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Arts & Science Program

Dr. Vanessa Watts

Department of Sociology, Kenneth Taylor Hall – 633
905-525-9140 ext. 26119
Office Hours:
Tuesdays 11:30am – 1:20pm (or by appointment)

Dr. Vanessa Watts is excited to be part of the instructional team in the Arts & Science Program and to teach ARTSSCI 1AA3 / Contemporary Indigenous Studies (cross-listed with INDIGST 1AA3). She completed her undergraduate degree at Trent University, MA at the University of Victoria, and PhD in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University. At McMaster, Dr. Watts is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Indigenous Studies Program, and holds the Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies. She teaches in areas of Contemporary Indigenous Issues, Residential Schools, Indigenous Sovereignty, Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Methodologies, and Indigenous Ontologies, and launched a new course: RECONCIL 1A03 / Reconciling What? Indigenous Relations in Canada.

Dr. Watts’ research examines Indigenist epistemological and ontological interventions on place-based, material knowledge production. She is particularly interested in Indigenous feminisms, sociology of knowledge, Indigenous governance, and other-than-human relations as forms of Indigenous ways of knowing. She was awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her project “An Indigenist Sociology of Knowledge: Indigenous Social Lives in Indigenous Studies, Sociology and Political Science (1895 and beyond).” The project interrogates over a century of representations of Indigenous peoples in sociology and political science. It will contribute to new knowledge in the field of Indigenous studies through an inductively generated concept map of Indigenous understandings of social beings. This method centres Indigenous voice and knowledges, and convenes it as an authoritative source of analysis. Dr. Watts is also a Research Fellow at the Yellowhead Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University, a centre that privileges First Nation philosophy and is focused on policies related to land and governance. She was nominated for the YWCA Woman of Distinction in Community Leadership and was awarded McMaster’s President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning in 2022.