A native of British Columbia, I completed a B.A. (1976) and M.A. (1978)
at the University of British Columbia, and a PhD (1983) at UCLA. I taught
in Geography and East Asian Studies at McGill University from 1983 to
1994, when I came to Queen's, initially as Director of the Institute of
Women's Studies (1994 to 1999) and thereafter as Professor of Geography.
I have spent time as a visiting professor at the University of British
Columbia, University College London and, most recently, Canterbury University,
Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1994, I was a Fulbright Fellow at the Migration
Policy Insitute in Washington, DC. Other positions include President of
the Canadian Association of Geographers (1999-2001), and Editor, People
Place and Region, Annals of the Association of American Geographers.
I view teaching, research, and community participation as part of a single
process of learning and contributing to society. I believe that the classroom
should be an open and safe place, where students can participate, think,
challenge, make decisions, and be creative. I also believe that all university
courses should provide an opportunity to improve reading and listening
abilities, analytical skills, written and oral communication, and time
management. In the classroom, I take every advantage of electronic technology
both to present material in a manner that is well organized and accessible,
and to make use of a variety of media of communication, including music,
film and the internet. I place strong emphasis on the individual needs
of students, especially in an interdisciplinary classroom where learning
objectives vary. I keep an open door, and attempt to respond quickly and
appropriately to students’ requests.
My courses in cultural and social geography emphasize the ways in which
societies create the landscapes in which signficant interactions among
people take place. This approach always entails a historical perspective,
to understand how things came to be. I place strong emphasis on the concept
of landscape, as the world that people create and re-create in defining
a place for themselves. And I focus on the ways in which various things
and acts within a landscape intersect, such as the ways in which commodities
reflect both economic and cultural systems, and become symbolic of individual
and group identities.
My course on “’Race’ and Racism” has provided
the most significant challenges and rewards of my teaching career. The
classroom is diverse in every way. Nearly all of the students are there
because they are committed to overcoming racism, but they have very different
ideas of what that objective entails. From the first day of class, it
is apparent that the class is divided into students of colour, who have
experienced racism, and white students, who have a variety of perspectives
on what racism means and a range of degrees of comfort with the subject.
This is a difficult divide to overcome, but by the end of the course,
nearly everyone, no matter what their background, has developed a sense
of openness and a willingness to learn and to take stock of their own
positions within society. Although there is much to be learned of historical
‘fact’, and of the workings of legislation and policy documents,
this is not a subject matter that can be consigned to memory. It is often
emotionally challenging for a diverse group of students to work together
in a large classroom and to direct their responses to the subject matter
in constructive ways.
My research interests revolve around the question of how process of human
differentiation - race, class, gender, ability, national identity - emerge
in a range of landscapes that include homes, streets and workplaces. I
place strong emphasis on public policy, on the legal and legislative frameworks
that enable social change, and on the cultural systems and practices through
which normative frameworks for human actions and human relations are developed.
I am particularly interested in the public negotiation of these issues.
In addition to the three large projects below, I have an ongoing research
project on the history of Japanese-Canada communities, and smaller current
projects include: 1) racism and public participation in Christchurch,
New Zealand; 2) Post-election discourses and the option of emigration
from the United States.
Currently Funded Research Projects:
1) Transnationalism, Citizenship and Social Cohesion: Changing Concepts
of Citizenship among Recent Immigrants from Hong Kong
This is an SSHRC Strategic Grant, for which I am Principal Investigator
of an interdisciplinary team made up of three geographers (including David
Ley, Department of Geography, UBC), a political scientist and a sociologist.
Our objective is to understand the transnational activities of people
of Hong Kong origin, several hundred thousand of whom migrated to Vancouver
and Toronto in the period 1989-1997, and the attendant challenges to the
concept of citizenship both for new immigrants and the larger society.
We have conducted extensive questionnaire surveys and focus groups in
Vancouver, Toronto and Hong Kong, and are now in the process of data analysis
and writing. In addition, we have partnered with an interdisciplinary
team in Australia, who have received similar funding from the Australian
government to duplicate our study there as a basis for international comparison.
Both projects have been developed as part of the Metropolis network, which
represents one of the largest international collaborative social science
projects ever undertaken.
Our results show two major original findings. First, international migration
and subsequent transnational identities need to be understood as situated
in particular communities, and as variable in a number of ways, including
gender and stage in the life course. Rather than simply using gender and
age as variables to explain different experiences, however, we use intensive
focus groups to explore relationships among family members and with the
larger community, and to uncover the negotiation and renegotiation of
cultural norms and family roles in a transnational context. Both the decision
to migrate and subsequent experiences are strongly gendered, and conform
to life stage patterns around births, education, labour force entry and
retirement. This finding broadens the discussion of citizenship in the
recent migration literature, where a fascination with issues of cosmopolitanism
and globalization has in fact tended to disregard research within traditional
families. Our work situates family concerns within that larger context.
The second finding is that citizenship is also a form of relationship
under constant public negotiation, and a product of racism as well as
of the negotiation of cultural practices. Our project involves working
directly with community groups both to understand the complex relationships
between migration and active citizenship, and to facilitate a notion of
citizenship in the larger Canadian society that does not involve normative
practices of assimilation, but, rather, the redefinition of Canadian citizenship
as equal, plural, open to change, and free of discrimination. This perspective
allows us to juxtapose political concerns at a number of scales, including
the family, the ethnocultural community, the metropolitan region and the
The public policy implications of this research range from issues of
education, language, formal and informal citizenship rights, integration
policies, human rights and employment equity, to everyday issues of immigration
regulations, taxation laws and the provision of social benefits such as
medical care and services for seniors within a transnational community.
Our overriding concern, however, is with how our research can contribute
to helping Canada, and its citizens, deal with change and make progress
towards the open, multicultural society that our policies profess.
2) Employment Equity Legislation and the Backlash Effect: Geographies
of Political Culture
This project, in which I am also Principal Investigator, involves a partnership
with political scientist, Abigail Bakan, in a study of the role of regional
political culture in the struggle to achieve employment equity in British
Columbia and Ontario. Abbie Bakan and I have co-authored a number of papers
on employment equity, several of them as contract papers for the federal
government. In this project, we build upon a wealth of accumulated information
on employment equity programs to theorize how publicly contested issues
such as employment equity, or affirmative action, become part of the political
process of backlash. In both BC and Ontario, the transition from social
democratic to neoliberal governments has involved the dismantling of employment
equity policies and practices, which we see as symptomatic of the neoliberal
agenda. The processes show some notable differences, however, in terms
of relations among politicians, structure of the public services, and
political strategies for communicating with the general public. Based
on extensive interviews with politicians, public servants and members
of advocacy groups, we outline in detail the need to understand subtle
regional differences in political culture as a backdrop for both policy
formation and public discourse. We see an understanding of local political
culture as key to understanding how political backlash works effectively,
as well as how campaigns to further human rights and equity might be furthered.
3) Cultures of Resistancia: Gender, Intergenerational Change and Community
in Havana, Cuba
I am a Co-investigator in this project with Catherine Krull, a sociologist.
The project has been funded since 2003, but is based on a number of years
of developing relationships with community organizations and academics
in Havana, Cuba. Our two-fold aim is: 1) to work with women’s groups
in Old Havana, the poorest part of the city, to foster means of organizing
resources for community redevelopment; and 2) to understand the intergenerational
differences among Cuban women with respect to their ongoing redefinition
of Cuban revolution, and the ways in which these differences either foster
or inhibit their ability to participate in community projects. Our results
provide a detailed understanding of daily life among Old Havana residents,
show differences among the women based on generation and education, and
show that there is a significant disconnection between the public espousal
of revolutionary principles and the private negotiation of gender within
2004 Essed, Philomena, David Goldberg and Audrey Kobayashi, eds A Companion
to Gender Studies. Oxford and Malden, M.A. : Blackwell, 561 pp.
2004 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Anti-racist feminism in geography: an
agenda for social action.” In Lise Nelson and Joni Seager eds The
Companion to Feminist Geography, pp. 32-40. London and New York: Routledge.
2004 Essed, Philomena, David Goldberg and Audrey Kobayashi. “A curriculum
vitae for gender studies.” In Philomena Essed, David Goldberg and
Audrey Kobayashi eds The Companion to Gender Studies, pp. 1-25. Oxford
and Malden, M.A. : Blackwell.
2004 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Critical ‘race’ approaches
to cultural geography.” In James Duncan, Nuala Johnson and Richard
Schein eds The Companion to Cultural Geography, pp. 238-249. Oxford and
Malden, M.A. : Blackwell.
2003 Kobayashi, Audrey and James Proctor, “Values, rights and justice.”
In G. Gaile and C. Willmott, eds Geography in America at the Dawn of the
21st Century, pp. 721-729. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2003 Kobayashi, Audrey, “GPC ten years on: Is self-reflexivity
enough? Gender, Place and Culture Vol. 10, No.3, pp. 345-349.
2003 Krull, Catherine, Audrey Kobayashi, and Sonia Enjamio. “La
Vida de las mujeres en San Isidro: Los Patrones temporales y spatiales
en una cultura de resistencia” [Women’s Daily Life in San
Isidro: Time-Space Patterns in a Culture of Resistance]. Publicacion de
la Catedra de la Mujer, Havana, Universidad de Habana, pp. 1-16
2003 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Jenda Mondai (Kirinuke) Toshito no imin:
Mihonjin Josei no Kanada Shinijuu (A gendered perspective on migration:
Recent Japanese Women Immigrants in Canada),” in Iwasaki, Nobuhiko,
Ceri Peach, Takashi Miyajima, Roger Goodman and Kiyomitsu Yui, eds Kaigai
ni okeru Nikkei-jin, Nihon no naka no gaikokujin: Gurobara na imin ryudo
to esunoscapu (The Japanese Overseas, Immigrants in Japan: Global Migration
and Ethnoscapes,) pp. 224-238. Tokyo: Showado.
2003 Kobayashi, Audrey and Abigail Bakan, “Employment equity in
Nunavut: Lessons, and contradictions, of success.” Toronto: The
Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
2003 Bakan, Abigail and Audrey Kobayashi, “Backlash: The rise and
fall of employment equity legislation in Ontario.” Toronto: The
Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
Reprinted in Randy Enomoto and Genevieve Johnson, eds. Conversations
on the Edge: Race, Racialization and Anti-Racism. Toronto: University
of Toronto Press. (forthcoming)
2003 Kobayashi, Audrey, “The construction of heographical knowledge:
Racialization, spatialization,” in Kay Anderson, Mona domosh, Steve
Pile and Nigel Thrift, eds The Handbook of Cultural Geographyy, pp. 544-556.
2002 Kobayashi, Audrey, “20 years later and still two percent:
Women of colour in Canadian geography.” The Canadian Geographer
/ Le géographe canadien, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 245-248 (with references
at pp. 262-65).
2002 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Migration as a negotiation of gender:
Recent Japanese immigrant women in Canada,” in Hirabayashi, Lane,
James Hirabayashi and Akemi Kikumura Yano, eds New Worldew Lives: Globalization
and People of Japanese Ancestry in the Americas and from Latin America
in Japan, pp. 205-220. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
2002 Peake, Linda and Audrey Kobayashi, "Policies and practices
for anti-racist Geography at the millennium.” The Professional Geographer
Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 50-61.
2002 Bakan, Abigail and Audrey Kobayashi, “Employment equity policy
in Ontario: A case study in the politics of backlash,” in Carol
Agocs, ed. Workplace Equality: An International Perspective on Legislation,
Policy and Practice, pp. 91-108. Dordrecht, New York, Norwell and London:
Kluwer Academic Publishers.
2001 Kobayashi, Audrey, “People like us can’t go into a place
like that: the need for multicultural diversity in Canadian history,”
Canadian Issues/Thèmes Canadiens October, pp. 15-18.
2001 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Negotiating the personal and the political
in critical qualitative research” In M. Limb and C. Dwyer eds Qualitative
Methodologies for Geographers: Issues and Debates, pp. 55-72. London and
New York: Arnold and Oxford University Press.
2002 United Nations and Queen’s University, Youth in Malaysia:
A Review of the Youth Situation and National Policies and Programmes.
New York: United Nations. (note: co-authored with Jayant Lele, Lorna Wright
and staff of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia
and the Pacific).
2001 Kobayashi, Audrey ed. 50 Years After: Geographical Interpretations
of Canada. The Canadian Geographer Vol. 45 No. 1, Anniversary Issue.
2001 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Truly our own: Canadian geography 50 years
after.” In Audrey Kobayashi ed. 50 Years After: Geographical Interpretations
of Canada. The Canadian Geographer Vol. 45 No.1 pp. 3-13.
2000 Kobayashi, Audrey and Linda Peake, “Racism out of place: Thoughts
on whiteness and an anti-racist heography in the new millennium.”
Annals of the Association of American Geographers Vol. 90 No. 2 pp. 392-403.
2000 Kobayashi, Audrey and Brian Ray, "Civil risk and landscapes
of marginality in Canada: a pluralist approach to social justice."
The Canadian Geographer Vol. 44 No. 4 pp. 401-417
2000 Kobayashi, Audrey, “Public policy on the margins: the role
of minority ethnocultural associations in affecting public policy in Canada,”
in Keith Banting ed. The Non-profit Sector in Canada, pp. 229-261. Montreal
and Kingston: McGill-Queen's Press.