CFP: Unmasking Academia: Institutional inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, edited by Irene Shankar and Corinne L. Mason


In March 2020, with infection cases surging nationwide, public health policies were introduced across Canada to curb the spread of COVID-19. Despite claims of the COVID-19 pandemic being a great equalizer, the pandemic has further entrenched existing inequities within the post-secondary education sector in the Canadian context (Gorska, Staniszewska, & Dobija, 2021; Oleschuk, 2020). Early analyses illustrate the COVID-19 gender gap: women’s publications and research have deteriorated while men have actually increased their publications (Davis, 2021). Additional questions remain about the realities of those of us situated in the margins, such as: What impact has the pandemic had on scholars who are marginalized based on race, Indigeneity, class, gender identity and expression, sexuality, immigration status, disability, and neurodiversity? How do institutions’ initial calls to “pivot”—and more recently, to “return to normal”— reflect ongoing inequities in academia? What is the impact of institutional cultures that demand continued performance of “others” during a global pandemic while these communities are the most acutely impacted by COVID-19 and subsequent public health measures? Given the mushrooming of ‘EDI Inc.’ on campuses across Canada, how are scholars who embody “otherness” tasked with transforming their institutions while multiple and ongoing crises rage?

Despite post-secondary institutions’ claims of being an equal and welcoming space to all, academia has been devoted to the “enlightenment” of the privileged groups, and academic spaces have been conceptualized and constructed around the needs and desires of these privileged bodies. As Sara Ahmed (2012) articulates, universities are institutional spaces where some are more at home than “others.” Theorist Nirmal Puwar (2004) maintains that academia is established around the somatic norm of privileged body-minds which renders all others “space invaders.” Those who are located within the category of “other” or “space invaders” encounter overt discrimination through processes of hiring and promotion, experience pay inequity, are tokenized and subjected to microaggressions, overt racism, and other forms of violence and exclusion (Ervin, 2012; Holling, Fu, & Bubar, 2012; James, 2017; Niemann, 2012; Ramos & Li, 2017; Ramos & Wijesingha, 2017; Smith, Gamarro & Toor, 2017). Informed by anti-racist and queer scholarship, this collection will serve as a space for scholars working in Canadian post-secondary institutions to theorize the intersectional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their work contextualized by the structural and systemic inequities functioning in the academy prior to the pandemic.

This collection will be comprised of chapters organized into thematic sections: 1. Institutional Expectations and Demands during the Pandemic
2. Structural Obstacles and their Impact
3. Institutional (In)Action or Innovation

4. Resistance and Resilience

5. The Future

Potential Chapter Topics:

We have four broad topic areas that allow for nuanced and complex reflections of the pandemic and academia in relation to overarching structural barriers. We are interested in chapters that focus on:

  1. 1)  Fighting and/or Surviving White Supremacy and Colonialism

    • Scholar-activism in solidarity with migrant and essential workers.

    • Research and/or activism on MMIWG2S and the continued state inaction.

    • Addressing the impact and trauma of confirmation of bodies of children killed

      and buried at Canadian Residential “Schools”

    • Protesting police violence

    • The functioning of racism in public health, especially the stigmatization of BIPOC

      communities, especially Anti-Asian racism

    • The escalation of violence and discrimination towards racialized scholars,

      students, and the broader community due to racist attribution of COVID-19

      spread to racialized communities

    • Pushing back against stigmatization and scapegoating of racialized communities

      by politicians and health officials

    • Sexualized and gendered violence, paying attention to impact on BIPOC,

      2SLGBTQIA+, disabled and/or neurodiverse communities during the pandemic

  2. 2)  Family, Community and/or Caregiving

    • Caregiving obligations, specifically those beyond the struggles of white cisgender motherhood

    • Disability and/or madness and care

    • Impact on elders and multi-generational households, including those without

      access to family due to border closure or lack of assumed birth-family support

      and connections due to rejection or broken relations

    • Privileges and barriers that emerge due to family connections or lack thereof

    • Collective or community care and mutual aid

  3. 3)  Economic (In)Security

    • Austerity measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, declining or stagnant provincial funding, impact of budget cuts

    • Contract faculty experiences, such as teaching online, navigating work at multiple universities, inequitable COVID-19 policies

    • Experiences of single parents and first-generation scholars

    • Experiences of/research about poverty, houselessness, hunger, and/or working

      in community/collectivities to address critical needs

  4. 4)  Health and Well-being

  • Post-secondary institution’s invocation of individualized responsibility to faculty, staff and students to maintain their health and well-being during the pandemic, without structural supports

  • Experiences of/research about new immigrants and undocumented experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination programs potentially focused on international students

  • Restriction on research and teaching around health due to the pandemic lockdown

  • The experience of faculty members with precarious health and disabilities

  • Structural barriers for safety, well-being, and health during the pandemic

  • The rise in anti-vaccine and anti-mask organizing on campus

  • Proposed timeline

    • Chapter abstracts and author bio due: March 18th
    • Response to abstracts: April 15, 2022
    • Full Chapters Due: October 2022
    • Comments from editors: November 15, 2022
    • Peer review: January 2023 onward
    • Expected publication: 2024   
  • Information for contributors
    • This collection will prioritize the voices and experiences of scholars who are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodivergent, newcomers, and/or those who are precariously employed in the academy. Abstracts should be 300 words, plus a 100-word biography for each author.
    • Full chapter drafts will be approximately 5000-6000 words, including references. Acceptance to the collection is conditional on the first review of the chapter.
    • Submit abstracts to: or