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Assistant Professor Sociology, Phillipa Chong

Speaking with Associate Professor, Sociology, Phillipa Chong

Dr. Phillipa Chong was recently awarded a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant. She sat down (virtually) to speak with the FSS Comms team on her work and plans for the future.

Jun 25, 2021

Your research focuses on the role of galleries in a post-pandemic world. What made you choose this topic?

Like so many of us during the pandemic, I was trying to figure out how I could use my skill sets to help. I'm a cultural sociologist so the answers weren’t immediately apparent! But I noticed how much art/culture helped people, including my family, cope during quarantine: whether it be through reading, watching movies, or gaming. And the Arts have a role to play in seeing us through this hard time — including reopening.  

Was this your first research project during the pandemic? What was that like? Were there any particular challenges or successes?

I do work with the Communications and Information Technology and Media Sociology scholar of the American Sociological Association. With that background, I am mindful of the fact that digital platforms mediated so much of the data being collected at this moment. I'm a tremendous supporter of digital data in general — and especially now. But I hope we can keep thinking carefully about moving how moving our data collection practices "online" isn't just a matter of convenience, but epistemology too. 

What does being awarded this grant mean to you and your research?

The awarding of the PEG coincides with my becoming a fully tenured professor at McMaster. And it makes me reflective over the past and next chapter of my research career. If you can believe it, when I was first hired as a professor, I was one of the first racialized faculty to be welcomed in the department in over a decade. And a lot has changed since then. So for me, this award signals recognition and creation of a space for the research agendas of young, talented, racialized women of colour in our Academy.

What do you hope will come from the research?

We are in such a time of such great suffering and uncertainty that if there is some way to provide someone with even a moment of pause, reflection, pleasure or even just distraction, then it is worth pursuing. The goal of the study is to better understand how the Arts in Hamilton can be a resource for creating such moments of wellness.  

Some of the research will go towards your new book project. Can you give us a teaser about your book? 

Sorry, I can't talk about that yet. That'd spoil the fun 🙂