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Research & Innovation Spotlight

Pamela Sugiman




Chair, Department of Sociology




We are all familiar with the history. In World War II, some 23,000 Japanese-Canadians were uprooted from their homes, shipped to internment, prisoner-of-war, or labour camps and ultimately stripped of their property, their livelihoods, and most importantly, their dignity. When the war ended, the Canadian government offered a “choice”: deportation to war-devastated Japan or resettlement east of the Rockies. For most of us, this is where the “story” ends. For Professor Sugiman, this is where it begins.

Drawing from the oral history of second-generation Japanese-Canadians, Dr. Sugiman examines the post-war fate of these displaced individuals and the new communities that they built. In her research, Dr. Sugiman pushes beyond collective memory to examine critically the reality of post-war life in the face of racial hostility and loss of community and cultural touchstones to ultimately answer the question “How did life go on?”

Dr. Sugiman holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto and specializes in oral history, memory, women’s history in Canada, racism and racialization, work and labour, and working-class history. She is the 2007 Winner of the Marion Dewar Prize in Canadian Women’s History and is currently serving as Chair of the Sociology Department.


Dr. Sugiman is a consummate researcher. She is currently working on a SSHRC-funded memory project involving gender and livelihoods. She is comparing the memories of working-class women in Oshawa, Ontario, Preston, Nova Scotia, and Lethbridge, Alberta, from girlhood to old age.