Susila Gurusami

Susila Gurusami
Monday, December 3, 2018 - 9:27am

Position: Assistant Professor, Tenure Stream

Academic Unit: Sociology

Place of Birth: Syracuse, NY

Joined UTM Faculty: 2018

“If we study people’s lives, the very least we can do is to be accountable and make our world better.”

Susila Gurusami is delighted to be kicking off her academic career at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

“I am just so taken with the University of Toronto,” she says. “The sociology department here is one of the largest in the world in terms of breadth of scholarship. A lot of scholars I’ve engaged with in the work I’m doing are based here.

“There is an openness to what sociology is and what rigorous scholarship looks like, which is lovely. UTM really seemed, in so many ways, what I had dreamed academic life could be. It was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down.”

Gurusami, who grew up and earned her degrees in the United States, conducts research that focuses on gender, race, punishment and state governance. “The racial context in Canada has expanded my sensibilities about what race, control and sovereignty look like,” she says.

She is in the midst of writing a book that examines the lives of previously incarcerated Black women at a transitional home in Los Angeles. “I am trying to amplify voices that are not well represented. Their experiences, given their race and gender, tell us a lot about how the state governs, and reflect problems we all should notice.”

Gurusami believes that her mandate as a sociologist is to improve society. “If we study people’s lives, the very least we can do is to be accountable and make our world better. We owe reciprocity to the people whose lives inform our work and I’m still trying to think through what that means.

“We are seeing much more of these ethics in the new generation of researchers. Academia is changing, and we have to make what we do relevant and accountable if we want to make real change.”

Selected Publications:

  1. Gurusami, Susila. 2018. “The Carceral Web We Weave: Carceral Citizens’ Experiences of Digital Punishment and Solidarity.” Punishment and Society.
  2. Gurusami, Susila. 2018. “Motherwork Under the State: The Maternal Labor of Formerly Incarcerated Black Women.” Social Problems.
  3. Gurusami, Susila. 2017. “Working for Redemption: Formerly Incarcerated Black Women and Punishment in the Labor Market.” Gender & Society 31(4):433–56 [lead article]


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