The Trudeau Scholarship has been much more than just an avenue of funding. Certainly, the financial support has been crucial, and I am profoundly grateful for it. But the financial support is not the most important aspect of what the Foundation has given me. The Foundation's truly transformative and undoubtedly lasting impact on my life and studies has been through the extraordinary community that it creates, and the opportunities it provides to learn from and work with some of the most inspirational and talented people I know. At the heart of the Foundation's ethos, is, I believe, a commitment to the ideals of public scholarship, and a vision of scholars as public intellectuals, rather than specialists or technicians in a narrowly defined field of expertise. As such, the Foundation represents an opportunity for engagement with the world and a model of an inter-disciplinary community, in which people from remarkably different fields come together to work on issues of social justice that cut across disciplinary boundaries. As a graduate student studying in the United States, the Foundation has also been my most sustained connection to public debate in Canada, and has been the means by which I have been able to feel that I am involved with and able to make a difference in Canadian intellectual and political life.
Sonali Thakkar was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario. She studied English Literature, International Relations, and Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, where she completed her BA, and she subsequently pursued an MA at the University of California at Berkeley. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. Her research interests include cultural memory, post-colonial literature, gender studies, and human rights. Her dissertation examines the connections between post-colonial literature and Holocaust memory. Her scholarly writing has appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly, and in the anthology The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies, co-edited by Trudeau Fellow Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir. Together with Trudeau Scholars May Chazan, Lisa Helps, and Anna Stanley, she is co-editing an anthology titled Unsettling Multiculturalism: Lands, Labours, Bodies. She has also written for the Globe and Mailbooks section, as well as The Literary Review of Canada, where she was the Assistant Editor from 2002-2004. She was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellow from 2005-2009. In 2009, she was one of the winners of the Law and Humanities Junior Scholar Essay Competition, and she also won a research grant from the Irmgard Coninx Foundation, which will allow her to spend three months in residence at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin in fall 2010. She is currently a visiting lecturer in English and American Studies at the Johannes Gutenburg University in Mainz, Germany. When she is not reading and writing, she is cooking, traveling, sampling cultural events of all kinds, and knitting fiendishly.