Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit

Congratulations to Amber Dean and Shawna Ferris!

Amber Dean’s Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women and Shawna Ferris’s Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities were recently awarded the Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF) Association’s Outstanding Scholarship Prize.

Members of the WGSRF Outstanding Scholarship Prize Committee read 29 monographs and anthologies for this year’s competition and were impressed by the richness and high quality of the books nominated for the national prize. Excerpts from the Committee’s citations for both books appear below. Drs. Dean and Ferris were selected as co-first prize winners.

Amber Dean is Associate Professor in English and Cultural Studies cross-appointed to the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University.

Shawna Ferris completed her dissertation in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster in 2007, supervised by Lorraine York, and is now Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Manitoba.


Amber Dean, Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance (University of Toronto Press, 2015)

“Drawing on a variety of techniques, epistemologies and analytics, Dean explores the use of memory not only in terms of lived perspective but more broadly in terms of its role in both entrenching and perpetuating systems of violence as well as its potential for social change. Ranging across a conceptual and intellectual terrain informed by media analysis, poetry, art, and social geography, Dean constructs a narrative that ably demonstrates the power and potential of feminist scholarship, and why it matters so much not just within the academy but even more urgently throughout our broader society. Weaving together innovative theory and thoughtful interdisciplinarity, the result is an experimental inquiry that powerfully conveys the fundamental urgency of its subject matter, and interrogates the complicity of reader and author alike in structures of settler violence that persist to this day. Dean centres the voice and scholarship of Indigenous scholars in this process, while complementing their work with a diverse array of disciplinary techniques from French philosophy to Euro-Western literary theory. Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women is a refreshing and ambitious work that matters deeply on many levels. Its style, substance and scholarship situate it as a worthy co-recipient of this year’s Outstanding Scholarship Prize.”

Shawna Ferris, Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities: Resisting a Dangerous Order (University of Alberta Press, 2015)

“Published exactly thirty years after the First World Whores’ Congress held in Amsterdam in February 1985, Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities: Resisting a Dangerous Order (University of Alberta Press, 2015), constitutes a milestone in Canadian scholarship on sex work by bringing forward the too often marginalized voices and agency of sex workers in Canada. Employing an intersectional feminist framework, Ferris demonstrates how policies regarding the control, monitoring, and policing of sex workers’ bodies and activities have must less to do with ‘protecting’ them and the public than with articulating dominant perceptions and discourses around female sexuality, class, and race. For example, Ferris exposes how radicalized constructions of Canadian sexual respectability are at stake when cities implement policies aimed at ‘cleaning’ sex work from the urban landscape, or when notions of ‘safety’ are mobilized for the policing and banning of sex workers while at the same time rendering them vulnerable to all kinds of violence. Ferris effectively challenges current Canadian ‘sanitizing’ policies, laws, and media representations of sex workers to offer instead a reading of sex workers’ activism and agency as a site of knowledge production from which policy-making and legislation should build on. Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities is a very important piece of work. It is a worthy co-recipient of this year’s Outstanding Scholarship Prize.”