Past events: Dean's Lecture on Information + Society

Afua Cooper: Those Who Left Without Saying Goodbye (2022)

Banner for An Evening with Afua Cooper

"Those Who Left Without Saying Goodbye": an evening of conversation and poetry with Dr. Afua Cooper.

Presented by SFU Library, the SFU Institute for Black and African Diaspora Research and Engagement, and SFU Black Caucus.

About the speaker

Dr. Afua Cooper is a multidisciplinary scholar, author and artist. Her contribution to society includes the literary arts, history, humanities, education, and human and civil rights. Her twelve books range across such genres as history, poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. A leader in African-Canadian Studies, she is renowned for her examination of slavery, Black education, women's studies and the African Diaspora; bringing international attention to issues of racism, inclusion and Black culture and advancing social justice and cultural awareness. Dr. Cooper served as the Poet Laureate of Halifax Regional Municipality for the term 2018-2020.

SFU conferred an honorary degree to Dr. Cooper in Fall 2022.

Pre-lecture Drumming Performance

We were honoured to host a special drumming performance in advance of the lecture.

Edward Sembatya is a versatile Ugandan dance practitioner, choreographer, teacher, and drummer (Ugandan drums). He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University, School for Contemporary Arts (dance). His artistic works and research draw inspiration from contemporary everyday life, and the rich knowledge and skills embedded in indigenous East African dances, (Ugandan in particular), music and narratives.

Albert St. Albert Smith is a Lecturer Emeritus in the School for Contemporary Arts and is the founding director of the Ghana Field School in the Arts program. He has been a professional musician, performer and composer for 40 years, whose specialty is instruments from different African nations and their Diaspora. He has studied and played many musical styles; jazz, rock and roll, folk, classical, Latin, and the fusion of these styles, as well as traditional and modern African music. Over the years he has performed with Nina Simone, Freddie Hubbard, Ernestine Anderson, and toured with World Drums Master Musicians of the World. He has performed with and recorded with Almeta Speaks, African Heritage and Uzume Taiko and Ache Brasil.


Robyn Maynard & Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in conversation (2021)

Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in conversation

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About the speakers

Robyn Maynard is a Black feminist author and activist-scholar based in Toronto. Her first book, Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (Fernwood, 2017) is a perennial national best-seller that has appeared on multiple best-of-the-year lists and has become a flagship text for its groundbreaking contributions to public discourse as well as a wide assortment of scholarly disciplines.  Recent works include Police Abolition/Black Revolt and the educational resource A Roadmap to Police-Free Futures in Canada. Her wide-ranging body of work on policing, abolition and Black liberation has received a number of prominent nominations and awards, has been translated into multiple languages, and is taught widely across universities in Canada, the US and Europe.   

With Pascale Diverlus, Robyn Maynard co-hosts Building the World We Want, an abolition lab and monthly political education learning series, and she is currently finalizing an epistolary collaboration with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson titled Rehearsals for Living, forthcoming with Knopf Canada in 2022.  

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, musician and member of Alderville First Nation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics, story and song — bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.

Working for two decades as an independent scholar using Nishnaabeg intellectual practices, Leanne has lectured and taught extensively at universities across Canada and the United States and has twenty years experience with Indigenous land based education. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba, and teaches at the Dechinta Centre for Research & Learning in Denendeh.

She is the author of seven previous books, including the newly released A Short History of the Blockade, and the novel Noopiming: A Cure for White Ladies which was released in the US earlier this year by the University of Minnesota Press.  Leanne has released four albums including f(l)ight and Noopiming Sessions, and her new work Theory of Ice. Her latest book, co-authored with Robyn Maynard and entitled Rehearsals for Living, is forthcoming in 2022.


Dean Spade: On Pinkwashing & Mainstreaming (2019)

Picture of Dean Spade words "On Pinkwashing and Mainstreaming" and "Dean's lecture on information + society"

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About the speaker + lecture

Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law, where he teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, Gender and Law, Policing and Imprisonment, and Law and Social Movements.  Prior to joining the faculty of Seattle University, Dean was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School.

In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people of color.

Dean’s book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law was published by South End Press in 2011. A second edition with new writing was published in 2015 by Duke University Press. Bella Terra Press published a Spanish edition in 2016.

In 2015, Dean released a one-hour video documentary, Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!, which can be watched free online with English captions or subtitles in several languages.

On Pinkwashing & Mainstreaming: Due to the efforts of vibrant social movements, attitudes have been changing about queer and trans people’s lives. Reform efforts aimed at increasing justice and survival for queer and trans people have become more visible. At the same time, mainstream institutions and governments have started to promote themselves as gay- or trans-friendly in order to get good PR, especially when they want to appear progressive to cover up harmful and violent practices. This process, called “pinkwashing,” raises questions for social movement activists about how we evaluate, understand, and respond to the reforms that emerge as our issues gain attention. How can we tell what will work to improve lives and what will just be lip service or good public relations for existing systems? In this lecture, Dean will share critical approaches being used by activists confronting these challenging questions.


Lawrence Hill in conversation with Chantal Gibson (2018)

Picture of Lawrence Hill with words "in conversation with Chantal Gibson" and "Dean's lecture on information + society"

Listen to the conversation

Watch the evening of reading and conversation with Lawrence Hill and Chantal Gibson.

About the speakers

Lawrence Hill is the author of ten books, including The Illegal and The Book of Negroes, winner of various awards including The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. Hill delivered the 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes, which attracted millions of viewers in the United States and Canada. He is currently writing a new novel about the African-American soldiers who helped build the Alaska Highway in 1942-43, and is working on a children’s book, and has sold the screen rights for television miniseries adaptation of The Illegal for Conquering Lion Pictures.

Lawrence Hill holds honorary doctorates from seven Canadian universities. In 2015, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, received the Governor General’s History Award and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2016, his novel The Illegal won CBC Canada Reads after a spirited defense by Olympian and philanthropist Clara Hughes. The Illegal was longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award and was shortlisted in 2016 for the NAACP Image Award (for fiction) and the Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award. In 2016, Hill (along with co-writer Clement Virgo) won the best writing award from the Canadian Screen Awards for the TV miniseries adaptation of The Book of Negroes, which won CSA awards in eleven categories. In 2016, Hill served as chair of the jury of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. In 2017, Hill received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize.

Chantal Gibson is a mixed media artist interested in the cultural (re)production of knowledge. Mythmaking and border crossings are major themes in works called ‘Historical In(ter)ventions,’ altered history books that challenge codex forms and the ideas and ideologies inscribed in them. She transforms old texts and sculpts new ones to illustrate the omissions and absences in historical meta-narratives. The works highlight the hands of the artist-historian in re/writing the text as they push the physical and geographical boundaries of ‘bookness’ and explore the question “What does it mean to write history?”.

Gibson teaches writing, visual communication and new media courses in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University.