2022 Graduate Student Summer Research Fellows

We are pleased to announce the Inaugural Graduate Student Summer Research Fellows, Elaine Cagulada and Vanessa Maloney! Learn more about our Summer Research Fellowship here, and read on for a description of this year’s projects.

Elaine Cagulada


Image Description: A brown femme-presenting person stands among greenery and pavement with her hands in her pockets. She wears a black shirt on which it reads: “Abolition is the future”, in all capital letters.

Elaine’s research engages single stories taken up within the institution of police, revealing, through counterstory, beautiful possibilities for how we might understand deafness, disability, race, and policing differently. Calling for a critical narrative turn to the beginnings and endings we place on the human condition, her work encounters carceral enclosures and practices as sites of dependence and resistance. Influenced by teachings abound in disability studies, Black Studies, Indigenous philosophical traditions, and interpretive sociology, Elaine wonders: what different meanings of deafness, disability, and race, what radical possibilities for Being, might be let loose with and through interpretation? 

Project Description

My research is engaged with narrative representations of communicative encounters between police and deaf people. I engage in the critical praxis of storying — a detailed examination of how particular encounters are put together by stories of deafness, disability, race, and policing — in pursuit of uncovering alternatives to the oft repeated story that some people are problem-beings while others, such as the police, are problem-solvers. I am particularly interested in the effects of this repeated story on deaf, disabled, and racialized people’s experiences with issues of communication and access, particularly in interaction with police enforcement. I am interested in how police, as an institution of the state actively involved in the carceral project of social and spatial exclusion, legitimizes particular stories of deafness, disability, and race as a way of knowing about what it means to be normal and not normal. Indeed, how might the ways police come to expect disability and race through particular stories of deafness, disability, race, and policing be, in turn, perceived as “educated” expressions of the carceral project? Through my PhD research, I investigate the relationship between stigma and accessibility education in police culture, by asking the following questions: First, how is the intersection of disability, particularly deafness, and race, revealed in videos of encounters between police and deaf people? Second, how is the presence of deafness, disability, and race in mandatory training modules for members of the Toronto Police Service reflective of particular institutional understandings of diversity and access? Third, what implications do taken-for-granted stories of policing have on communicative encounters between police and deaf people and racialized deaf people, as represented in videos of such encounters? 

Vanessa Maloney


Image description: photo shows a person with short curly brown hair, light skin and blue eyes wearing a bright blue patterned shirt standing in front of a stone building

Vanessa Maloney is a fifth year PhD candidate in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto who has conducted long-term ethnographic research with disabled adults and care services in the Cook Islands, as well as past projects in New Zealand and Tonga. Vanessa’s current work traces how networks of care are carved out within global flows of power, people, and money, and how these care economies unevenly shape disability experiences globally. 

Project Description

In the relative absence of commodified caring labour and state welfare, disabled adults in the Cook Islands primarily depend upon the unpaid labour of family members to meet their daily needs. This care is circulated through widely dispersed transnational kinship networks. The politics of ‘looking after’ in the context of the Pacific Diaspora involves negotiating the movement of people and money through multiple intersecting obligations and complex intrafamilial agreements that are enmeshed in a neo-colonial economy.  

I draw on disability anthropology, global critical disability studies and feminist theories of care in order to trace these dependencies and situate them within wider structures of power. I ask how the constraints within which care circulates, particularly global capitalism and neo-colonialism, can produce care as a site of power, tension and ambiguity. I center disabled peoples’ and caregivers’ stories as they navigate the challenges of living in a ‘care vacuum’ created by the overwhelming out-migration from Pacific Island Nations during the last half century. I argue against a notion of care as defined by a singular intimate obligation between an ‘active’ caregiver and ‘passive’ care-recipient, and instead ask how care arrangements are carved out within vast networks of interdependency.