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Idil Abdillahi

Assistant Professor
OfficeSally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 3588
Areas of ExpertiseBlack Canadain Studies; Black Mad Studies
; Anti-Black Sanism
; Carceralities; Policing; Poverty; HiV/AIDS

Idil Abdillahi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies, and Advisor to the Dean of the Faculty of Community and Social Services at Ryerson University. As a critical interdisciplinary scholar, she has published on a wide array of topics such as: mental health, poverty, HiV/AIDS, organizational development, and several other key policy areas at the intersection of BlackLife and state interruption. Most notably, Idil’s cutting-edge research and scholarship on anti-Black Sanism has informed the current debates on fatal police shootings of Black mad-identified peoples. In 2017, her theorizing helped inform the inquest of Andrew Loku, one among the litany of Black men killed by Police Services in the Greater Toronto Area. Idil comes to this work with over 15 years of direct practice experience in the social service sector. Idil has been a frontline social worker, supervisor, clinical educator, and has also served in leadership and governance roles. Her theorizing on carceral care, and her years of work with people incarcerated across Canada, has informed her desire to challenge the sustainability of Canada’s carceral institutions. Idil is a founding member of the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) and currently serves as vice-chair of the board of directors. Her lengthy history as a practitioner in clinical, forensic and grassroots settings led to her being honoured with several awards and accolades for her work in mental health in Toronto. Upon transitioning to the academy in 2012, Idil was nominated as a “professor who made a mark”, and later won the prestigious Viola Desmond Award, celebrating the achievements of Black Canadian Women. Idil and Rinaldo Walcott co-published BlackLife: Post-BLM and the Struggle for Freedom in 2019 with ARP Books. She is currently working on her forthcoming book, "Blackened Madness: Medicalization, and Black Everyday Life in Canada” which will also be published by ARP press. Idil is also the newest addition to Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies, where she will be coediting the latest edition of the text. In 2017, along with Simon Black, Idil co-produced the documentary “It Takes A Riot: Race. Rebellion. Reform,” a film marking the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Yonge Street Uprising in Toronto. Idil is a community organizer, public intellectual and academic, unapologetically committed to the freedom, fight and joy of BlackLife in this city, province and country.

DST courses currently under development:

  • SWP 51 Field Practicum 
  • SWP 50 Social Work Practice Seminar 
  • SWP 302 Social Policy
  • SWP 331 Power, Resistance and Change 
  • SWP 932: Family Violence
  • SK 8212 Critical Perspective on Mental Health

Teaching interests:

  • Surveillance and Social Policy
  • Disability Studies
  • Black Canadian Studies
  • Black Canadian Feminist Thought
  • Popular Culture and Media Studies
  • Abolition and Carceral Intimacies

Research interests:

  • Social Policy and Surveillance Studies
  • Black Canadian Studies
  • Welfare, Women, and Anti-Blackness
  • Containment, Carceralities, and Care
  • The fatal policing of mad Black people
  • The autopsy as an anti-Black technology

Research projects

  • Co-PI for Trial of Accelerated Resolution Therapy for Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress in HiV-Positive Immigrant, Refugee and Undocumented Africans, Caribbean and Blacks in Canada


  • I. Abdillahi (in press). Blackened madness: Medicalization, and Everyday Life in Canada. Winnipeg: ARP Books (to be published 2021).
  • R. Walcott & I. Abdillahi (2019). BlackLife: Post-BLM and The Struggle For Freedom. Winnipeg: ARP Books. 
  • C.E. James & I. Abdillahi (Eds.). (Forthcoming). Experiencing Difference. 2nd Edition. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing (to be published 2021).  


  • I. Abdillahi & M. Friedman (2020). Lessons learned from Fat Women on TV . In J.Andrews & M. Friedman (Eds). Our Skin: Our Bodies, Our Stories. Toronto: Demeter Press
  • R. Walcott & I. Abdillahi (2016). Can A Virus Be Racist?: Anti-Blackness and the Origin Stories of HIV/AIDS? In N. Shahani & Juhasz. A (Eds). AIDS and the Distribution of Crisis.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Journal articles:

  • S. Meerai, I. Abdillahi, & J. Poole, J. (2014). When the suffering is compounded: Stories of  anti-Black sanism. Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice. Vol. 5; No. 3, pp. 18-34.
  • Viola Desmond Award, Faculty Recipient, Ryerson University, 2014