Izumi Sakamoto

Associate Professor; Ph.D., Social Work & Social Psychology, University of Michigan; Graduate Certificate, Culture & Cognition, University of Michigan; MS, Psychology, University of Michigan; M.S.W., Interpersonal Practice, University of Michigan; MA, Sociology/Social Welfare, Sophia University; BA, Social Welfare, Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku), Tokyo, Japan
Phone Number: 
(416) 946-8224
Office Location: 

Room 432

Research Interests: 

• Immigration and Culture
– Social work with immigrants
– Critical review of immigrant acculturation and integration
– Cultural negotiation processes, influence of culture on the self, multiple cultural identities, and socio/cultural adaptation
• Anti-oppressive social work and critical consciousness
– Processes of marginalization and empowerment
– Social work pedagogy
– Community organizing, group work, and advocacy
• Homelessness, poverty, and intersecting oppressions
– Women
– Transwomen and Aboriginal women’s experiences of homelessness
• Globalization, transnationality and social work
– Critical international social work
• Inclusive research methodologies
– Community-based participatory action research
– Arts-based research


“Canadian experience” and skilled immigrant employment (Beyond “Canadian Experience” Project)
Collaborative on Arts-Based Research and Homelessness
Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support

Dr. Sakamoto is a former Fulbright Scholar, a Michigan Society of Fellows Associate Fellow, and a “Community of Scholars” Fellow of the Institute of Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. Dr. Sakamoto’s training and practice span North America and Japan, and she brings interdisciplinary perspectives from social work, social psychology, and cultural psychology.

Dr. Sakamoto’s research and teaching focus on anti-oppression, empowerment, globalization, community organizing, qualitative research, and decolonization of dominant knowledge through community-based and arts-informed research.  With six government grants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) as the Principal Investigator, Dr. Sakamoto’s research has focused on equity, anti-oppression and social inclusion of immigrants as well as women/transwomen who have experienced homelessness. Focusing on the tacit dimension of knowledge, she has used photography and theatrical techniques to collaboratively create knowledge with research participants with the help of artists, which then led to various knowledge mobilization activities including readers theatre performances, art exhibits, and videos.

Dr. Sakamoto has focused on the issues of (im)migrants and sojourners for the past 15 years and specifically on the issues faced by skilled immigrants to Canada for the 10 years, including employment, structural, and psychosocial issues.  Her current research projects problematize the notion of “Canadian experience” (CE) as it is often used as an exclusionary hiring criterion for skilled immigrants in Canada, who are often from the Global South countries. CE includes often tacitly acquired and perceived competency in navigating through Canadian workplace culture.  For example, she and her colleagues have conducted media analysis of English, Chinese and “South Asian” media in the Greater Toronto Area on the notion of skilled immigrants and “Canadian experience”.  Another research projects she leads on this topic (Beyond Canadian Experience Project) is a collaboration with community partners, which has been reaching out to employers in order to mobilize the research findings and explore together the alternative ways of meeting the needs of employers in hiring diverse talents including immigrants without relying on an elusive concept of Canadian experience (http://www.beyondcanadianexperience.com/).  In her dissertation work, Dr. Sakamoto developed a “Model of Cultural Negotiation”, for individuals and families negotiating multiple cultural contexts, and continued to critically examine the issues of acculturation and integration for immigrants.

In the area of homelessness, Dr. Sakamoto has led a collaborative knowledge-synthesis project of eight arts-informed, community-based, participatory research projects focusing on homelessness, which includes the mounting of a joint exhibition and other creative ways of research dissemination toward social change (Homelessness: Solutions from Lived Experiences through Arts-Informed Research). This work builds on and extends her earlier arts-based research project with community partners, Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support, which focused on the family-like social networks of women and transwomen who are homeless, paying special attention to the experiences of Aboriginal women and women of colour. In addition, she has successfully conducted several community-based research projects with diverse communities in the US, Canada, and Japan, for example, the culturally and linguistically appropriate civic engagement of ESL Chinese youths in Toronto; and the empowerment of women who are spouses of international students/scholars in Michigan. 

Dr. Sakamoto has over 10 years of practice experience in community and direct practice settings as a generalist social worker, group worker, music therapist, community organizer, social work administrator, and researcher/consultant. Dr. Sakamoto’s teaching interests include empowerment, anti-oppressive social work, qualitative research, community-based research, social work practice with organizations and communities, group work, globalization and transnationality, and critical international social work. She was the first International Student Coordinator at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (2004-2008). 

Dr. Sakamoto was Acting Director of the Ph.D. Program in 2012, and teaches in both MSW and Ph.D. programs.

Publications In Refereed Journals: 

Sakamoto, I. (Forthcoming).  Critical consciousness in the international/transnational contexts: Teaching globalization and gender-based oppression for MSW students.  In Janet Finn, Tonya Perry & Sharvari Karandikar (Eds.). “Gender oppression and globalization: Challenges for social work”. Alexandra, VA: CSWE Press.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M., Wood, N., Ricciardi, J. (Forthcoming).  The use of staged photography in participatory action research with homeless women: Reflections on methodology and collaboration. Diane Conrad & Anita Sinner (Eds.). Creating together: Participatory, community-based and collaborative arts practices and scholarship across Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

King, R. & Sakamoto, I. (Forthcoming). Challenges and possibilities of healing psychosocial trauma in non-western post-conflict societies: The case of post-genocide Rwanda. In N. Wane, R. Moodley & E. Neeganagwedgin. (Eds.) African Traditional Healing Approaches & Research Practices. Peter Lang publishing.

Allan, B. & Sakamoto, I. (Forthcoming).  Helpers, not helpless: Honouring the strength, wisdom and vision of Aboriginal women experiencing homelessness or marginal housing. In M. Guergis-Younger, S. Hwang, & R. McNeil. (Eds.). Homelessness and Health in Canada. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M. & Young, M. (2010). ‘Canadian Experience,’ employment challenges, and skilled immigrants: A close look through ‘tacit knowledge.’ Canadian Social Work Journal, 10(1), 145-151.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M. & Baskin, C. (2010). Collaborating for social change: Bringing together arts-informed research projects on homelessness. In C. McLean (ed.). Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change (pp. 21-38). Calgary, AB: Temeron Books.

Sakamoto, I., Ku, J., & Wei, Y. (2009). The Deep plunge: Luocha and the experiences of earlier skilled immigrants from Mainland China in Toronto. Qualitative Social Work, 8(4), 427-447.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M., Chapra, A., & Ricciardi, J. (2009). A ‘normative’ homeless woman?: Marginalisation, emotional injury, and social support of transwomen experiencing homelessness. Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, 5(1), 2-19.

Sakamoto, I. (2009). Anti-oppressive practice in social work with groups. In A. Gitterman & R. Salmon (eds.). Encyclopedia of social work with groups (pp. 67-70). New York: Routledge.

Williams, C., Newman, P., Sakamoto, I., & Massaquoi, N. (2009). HIV prevention risks for Black women in Canada. Social Science and Medicine, 68, 12-20.

Sakamoto, I., Wei, Y. & Truong, L. (2008). How do social service organizations and social policies ‘acculturate’ to immigrants?: Social service provision for Chinese skilled immigrants in Canada.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 42(3/4), 343-354.

Sakamoto, I., Anastas, J., Mcphail, B., & Colarossi, L. (2008). Status of women in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 44(1), 37-62.

Sakamoto, I. (2008). Transculturality and diversity in transnational realities: An anti-oppressive perspective. In H. G. Homfeldt, W. Schröer, & C. Schweppe (eds).Soziale Arbeit und Transnationalitat: Herausforderungen eines spannungsreichen Bezugs (tr. Transnationalisation and Social Work; pp. 45-59). Germany: Juventa Verlag.

Sakamoto, I. (2007). An anti-oppressive approach to cultural competence. Canadian Social Work Review, 24(1), 105-114.

Sakamoto, I. (2007). A critical examination of immigrant acculturation: Toward an anti-oppressive social work with immigrant adults in a pluralistic society. British Journal of Social Work, 37(3), 515-535.

Sakamoto, I. (2006). When family enters the picture: The model of cultural negotiation and gendered experiences of Japanese academic sojourners in the United States. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology Journal, 12(3), 558-577.

Sakamoto, I. (2006). Acculturation or negotiation? What Japanese academic migrants teach us about family processes and gendered experiences of cultural adaptation. In R. Mahalingam. (Ed.). Cultural psychology of immigrants (pp. 337-364). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Pitner, R. & Sakamoto, I. (2005). Examining the role of critical consciousness in multicultural practice: Examining how its strength becomes its limitation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(4), 684-694.

Zhou, Y. R., Knoke, D., & Sakamoto, I. (2005). Rethinking silence in the classroom: Chinese students’ experiences of sharing indigenous knowledge. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(3), 287-311.

Sakamoto, I. & Pitner, R. (2005). Use of critical consciousness in anti-oppressive social work practice: Disentangling power dynamics at personal and structural levels. British Journal of Social Work, 35(4), 420-437.

Sakamoto, I. & Zhou, Y. (2005). Gendered nostalgia: The experiences of new Chinese skilled immigrants in Canada. In V. Agnew. (ed.). Diaspora, memory and identity: A search for home. (pp. 209-229). Toronto: The University of Toronto Press.

Gutiérrez, L. M., Sakamoto, I., & Morson, T. (2003). Using groups for research and action: The Asian mothers’ support project. In J. Lindsay, D. Turcotte, & E. Hopmeyer (Eds.). Crossing boundaries and developing alliances through group work (pp. 133-146). Binghampton, NY: Haworth Press (now Routledge).

Sakamoto, I. (2003) Changing images and similar dynamics: Historical patterning of foreignness in the social work profession. In R. Saunders (Ed.) The concept of foreign: An interdisciplinary dialogue (pp. 237-279). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Lewis, E., Gutiérrez, L. M., & Sakamoto, I. (2001) Women of color. In A. Gitterman (Ed.) Handbook of social work practice with vulnerable and resilient populations (2nd ed; pp. 820-840). New York: Columbia University Press.

Oyserman, D., Sakamoto, I., & Lauffer, A. (1998) Cultural accommodation: Hybridity and the framing of social obligation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1606-1618.

Oyserman, D. & Sakamoto, I. (1997) Being Asian American: Identity, cultural constructs and stereotype perception. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 33(4), 435-453.

Research Reports and Other Publications:

Sakamoto, I., Ricciardi, J., Plyler, J., Wood, N., Chapra, A., Chin, M., Allan, B., Cameron, R., & Nunes, M. (2010). Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support — With a special focus on the experiences of Aboriginal women and transwomen (50 pages, colour). Toronto: Wellesley Institute.

Sakamoto, I., Khandor, E., Chapra, A., Hendrickson, T., Maher, J., Roche, B., & Chin, M. (2008). Homelessness –Diverse experiences, common issues, shared solutions: The need for inclusion and accountability. Toronto: Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. ISBN: 978-0-9811128-0-0 (book). www.artsandhomeless.com

Sakamoto, I., Ricciardi, J., Plyler, J. & Wood, N. (April 2007). Coming together: Homeless women, housing and social support. Toronto: Centre for Applied Social Research, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto (40 pages, all colour). www.comingtogether.ca

Mandiberg, J. & Sakamoto, I. (1994). “Sexual and gender harassment in universities.” In Shikokugakuin University (Ed.), Evu to adamu o koete (Beyond Eve and Adam: Human rights and discrimination against women). Shikokugakuin University, (in Japanese).

Other Selected Publications: 

Recent Research Report Published:

Sakamoto, I., Jayapal, D., Bhuyan, R., Ku, J., Fang, L., Zhang, H., & Genovese, F. (2013 March). An overview of discourses of skilled immigrants and “Canadian experience”: An English-language print media analysis. CERIS Working Paper #98. Toronto: CERIS – The Ontario Metropolis Centre. Available at: http://www.ceris.metropolis.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/CWP_98_Sakamoto_et_al.pdf

Awards and Honors: 
2007 Community-Based Research Award of Merit Honorary Mention (individual award as PI), the Centre for Urban Health Initiative, University College, University of Toronto & the Wellesley Institute. http://www.utoronto.ca/cuhi/awards/merit.html
2004 Teacher of the Year Award, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.
2001 Department of Public Safety Director’s Award (group award), University of Michigan
2000 Oleshansky Research Prize (for 2000-2001) Department of Psychology, University of Michigan
2000 Dean’s Discretionary Fellowship Rackham School of Graduate Studies, University of Michigan
1999 Henry Meyer Award Second Place (best paper award) School of Social Work Doctoral Program, University of Michigan
1999 Oleshansky Research Prize (for 1998-1999) Department of Psychology, University of Michigan
1998-1999 Michigan Society of Fellows Associate Fellowship, University of Michigan
1998 Institute of Research on Women and Gender, Community of Scholars Fellowship, University of Michigan
1997-1998 Barbour Scholarship, Rackham School of Graduate Studies, University of Michigan
1996 Rosemary Sarri Scholarship Fund, School of Social Work, University of Michigan
1996 Research Partnership, School of Social Work and Department of Psychology, University of Michigan
1993-1995 Fulbright Grant for Graduate Study, Institute of International Education/United States Information Agency (US) & Japan-US Scholar Exchange Center/Japanese Ministry of Education ().
1993-1995 C. Ito Foundation Fellowship for Study Abroad in Child Welfare Tokyo,
External Research Grants: 

1. Discourses of Skilled Immigrants and Canadian Experience: An Intertextual Analysis of English, Chinese Canadian, and Indian-Canadian Media.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Co-investigators: Rupaleem Bhuyan (University of Toronto, Social Work) & Jane Ku (University of Windsor, Women’s Studies/Sociology & Anthropology)
Funding (a): Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Standard Grant (April 2010- March 2013);
(b) CERIS- The Ontario Metropolis Centre 2010 RFP Funding Competition. (May 2010 – December 2011)
Community Partner for the CERIS grant: Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter.

2. “Do skilled immigrants need “Canadian (work) experience”?: Public engagement and conversations through new media and reader’s theatre.”
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Co-Investigator: L. Fang (University of Toronto, Social Work)
Community partners: Mennonite New Life Centre Toronto, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Public Outreach Grant (April 2011-March 2013)

Completed Projects:

3. Re-examining the “Canadian Experience” and Acculturation: The Missing Context of Canada’s High-Skilled Immigrants.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Standard Grant.
Read More:
Edge, Fall 2007 (Next Generation)

4. We’re not Asking, We’re Telling: Building on Good Practices in Services for Homeless Women
Funding: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HSRDC) Homelessness Partnering Strategy, Homelessness Knowledge Development. (April 2010 – March 2011)
Principal Investigator: J. David Hulchanski. Co-Investigators: Emily Paradis, Izumi Sakamoto. Community partners: Ontario Women’s Health Network, FORWARD (For Women’s Autonomy, Rights and Dignity).

5. Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: (a) Wellesley Institute Advanced Grant; Royal Bank Fellowship (University of Toronto) & (b) SSHRC Institutional Grant (University of Toronto). Community partners: Regent Park Community Health Centre & Sistering: Women’s Place. http://www.comingtogether.ca/ 

Community Report (2007): “Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support” Research Report (PDF)

Other Online Coverage of Research project:
o News @UofT: http://www.news.utoronto.ca/bin6/061114-2741.asp
o Arts and Social Work Research Initiative

6. Family Homelessness: The Experiences and Needs of Diverse Types of Homeless Families and their Different Paths into and Out of Homelessness .
Principal Investigator: David Hulchanski
Co-Investigator : Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

7. Homelessness: Solutions from Lived Experiences through Arts-Informed Research.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: (a) Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) & (b) Wellesley Institute.
Co-applicants: Cyndy Baskin; Nancy Halifax; Natalie Wood; Brenda Roche. Community partners: St. Michael’s Hospital, Regent Park Community Health Centre, Ontario Women’s Health Network, Street Health, Wellesley Institute. http://www.artsandhomeless.com/

Read More:
Toronto Star. (2008, October 1). A glimpse into life on city streets: Exhibit gives homeless a chance to tell their stories in a way organizers hope will get people thinking. p. A10 (Written by N. Javed).

8. From Acculturation to Cultural Negotiation: Everyday Lived Experiences of Multiculturalism of Chinese Skilled Immigrants.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: (a) Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (b) CERIS & (c) Connaught Fund (University of Toronto)

9. Japanese Migrants in North America.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: (a) Connaught Fund (University of Toronto) & (b) Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (American Psychological Association).

10. The Participation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in Autonomously Organized Encampments of People who are Homeless: A Comparative Cross-National Study.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: (a) Royal Bank Fellowship & (b) SSHRC Institutional Grant.

11. Mapping Civic Participation among Chinese Canadian Youth.
Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Community Partner: Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. Funding: Wellesley Urban Health Grant Initiative (now Wellesley Institute).

12. Promoting equity in access to post-trial HIV vaccines for Black Women in Canada: Risks, barriers and adoption intentions.
Co-Principal Investigators: Peter Newman & Charmaine Williams
Co-Investigator. Principal Investigator: Izumi Sakamoto
Funding: Canadian Institute for Health Research.