Angela May’s research on the politics of loss
Description/abstract of research:
Broadly speaking, Angela’s research explores the politics of loss, particularly as they manifest in place. Her research is shaped profoundly by her home of Vancouver, British Columbia, and especially the city’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. As a mixed (white/non-white) Japanese Canadian settler with historic roots in the Downtown Eastside, Angela’s work is informed by the neighbourhood’s legacies of violence, on the one hand, and community resistance, on the other.
For example, Angela’s doctoral project takes as its starting point a refrain that has become increasingly common in public discourse about the Downtown Eastside: that violence in the neighbourhood is a result of trauma. While this statement may be true, Angela’s project begins from the premise that this refrain obscures more than it reveals. By bringing together literature on trauma and memory, pain, and public health, Angela seeks to reveal the complexities—and, crucially, the stakes—of asserting that violence in the Downtown Eastside is a result of trauma. At the same time, by paying close attention to the unique dynamics that shape the Downtown Eastside, Angela’s doctoral project aims to demonstrate the importance of thinking through trauma in terms of place.
While Angela’s doctoral project focusses more concertedly on trauma, her recently published academic work considers the kinds of violence that are made possible specifically by the lack of affordable housing in Canada. For example, one paper (co-written with Sophie Lachapelle, University of Ottawa) analyzes the local government and public health authorities’ response to COVID-19 in Kingston, Ontario, arguing that for Kingston’s unhoused population, efforts to manage COVID-19—which included forcibly removing people from successive tent encampments—exacerbated their risk of suffering and death, even in the name of “health”. Another paper focuses on the Astoria Hotel, a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, in order to think through the ethics of pursuing research that explores pain and loss, especially in over-researched communities. (Citations below.)
Lachapelle, Sophie and Angela May. “A Matter of Life and Death: Exploring the Necropolitical Limbo of Kingston’s Housing Crisis in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research, vol. 10. (Click here)
May, Angela. “Beyond Pain Narratives?: Representing Loss and Practicing Refusal at the Astoria Hotel”. Loss, special issue of the Urban History Review, vol. 48, no. 2, 2021. (Click here)
Angela May (neé Kruger) is a PhD Student working with Dr. Amber Dean in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her doctoral project examines the work of trauma in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Angela is also a writer, community activist, and visual artist. Her first major public artwork, a creative video called dear community, interrogated the politics of Japanese Canadian presence and commemoration in Vancouver’s historic Powell Street neighbourhood (Paueru). Her current writing project is a collection of linked short stories, tentatively titled Hotel Blue. Angela holds a BA in English (University of Victoria), an MA in Socio-Cultural Studies of Health (Queen's University), and a Creative Writing Certificate (Simon Fraser University). For more: www.angelamarianmay.com, @angelamayyyy (Twitter), @paperandplot (Instagram).