Tenure-track; Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011
My research investigates the social processes that shape the well-being of historically marginalized communities and the strategies, alliances, policies and practices that can bring about more just and sustainable societies. I am currently engaged in three major projects:
1. Canadian Apartheid is a forthcoming book about Indigenous-Settler relations in Northwestern Ontario (Treaty 3 Territory). Based on 18 months of fieldwork, 160 in-depth interviews, and a photovoice project with Anishinaabe, Métis and white residents, this book examines the construction and negotiation of group identities, the key sources of intergroup conflict and cooperation (“boundaries” and “bridges”) and the dynamic nature of racism and anti-racism in a contemporary small-town settler-colonial setting.
2. Pathways to Being an Ally: Building on the above research, I am conducting life-history interviews with non-Indigenous Canadians who participate in Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Idle No More events. My goal is to understand the experiences and conditions that lead to engagement in solidarity activities. In other words, how do some settlers become “allies,” and how do they conceive of their role in reconciliation and decolonization?
3. Action Research on Social Determinants of Health: I am also a collaborator on two CIHR-funded projects broadly concerned with poverty and health in Indigenous communities. The Poverty Action Research Project (PARP) involves working closely with five First Nation communities across Canada to develop poverty reduction and community development strategies and monitor the long-term impacts on health and well-being. The Two-Eyed Seeing Project is a partnership with 13 Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia to document the causes and consequences of poverty and develop a new, culturally appropriate social policy framework, blending the best of both Indigenous and Western knowledge. More generally, I have an abiding interest in the social determinants of health and citizen participation in decision-making, sparked by earlier research on the transformation and closure of the Wellesley Hospital in downtown Toronto.
2010-2016: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, Aboriginal Health Intervention Research Grant ($2.5 million): “A Poverty Reduction Approach to Improving the Health and Well-Being of First Nation Communities,” Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. Frederic Wien, Dalhousie University, in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations)
2013-2016: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Open Operating Grant ($446,395): “Building a Social Policy Framework for the Health and Well-Being of Mi’kmaq Communities: A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach,” Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. Frederic Wien, Dalhousie University, in partnership with the Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO))
2012-present: McMaster University, Standard Research Grant, Arts Research Board ($7,000): “Pathways to Being an Ally: How Some Non-Indigenous Canadians Embrace Reconciliation,” Principal Investigator
2009-2010: National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant ($10,000): “Native and Non-Native Group Interactions,” Principal Investigator
Goyette, David, Dennis William Magill, and Jeff Denis (Editors). 2006. Survival Strategies: The Life, Death, and Renaissance of a Canadian Teaching Hospital. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
CHAPTERS IN BOOKS:
Denis, Jeffrey S. 2011. “Bridging Understandings: Anishinaabe and White Perspectives on the Residential School Apology and Prospects for Reconciliation.” Pp. 257-262 in Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives, 2nd edition, edited by Lorne Tepperman and Angela Katyla. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.
Denis, Jeffrey S. 2012. “Transforming Meanings and Group Positions: Tactics and Framing in Anishinaabe-White Relations in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 35(3): 453-470.
Denis, Jeff. 2012. “Why ‘Idle No More’ Is Gaining Strength, and Why All Canadians Should Care.” Toronto Star, Opinion/Editorial, December 20, 2012. [http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2012/12/20/why_idle_no_more_is_gaining_strength_and_why_all_canadians_should_care.html]