amfm


Ann Marie Murnaghan

Photo of Ann Marie Murnaghan

Department of Humanities

Assistant Professor

Email: amfm@yorku.ca


Ann Marie Murnaghan is an Assistant Professor, Children, Childhood, and Youth Program, Department of Humanities. Dr. Murnaghan's research expertise and publications focus on discourses of childhood, children’s worlds and material cultures in cities, both historically and in the present period. Her previous research analyzed how the material cultures of play and playgrounds influenced discourses of childhood and children’s identities in early twentieth-century Toronto. In her current research, Murnaghan examines how museums act as sites of children’s informal education, and how integral these are to the formation of children’s identities, using film studies, critical museology, and participatory, playful methodologies. In future research, she will explore children’s play in communities and public spaces, and what this means for children and families in the local community. As a committed collaborator, she currently participates in three SSHRC-funded projects and is passionate about community-oriented teaching and research. Authoring over 20 articles and chapters, she co-edited the internationally representative and interdisciplinary Children, Nature, Cities, published by Routledge in 2016. She has held teaching positions at University of Manitoba and Ryerson University, and research fellowships at the Centre for Digital Humanities (Ryerson) and the Centre for Research in Young Peoples Texts and Cultures (University of Winnipeg). 

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Current Research Projects

Remembering Indiantown: Witsuwit'en Experiences in Smithers, 1921-1967

    Summary:

    When Smithers, BC, first incorporated in 1921, an Indigenous community known as Indiantown was already on the fringes of the developing town. The reasons that Witsuwit'en and other Indigenous people came to Smithers varied. Some were already living in the area when the settlers arrived. Others had been compelled to relocate after eviction from their previous homes by settlers seeking farmland or the federal Indian agent deciding they did not qualify to live on reserve. Others still moved to the emerging railway entrepôt to access jobs and opportunities in the developing northern economy.

    For a half-century, Indiantown was a vital centre for Indigenous life in the frontier town. Within settler society, Indigenous people faced discrimination in health care, education, policing, and the labour market. Although their labour helped build the town, Indigenous families remained at the fringe of the community. But despite their poverty, Witsuwit'en families were able to build a place for themselves from which they could both participate in the local economy and maintain connections to broader networks of kin.

    For decades, municipal officials in Smithers had discussed proposals to displace the ten to fifteen predominantly Witsuwit'en families from the townsite. But there were never resources or mechanisms to remove them. As the town developed in the postwar period, pressure to redevelop Indiantown increased. Immigration and technological change had decreased the need for Indigenous labour in the north. Simultaneously, the introduction of water and sewer systems transformed the built environment; Indiantown--which had never been extended those services--became a locus of concern as a site of dereliction and disease.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, municipal authorities began to enforce housing standards, while provincial social workers targeted poor Indigenous homes in a wave of child apprehensions. The imposition of middle class, white norms to evaluate the Indiantown community had devastating effects. Families lost children to state apprehensions and homes to municipal redevelopment projects. Eventually the municipality redeveloped the area into a new business district and redesigned residential neighbourhood. With the removal of the last house in 1967, Indiantown disappeared. Although this displacement had tremendous impacts on Witsuwit'en families, it was quickly forgotten by the settler community. In recent years, tensions over this history undermined efforts to build relationships between Witsuwit'en hereditary chiefs and municipal officials in Smithers. In 2016, Witsuwit'en and Smithers leaders decided to partner in a research project, led by Tyler McCreary, to explore the historical relationships between the Witsuwit'en and settler communities. The book, "Shared Histories" (McCreary 2018), told that story.

    In Remembering Indiantown, we seek to extend the conversation about this history to the broader public through curating a museum exhibit on the history of Witsuwit'en families in Smithers, with a launch ceremony. The exhibit will be mixed media--including text, photographs, maps, and video clips of elders documenting the history of Indiantown. The five themes emphasized in the exhibit will be the foundations of the Indiantown community, its contributions to Smithers community and economy, the inclusion and exclusion of Indiantown residents in Smithers, the eventual displacement of Indiantown, and finally its enduring legacy.

    The exhibit and its public launch are being developed in coordination with a Witsuwit'en advisory committee to guide the project to address community concerns and interests. This participatory community-based design reflects the guiding principles of Indigenous research paradigms (Pualani Louis, 2007).

    See more
    Role: Co-investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Feb   Year: 2020

    End Date:
      Month: Aug   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Tyler McCreary and Paul Bowles
    Collaborator Institution: Florida State University and University of Northern British Columbia
    Collaborator Role: Co-investigators

    Funders:
    Connections Program, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
COVID-19: Mapping Canada's potential to shift to a cycling nation post-pandemic through a Canada-Wide, coordinated bike count

    Summary:

    The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted contemporary life globally. It is also exposing inequities within communities, disproportionately impacting women and racialized communities. Current physical distancing measures have forced us to acknowledge the limitations of our existing transportation modes, and we are seeing a "bicycle bump" as people reliant on public transit, who are also often those from low income neighbourhoods, look for different ways to safely move around.

    The response to the pandemic has opened up an opportunity to re-imagine what Canadian cities can look like. It has also identified a need for better data on cycling across Canada, as a mode for everyday transportation, for post-pandemic planning purposes and because cycling is also a viable means to address climate change. The goal of this Partnership Engage Grant is to connect researchers and cycling advocates from across Canada to better understand these cycling trends regionally and nationally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The partner organization is Vélo Canada Bikes (VCB), a national non-profit organization, established in 2012 to provide a strong national voice for everyday cycling in Canada.

    Our goal in this partnership is to establish cordon counts in 12 communities across Canada, selected based on region (Western, Central, Eastern, Northern and Atlantic Canada), size and potential for accelerating cycling. There are two objectives: 1) To collect objective data on cycling in 12 cities across Canada, with a focus on measuring cycling rates in pop-up cycling lanes, on closed streets, and along transit routes, and 2) To catalyze citizen engagement, by mobilizing citizens from diverse communities across Canada and promoting cycling as one solution to the dual, and related, threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

    Cordon counts provide useful information about trips from and to zones within a community based on a specific geographic boundary, or screen line, as well as providing greater detail on the spatial distribution of cycling in a city. Volunteer cordon counts already take place in cities around the world, but only take place in a handful of cities in Canada. We will use an established protocol to ensure that communities undertake the same process for data collection. We will include a particular focus on collecting data on gender and race. Participating communities will implement a standard protocol to generate data that will allow for comparison nationally and with the potential for application internationally. Count data will be collected using the CounterPoint mobile application. CounterPoint is an award-winning app that is free to use and designed to leverage the power of citizen science and
    crowdsourcing to help the world understand how people move.

    This VCB-academic partnership will enhance the quality and quantity of data that can be collected and ensure that a standard protocol is applied to data collection and analysis. Analysis will be facilitated through the academic team associated with this partnership. These represent diverse disciplines and expertise, including experience in conducting and analyzing cycling counts, citizen science, gender-based analysis and population health. The data collected will be made available to academic teams across Canada through a data-sharing agreement. The proposal directly addresses the objectives of the SSHRC Partnership Engage Grants COVID-19 Special Initiative by focusing on understanding the differentiated social impacts of the pandemic, building longer-term resilience and rethinking communal approaches to mobility for Canadians.

    See more
    Role: Collaborator

    Collaborator: ara Kirk, Dalhousie University, Alexander Soucy, St. Mary's, Meghan Winters, SFU, Karen Laberee, Victoria, Anders Swanson, Winnipeg Trails Association, Kate Walker, Velo Canada Bikes
    Funders:
    Partnership Engage Program Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Curating the story museum: Transmedia practices, participatory exhibits, and youth citizenship

    Summary:

    You can learn more about our Curating Story project at curatingstory.com

    Description:

    Children's story museums have become distinctive venues for public awareness and critical engagement with the representations and constructions of childhood; however, only limited scholarly work has focused on these sites. This proposed research examines the children's story museum as a dynamic transmedia platform for the design of participatory exhibits and critical dialogue. While many current exhibits affirm idealized childhood representations, transmedia engagements (across old and new media formats) within these spaces have significant potential for critical and subversive dialogue with ideological constructions and representations of childhoods. Framed by participatory and activist museum movements, towards 'queering the museum' and 'decolonizing the museum', this proposed project will focus on the negotiation of youth citizenship through emerging technologies in these spaces. From this perspective, we query how current children's museum exhibits focused on childhood texts and cultures present opportunities to negotiate, subvert, and/or reaffirm cultural discourses of childhood, nationalism, gender, race, sexuality, and ability. The proposed research aims to harness the potential of transmedia storytelling with the invitation for critical dialogue with childhood discourses across media. While museum education has employed interactive media for visitor engagement, the inclusion of digital storytelling and transmedia practices for critical dialogue and intervention is relatively new. Drawing upon theoretical and methodological frames from museum studies and the field of children's media cultures, this project invites children to engage as collaborative curators in the transmedia design of a pilot story museum exhibit rooted in local rare books and archival collections including the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, Ryerson University's Children's Literature Archive, Toronto, and Ontario Archives, alongside the child participants' own stories and imagined narratives.

    See more
    Role: Co-investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2018

    End Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Naomi Hamer
    Collaborator Institution: Ryerson University
    Collaborator Role: Principal Investigator

    Funders:
    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2021 AP/HUMA4142 6.0 A Contemporary Children's Culture SEMR
Fall/Winter 2021 AP/HUMA4140 6.0 B Childhood in Canadian Culture ONLN


Ann Marie Murnaghan is an Assistant Professor, Children, Childhood, and Youth Program, Department of Humanities. Dr. Murnaghan's research expertise and publications focus on discourses of childhood, children’s worlds and material cultures in cities, both historically and in the present period. Her previous research analyzed how the material cultures of play and playgrounds influenced discourses of childhood and children’s identities in early twentieth-century Toronto. In her current research, Murnaghan examines how museums act as sites of children’s informal education, and how integral these are to the formation of children’s identities, using film studies, critical museology, and participatory, playful methodologies. In future research, she will explore children’s play in communities and public spaces, and what this means for children and families in the local community. As a committed collaborator, she currently participates in three SSHRC-funded projects and is passionate about community-oriented teaching and research. Authoring over 20 articles and chapters, she co-edited the internationally representative and interdisciplinary Children, Nature, Cities, published by Routledge in 2016. She has held teaching positions at University of Manitoba and Ryerson University, and research fellowships at the Centre for Digital Humanities (Ryerson) and the Centre for Research in Young Peoples Texts and Cultures (University of Winnipeg). 

Current Research Projects

Remembering Indiantown: Witsuwit'en Experiences in Smithers, 1921-1967

    Summary:

    When Smithers, BC, first incorporated in 1921, an Indigenous community known as Indiantown was already on the fringes of the developing town. The reasons that Witsuwit'en and other Indigenous people came to Smithers varied. Some were already living in the area when the settlers arrived. Others had been compelled to relocate after eviction from their previous homes by settlers seeking farmland or the federal Indian agent deciding they did not qualify to live on reserve. Others still moved to the emerging railway entrepôt to access jobs and opportunities in the developing northern economy.

    For a half-century, Indiantown was a vital centre for Indigenous life in the frontier town. Within settler society, Indigenous people faced discrimination in health care, education, policing, and the labour market. Although their labour helped build the town, Indigenous families remained at the fringe of the community. But despite their poverty, Witsuwit'en families were able to build a place for themselves from which they could both participate in the local economy and maintain connections to broader networks of kin.

    For decades, municipal officials in Smithers had discussed proposals to displace the ten to fifteen predominantly Witsuwit'en families from the townsite. But there were never resources or mechanisms to remove them. As the town developed in the postwar period, pressure to redevelop Indiantown increased. Immigration and technological change had decreased the need for Indigenous labour in the north. Simultaneously, the introduction of water and sewer systems transformed the built environment; Indiantown--which had never been extended those services--became a locus of concern as a site of dereliction and disease.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, municipal authorities began to enforce housing standards, while provincial social workers targeted poor Indigenous homes in a wave of child apprehensions. The imposition of middle class, white norms to evaluate the Indiantown community had devastating effects. Families lost children to state apprehensions and homes to municipal redevelopment projects. Eventually the municipality redeveloped the area into a new business district and redesigned residential neighbourhood. With the removal of the last house in 1967, Indiantown disappeared. Although this displacement had tremendous impacts on Witsuwit'en families, it was quickly forgotten by the settler community. In recent years, tensions over this history undermined efforts to build relationships between Witsuwit'en hereditary chiefs and municipal officials in Smithers. In 2016, Witsuwit'en and Smithers leaders decided to partner in a research project, led by Tyler McCreary, to explore the historical relationships between the Witsuwit'en and settler communities. The book, "Shared Histories" (McCreary 2018), told that story.

    In Remembering Indiantown, we seek to extend the conversation about this history to the broader public through curating a museum exhibit on the history of Witsuwit'en families in Smithers, with a launch ceremony. The exhibit will be mixed media--including text, photographs, maps, and video clips of elders documenting the history of Indiantown. The five themes emphasized in the exhibit will be the foundations of the Indiantown community, its contributions to Smithers community and economy, the inclusion and exclusion of Indiantown residents in Smithers, the eventual displacement of Indiantown, and finally its enduring legacy.

    The exhibit and its public launch are being developed in coordination with a Witsuwit'en advisory committee to guide the project to address community concerns and interests. This participatory community-based design reflects the guiding principles of Indigenous research paradigms (Pualani Louis, 2007).

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Co-investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Feb   Year: 2020

    End Date:
      Month: Aug   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Tyler McCreary and Paul Bowles
    Collaborator Institution: Florida State University and University of Northern British Columbia
    Collaborator Role: Co-investigators

    Funders:
    Connections Program, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
COVID-19: Mapping Canada's potential to shift to a cycling nation post-pandemic through a Canada-Wide, coordinated bike count

    Summary:

    The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted contemporary life globally. It is also exposing inequities within communities, disproportionately impacting women and racialized communities. Current physical distancing measures have forced us to acknowledge the limitations of our existing transportation modes, and we are seeing a "bicycle bump" as people reliant on public transit, who are also often those from low income neighbourhoods, look for different ways to safely move around.

    The response to the pandemic has opened up an opportunity to re-imagine what Canadian cities can look like. It has also identified a need for better data on cycling across Canada, as a mode for everyday transportation, for post-pandemic planning purposes and because cycling is also a viable means to address climate change. The goal of this Partnership Engage Grant is to connect researchers and cycling advocates from across Canada to better understand these cycling trends regionally and nationally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The partner organization is Vélo Canada Bikes (VCB), a national non-profit organization, established in 2012 to provide a strong national voice for everyday cycling in Canada.

    Our goal in this partnership is to establish cordon counts in 12 communities across Canada, selected based on region (Western, Central, Eastern, Northern and Atlantic Canada), size and potential for accelerating cycling. There are two objectives: 1) To collect objective data on cycling in 12 cities across Canada, with a focus on measuring cycling rates in pop-up cycling lanes, on closed streets, and along transit routes, and 2) To catalyze citizen engagement, by mobilizing citizens from diverse communities across Canada and promoting cycling as one solution to the dual, and related, threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

    Cordon counts provide useful information about trips from and to zones within a community based on a specific geographic boundary, or screen line, as well as providing greater detail on the spatial distribution of cycling in a city. Volunteer cordon counts already take place in cities around the world, but only take place in a handful of cities in Canada. We will use an established protocol to ensure that communities undertake the same process for data collection. We will include a particular focus on collecting data on gender and race. Participating communities will implement a standard protocol to generate data that will allow for comparison nationally and with the potential for application internationally. Count data will be collected using the CounterPoint mobile application. CounterPoint is an award-winning app that is free to use and designed to leverage the power of citizen science and
    crowdsourcing to help the world understand how people move.

    This VCB-academic partnership will enhance the quality and quantity of data that can be collected and ensure that a standard protocol is applied to data collection and analysis. Analysis will be facilitated through the academic team associated with this partnership. These represent diverse disciplines and expertise, including experience in conducting and analyzing cycling counts, citizen science, gender-based analysis and population health. The data collected will be made available to academic teams across Canada through a data-sharing agreement. The proposal directly addresses the objectives of the SSHRC Partnership Engage Grants COVID-19 Special Initiative by focusing on understanding the differentiated social impacts of the pandemic, building longer-term resilience and rethinking communal approaches to mobility for Canadians.

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Collaborator

    Collaborator: ara Kirk, Dalhousie University, Alexander Soucy, St. Mary's, Meghan Winters, SFU, Karen Laberee, Victoria, Anders Swanson, Winnipeg Trails Association, Kate Walker, Velo Canada Bikes
    Funders:
    Partnership Engage Program Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Curating the story museum: Transmedia practices, participatory exhibits, and youth citizenship

    Summary:

    You can learn more about our Curating Story project at curatingstory.com

    Description:

    Children's story museums have become distinctive venues for public awareness and critical engagement with the representations and constructions of childhood; however, only limited scholarly work has focused on these sites. This proposed research examines the children's story museum as a dynamic transmedia platform for the design of participatory exhibits and critical dialogue. While many current exhibits affirm idealized childhood representations, transmedia engagements (across old and new media formats) within these spaces have significant potential for critical and subversive dialogue with ideological constructions and representations of childhoods. Framed by participatory and activist museum movements, towards 'queering the museum' and 'decolonizing the museum', this proposed project will focus on the negotiation of youth citizenship through emerging technologies in these spaces. From this perspective, we query how current children's museum exhibits focused on childhood texts and cultures present opportunities to negotiate, subvert, and/or reaffirm cultural discourses of childhood, nationalism, gender, race, sexuality, and ability. The proposed research aims to harness the potential of transmedia storytelling with the invitation for critical dialogue with childhood discourses across media. While museum education has employed interactive media for visitor engagement, the inclusion of digital storytelling and transmedia practices for critical dialogue and intervention is relatively new. Drawing upon theoretical and methodological frames from museum studies and the field of children's media cultures, this project invites children to engage as collaborative curators in the transmedia design of a pilot story museum exhibit rooted in local rare books and archival collections including the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, Ryerson University's Children's Literature Archive, Toronto, and Ontario Archives, alongside the child participants' own stories and imagined narratives.

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Co-investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2018

    End Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Naomi Hamer
    Collaborator Institution: Ryerson University
    Collaborator Role: Principal Investigator

    Funders:
    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council



Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2021 AP/HUMA4142 6.0 A Contemporary Children's Culture SEMR
Fall/Winter 2021 AP/HUMA4140 6.0 B Childhood in Canadian Culture ONLN