recognize more areas of human effort in the context of the emergence of informational capitalism and neoliberal environmentalism.

CMCT 7000: Perspectives in Communication and Culture

After consultations with students, it was decided to make this course an opportunity to read key texts, to cover canonical concepts by way of refreshing students for their comprehensives, and to introduce concepts not generally covered in the existing graduate curriculum. The course is NOT meant to cover material already covered in the MA core and foundations courses and students are expected to have taken those courses before this if they don’t have a background that has introduced them to this material. Although the MA core courses may differ between instructors, I would suggest that students look at the table of contents of Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Doug Kelner, Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Revised Edition, Blackwell, 2006) and re/read any of those essays that they haven’t otherwise read as a way of getting up to speed. Colin Mooers is using this book as the core text in his Cultural Studies course this semester. Any student who has NOT got a background in communication or cultural studies should have been encouraged to take the MA core course (s) as a prerequisite to this course.

Postdoctoral Supervision

Salman Hussain

 Banting Postdoctoral Fellow 2020-2022

Martin Zeilinger

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship 2011-2013

Sheryl Hamilton

SSHRC Postdoctoral Award. 1996-1998.


2020–      Daniel David Bakelman – M. A. Social Anthropology, York University. Project title: Indigenous Ecotourism in Ecuador: Between Economy and Ecology.

2019–       Vedanth Govi – Ph. D. Social Anthropology, York University

2013–       Sajjad Ali Malik – Ph. D. Sociolegal Studies, York University. York International Scholar. Project title: Law and Governance in Three Conjunctures: Agriculture and Developmental Assemblages in India, 1970-2020. 

2019–2021  Cheery M. Attia – M. A. Social Anthropology, York University. Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Project Title: The Coptic Diaspora in Canadian Multiculturalism: Questions of Belonging and Negotiated Identity.

2018–2020 Ana Speranza – M. A. Social Anthropology, York University. Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Project title: Restitution at the Museo de La Plata: Articulations of Heritage and Recognition by the Argentinean State. 

2014–2017 Amy Smith – M.A. Communication and Culture, Ryerson University. Project title: Fostering Economic Transformation through the Second-hand Economy. 

2014–2016 Melissa Anderson – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Bombardier Graduate Scholarship. Project title: Urban Sanctuary Assemblages: A Case study on Canada’s Sanctuary City Movement. 

2014–2016 Elena Dimitrievska – M. A. Sociolegal Studies, York University. Project title: Co-operation, Refusal, and In-Between: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Three Canadian Police Chiefs and Their Willingness to Collect Race Data.

2013–2016 David Groundwater – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Ontario Graduate Scholar. Project title: The New Cryptographers.

2013–2015 Abigail Henry – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. York International Scholar. Project title: Digitality and its (Dis)Contents: Rediscovering Caribbean Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age. 

2012–2019 Daniel Huizenga– Ph. D. Sociolegal Studies, York University. Ontario Graduate Scholar. Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Canadian Law and Society Association Ronald Macdonald Prize for best Canadian graduate student paper, 2016. Project title: Customary Law and Indigenous Rights in South Africa: From transformative constitutionalism to living law in struggles for rural land rights. Nominated for University dissertation prize. Winner of SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2019.

2012–2014 John Fernandez – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Ontario Graduate Scholar. Project title: Exploring Interactivity: The Attempt to Expand Sound Recording Performance Rights. A Critical Analysis of the Free Market Royalty Act and the Attempt to Abolish Compulsory Licenses. 

2012–2014 Irina Tokar – M. A. Sociolegal Studies, York University. Project title: Protecting the Sacred: Extractive Industries & Cultural Heritage in Madagascar. 

2011–2012 Surinder Multani – M. A. Sociolegal Studies, York University. Project title: (Dis)Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: Dilemmas in the Regulation of Traditional Knowledge.

2010–2016 Joseph Turcotte – Ph. D. Communication and Culture, York University. SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, Nathanson Fellow. Project title: Creative Transformation and the Knowledge-based Economy: Intellectual Property and Access to Knowledge Under Informational Capitalism.

2010–2012 Lisa Dobbin – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Ontario Graduate Scholar. Project title: The Pirate Party Movement: Charting a Course Toward Copyright Reform in the Digital Era.

2010–2012 Marcus Griebel – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Ontario Graduate Scholar. Project title: On “Inextricable Links” and “Innovative Bridges”: Tracing the Multiscalar Conjunctures and Generative Possibilities of Repatriating Crop Genetic Resources as Indigenous Biocultural Heritage.

2009–2012 Yacine Dottridge – M.A. Communication and Culture, Ryerson University. Project title: Creative Exploitation: Intellectual Property Law as Neoliberal Cultural Policy. 

2007–2013 Laurence Robataille – Ph. D. Communication and Culture, York University. SSHRC Doctoral Fellow and Canada Scholar. Project title: Capoeira as a Resource: Multiple Uses of Culture Under Conditions of Transnational.

2007–2009 Hilary Chan – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: Ready-Made Ethnic Experience in Consumer Culture. 

2007–2009 Andrew Jacob – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: Legal McLuhanism in Practice: Decontextualization in Barrick Gold Corp v. Lopehandia.

2007–2009 Sara Mohr – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: British Columbia Scholar. Making the Trail: Politics of Identity, Place and Nature in British Columbia. 

2006–2012 Nicole Aylwin –  Ph. D. Communication and Culture, York University. SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Project title: Thinking Transnationally about Cultural Diversity: Revitalizing Cultural Policy in a Globalized World.

2006–2008 Ren Bucholz – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: Laws of Air and Ether: Copyright, Technology Standards, and Competition. 

2005–2007 Susan Dupej – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: Self-Representing and Branding: Possibilities for Aboriginal Tourism in Canada. 

2005–2007 Nicole Aylwin – M.A. Communication and Culture, Ryerson University. Project title: Traditional Medicinal Knowledge between Recognition and Regulation. 

2004–2010 Mohsen Ahmed – Ph. D. Law, York University. Project title: The Transnational Legal Apparatus: Hegemony by Design.

2003–2005 Leslie Model – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: Indian Myths and Legal Realities: The New Age Appropriation of Indigenous Imagery. 

2002–2004 Monique Twigg – M. A. Communication and Culture, York University. Project title: The Impact of TRIPS on UNDP Information Technology, Programmes and ICT Diffusion in Latin America: Policy Alternatives. 

2001–2003 Nadia Ejaz – M. A. Social Anthropology, York University. Project title: Legal Interventions: Race, Space and Legal Aid in the New South Africa.

2001–2003 Maryann Martin – M.A. Communication and Culture, Ryerson University. Project title: The Music Benefit’s Place in the Political Imaginary.

2000–2001 Bita Amani – J.S.D. University of Toronto (Law). Project title: Merchants and missionaries: Patenting life, competing international obligations and the proselytization of a Realistic Utopia.

1995–1997  David Fewer – LL.M. University of Toronto (Law). Project title: Defining the public interest in Canadian intellectual property policy.

1994–1999 Rachel Arris – J.S.D. University of Toronto. Project title: The Recycled Fetus: Ethics of Waste and Gift Exchange in New Reproductive Technologies.

1990–1995 James Odek – J.S.D. University of Toronto (Law). Project title:The relevance of international patent and plant breeder’s rights protection systems to Kenya as a developing country.

Committee Member

Ph.D. York University (Anthropology)

  • Caryl Patrick (2009–13; 2015–9; Comprehensives complete; Proposal defended). Through the Filter: The Politics of Indigenous Tobacco Control Policy in Ontario. (Student transferred to Carleton).

MA York University (Anthropology)

  • Zoe Lawrence (2020–).
  • Quin Yu Cheng (2020–).
  • Isabel Sobotkiewisz (2019–).

 Ph.D. York University (Communication and Culture)

  • Ellouise Mc Gouchie (2020–; Comprehensives Committee). Project title: com: Biopolitics and Race in Digital Environments.
  • Alison Harvey (2006–2012). Project title: Gendered Networks of Play: Regulating Vidoe Games and Technological Subjects in the Home
  • Naveen Joshi (2005–2011).Project title: Arranged Identities: Second Generation South Asian Canadians on Shaadi.com
  • Irena Knezevic (2005–2011).Project title: Discourses of   Privatization and Industrialization:  Agricultural Changes in the Former Yugoslavia
  • Tina Sikka (2003–2008).Project title: Recuperating Politics from Deconstruction: A Pragmatist Critique

Ph.D. York University (Sociolegal Studies)

  • Melissa Anderson (2017–2019; Comprehensives Committee).
  • Brianna Garneau (2019–; Comprehensives Committee).
  • Can Turgut (2019–; Comprehensives Committee)