May (she/her) is a parent, scholar, and community organizer who aspires toward the expansive work of imagining and creating just, sustainable, crip, queer, decolonial futures in uncertain times. Based at Trent University, May leads Aging Activisms, which connects academics, students, organizers, and artists from ages 10 to 100. Through these urgent times of ecological collapse, societal uprising, and pandemic disruption, the Aging Activisms community has been slowly dreaming of and gently making alternative futures, by fostering relationships, creativity, and counter-narratives. As a program of research, it has been challenging dominant, oppressive conceptions of aging, activism, futurity, and social change. May is extremely grateful to this community for all that it teaches her and to be doing this work, and making her home, in Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe territory. She is continually learning from the many Indigenous Elders, activists, scholars and artists who gather and live here; from queer, arts, and activist communities; from her kids, elders, and Jewish ancestors; and from her students, colleagues, friends, books, her many non-human relations.
May holds a Canada Research Chair (2013-2023) and has been a faculty member in Trent’s Department of Gender and Social Justice since 2013. She serves as an executive member for Trent’s Centre for Aging and Society. She also supervises graduate students in Trent’s MA/PhD in Canadian and Indigenous Studies, MA in Sustainability Studies, PhD in Indigenous Studies, MEd in Education, and Interdisciplinary PhD. Among other courses, she teaches Trent’s Graduate Collaborative Specialization in Gender and Social Justice.
May enjoys leading intergenerational storytelling and arts-based research, where she often invites her students into the process. She explores why and how activists of different backgrounds, genders, abilities, and generations work for change, and how they narrate, circulate, and archive their own stories. She brings a critical lens to how, across enormous differences in power, privilege, and worldview, activist alliances are forged, maintained, and sometimes disbanded. She seeks to expand the methodological and epistemic boundaries of both aging studies and social movement scholarship. She also enjoys working creatively with oral histories, activist archives, and digital storytelling practices.
Before coming to Trent in 2013, Chazan spent eight years working with grandmother caregivers in and near Durban, South Africa, seeking to understand how they were mobilizing around the devastating impacts of HIV/AIDS in their communities and how they were connecting into Canadian solidarity efforts. She is grateful to what she learned in that work and to how that learning informs her current research, worldview, and way of being in community. She now chooses to spend most of her time in Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg territory – deepening relationship in and to this place (and minimizing fossil fuel emissions!). She continues to nurture relationships with, and to learn from, four generations of brilliant humans.