The Labour of Being Studied/The Labour of Refusing to be Studied

The Labour of Being Studied / The Labour of Refusing To Be Studied Event Poster

Date: Friday, May 11th, 2018 | Time: 3-6pm
Location: Room 728 Bissel Building, 140 St. George Street
The Bissel Building is an accessible space. Single user washroom on 6th floor. Accessible washroom on 7th floor.

Contact:  | Event Website: 
Space is limited so RSVP via Eventbrite.
Organizers: DREC co-directors Jasmine Rault & T.L. Cowan | DREC Project Manager Emily Simmonds | DREC Web Developer & Content Manager Jessica Caporusso


The Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC) is hosting a critical conversation about research cultures, ethics and economies in the Arts & Humanities, revolving around “The Labour of Being Studied/The Labour of Refusing to be Studied,” with distinguished speakers Aylan Couchie, d’bi.young anitafrika, Emily Simmonds and Karyn Recollet.

DREC is an interdisciplinary research ethics-focused endeavour that seeks to disrupt settler colonial, dispossessory and asymmetrical forms of knowledge and to think through the ways that value and reward are circulated within research cultures and economies. At DREC we are grappling with the ways in which institutional research values normalize, and apologize for, extractive logics and practices that make it okay for researchers to often take more than they give (and to see and hear only what they want to see and hear).

We hope this event will be an afternoon of thinking together about relations between artists and researchers (and artists as researchers), as well as Arts & Humanities research logics, centering the voices of artists and arts-based practitioners to flip the academic order of things, to lead with artist- and/or community-focused priorities.

Some questions we will be considering in this critical conversation include:

  • What does it mean to study?
  • What does it mean to be studied?
  • What are the labours of being studied?
  • Upon what terms are these labours invited/expected?
  • What does the university expect from you? How do you negotiate those expectations?
  • What does accountability look/feel like to you?
  • What does reciprocality look/feel like to you?
  • What does compensation look/feel like to you?
  • What does value look/feel like to you?
  • How do you navigate accountability, reciprocality and compensation within or beyond the limitations of the university?
  • How do artists, community-organizers and researchers refuse these labours, or refuse the terms upon which these labours are invited or expected?
  • What are the labours of refusing study?
  • How does a move towards “participatory” and/or “community-engaged” research shift what it means to study, to be studied or to refuse study?

Fabulous Invited Speakers

Aylan Couchie is an interdisciplinary Anishinaabe artist and writer from Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario. She is a NSCAD University alumna and received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design from OCAD University. Her work explores the impacts of colonialism, issues of cultural appropriation and First Nations representation. She’s been the recipient of several awards including an “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture” award through the International Sculpture Centre and a Premier’s Award through Ontario Colleges. Her work has been shown internationally and some of her current public art installations can be found in the City of Barrie and Halifax International Airport.

d’bi.young anitafrika From facilitating international artist residencies in South Africa, Hawaii, India, Belize, the UK and Costa Rica to being heralded as a YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts, the creative endeavors of African-Jamaican d’bi.young anitafrika are globally celebrated. A triple Dora award-winning published playwright-performer, director-dramaturge and emerging scholar, anitafrika is also the creator of the intersectional, decolonialist praxis, the Anitafrika Method. She is the founding Artistic Director of the Watah Theatre and the Anitafrika Retreat Centre where she teaches artists from around the world.  Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience through her vast field of artistic knowledge, anitafrika is about to embark upon postgraduate studies in London UK where she will be researching the use of Theatre to address generational trauma in the Black body. Please support her funding campaign at

Emily Astra-Jean Simmonds is a PhD candidate in the department of Science and Technology Studies at York University. Her activist research practice is primarily energized by questions about consent, colonial infrastructures, toxic sovereignties and the biopolitics of settler colonialism.  Currently, her work focuses on how uranium economies and ecologies amplify and produce colonial geographies, and the various ways in which asymmetrical exposures to toxicants and radiological contaminants are rendered permissible. As a Métis feminist scholar she is committed to actions that support just and mutually considered livable futures.  She is also a member of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) based in St. John’s NFLD, and the Technoscience Research Unit (TRU) in Toronto, ON.

Karyn Recollet is an Assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.  Karyn is an urban Cree whose research explores the multiple layered relationships that urban Indigenous folx have with lands’ overflow.  Karyn’s focal points are choreographic fugitivity, Indigenous futurities,  decolonial love / processes of creating radical relationalities with kin.


In addition to the work of these fabulous speakers, the following are some key texts that have formed the organization of this event:

Bailey, Moya. 2015. “#transform(ing)DH Writing and Research: An Autoethnography of Digital Humanities and Feminist EthicsDigital Humanities Quarterly. 9(2)

Barnett, Fiona, Zach Blas, Micha Cárdenas, Jacob Gadboury, Jessica Marie Johnson, and Margaret Rhee. 2016. “QueerOS: A User’s Manual.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities. MIT Press.

Cowan, T. L., and Jasmine Rault. 2014. “The Labour of Being Studied in a Free Love Economy.” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization. 14 (3): 471–88.

Georgis, Dina. 2013. The Better Story: Queer Affects from the Middle East. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Keeling, Kara. 2014. “Queer OS.” Cinema Journal 53 (2): 152–57.

Kim, Dorothy, and Eunsong Kim. 2014. “The #TwitterEthics Manifesto.” Model View     Culture. Aril.

Moten, Fred, and Stefano Harney. 2013. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. Brooklyn, NY: Minor Compositions.

Muñoz, José Esteban. “Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 8, no. 2 (January 1, 1996):  5–16.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2006. Demonic Grounds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

McKittrick, Katherine, ed. 2014. Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.

Murphy, Michelle. “Abduction, Reproduction, and Postcolonial Infrastructures of Data.” Scholar & Feminist Online. 13–14, no. 1–3 (2016).

Robertson, Tara. 2016. “Digitization: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should.” Tara Robertson. March 20.

Salah, Trish. 2014. “Reflections on Trans Organizing, Trade Unionism and Radical Communities.” Trans Activism in Canada: A Reader. Dan Irving and Rupert Raj, eds. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2014: 149-167.

Salah, Trish, Julian Carter and David Getsy. 2014. “Introduction.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. “Special Issue on Trans* Cultural Production.” 1.4: 469-481.

Sharpe, Christina. 2016. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed. London, UK: Zed Books.

Simpson, Audra. 2016. Consent’s Revenge. Cultural Anthropology 31: 326-333.

Simpson, Audra. 2014. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.

Tuck, E. and K.W. Yang. 2014. “R-Words: Refusing Research” in D. Paris and M. T. Winn (Eds.) Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with youth and Communities. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.

Tuck, E. and K.W. Yang. (2014). Unbecoming claims: Pedagogies of refusal in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry 20 (6): 811-818.

The Alchemists (Bianca Laureno, I’Nasah Crockett, Maegan Ortiz, Jessica Marie Johnson, Sydette Harry, Izetta Mobley, and Danielle Cole). 2016a. “The Power & Control Wheel | The Respect Wheel.Center for Solutions to Online Violence (CSOV).


This event is supported by the Social Sciences & Humanities Council of Canada | The Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts | Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto | Jackman Digital Humanities Network | Department of Arts, Culture & Media, University of Toronto Scarborough