- Learning More About Ann Barden Denis: A Dedication
This Special Issue of Canadian Ethnic Studies/Études ethniques au Canada is dedicated to Ann Barden Denis (1945-2019). Ann was a wonderful colleague, friend, and mentor to many. A strong woman, she was an early, productive and steadfast Canadian scholar; a thoughtful, rigorous, bilingual Canadian researcher; and a wise, skillful and generous leader of scholarly organizations, especially in her discipline of sociology. Throughout her career, Denis brought a life-long interest in ethnicity and women into sociology through sustained memberships, participations, and leadership within both the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (CSAA), now CSA, where she contributed in many capacities and as President, and the International Sociological Association (ISA), where she contributed as Vice President Research and Executive member for eight years. In the ISA she also participated and led Research Committees (RCs), including RC32 (currently known as "Women, Gender, and Society", 1992-2006) and RC05 (currently known as "Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnicity", 2006-18), taking good care of their administration, conference planning and implementation. She coordinated joint sessions of RC32 and RC05 as a way of furthering and enacting feminist intersectionality transnationally.
Ann was engaged in the field of Ethnic Studies from the beginning to the end of her career. Her personal journey and lifetime focus sought to understand, question and ultimately change the power differentials associated with women, social class, and ethnicity as well as the contexts which support them, including language, culture, and historic Euro-Patriarchal dominations. She experienced some of their benefits and associated harms personally, through different social contexts and at different times, first locally and within Canada and then more globally. Outside Canada, her empirical scholarly attention first focused on Britain where she completed her PhD, then Australia where she took her first sabbatical and formally [End Page 157] started her international comparative analysis, and India where she attended her first ISA meeting (1986). She revisited India on several occasions and enjoyed travelling slowly and learning locally about its cultural complexities. In 2014, she took a year of Japanese before the ISA Yokohama meeting and then, after a week's trip with friends in Japan, she travelled alone in southern India before attending the Women's Worlds Congress 2014 in Hyderabad, India, a month later. After becoming interested in women/gender and development and globalization, she chose to conduct her comparative empirical research in the Caribbean. That research focused on Caribbean immigrant women in Canada and comparisons with women and state policies in Canada and the Caribbean. She spent sabbaticals and research leaves within the University of West Indies campuses, mainly in Barbados in different workplace settings. She developed close friendships in Barbados, especially with the family where she resided, and Ann was pleased to be invited to a wedding in that family. A number of years after being based mainly in Canada again, she had a wonderful time attending wedding festivities in Barbados and renewing friendships.
I am honoured to be writing this dedication to Ann. For over 40 years, we knew each other as Canadian women sociologists and feminist sociologists, and more recently, we had worked closely together organizationally. After she passed, I had so many unanswered questions. A large part of my grieving process has been getting to know her and her work better, through information on her cv that was new to me but resonated with our common experiences and conversations. Earlier, I responded to a request from the International Sociological Association's online magazine and co-wrote "Ann Barden Denis: In Appreciation," with two other Canadian friends and colleagues, Angela Miles and Marilyn Porter.1 This present dedication is a complementary text, sharing some of my personal experiences, but also including more details of Ann's scholarly career, especially as they relate to ethnicity and her early years, when there was no research on, about, by, or with women. Ann's lifetime scholarly journey resonates in meaningful ways with key words in this Special Issue's title, "Transnational, Feminist and Intersectional Perspectives on Immigrants and Refugees in Canada/ Perspectives transnationales, féministes et intersectionnelles sur les immigrants et les réfugiés au Canada." Ann...