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Christopher Powell

Powell, Christopher


Associate Professor


B.A. University of Toronto (Sociology and Political Science), M.A. Carleton University (Sociology), PhD Carleton University (Sociology)




416-979-5000 ext 7202

Email Address:



Research Interests:

Social theory; Radical social change; Sociology of knowledge; Violence and identity-difference

My research examines how we deal with difference in our attempts to build a better society. All social life produces difference, and we may experience difference as dangerous or delightful, enriching or evil depending on the social relations through which we produce ourselves. My work on genocide has looked at the horrific violence that ensues when difference is dealt with by refusing its existence, including the cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada. My current research uses relational sociology and complex system theory to consider how egalitarian social movements deal with difference while forming and pursuing a common purpose. Resolving the tensions between difference and commonality is crucial to the radical democratization of society, including the formation of an egalitarian post-capitalist social order.

Teaching Interests:

Social theory; Identity-difference; Violence; Knowledge

I have taught classical and contemporary social theory for over a decade to undergraduate and graduate students, along with courses on race and ethnicity, feminist thought, relational sociology, genocide studies, and Introduction to Sociology. I also enjoy graduate supervision and have supervised a wide range of theory-related MA thesis projects. I aim to cultivate a participatory classroom dynamic in which students learn not only new knowledge, but new ways of thinking along with analytic and communications skills that they will find useful long after graduation.

Current Courses:

SOC 103: How Society Works

SOC 473: Classical Sociological Theory

SOC 475: Contemporary Sociological Theory

SOC 507: Race and Ethnicity in Canadian Society

ACS 400: Ideas that Shape the World: Modernity (co-taught)

CC8905: MA Research Specialization and Practice

Professional Affiliations:

I have advocated for the recognition of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples as genocidal, contributing to the Winnipeg Free Press, Aboriginal People’s Television Network, and speaking to the public on this topic through the University of Manitoba’s Visionary Conversations series.

Selected Publications & Presentations:



Powell, C. and Dépelteau, F., eds. Conceptualizing Relational Sociology: Ontological and Theoretical Issues. New York: Palgrave.


Dépelteau, F. and Powell, C., eds. Applying Relational Sociology: Relations, Networks, and Society. New York: Palgrave.


Powell, C. Barbaric Civilization: A Critical Sociology of Genocide. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Recent Articles and Book Chapters:


 “Genocide.” In J. Trevino, ed., Cambridge Handbook of Social Problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


A Pragmatic Approach to Understanding Sociologists’ Differing Views on Value-Neutrality.” Canadian Review of Sociology, v. 55(2), pp. 298-324.


 “Anti-genocide.” In S. Totten, ed., Last Lectures on the Prevention and Intervention of Genocide. New York: Routledge. Pp. 268-273.


 “What Can A Theorist Do?” In P. Albanese, L. Tepperman, and E. Alexander, eds., Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives, Third Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada. Pp. 15-18.


 “Revitalizing the Ethnosphere: Global Society, Ethnodiversity, and the Stakes of Cultural Genocide.” Genocide Studies and Prevention, v. 10(1), pp. 44-59.


With A. Amarasingam. “Atrocity and Proto-Genocide in Sri Lanka.” In S. Murray, ed., Understanding Atrocities: Remembering, Representing, and Teaching Genocide. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. Pp. 19-48.


 “Transcendence or Struggle: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Narratives of Human Rights” in Adam Muller, Karen Busby, and Andrew Woolford, eds., The Idea of a Human Rights Museum. University of Manitoba Press. 128-144.


With J. Peristerakis. “Genocide in Canada: A Relational View.” In A. Woolford, J. Benvenuto, and A. L. Hinton, eds., Colonial Genocide and Indigenous North America. Duke University Press.


“Radical Relationism: A Proposal.” In F. Dépelteau and C. Powell, eds.,Conceptualizing Relational Sociology: Ontological and Theoretical Issues. New York: Palgrave.  Pp. 187-207.


“Contradiction and Interdependency: The Sociologies of Karl Marx and Norbert Elias.” in F. Dépelteau and T. S. Landini, eds., Norbert Elias and Social Theory. New York: Palgrave. Pp. 91-107.


"How Epistemology Matters: Five Reflexive Critiques of Public Sociology” Critical Sociology, v. 31(1), pp. 87-104.