Margot Francis

Associate Professor, Sociology

Office: MCD 333
905-688-5550 x5381

PhD, OISE, University of Toronto
MEd, OISE, University of Toronto
BA, University of Western Ontario

Margot Francis is an Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies, cross appointed to the Department of Sociology. She teaches courses on queer communities and popular culture, the construction of gender and race in Canadian culture and the Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research interests include: feminist and post-colonial perspectives on settler societies, critical explorations of culture, arts and identity and integrative approaches to gender, sexuality and the body.  Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in Theory and Policy Studies from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (2002).

Francis’ book, Creative Subversion: Whiteness and Indigeneity in the National Imaginary (UBC Press, 2011) explores how whiteness and Indigeneity are articulated through iconic images of Canadian identity – and the contradictory and contested meanings these images evoke. These benign, even kitschy symbols, she argues, are haunted by ideas about race, masculinity, and sexuality that circulated during the formative years of Anglo-Canadian nationhood. Through a richly illustrated text Francis explores how national symbols such as the beaver, the railway, the wilderness of Banff National Park, and ideas about ‘Indianness’ evoke nostalgic versions of the past that cannot be expelled or assimilated. The irony is that insofar as Canadian consume versions of a past that do not nourish, the living can themselves become ghostly. Juxtaposing historical images with work by contemporary artists she explores how artists are giving taken-for-granted symbols new and suggestive meanings. From director Richard Fung’s Dirty Laundry, to the work of Indigenous artists Jeff Thomas and Kent Monkman, to Shauna Dempsey and Lorri Milan’s performance work Lesbian Park Rangers, the book explores how banal objects can be re-imagined in ways that offer the possibility of moving from an unproblematized possession by the past to an imaginative reconsideration of it.