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Law Centre: Innovation, Experimentation, Research

Meet Researcher Emily van der Meulen

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Emily van der Meulen just received the Ryerson Faculty Scholarly, Research and Creative (SRC) Award and her new book called Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada will be out in April. Read our interview to see what else Emily van der Meulen has on the go!

Emily van der Meulen was hired into the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in August 2011. Before coming here she was awarded post-doctoral fellowships by the Centre for Research on Inner City Health (St. Michael’s Hospital and the Peterborough K.M. Hunter Foundation), the Comparative Program on Health and Society (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (‘Health Services/Population Health HIV/AIDS Research’). She is also a recipient of the 2012 Faculty of Arts Scholarly, Research, and Creativity Award.

 Emily van der Meulen...

… On Her Research

“My research takes a critical feminist and community-based approach to looking at the effects of law and policy on peoples' lives. Right now I'm working on a few exciting projects - one looks at Canadian anti-trafficking policy, one is with Indigenous sex workers in two Ontario cities, and another is a study of diverse women's experiences with video surveillance in Toronto. I also recently submitted a grant with a few HIV organizations (like the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network and others) on implementing needle and syringe programs in federal prisons, and I'm starting a new project with May Friedman in Ryerson's School of Social Work on criminalized mothers.”

… On The Law Centre

“I really encourage my students to get involved with the Law Centre and attend the various talks and activities. The Interns' Circle is an excellent ways for them to learn about legal issues and to help organize events on campus. Students are constantly asking me if I know of any volunteer opportunities, both to make their CV's more competitive for the job market and grad school, but also because they really do want interesting opportunities outside of the classroom. The Law Centre is important because it provides them that experience.”

… On The Human Trafficking Workshop

“I had the opportunity to work with the amazing staff of the Law Research Centre on a SSHRC-funded research workshop on Canadian anti-trafficking policy last fall. It was a Ryerson-York collaboration that I organized with a small group of faculty and students from both schools. Over 200 people came to our public panel discussion on a cold and snowy Friday night! We then held a two-day networking meeting with Canadian and international experts on human trafficking and labour exploitation, including academics, migrant rights organizers, and sex workers. It's really unusual to get such a diverse and knowledgeable group in the same room, all talking about the impact of anti-trafficking policy, discourse, and mythology on the work that we do. The Law Centre was invaluable in helping us pull it all together.

"I'm now co-editing the workshop proceedings with Ann De Shalit (Ryerson), which will be published as a special cluster in Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice"

… On Sex Worker’s Rights

“It's a really exciting time right now for sex workers' rights! There are major political and social changes afoot - and the Supreme Court of Canada is going to be hearing the Bedford case this summer. For decades, sex workers have been advocating for decriminalization and labour rights, this might actually be a possibility in Canada's near future.”

… On Her Upcoming Books

“I've been working with two colleagues, Elya Durisin and Victoria Love, over the past couple of years on a collection of writings by sex workers, advocates, and academics, called Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada. I'm really excited that it will be out in April! We have an amazing group of contributors talking about everything from stigma and police violence, to youth and Indigenous sex workers, to activism and labour rights. We are hoping that it will be a useful intervention into debates that too often side-line sex workers' experiences and knowledge."

 … On Finding A Balance To Her Work

“I wish! I haven't been able to find that yet... maybe next year. That said, I feel really lucky to be involved with the kinds of projects that I am. My political commitments, my personal commitments, and my academic work all coincide, so there isn't a clear line between where my workday ends and my personal life begins. On the one hand, this is a good thing because it means that I find personal and professional fulfilment in everything that I do, but on the other hand, it means that I don't have a lot of 'down' time!”

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The Law Centre regularly features profiles of faculty and external experts associated with the law centre. Get personal insight into our researchers' lifes, their thoughts on legal issues and their future projects! What do our researchers think about Ryerson? How did they become researchers and what do they do in their down time?