Anthropology of Transnationalism

Girish Daswani regularly runs this course at UTSC. During the course, he assigns a project that gets students to think critically about their place in the university. A description of the assignment can be found below, which other instructors we welcome to model assignments from.


This post emerges out of undergraduate student papers that were presented as part of the University Worlds Workshop in January 2020. The students who presented – Dwight Sampson, Alice Xu, Sylwia Pucek – had taken my Fall 2019 upper-level course “The Anthropology of Transnationalism” at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). As their assignment they were asked to conduct research around the topic “University as Home”. Together, we discussed questions such as: If the University of Toronto (UofT) is an employer, a real estate owner, a generator of revenues and a hub in global networks of value and aspiration, then what are the possibilities for and institutional practices of home-making that undergraduate students participate in? What are the transnational and local practices that make the university familiar or unfamiliar? What is the relation between the “diversity” that is marketed by the university and the one that is experienced by students on campus?

Black Caribbean Identity on Campus – by Dwight Sampson

Dwight Sampson is a graduate of the Statistics program at UTSC. As a student, Dwight was part of the student organization “Caribbean Connections University of Toronto Scarborough” (CCUTSC) where he was an executive member for 2 years. The club was an important part of his life on campus as it was one of the few social spaces at the university that he felt a completely comfortable in. His passion for the club led him to take on many initiatives to help other students of Caribbean heritage on the Scarborough campus.

Comupter Science and Mental Health on Campus – by Alice Xu

Alice Xu is a fourth-year student at USTC. She is working to complete her undergraduate degree, double majoring in computer science and socio-cultural anthropology. With no future goals set in stone she is currently in the process of applying to different Masters’ programs in Anthropology. If that doesn’t pan out, she is fortunate to have some co-op work experience in the technology sector. In her spare time, she loves to bake (mostly cakes and French macarons)!

How Institutions Include/Exclude: The Athletics and Recreation Department – by Sywia Pucek

Sylwia Magdalena Pucek is a recent graduate of UTSC. Her passions are in environmental sciences and sustainability, digital content creation and information sharing, youth involvement and governance. Sylwia’s interest in fitness is a result of Goodlife’s Free Teen Fitness Program. This program is intended to give youth an opportunity to access free fitness services, opportunities to interact with the community, to learn more about volunteer and employment opportunities and to provide a safe space for youth to meet and play.

Conclusion – by Girish Daswani

Girish Daswani is an associate professor of Anthropology at UTSC. Apart from writing blogposts, he is working to complete his book on activist, artistic and religious responses to political corruption in Ghana. He is also writing a comic book (with Bright Ackwerh), a documentary-film (with Mutombo da Poet) and, in order to sooth his restless spirit, songs.

Full paper

Blog Post

We (don’t) Care: University as Fractured Home – Girish Daswani