Department of Sociology & Criminology

Dr. Val Marie Johnson, Associate Professor, Full-Time Faculty - Profile

Personal Profile

  • Ph.D. (Sociology and Historical Studies) New School for Social Research, 2003
  • M.A (Sociology) University of Toronto, 1990
  • B. A. (Honours With Distinction, Sociology and History), University of Toronto, 1989

My research and teaching interests center in theories and histories of how we produce and govern our selves, others, social groups, spaces and institutions.  I am especially interested in how human beings use and resist ideas and practices that define people in hierarchies, and that shape the unequal distribution of resources. 

The particular ideas and tactics that my research explores include those involved in how we imagine and govern urban groups, communities and spaces, gender and sexuality, moral worth, class, race and colonialism (including whiteness), citizenship, and "crime" and "justice". 

My current work includes research on the following: i) African American women's leadership of late-19th and early-20th century political struggles over racial segregation, and urban communities and institutions, in Brooklyn and New York City; and ii) relations between white Anglican women staff and Inuvialuit and Inuinnait children and adults in Arctic residential schools in the 1930s.

Selected Publications

  • "'The half has never been told': Maritcha Lyons' Community, Black Women Educators, the Woman's Loyal Union, and 'the Color Line' in Progressive Era Brooklyn and New York'" Journal of Urban History (forthcoming volume & number) On-line first —…/full/10.1177/0096144217692931

  • Review of Contagion and Enclaves: Tropical medicine in colonial India By Nandini Bhattacharya, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2012. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 15, n.1 (Spring 2014) at

  • Val Marie Johnson, "American History as the History of Sexuality and Gender" (Review Essay), Journal of Urban History 37 (November 2011): 1000-1009.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "Chronologies and Complexities of Western Neoliberalism: Introduction," Social Science History 35, n.3 (Fall 2011): 323-336 [Introduction author & Section editor for Social Science History Special Section on the history of Western neoliberalism].
  • Val Marie Johnson, "Reading the Criminalization of Poverty" in Crocker & Johnson (eds.) Poverty, Regulation, and Social Justice: Readings on the Criminalization of Poverty (Blackpoint, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2010) .
  • Diane Crocker and Val Marie Johnson (eds.), Poverty, Regulation, and Social Justice: Readings on the Criminalization of Poverty (Blackpoint, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2010).
  • Michele Byers and Val Marie Johnson, "CSI as Neoliberalism: An Introduction" in Byers & Johnson (eds.), The "CSI Effect:" Television, Crime, and Governance (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009).
  • Michele Byers and Val Marie Johnson (eds.), The "CSI Effect": Television, Crime and Governance (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009).
  • Val Marie Johnson, "'Look for the moral and sex sides of the problem': Investigating Jewishness, Desire and Discipline at Macy's Department Store, 1913." Journal of the History of Sexuality 18, n.3 (September 2009): 457-485.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "'The Rest Can Go to the Devil': Macy's Workers Negotiate Gender, Sex, and Class in the Progressive Era." Journal of Women's History 19, n.1 (March 2007): 32-57.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "'The moral aspects of complex problems': New York City Electoral Campaigns Against Vice and the Incorporation of Immigrants, 1890-1901." Journal of American Ethnic History 25, nos.2-3 (Winter/Spring 2006): 74-106.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "Policing Borders, Citizenship, and Cities: the Gendered and Racialized Inspection & Regulation of Immigrants at the Turn of the Last Century." In Uniform Behavior: Localism, Reform, and Police-Community Relationships in Modern America. Edited by Stacy K. McGoldrick, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY , 2006, 25-54.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "Protection, Virtue, and 'the power to detain': the Moral Citizenship of Jewish Women in New York City, 1890-1920." Journal of Urban History 31 (2005): 655-684. Nominated by the JUH for the 2005 Berkshire Conference Article Prize.

Selected Presentations and Conferences

  • “‘I’m sorry now we were so very severe’: 1930s Relations and Resistance Between White Women Missionaries and Inuvialuit Children and Staff at Shingle Point Residential School” Presented at the Berkshire Conference on Women's History, May 24 2014, University of Toronto

  • “Context for Ehyrn Torrell’s ‘Self-Similar’: sociological visions of and questions on cities, built & destroyed environments, and the human condition” for “Unbuilding the City: Urbanisation and its Trace in Chine and Canada” (Panel inspired by Torrell’s “Self-Similar” exhibit), Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, 12 September, 2012
  • “'The grand endeavor of surpassing a moral revolution': Maritcha Remond Lyons and Racial Justice Politics in late-19th and early-20th century Brooklyn” Presented at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 11 2011, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • "Grounding Sexual & Moral Regulation in the Political History of a City" Presented at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, 17 November 2009, University of Toronto
  • “Beyond category and lineage: what does 1960s Canadian Youth Justice Reform teach us about theories and histories of politics and law?” Presented at the Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, 13 November 2009, Long Beach CA
  • "Governing Youth, Justice, and Liberalism in Canada, 1960-1971" Presented at the European Social Science History Conference, 27 February 2008, University of Lisbon.
  • "New York Jewish Women's Sexual Politics and the Investigation of Macy's Department Store, 1913." Presented at Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Washington, D. C., April 2006.
  • Co-Organizer (with Diane Crocker) and Participant, "The Criminalization of Poverty," 8 & 9 November, 2004 Halifax Colloquium involving academics, the Law Commission of Canada, and local community and politicians in a forum on how policing and fear of crime intersect with homelessness and housing, social services and poverty policy.
  • "Seeking 'the moral law' and Citizenship: Gendered Relations of Class and Ethnicity in New York City Campaigns Against Vice." Invited Presentation, Transcending Borders: Migration, Ethnicity, and Incorporation in an Age of Globalism, New York University, 1 November, 2003.

Courses Taught

  • Corporate Crime (Fall 2016; Winter 2017)
  • Urban Sociology: Introduction & History (Fall 2016, Halifax Central Library)
  • Advanced Theory (Fall 2016); Classical Theory; Contemporary Criminological Theory
  • Theories of Feminism (Winter 2017); Regulating Gender & Sexuality; Theories and Histories of Sexuality
  • Gender & Law; Law & Society; Criminal Law
  • Critical Criminology
  • Issues in Juvenile Justice

Selected Student Supervision

  • Devin Smith, (Criminology Honours Thesis) "Colonialism and the incarceration overload of Aboriginal peoples in Canada" (Graduated June 2016).
  • Jess Cote, (Criminology Honours Thesis) "Insecurity in Security: Private Security and Neoliberalism in Canada" (Graduated June 2015).
  • Jennie Donovan (Women & Gender Studies MA) "Multiple truths and Contested identities: Power, gender, and governance in first-hand accounts of shock therapy" (Defended December 2013). 
  • Diane Dooley (Criminology MA) “Constructing Nicole: Gender, Discourse and Victimization/Criminalization in R v. Ryan" (Defended December 2013). Miss Dooley is a 2015 Recipient of the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (for the advancement of gender equality)
  • Lisbeth Nielsen (Women & Gender Studies MA) “Low Income Mothers’ Critique of Services: A Participatory Study on What Could Be Changed” (Defended September 2014; SSHRC funded).


  • Fellow, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies (University of Toronto)
  • Adjunct, Women & Gender Studies MA Program, Mount Saint Vincent University

Community Work

  • December 2015 to Present, Lead Facilitator for establishing (at the SMU Archive) the Lynn Jones African-Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection, a fonds through which Jones - African Nova Scotian leader and activist - has documented the lives of herself, her family, and 50 years of African, African diasporic and African-Nova Scotian heritage and history.  For more information, contact Dr. Johnson and consult the SMU Archive ewebsite for the collection - -  and the Lynn Jones African-Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection flyer Lynn Jones Flyer
  • 2014 to the present Inter-University Indigenous Speakers Series Committee
  • next event: Our Ancestors are in Our Land, Water, and Air: A 'Two-Eyed Seeing' Approach to Researching Environmental Health Concerns with Pictou Landing First Nation - Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.  Halifax Central Library
    Speakers: Kim Strickland, Sheila Francis, Lexie Strickland, Diana Lewis                       

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