Ayesha Mian Akram

Ayesha Mian Akram (she/her)
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminology
University of Windsor

Current Research Project:

Muslim Women Resist: A Participatory Feminist Public Sociology in Post-Secular Canada

In my academic and community work, I am committed to community-based feminist anti-racist praxis. In my doctoral study, I will investigate how gendered Muslim subjects in post-secular Canada develop political subjectivities and collectives of resistance to anti-Muslim racism. We will together develop a collective by sharing histories, goals, strategies and ultimately trust; plan, implement and evaluate an impactful social change initiative; and, create a feminist coalition that will hopefully extend beyond the scope of this doctoral project. For this project, I draw on two primary fields of literature: political sociology and transnational feminism. My study converges at the nexus of these two scholarly traditions.

In my doctoral journey thus far, I have been a research associate for three community-university research projects investigating issues of access to justice, access to culturally-sensitive service provision, and access to workplace rights for precarious populations. For two of these projects, I translated the research problem and findings into short videos to be shared widely in academic and community spaces. From 2018-2020, my quarterly column in the Canadian feminist magazine, Herizons, addressed issues that face young intersectional feminists, such as challenging anti-Black racism in South Asian communities, millennial burnout, and the challenges of being a feminist scholar-activist. I am also an active member of UWin RAACES (Researchers, Academics, and Advocates of Colour for Equity in Solidarity) and Managing Editor of The RAACES Review (first issue coming Summer 2021). The theme of my academic and community endeavours remains challenging the marginalization of equity-seeking communities. To this end, I pursue community-based research, anti-racist praxis, and critical feminist solidarity-building.

Innovative research methods

My doctoral project is innovative research conducted at an unusual time. Existing scholarly research studies why Muslim women resist or what they do to resist but not how they do what they do through the development of political collectives. This research extends the body of existing literature on Muslim women in Canada by encouraging us to not only consider the importance of collective-building to the work of women’s organizing around anti-Muslim racism but to actually create that collective together in order to embody the spirit, principles, and social change objectives deemed important to the women. Not only will we talk about what needs to be done, we will do it together. Principles of collaboration, participation, and transformation are built right into the study design.

What impact do you think the project will have?

In this feminist participatory study, women will reflect, learn, and share by drawing from past knowledges (both experiential and theoretical) and collaboratively design a practical pilot social change initiative that is coalitional, community-based, and reflective of political resistance in post-secular modernity. This study will build on existing knowledge of anti-Muslim racism in Canada to develop a theoretically-informed action plan. An inventory of Muslim activist strategies along with a social change initiative to be tested and evaluated in a specific field and social problem as decided by women themselves will be valuable end products from this project. With transformative principles from start to finish, this study will connect the Muslim and academic community to develop deeper understandings of gendered religious life in post-secular Canada and contribute to political sociology, transnational feminist theory and politics, and participatory action research literature.


Selected Book Chapter

Mian Akram, Ayesha. 2018. “I Am Not A Problem, I Am Canadian: Exploring Canadian Muslim Women’s Experiences of “Being Canadian.” Pp. 281-297 in Immigration, Racial and Ethnic Studies in 150 Years of Canada: Retrospects and Prospects, edited by S. Guo, and L. Wong. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Sense. doi: 10.1163/9789004376083_014

Selected Journal Articles

Hande, Mary Jean, Mian Akram, Ayesha, & Shelley Condratto. 2020. “‘All of This Happens Here?’: Diminishing Perceptions of Canada through Immigrants’ Precarious Work in Ontario.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 21: 711-729. https://doi-org.ledproxy2.uwindsor.ca/10.1007/s12134-019-00683-y

Mao, Li, Mian Akram, Ayesha, Chovanec, Donna, & Misty L. Underwood. 2016. “Embracing the Spiral: Researcher Reflexivity in Diverse Critical Methodologies.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 15(1): 1-8. DOI: 10.1177/1609406916681005

Selected Conference Presentations

Mian Akram, Ayesha. 2019. “Understanding Activist Women’s Experiences through Transformative Mixed Methods Research. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Canadian Sociological Association, Vancouver, BC.

Mian Akram, Ayesha, & Reem Bahdi. 2019. “Virtual Internment and the Muslim Existential Threat in Canada.” Paper presented at 10th Annual International Islamophobia Conference, Berkeley, CA.

Mian Akram, Ayesha. 2017. “The Social is Religious: A Durkheimian Interrogation of ‘Secularism’ in Canadian Society.” Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Canadian Sociological Association, Toronto, ON.

Selected Public Sociology

Delia Deckard, Natalie, Mian Akram, Ayesha, & Jane Ku. (2021, February 23). “Canadian Universities: 10 Years of Anti-Racist Reports but Little Action.” The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/canadian-universities-10-years-of-anti-racist-reports-but-little-action-153033

Video Creator and Final Report Team Writer for “African-Centered Community Partnership Project: Building Bridges Across Differences Community Focus Group Discussion Report.” May 2020. https://www.theacow.org/copy-of-projects

2017 Final Five SSHRC Storyteller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exZKGjjnoEM



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