THE STEERING COMMITTEE
Dr. May Chazan holds Trent’s Canada Research Chair in Gender and Feminist Studies and serves as an executive member for Trent’s Centre for Aging and Society. She teaches in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies – courses on feminist and decolonial activisms, feminist methodologies, and the intersections of gender, race, and class. She supervises graduate students in Canadian and Indigenous Studies (as an affiliate of the Trent’s Frost Centre) and in the Masters of Sustainability Studies program, and she teaches Trent’s Graduate Collaborative Specialization in Gender and Feminist Studies.
Chazan’s program of research, Aging Activisms: Storying Resistance, Resurgence, and Resilience, explores why and how activists of different backgrounds, genders, abilities, and generations work for change throughout their lives, how they connect across time and space, and how they narrate, circulate, and archive their own stories of resistance. Her work, which is both local and transnational in scope, focuses explicitly on “less-recognized” activists and on “everyday” activisms, working to redress the omission of certain stories, knowledges, and practices from dominant narratives of social change. She brings a critical lens to how, across enormous differences in power, privilege, and worldview, activist alliances are forged, maintained, and sometimes disbanded. Drawing on feminist, queer, anti-racist, and decolonial methodologies, she regularly facilitates intergenerational storytelling workshops, which push 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.
Chazan loves to draw students into her work and prioritizes training students and research assistants as part of her research process. She works closely with community organizations, activists, artists, and movements. She leads an activist research collective, called Aging Activisms, through which she connects students, activists, scholars, and researchers across ages, genders, backgrounds, and abilities (see www.agingactivisms.org). She strives toward a decolonial, feminist, anti-oppressive, and community-engaged research practice: she is committed to her own (un)learning and to building accountable research relationships.
Before coming to Trent in 2013, Chazan spent eight years working with grandmother caregivers in 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. She now teaches, parents, researches, writes, organizes, and leads the Aging Activisms research collective in Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg territory (Peterborough, Canada), where she continues to nurture relationships with, and to learn from, four generations of brilliant thinkers and activists.