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A photograph of Idil taken outside in front of a building wall of cement blocks painted purple with street art of a racoon holding a bat on top of a car. Idil, a queer Black woman, leans against this wall, one leg bent against it. She is wearing a wide brimmed black hat, large black sunglasses, dark red lipstick, gold earrings, a black dress with a ‘V’ neckline, and black shiny leggings. She has on tan heels that match a rich tan coat with her hands in the pockets.

Idil Abdillahi

Assistant Professor
EducationMSW; PhD Policy Studies
OfficeSally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 3588

Dr. Idil Abdillahi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies, cross-appointed to the School of Social Work, and the Advisor to the Dean on Anti-Black Racism at the Faculty of Community and Social Services at Ryerson University (2020-2021). Dr. Abdillahi is a Critical Black Interdisciplinary scholar, researcher, policy analyst, grassroots organizer, and experienced practitioner across healthcare, institutional, policy, and social service settings. She is the author of Black Women Under State: Surveillance, Poverty & the Violence of Social Assistance, external link, opens in new window (2021), author of Blackened Madness: Medicalization, and Black Everyday Life in Canada (forthcoming), co-author of BlackLife: Post-BLM and The Struggle For Freedom, external link, opens in new window (2019), and a co-editor of the forthcoming edition of Mad matters: A critical reader in Canadian mad studies.

Dr. Abdillahi is published widely on an array of topics, including 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. Dr. Abdillahi is attentive to the tensions between data, research, communities, institutions, and monetization.  Further, Dr. Abdillahi works to challenge the ways that research data about communities experiencing structural oppression—particularly Black communities—is increasingly used in capital-oriented institutions as it simultaneously is serving socio-political ‘care’ spaces such as non-profit organizations, prisons, hospitals and community-based health centers. Dr. Abdillahi’s work integrates an understanding of how these institutions and ‘care’ spaces continue to disproportionately impact Black women/people, leading to their disenfranchisement from ‘public’ services and supports in Tkaronto and beyond.

  • Black Canadian Studies, Studies in BlackLife and Livabilities:
    • Black Women's believability, dignity and inherent authority;
    • Mad/ness; Blackened Sanisms/anti-Black Sanisms
  • Critical Black Feminisms/Gender Studies:
    • Carceralities: prisons, jails, care, social and health policy, and practitioner training;
    • 'Care-based' surveillance tools and interventions;
  • Critical Technology and Surveillance Studies:
    • Algorithmic racisms, access, surveillance, privacy
  • Research Methodologies/New and Experimental Methods
    • Misfitted, disruptive and disorganized methods;
    • Modes and methods of (un)analysis;
    • Colloquialism: quantity, quantification, and (un)quantitative analysis.

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
  • DST 502

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

  • 2021 Faculty of Community and Social Services Learning and Teaching Grant,Making Memory and Place–making: Mapping Somali presence and memory in the City of Toronto. I. Abdillahi (PI).

Creative Work:

  • It Takes A Riot: Race. Rebellion. Reform.  Co-producer with Simon Black. A documentary film marking the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Yonge Street Uprising in Toronto.
  • No Life Left Behind. Creator and Co-host. Podcast.


  • Abdillahi, I. (in press). Black Women Under State: Surveillance, Poverty & the Violence of Social Assistance. Winnipeg: ARP Books (to be published Fall 2021). 
  • Abdillahi, I. (in press). Blackened madness: Medicalization, and Everyday Life in Canada. Winnipeg: ARP Books (to be published Fall 2022). 
  • C.E. James & Abdillahi, I. (Eds.). (forthcoming). Experiencing Difference. 2nd Edition. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing (to be published 2021). 
  • Menzies, R. J., Reaume, G., LeFrançois, B. A., & Abdillahi, I. (Eds.). (in press). Mad matters: A critical reader in Canadian mad studies. Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  • Walcott, R. & Abdillahi, I. (2019). BlackLife: Post–BLM and the Struggle For Freedom. Winnipeg: ARP Books.

Chapters in Books:

  • Abdillahi, I. & Friedman, M. (2020). Lessons learned from Fat Women on TV. In J. Andrews & M. Friedman (Eds.), Our Skin: Our Bodies, Our Stories. Toronto: Demeter Press.  
  • Abdillahi, I., Meerai, S. & Poole, J. (2013). When the suffering is compounded: Towards anti–Black Sanism. In S. Wehbi & H. Parada (Eds.), Re–Imagining Anti–Oppression Social Work Practice. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  • Barnoff, L., Abdillahi, I., & Jordan, B. (2013). Building anti–oppressive organizations: Thoughts from a multi–dimensionally informed journey. In S. Webhi & H. Parada (Eds.), Re–Imagining Anti–Oppression Social Work: Reflecting on Practice. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ 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.
  • Sue Williams Excellence in Teaching Award, 2020-2021
  • Viola Desmond Faculty Award, 2015