New faculty member set to explore research-creation

September 2022

As the Faculty of Information & Media Studies welcomes the inaugural class for the Creative Arts & Production major this September, the FIMS community is also excited to announce the addition of a new faculty member set to teach in the program. Nataleah Hunter-Young, who completed a PhD in Communication and Culture at York University and Toronto Metropolitan University in August, will join FIMS as an assistant professor in January 2023.

Nataleah Hunter-Young sitting on a stool in an art studioProfessor Hunter-Young brings a strong and varied background into their new role. With a degree in social work and a professional practice spanning 10 years, they bring those experiences to FIMS to inform their approach to this latest role. In academia, Hunter-Young sees an opportunity to have a different kind of impact on the issues they have previously tackled through social work practice and community advocacy.

“I went into social work with a desire to serve communities of criminalized young people but up close, over 10 years of service, I witnessed how Canadian social services infrastructures broadly, and their provincial and municipal subsidiaries, are again and again reorganized to keep Black and Indigenous lives quietly in peril,” they said.

While working with youth in community arts programs across Toronto, Hunter-Young recognized there were opportunities to pursue crucial cultural work outside of the social service infrastructure of a city. There was a need to “redetermine where transformative and critical conversations are being had,” they said. “I was done having them in boardrooms, behind closed doors.”

Teaching within the CAP program will afford Hunter-Young the opportunity to continue the creative practice they began while a doctoral student. While exploring the mediation of anti-black police brutality through representations in contemporary art for their doctoral research, they also practiced silkscreen printing. Through this creative work, Hunter-Young attempted to apply some of the visual strategies learned from conversations with visual artists and creative practitioners.

“In my research, and pedagogy, I treat practice-based knowledge—such as that available in the works of visual artists—as evidence of theoretical application. I am still learning about how my scholarship will include creative practice going forward but the advantage of joining FIMS is the latitude to continue to explore the scholarly practice of research-creation [e.g., making new knowledge through art practice] alongside colleagues and students in the Creative Arts and Production program.”

Hunter-Young will also teach courses for the Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT) program and is developing a graduate level course focused on multi-modal research which will explore the opportunities that creative inquiry and making can bring to scholarly practice.

Currently a Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Black Studies at Queen’s University, Professor Hunter-Young will join FIMS after the fellowship wraps up in December 2022. They are also serving as an international programmer for TIFF (running September 8-18), looking after film selections from Africa and Arab West Asia. Hunter-Young has supported programming for the Festival since 2017.

In taking up this new appointment, they will make the move from Toronto to London. Western’s campus will be Hunter-Young’s academic home, but they are also looking forward to finding out what the city and its surrounding area have to offer.

“I am definitely looking forward to exploring the benefits that give ‘Forest City’ its name as well as finding my way to the independent cinema! I look forward to settling-in, learning first-hand what FIMS and London have to offer, and how I can best contribute.”

Image credit: Philippe Nyirimihigo