2023 Sherman Graduate Residents

Emilie Altman

photograph of Emilie Altman

Emilie Altman is working towards her master’s degree in the Cognitive Science of Language program. Her research looks at whether trauma impacts language decades after the trauma occurred. Emilie uses data analysis techniques to investigate the language of over 750 Holocaust survivors, interviewed in the 1990s. Before coming to McMaster University, Emilie completed her bachelor’s degree at Queen’s University in cognitive science and computing. Emilie also loves to travel, sing, and play board games. 

My project will be the creation of a virtual public exhibit centered around Ukrainian war narratives. The narratives were written by Ukrainian civilians about their experiences in the current Russia-Ukraine War. Over 1000 narratives have been collected so far, and collection is ongoing. The public exhibit of these narratives will be a means to uplift and share the voices of Ukrainian civilians, as well as educate viewers. The exhibit will include a map of Ukraine, with narratives organized by region. Within regions, users will be able to look at other demographics such as age range and gender. The narratives will be available in both English and the original Ukrainian languages. I plan to include contextual elements as well such as newspaper headlines and photographs from before and after the start of war.  

Alexis-Carlota Cochrane

photograph of Alexis-Carlota Cochrane

Alexis-Carlota Cochrane (she/they) is a Ph.D. Student in Communication, New Media, and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her doctoral research explores online identity, digital culture, and algorithmic censorship, analyzing how identity, power and censorship intersect on platforms. At the Sherman Centre, Alexis is also collaborating on a project that critically explores the intersection of data breaches and security crises through experimental approaches like sonification, supervised by Dr. Andrea Zeffiro.

Alexis will perform a data scrape for her graduate residency project that maps user rhetoric around account suspension on Meta Platforms Facebook and Instagram. Her research offers a qualitative intervention into machine learning and human-computer interaction through the employment of Black and Brown feminist epistemologies, primarily through narrative storytelling and user testimonials. Her research project aims to study the perspectives of racialized users whose experiences on the platforms have been obstructed by Meta’s racially biased and discriminatory algorithmic categorization practices to better the process’ role in exacerbating various forms of oppression for racialized communities.

Niloofar Hooman

photograph of Niloofar Hooman

Niloofar Hooman (she/her) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University. She is also completing a joint Graduate Diploma (Ph.D.) in Gender and Social Justice. Niloofar holds a Ph.D. in Communication (2019), an MA in Cultural Studies and the Media (2010), and a BA in Social Communications (2007) from the University of Tehran. Her research interests include social media, digital activism, feminism, sexuality, and marginalized bodies, focusing on Iran in the frameworks of critical and feminist theories.

Feminism in Iran has its own locally specific yet globally significant trajectory. After the Revolution in 1979 in Iran, a religious government took control over Iranian society and imposed strict ideologies on every aspect of Iranian lives, including female bodies.

While over the Islamic regime era, disciplinary methods have been employed to manage women’s bodies, stubborn forms of female bodily presence on social media and streets were a key strategy by which women enact transgressive discourse to fight the patriarchal society and the regime’s hegemonic discourses. Through close readings of publicly available tweets on Twitter and comments on Instagram, Niloofar’s project for the Graduate Residency in Digital Scholarship seeks to provide a nuanced account of nude activism in the Iranian context. She focuses on three Iranian women who chose nude feminism to reclaim their bodies and deconstruct sexism, patriarchy, and cultural taboos through the corporal resistance in the recent uprising in Iran.

Sam McEwan

photograph of Sam McEwan

Sam McEwan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University. With a background in music performance and cultural studies, she has cultivated a broad array of interests that inform her dissertation and other project work. She is particularly drawn to discourses of authenticity in identity/performance, fan practices/discourses, and examining representations of women’s bisexuality in popular music.

During her tenure as a resident with the Sherman Centre, Sam aims to curate an archive of digital objects such as music, videos, sound bites, spoken word, and other audio/visual moments that offer a window into the aesthetic worlds of self-identified bisexual women. Sam asks how this collection of thoughts, feelings, songs, poems, dances, and otherwise creative self-expressions can represent a form of “talking back” through the expression of queer joy. While archives have been a crucial resource for the LGBTQ+ community by offering a record of their history and culture, the experiences of bisexual people have often been overlooked or delegitimized. She draws extensively on the idea of joyful resistance to inform how she understands these objects as important features of the way bisexual women articulate their identities as authentic, permanent, and in opposition to mainstream (mis)representations. 

Lulwama Mulalu

photograph of Lulwama Mulalu

My name is Lulwama Kuto Mulalu and I am a second year PhD student in Global Health at McMaster University. I have a keen interest in the political economy of knowledge production, decolonial storytelling, problem framing, forms of historic erasure, and how continued social amnesia in the global public consciousness relates to the perpetuation of ongoing grievous systemic injustices on the African continent in this present moment of intersecting crises. 

‘Faces of the Climate Crisis’ is an arts-based innovation and multimedia project that aims to engage local youth climate activists in order create a platform for them to speak to the lived experiences of their own communities regarding the unequal impacts of the climate crisis on the African continent. This database of stories is a form of narrative reclamation that allows Africans to speak to the [neo]colonial history behind the climate crisis; it will highlight how large parts of the world are turned into designated sacrifice zones and condemned to unimaginable suffering. The African continent has contributed less than 4% of global GHG emissions, but faces the most acute impacts because of record droughts, ongoing floods, etc.). This is a multi-modal arts-based climate justice awareness building campaign aimed at humanising statistics using visual/audio storytelling as a means of highlighting the psycho-social, political and economic consequences of the climate crisis on everyday people on the African continent who are often forgotten or have been intentionally silenced by decades of ineffectual reporting by mainstream western corporate media.

Nnamdi Nnake

photograph of Nnamdi Nnake

Nnamdi Nnake holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in History. Currently, he is pursing doctoral-level studies in the History of Technology and is researching how the socioeconomic exclusion of marginalized groups has historically intersected with the evolution of telecommunications technology in British Colonial Africa using Nigeria and Kenya as case studies. Nnamdi’s other interest is sociopolitical history and he discusses the history of nationalism via Nationhood Podcast.

Nnamdi’s project will explore technological determinism to study the extent to which historical developments are driven by innovations in technology. He hopes to build an interactive website where visitors can simulate governmental decisions regarding telecommunications technology to see the real-life impact. Using data from Nigeria and Kenya, the website would underscore how advancements in telecommunications technology have historically influenced the kinds of social exclusion experienced by people living below the poverty line with a focus on women, rural dwellers and the uneducated. This project shows how formal or informal actions, policies and procedures can deprive vulnerable people of equal access to political, economic, and social prospects. The study seeks to identify what designers of telecommunication technologies should consider in order to reduce discrimination and hence, guarantee inclusivity and user-centricity. Overall, it shows how technology interacts with society and emphasizes the importance of making it more fit-for-purpose.

Stephanie Rico

photograph of Stephanie Rico

Stephanie Rico is a second-year PhD student in the English and Cultural Studies and Gender and Social Justice departments. Her research explores the intersections of race, trauma, and sexuality in contemporary queer memoirs. In particular, how queer memoirists represent narratives of trauma and histories of sexual, racial, and colonial violence through nonlinear or hybrid forms of storytelling. Her research asks how engaging with queer memoirs that partake in alternate modes of queer historicizing and archiving enable us to realize a vision of queer relations, politics, and futurities.   

Stephanie’s residency project combines film photographs and records of queer historical spaces found in the “Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archive” with gathered oral histories and testimonials, documenting in the process, 2SLGBTQ+ heritage in Hamilton and colonial legacies of archival, temporal, and spatial erasure. By incorporating digital scholarship into her project, Stephanie highlights the radical presence, resistance, and repositories of queer cultural memory and knowledge that endure both in the archive and community today. Her use of digital scholarship as a counter-archival process and tool for community content creation reimagines and reencounters the archive through digital storytelling methodologies grounded in space, place, and people. By decentring and refusing colonial, Eurocentric archival practices historically and systemically built to further the erasure of queer, Two-Spirit, and BIPOC people, the project highlights both the continued presence of queerness in Hamilton and the salient truth that we have always been here. 

Katy Celina Sandoval

photograph of Katy Celina Sandoval

My name is Katy Celina Sandoval. I am a 1st generation Latinx graduate student doing her PhD in Neuroscience. I am passionate about empowering women and people of colour in academia and the field of STEM. My research studies the role of oxytocin in social behaviour in a mouse model of autism. I also lead a women’s circle in the Department of PNB and work as a digital content creator.

During my time in the Graduate Residency Program, I will work on creating a comic story of my academic experience as a Latina woman in STEM. The comic will highlight the work I do in and outside the lab, as well as the responsibilities of being a PhD student. I want to use this experience to include research-based and storytelling knowledge on Women in STEM. My main goal is to empower future generations and to humanize the experience of being a scholar: the successes and failures! In this process, I want to propose ways to reduce the gap in the number of women and underrepresented women in STEM by providing some insight from my personal experiences and other women of colour in STEM. Storytelling in a digital comic media will help engage with people and inspire changes in our communities.

Chase R. Thomson

Photograph of Chase R. Thomson

Chase R. Thomson (he/they) is completing an MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. Previously, Chase completed a BA in English Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia (2021). Chase’s CGS-funded research seeks to explore how auto/biography, memoir, and archive(s) can inform individual and communal identity formation and resilience–particularly in transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

Community archives operate as evidence of the historical formation and resistance of individuals and communities. In particular, queer archives offer a rich and resistant history for young queer individuals to reflect upon and utilize to build confident and connected identities of their own. However, there remain major problems with the archive(s) as an institution. Access to the archive(s) is often unattainable, but furthermore, the content that is deemed archive-able often reinforces hegemonic, hetero/homonormative, and “Western” ideals. Making space in the archive(s) for the historical testimonies and materials of marginalized communities (in tandem with making the archives more accessible to the general public) is essential to strengthening the confidence and resilience of these communities today. Through community interviews, Chase seeks to produce a podcast that explores and interrogates how the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archives can expand their collections to include Indigiqueer, Two-Spirit, and transgender materials.