Department of Social Justice & Community Studies

Dr. Val Marie Johnson, Associate Professor & Department Chair, Social Justice & Community Studies

Saint Mary's University is in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People

val johnson picture

Personal Profile

Ph. D. (Sociology & Historical Studies) New School for Social Research, 2003

M. A (Sociology) University of Toronto, 1990

M. A. (Honours With Distinction, Sociology & History) University of Toronto, 1989

My research and teaching interests center in theories and histories of how we produce and govern our selves and others —particularly in liberal societies— in ways that reproduce and resist defining people into hierarchies and the unequal distribution of resources. To that end my research has explored or currently investigates how we imagine and govern urban groups, communities and spaces, regulation, reform and law, and the intertwined socio-historical definition and deployment of gender and sexuality, race (including whiteness), settler colonialism and Indigenous-settler relations, class and economic resources, and citizenship. 

My current work includes research on the following:

  • Relations between white Anglican women staff and Inuvialuit, Inuinnait, and Iñupiat children and adults in 1930s Arctic residential schools, in what is now called Canada;
  • 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.

Selected Publications

  • Val Marie Johnson, "I’m sorry now we were so very severe’: 1930s Colonizing Care Relations Between White Anglican Women Staff and Inuvialuit, Inuinnait and Iñupiat People in an ‘Eskimo Resi­dential School" Feminist Studies 45, n. 2/3 (2019) : 335- 71; see also Community Work below.
  • Val Marie Johnson, "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 44, n.5 (September 2018): 835-861, on-line at

  • Val Marie Johnson, 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)
  • 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 History35, 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 Sexuality18, 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 History19, 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 History25, 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 History31 (2005): 655-684. Nominated by the JUH for the 2005 Berkshire Conference Article Prize.

Courses Taught

  • Canadian Society & Social Justice (Fall 2020)
  • Capitalism & Social Justice (Winter 2021)
  • Unpacking Whiteness (Winter 2021)
  • Urban Social Justice
  • Theories of Feminism; Regulating Gender & Sexuality; Theories and Histories of Sexuality
  • Gender & Law
  • Corporate Crime

Student Supervision

PhD Dissertation

  • Jason Foster (Doctor of Philosophy, Business Administration, Management) “Rethinking Unions: Contradiction, Leadership Narratives and the Case of UFCW Local 401” — Committee Member/Examiner (Graduated Spring 2015)

Master’s Thesis

  • Rachelle Coward (Criminology MA) “Connecting Gender and Colonialism in the Sentencing of Aboriginals: The Application of Subsection 718.2(e) of the Canadian Criminal Code” — Committee Member/Examiner  (Graduated Spring 2017)
  • Hyunjoo Faustina Woo (Women & Gender Studies MA) “Three stories of South Korean religious lesbians: The voices of the women struggling with ceaseless conflicts” — Committee Member (Graduated Valedictorian Fall 2017)
  • Lisbeth Nielsen (Women & Gender Studies MA) “Low Income Mothers’ Critique of Services: A Participatory Study on What Could Be Changed” (Graduated November 2014; SSHRC funded)
  • Jennie Donovan (Women & Gender Studies MA) "Multiple truths and Contested identities: Power, gender, and governance in first-hand accounts of shock therapy" (December 2013).
  • Diane Dooley (Criminology MA) “Constructing Nicole: Gender, Discourse and Victimization/Criminalization in R v. Ryan" (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)
  • Edna Acara (MA, SMU Women & Gender Studies Program, Middle East Technical University Gender & Women’s Studies program) “Feminism as Antimilitarism: Women Conscientious Objectors in Turkey” (graduated Fall 2010)

Honour’s Thesis

  • Sam Turpin (Criminology), "Sunny Ways' and Broken Promises: Tsleil- Waututh Nation v. Canada (2018) and the Liberal Government's Relationship with Indigenous Nations in Canada" (Graduated June 2019)
  • Devin Smith, (Criminology) "Colonialism and the incarceration overload of Aboriginal peoples in Canada" (Graduated June 2016).
  • Jess Cote, (Criminology) "Insecurity in Security: Private Security and Neoliberalism in Canada" (Graduated June 2015).
  • David Luther (Criminology) “No Vacancy: The Effects of Neoliberal Housing Policy On Ontario’s Rental Market” (Graduated Spring 2014)
  • Adrienne MacDonald (Criminology) “Community Reactions to Sex work and Sex workers in Halifax” (Graduated Fall 2009)
  • Matthew Grant (Criminology) “Marginalized Youth and Social Exclusion in Halifax” (Graduated Spring 2007)
  • Neil McCallum (Criminology) “An Examination of Forms of Regulation and Control Imposed on First Nations Peoples” (Graduated Fall 2005)

Selected Community Work

  • July 2017 to Present, With the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre & Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (Inuvik NT), Anglican Church of Canada General Synod Archives (Toronto ON), Archival Material Sharing / Cultural Repatriation, Community Publication of documentation on the Inuvialuit, Inuinnait, Iñupiat, and Gwich’in students and staff, and white women staff, at Shingle Point Eskimo Residential School, operated by the Church 1929-1936. 
  • (lead organizer) Isabelle Knockwood "Mi'kmaw Women & Social Justice," Teaching & Talking Circle, Saint Mary's University, December 2 2013 (Helen Ralston Memorial Lecture)IKnockwood Dec02-13 Poster
  • (lead organizer) El Jones, "Speaking Power: Speaking Back to Violence" Responding to the Frosh Rape Chant at Saint Mary's University, October 22 2013 El Jones Oct22-13 Poster

Student Materials Required for Academic References (ideally in electronic form), at least 2 weeks before the Reference Due Date:

  • full details for who each letter is addressed to, how the academic reference is submitted, and the deadline
  • any relevant form/s
  • full details on program/position applied for, including (if relevant) who the student will study/work with
  • draft of any student letter of intent, proposal, etc., relevant to the application
  • academic transcript/s & list of courses or other academic work with me (if thesis supervision include name of thesis)
  • current resume
  • any other material or information that will help in writing a detailed letter