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The Role of Mayor and Fighting Islamophobia

September 23, 2013 | Gisèle Bolduc

Update : May 10, 2023

Two professors from the Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre at INRS received an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The grant will enable them to examine research questions in more depth and explore new ideas, theoretical approaches, and methods. Grant recipients were Jean-Pierre Collin, who studies how urban development projects redefine the role of mayors in large urban centres, and Professor Denise Helly, who takes an innovative approach to examining the social status of Muslim Canadians by studying their films and videos.  

The role of mayor in a large urban centre

The mayor’s role, urban development, and the dynamics of large urban centres are the three main themes of Professor Collin’s research project aimed at improving our understanding of the political dynamics of North America’s large cities. To study the role of mayors in urban planning management, the Métropolisation et Société (MéSo) research team will conduct a survey in the Montreal Urban Community, which drew up a metropolitan land use and development plan in 2012. The research project, combining urban studies, geography, economics, and political science, will examine the process of metropolitanization and its impacts on municipal democracy as well the nature and extent of cooperation among mayors, government departments, and civil society. 

Collaborators: Sandra Breux, Pierre J. Hamel, Claire Poitras, and Gilles Sénécal of the INRS Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre.

A war of images

Professor Denise Helly studies films and videos produced by Canadian Muslims to counter the negative, and false, image of Islam since September 2001. Her research on these Muslims’ struggle against Islamophobia is one of the few projects on this subject in Canada. Her team will make an inventory of all online films and videos and YouTube posts through which Muslim Canadians try to gain social recognition or explain Islam to non-Muslims or Muslims with whom they disagree. An analysis of their content will shed light on how the authors counter key stereotypes such as the inferior status of Muslim women, blind religious fervor, the role of religion in the public sphere, and the outdated, monolithic representation of Islam. The research project draws on anthropology, communications, and literary analysis to enhance our knowledge of Muslim communities and enrich public debate among Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims.  

Collaborators: Simon Harel, Université de Montréal and Faiza Hirji, McMaster University