Call for Working Groups

Call for Working Groups

The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology invites proposals for interdisciplinary groups who intend to bring innovative perspectives on and approaches to culture and technology that engage the challenges of the contemporary moment and draw from the spirit of McLuhan’s attestation to the medium.

Working groups should be composed of both faculty and graduate students from the University of Toronto with external members included at the discretion of the Working Group Convener.

Working groups are expected to undertake specific research and scholarly exchange at the McLuhan Centre that is not being pursued elsewhere on campus, during the application year. While working groups endeavors may be supported by other programs, or units, the working group application must make clear the intended research and outputs that will be specific to the McLuhan Centre.

Applications should also indicate how the McLuhan Centre will be used during the year: this can include symposia, performance, installations, workshops, writing retreats, public events, and other creative uses. Be sure to consider existing McLuhan Centre programming when preparing your proposal. Space will be provided for those uses (50 seats in the main room), plus additional space for meetings and planning activities (15 seats upstairs).

The working groups are expected to run a Monday Night Seminar during the 2018/19 academic year in consultation with the Director of the McLuhan Centre (Professor Sarah Sharma).

Working group funds can be used to support travel and accommodations for visitors, refreshments, promotional materials, publication costs, and other related costs. Funds will not be provided for the purchasing of equipment. The Centre can provide some administrative support during the year.

The funding options are divided into tiers to encourage a range of activity levels. Please consider which tier accurately reflects the scope of your project as applicants will be assessed, in part, based on the best and most appropriate allocation of funds. Multiple working groups may be allocated funds in the same tier.

Working groups from previous years may reapply to continue or extend ongoing research projects.

Tier 1: $8,000 – $10,000
Tier 2: $5,000 – $7,000
Tier 3: $3,000

Description of the Working Group Project (two-page maximum)
Expected academic outputs/research mobilization
List of members
CV of Lead Convener
One-page detailed budget (included tier)

DEADLINE: May 15, 2018


Disrupting the disruptors: U of T event looks at worker resistance in companies like Uber, Amazon

Disrupting the disruptors: U of T event looks at worker resistance in companies like Uber, Amazon

U of T News wrote a feature on the Log Out! Worker Resistance Within and Against the Platform Economy Conference, where they interviewed one of the organizers and a speaker, Alessandro Delfanti. The conference was hosted by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology and its working group on platform labour. It is co-sponsored by the ICCIT (Institute for Communication, Culture, Information and Technology) and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Check out the article here!


Log Out! full schedule

Log Out! full schedule

Log Out! Worker Resistance Within and Against the Platform Economy

Conference, March 6, 2018 – 10:00am – 6:00pm

Faculty of Information, 140 St. George Street, Toronto, Room 728


Hangout room opens with coffee & books – 9:30 AM

Morning session – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Sarah Sharma (McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology)
Alessandro Delfanti (University of Toronto)

Jamie Woodcock (University of Oxford)
The Fairwork Foundation: Strategies for Online Platform Work

Enda Brophy and Seamus Grayer (Simon Fraser University)
Platform Organizing: Digital Tools for Labour Recomposition

Callum Cant (University of West London)
The Warehouse without Walls: A Workers’ Inquiry at Deliveroo

Afternoon session 1 – 1:20 to 3:00 PM

Kristy Milland (McMaster University and TurkerNation)
When the Crowd Resists: mTurk Worker Struggles Against Amazon

Alessandro Delfanti (University of Toronto)
Labour Against the Machine. Control and Conflict in E-commerce Warehouses

Julie Yujie Chen (University of Leicester)
“Can A Single Spark Start a Prairie Fire”? Connect the Dots in the Chinese Platform Workers’ Tactics of Resistance

Afternoon session 2 – 3:20 to 5:00 PM

Victoria O’Meara (Western University)
Influencer Comment Pods as Co-operative Algorithm Hacking: Resistance Within and Against Instagram Platform Labour

Tech Workers Coalition
Workers’ Inquiry among Silicon Valley Tech Workers

Tamara Kneese (University of San Francisco)
Fighting White Power with Worker Power: Organizing and Visibility in Silicon Valley

Final roundtable – 5:00 to 6:00 PM

Nick Dyer-Witheford (Western University)
Alessandro Gandini (King’s College)
Lilly Irani (University of California San Diego)
Kristy Milland (McMaster University and TurkerNation)

Moderator: Greig de Peuter (Wilfrid Laurier University)

The organizing committee: Brett Caraway, Nicole Cohen, Alessandro Delfanti, Karen McEwen, David Nieborg, Rianka Singh, Madison Trusolino


Monday Night Seminar: Data Justice Across Environmental Publics

Monday Night Seminar: Data Justice Across Environmental Publics

The “Monday Night Seminar” carries on the tradition of Marshall McLuhan’s public seminars at the University of Toronto. All seminars take place from 6 – 8pm within the same intimate Coach House setting where McLuhan once held court. In this up-close and personal environment, a range of thinkers – academics, activists, scientists, artists, designers and planners – will explore digital culture from a feminist perspective.

The Monday Night Seminars are designed to challenge prevailing cultural notions about technology and provoke new insight on the possibilities for a more equitable technological future. Join us!


Monday Night Seminar November 27th: Data Justice Across Environmental Publics

Prototyping Data Justice across Environmental and Data Publics: Privacy, Precarity, and Resistance

How do we build decolonial futures into data infrastructures? This seminar addresses data justice as an emerging zone of creation and politics. We will discuss frame works of data justice in relation to modes of refusal, consent, and reparation. We speak to issues of environmental justice, open data, and smart city technology as critical contemporary sites of risk and opportunity. Key to this discussion are the politics of surveillance in relation to positions of precarity (racialized, gendered, community). Join us in prototyping a vision of data justice and strategies of resistance. As part of the seminar, we will use design charrette methods to workshop the concepts we develop. Come participate!

With special guests Dr. Beth Coleman (University of Waterloo) and Michelle Murphy (University of Toronto) leading the Technoscience Salon.

6 to 8 PM, Monday, November 27, 2017. Please RSVP at this link.


Dr. Beth Coleman: Associate Professor of Experimental Digita Media at the University of Waterloo where she directs the City as Platform Lab.

Dr. Beth Colemans work focuses on smart technology, big data, and civic engagement. Her practice engages research methods and artistic inquiry towards the creation of public, civic, and poetic works. She is the co-founder of SoundLab Cultural Alchemy, an internationally acclaimed multimedia art and sound platform. She had published the monograph Hello Avatar (MIT Press) along with numerous research articles. Her research affiliations include executive committee member of the UWaterloo Games Institute, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, and expert consultant for the European Commission Digital Futures. She is a founding member of the Microsoft Research Fellow Social Media Collective and currently a visiting professor at Data & Society Research Institute, New York.

Michelle Murphy: Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.

Michelle Murphy’s research is in feminist science and technology studies with a focus on environmental, reproductive, and data justice. Her current work concerns decolonial chemical exposures on the lower Great Lakes and Environmental Data Justice. She is director of the Technoscience Research Unit, a co-founding member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, co-organizer of the Technoscience Salon, lead member of Endocrine Disruptor Action Group, and a Lead Editor of the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. She is the author of The Economization of Life (2017), Seizing the Means of Reproduction (2012), and Sick Building Syndrome and the Politics of Exposure (2006), all with Duke University Press.

McLuhan Google Doodle

McLuhan Google Doodle

For McLuhan’s 106th birthday, he was featured on Google’s doodle! Check out the main article here:

Director Sarah Sharma was interviewed by UofT News regarding the doodle and you can check that out here:

MsUnderstanding Media

MsUnderstanding Media

The Extensions of Woman at the McLuhan Centre 2017/2018

This year the McLuhan Centre will bring together a renowned group of feminist media and technology scholars to examine our annual theme MsUnderstanding Media: The Extensions of Woman. This year-long thematic takes inspiration from Marshall McLuhan’s formative insight that the Medium is the Message while allowing us to critically examine the notion that media are “extensions of man.” We plan to foreground how a feminist focus on “the extensions of woman” renews McLuhan’s concern with the politics of pace, pattern and scale in our everyday technological objects. Some of McLuhan’s famous examples were the automobile and the gun which were extensions of feet and fists. We will consider a different set of media, those seen (incubator and breast-pump) unseen (software, networks, clouds) and those which provide new architectures of everyday life (man caves, cuddle cafes, co-working spaces). MsUnderstanding Media suggests that specific bodies, rhythms, and power dynamics are part of the message of every medium.

“The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” – (Understanding Media)

“The wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye clothing, an extension of the skin, electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system” – (The Medium is The Massage)

Some of our confirmed guests (more to come):
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Natasha Dow Schull
Florence Chee
Beth Coleman
Safiya Noble
Brooke Duffy
Carrie Rentschler
Melissa Gregg
Radhika Gajjala
Ganaele Langlois
Sarah Banet-Weiser
Anne Balsamo
Judith Nicholson
Armond Towns
Praba Pilar
Nicholas Taylor
Stay tuned for more Updates!


Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellow Sandy Pearlman Passes Away

Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellow Sandy Pearlman Passes Away

We are saddened to announce that Sandy Pearlman, a poet, writer, songwriter, producer of The Clash and Blue Öyster Cult, manager, professor, and visionary, passed away on Tuesday, July 28, 2016 in Marin County, California. Since August 2014, he was a Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellow at The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. On behalf of Interim Director, Seamus Ross, and Dean Wendy Duff, we offer our deepest condolences to his family. Continue reading