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On the Margins of the Margins: Racism and Colonialism in Canadian Communication Studies – Guest Editors: Faiza Hirji (McMaster), Yasmin Jiwani (Concordia), Kirsten McAllister (Simon Fraser)

As Black Lives Matter and Indigenous organizing capture public attention about white privilege and the systemic nature of racism and colonialism, major Canadian institutions have finally started acknowledging that they, too, are structured by racism. These institutions have included universities across Canada, many of whom have previously deflected accusations that they ignore racism and colonialism and have failed to take meaningful steps to make the needed systemic changes.

The Canadian Journal of Communication seeks papers for a special issue, tentatively scheduled for release in 2021, on the specific forms that racism and colonialism take in Canadian Communication Studies.

Despite the national imaginary that presents Canada as a country that embraces diversity and equity under the umbrella of multiculturalism, the reality is that this country, as a settler colonial society, is defined and structured by an eradicating, silencing whiteness. Canadian Communication Studies, despite its ostensible attention to the power dynamics of ‘the centre and the margins’, propounded by foundational thinkers like Harold Innis, and its Marxist legacy that focuses on workers’ rights and critiques capitalism, is no exception to the rule of dominant whiteness.

At the International Communication Association’s 2019 pre-conference, #CommunicationSoWhite, speakers noted that international Communication Studies remains, for the most part, a space where white voices are heard, privileged and published (see, for example, Chakravartty, Kuo, Grubbs & McIlwain, 2018). Our own experiences tell us that the same is true in Canada across different disciplines (see Smith, 2010, 2017; Henry et. al. 2017; Hirji, Jiwani and McAllister, in press), yet there is a uniqueness to Canadian academia’s structure of racism as well as our understanding of and interaction with questions of race and Indigeneity, and the ways that these intersect with other aspects of identity, such as gender, sexuality, age, ability, or class.

This special issue of the CJC invites submissions on the topic of racism and colonialism in Canadian Communication studies. We use the term race and colonialism as context-bound and contingent on relations of power, which are historically entrenched and manifest in different permutations in response to contemporary socio-political issues. We seek papers that address racism and colonialism in Canadian Communication Studies and that cohere around three major themes: pedagogy/activism, institutional practices and knowledge production.

Possible lines of inquiry can include, but are not limited to:

Please submit abstracts (up to 500 words) to by August 25, 2020. Once accepted, full papers are due December 15, 2020. The CJC’s submission guidelines can be found here. The standard length for articles in CJC is 7,000 words; however, given that we would like to make room for a range of voices and perspectives, and our recognition that many scholars are currently working under challenging conditions, we would also consider shorter submissions, in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 words.


Chakravartty, Paula, Kuo, Rachel, Grubbs, Victoria, & McIlwain, Charlton. (2018). #CommunicationSoWhite. Journal of Communication, 68, 254-266.

Henry, Frances, Dua, Enakshi, James, Carl E., Kobayashi, Audrey, Li, Peter, Ramos, Howard, & Smith, Malinda S. (Eds.). (2017). The equity myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Hirji, Faiza, Jiwani, Yasmin, & McAllister, Kirsten. (in press) In the margins of the margins: #CommunicationSoWhite Canadian style. Communication, Culture and Critique.

Smith, Malinda. (2010). Gender, whiteness, and “other Others” in the academy. In Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith, & Sunera Thobani (Eds.), States of race: Critical race feminism for the 21st century (pp. 37-58). Between the Lines Press.

Smith, Malinda. (2017). Disciplinary silences: Race, Indigeneity, and gender in the social sciences. In Frances Henry, Enakshi Dua, Carl E. James, Audrey Kobayashi, Peter Li, Howard Ramos, Malinda S. Smith (Eds.), The Equity Myth (pp. 239–262). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.