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Research team

Meet our research team

Mervyn Horgan

Mervyn Horgan is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, a core faculty member of the PhD Program in Social Practice and Transformational Change, Affiliated Faculty with the Graduate Programs in Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University Guelph, and Faculty Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. He has published widely on public space, strangers, social interaction, cultural sociology, stigmatization and social theory. He is the Principal Investigator on the SSHRC-funded sociable cities project.

Saara Liinamaa

Saara Liinamaa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph. As a cultural and urban sociologist, her research and publications examine how individuals and organizations navigate conditions of uncertainty in contemporary urban life, with a stress on the contributions of urban art and cultural practices to the imagination and realization of social change. She is a co-investigator on the sociable cities project.  See her full profile at:

Katie K. MacLeod

Katie K. MacLeod recently completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University where her research explored how gender and community spaces contributed to the reproduction of ethnicity, language, and culture in a rural Acadian community in Nova Scotia. Her research and publications have explored the role of community, kitchen spaces and schools in sustaining Acadian identities, minority identities and histories in Atlantic Canada, and Indigenous community economic development. Her research interests include public spaces, ethnic identities, nationalism, gendered labour, and community. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow on the sociable cities project.

Meng Xu

Meng Xu is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Guelph. He holds a BA and an MA in Sociology from Minzu University of China, and his areas of research interest include interactionism, public space, and consumption. Meng`s research will focus on the social and cultural implications of everyday interactions in commercialized public spaces in contemporary Chinese society. He is currently a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project. 

Devan Hunter

Devan Hunter is a PhD Student in Sociology at the University of Guelph. Previously, she completed both her BA in Criminal Justice and Public Policy, as well as her MA in Sociology at the University of Guelph. Additionally, she holds a Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University. Her MA work focused on values, meanings and lifestyle practices of vegans and how gender identity intersected with this. Currently, she is interested in intergenerationality, copresence in everyday life, embodiment, critical social theory and community-based arts organizations. She is a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project. 

Sofia Meligrana

Sofia Meligrana is a Sociology MA student at the University of Guelph. She previously attended the University of Ottawa for joint honours in Communications and Sociology. Her research interests include cultural (mis)appropriation, representation, ethnic minorities, and symbolic boundaries. Her MA research focuses on ethnic minority responses to cultural (mis)appropriation in Canada. She is a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project. 

Edith Wilson

Edith Wilson is a PhD student at the University of Guelph. Her master’s research focused on “washrooms for customers only” rules in Toronto, and the implications of those rules for public services and spaces. Her other research interests include housing; harm reduction; stigmatization; solidarity; and the commons. She is a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project.

Harrison Jedan

Harrison Jedan is a Public Issues Anthropology MA student at the University of Guelph. He previously attended York University, receiving a BA Honours in Anthropology. His research interests include public space, social interaction, accessibility, and gender. Harrison’s MA project will ethnographically explore skateparks to examine the intersection between design, community engagement, and accessibility of public spaces. He is a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project.

Aliesha Lewis

Aliesha Lewis is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph. She is currently studying Sociology and Criminal Justice and Public Policy. Her research interests include the impact of public policy and governance on social spaces, representation amongst marginalized communities, as well as the different perceptions surrounding social awareness and change. She is a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project.

Past research team

Kaitlin Wynia Baluk

Kaitlin Wynia Baluk is a postdoctoral fellow in McMaster’s Department of Health, Aging, and Society and a researcher-in-residence at Hamilton Public Library, where she helps to facilitate research partnerships between McMaster faculty and the library. Her research interests include public library partnerships, public space, social infrastructure, and public art. As a Research Associate on the sociable cities project, she contributed to the development of our research on public libraries.

Amanda Dakin

Amanda Dakin completed her MA in Sociology at the University of Guelph (2021). Her SSHRC-funded thesis, titled The Subtle Art of Exclusion: An Examination of Hostile Urban Design in Guelph, Ontario, examines how homeless persons are excluded from the public realm through the use of the outdoor built environment. As a Research Assistant on the sociable cities project, she contributed to our research and publications on ice rinks and the impacts of the pandemic on public space.

The sociable cities research team acknowledges that we live and work on traditional, unceded, and/or treaty lands of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. We are hosted on the Dish with One Spoon territory, the treaty land and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and Between the Lakes Purchase (Treaty 3). For thousands of years, this was the land of Attawandaron peoples, and eventually, the Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee and Métis. Additionally, our team conducts research in the traditional territories of the Chippewa and Huron-Wendat, covered by Treaty 13 and the Williams Treaties. As we strive to strengthen our relationship with Indigenous peoples, we recognize that our work, which is centred on solidarity and place-based connection, has much to learn from Indigenous peoples of past, present and future. We express our deepest gratitude to the Indigenous peoples who share this land with us and from whom we continue to learn.