School of Social Work, York University
Research keywords: Migration; mobility; border scholarship
Dr. Soma Chatterjee is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work (cross appointed to Interdisciplinary Studies), York University. Soma is broadly interested in migration and mobility, sovereignty and borders, and their ideological and material implications for contemporary Western nation building. She works at the disciplinary intersections of sociology (studies of nationalism and the diaspora), education (specifically, adult and higher education), social work (social policy and global justice) and geography (migration and mobility studies). Her doctoral research looked at the labour market integration of skilled immigrants, and how through the practices of training and learning, a specific “immigrant” subject distinct from Canadian “nationals” emerged in the decades following liberalization. Titled “‘Borders are no Longer at the Border’: High Skilled Labour Migration, Discourses of Skill and Contemporary Canadian Nationalism,” this research challenged the narrow functionalism and pragmatic solution orientation of contemporary integration research and explored the emergence of the figure of a skill-deficient immigrant subject as a national bordering mechanism in a liberal, multicultural state that legislates equality on the basis of skills. Soma is currently turning this research into a book manuscript titled Skills to Build the Nation, aiming to open up a space for dialogue on labour market integration as a major site for the exercise of exclusionary nationalism in Canada. Soma’s more recent research has two interconnected trajectories. First, she is exploring international education migration and the entanglements of migration and higher education policies as part of a broader shift in contemporary Western nation formation. Next, she in actively thinking and writing about the complexities and contradictions of immigration, antiracist politics and Indigenous sovereignty in contemporary Canada. This program of research envisions decolonial justice and freedom in a world in which mobility is an always already condition, and keeping decolonial aspirations fractured along state orchestrated identities is a key mechanism for western liberal democracies to function in their current, extractive socioeconomic forms. Finally, as a member of the Indian diaspora, Soma remains interested in the ongoing displacement and migration of rural and semi-urban populations in India on the one hand, and on the other, the Indian state’s active but selective engagement with its elite diaspora.