Amber Dean, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Gender Studies
Acting Program Director of Gender Studies and Feminist Research
Director of the MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory
Phone: 905-525-9140 x.23725
Office: Chester New Hall 214
Areas of Interest
Interdisciplinary research and teaching interests in cultural studies; contemporary feminist theory; trauma and memory studies; visual culture studies (especially representations of violence, suffering, and poverty); gender and sexuality studies; urban studies (particularly related to gentrification); and critical race and Indigenous studies.
Amber Dean became an Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies and Gender Studies (cross-appointed to the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research) in 2011. The bulk of her recent research develops a feminist, interdisciplinary approach to exploring the social and political implications of representations of murdered or missing Indigenous women in Canada. Her recent publication, Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance, is the first book-length scholarly examination of the representational practices and cultural productions that bring the story of the disappearances or murders of women from the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood in Vancouver to a wider public. Winner of the CSN-RÉC 2016 prize for the Best Book in Canadian Studies, the book examines a diverse array of cultural productions, including police posters, documentary film and photography on the Downtown Eastside, media representations and artists’ renderings of some of the missing women, memorials (both permanent and performance-based), selected media coverage of the Pickton trial, social justice activism, and self-representations by some of the women who have been disappeared (including poetry, journal entries and participation in activist work). The book explores the potential that these various cultural productions hold for provoking a much wider sense of implication in the disappearances or murders of the women in question, and in doing so it provides provocations for reconsidering how and why these events were possible in the first place.
As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster from 2009-2011, Amber analyzed the connections between public mourning and the (re)production of an idealized “Canadian-ness” that privileges whiteness and conventional expressions of gender and sexuality. By focusing on examples of public mourning and memorialization occurring in the wake of the 2005 Mayerthorpe RCMP murders, the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, and the disappearance or murder of 520 or more Indigenous women across Canada over the last forty years, she argues that some violent deaths are quite clearly represented in a national discourse as mattering more than others, which challenges popular understandings of Canada as a multicultural mosaic premised on equality. An essay on this topic is forthcoming in the edited collection Reconciling Canada: Historical Injustices and the Contemporary Culture of Redress (also under contract with University of Toronto Press).
Amber’s secondary areas of research interest include deployment of the figure of the street sex worker in contemporary efforts to gentrify inner-city neighbourhoods in Canada; debates and tensions in feminist theorizing on rape; and connections between identity, appearance, and social recognition among queer women, particularly femmes partnered with trans men.
Amber welcomes graduate students interested in working in the areas of public mourning, memorialization, and memorial cultures; representations of disappeared or murdered women; gentrification, “Creative Class” rhetoric, and their effects on representations of marginalized residents in inner-city neighbourhoods; identity and difference, especially as they pertain to social justice activism or social movements; gender and sexuality studies; cultural studies; poststructural feminist theorizing; and critical race studies. She has taught undergraduate courses in Women’s Studies, Cultural Studies and Media Studies at several postsecondary institutions in Canada, including a recent fourth-year seminar at McMaster on gender, Indigeneity, and the politics of representation.
Chakraborty, Chandrima, Amber Dean, and Angela Failler., Eds. Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, forthcoming Fall 2016. <http://www.uap.ualberta.ca/titles/878-9781772122596-remembering-air-india>
Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.
“Representations of Murdered and Missing Women.” Special Issue of West Coast Line 53. Eds. Amber Dean and Anne Stone. 41.1: (2007),
Refereed Journal Articles and Chapters:
Rusted, Brian, Kara Granzow, and Amber Dean. “Ghosts and Their Analysts: Writing and Reading Toward Something Like Justice for Murdered or Missing Indigenous Women.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies. 16.1 (2016): 83-94.
“The CMHR and the Ongoing Crisis of Murdered or Missing Indigenous Women: Do Museums Have a Responsibility to Care?” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. 37.2-3 (2015): 147-165.
“Public Mourning and the Culture of Redress: Mayerthorpe, Air India, and Murdered or Missing Aboriginal Women.” Reconciling Canada: Critical Perspectives on the Culture of Redress. Eds. Jennifer Henderson and Pauline Wakeham. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.
“Space, Temporality, History: Encountering Hauntings in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.” The West and Beyond: New Perspectives on an Imagined Region. Eds. Alvin Finkel, Sarah Carter, and Peter Fortna. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2010.
Rosenberg, Sharon, Amber Dean, and Kara Granzow. “Centennial hauntings: Reckoning with the 2005 celebration of Alberta’s history.” Memory Studies. 3.4 (2010): 395-412.
“Representing and Remembering Murdered Women: Thoughts on the Ethics of Critique.” ESC: English Studies in Canada. 34.2-3 (2008): 229-241.
“Teaching feminist activism: Reflections on an activism assignment in introductory Women’s Studies.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. 29.4 (2007): 351-369.