May Chazan, recent DGES PhD graduate, recipient of Distinguished Dissertation Award

Former Carleton grad, May Chazan, was recently named the recipient of the 2012 Canadian Association for Graduate Studies “Distinguished Dissertation Award” for her PhD dissertation, Mobilizing Grandmotherhood: Possibilities of Global Connections.  This award is granted by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies(CAGS) and is sponsored by University Microfilms Internationa (UMl). It recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic fields.
May’s dissertation investigates why, how, and to what effect grandmothers in Canada and in the Valley of 1000 Hills (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) were organizing and connecting between 2006 and 2010. In 2006, the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) launched its Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, seeking to mobilize Canadians in solidarity with African grandmothers who had lost their children to HIV/AIDS and were left to raise their grandchildren. Four years later, some 10,000 Canadians had organized and collectively raised over C$9,000,000 for African AIDS organizations. What motivated these women to build solidarity across distance and difference? How, and to what effect, did women from particular African communities perceive these linkages and draw on this solidarity network? These questions guided May’s research.

Beyond Canada or South Africa, her research sought to challenge broader stereotypes about older women’s disengagement, frailty, and marginality; to understand the important contributions older women can make, and are making, in working for social change. The award will be granted at the CAGS annual conference in November in Ottawa.

Supervised by Prof Mike Brklacich, May graduated with her PhD in Geography in November 2011, as the first doctoral student at Carleton to complete a PhD in geography with a specialization in political economy. She is currently working on a SSHRC-supported postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof Mark Hunter.

You can read more about the award and May’s research on the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies website –

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