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May Chazan

  • Scholar 2006
  • Alumni
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Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Trent University

    May Chazan obtained a Ph.D. in Geography from Carleton University in Ottawa. Her doctoral dissertation, Of Solidarity and Survival: Examining the Interface between International Solidarity Efforts and the Everyday Lives of Grandmothers in the Valley of 1000 Hills, South Africa, examined the complex ways older women are responding to the combined pressures of poverty, violence, and HIV/AIDS in four South African communities, and how they are drawing on discourses and resources generated in Canada to validate and fuel their responses. It illustrated the possibilities of older women's mobilizations and the complexities involved in transnational movements, documenting how the Canadian Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign (a solidarity network of nearly 10,000 Canadians facilitated by the Stephen Lewis Foundation) has benefited thousands of South Africans, while also drawing on South African women's perspectives to disrupt several of the Canadian Campaign's central assumptions. May remains vitally concerned with older women's roles in global justice movements, which, she believes, provide a critical opening to rethink contemporary understandings of global citizenship and struggles for social change. Trudeau Foundation Scholar (2006-2010), SSHRC Doctoral Fellow (2005-2009), and co-editor of Home and Native Land: Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada (Between the Lines Press, 2011), she has published her recent work in such journals as Ageing and Society, Globalization and Health, and the African Journal of AIDS Research.

    Experience as a Trudeau Scholar

    It goes without saying that the kind of support I have received through the Trudeau Foundation Scholarship has allowed me to pursue overseas research with a level of depth, sophistication, commitment, and ethical awareness that would have otherwise been impossible. I have drawn on my ATA to support three research trips to South Africa, one of which involved relocating for an extended stay with my family in 2008. Through this, I have been able to fully engage community members in every aspect of my work, from developing the proposal, to carrying out the fieldwork, to writing up a report that could be (and indeed has been) used by them to access support and funding. In short, my scholarship has allowed me to support, and advocate in solidarity with, South African women dealing with the nearly immeasurable combined stresses of HIV/AIDS, violence and poverty. More than this financial support, however, the Trudeau Foundation community has been an integral home to me throughout my PhD: a place where I feel my work is valued; where I feel personally supported by the Foundation staff; where I have experienced a meeting of minds, passions, and values; where I am constantly challenged; and where I have developed soulful and lasting friendships. Never before have I been part of a community that so seamlessly brings together people of all walks (scholars from varied backgrounds, fellows and mentors from within and outside academia, artists, activists, writers, policy makers, and the list goes on) and manages to create meaningful dialogue around a wide range of questions. I have benefited tremendously from the opportunities to think and discuss in areas well outside my own field of study and my own discipline; I leave my time with the Foundation not only nearing the completion of my degree, but as someone who has been supported to grow and develop as a scholar and public thinker.