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Associate Professor Izumi Sakamoto

Izumi Sakamoto


Associate Professor
Ph.D., Social Work & Social Psychology, University of Michigan

Phone Number: 
(416) 946-8224
Office Location: 

Room 414

Research Interests: 
  • Anti-oppressive practice (AOP) and intersectionality
  • Japanese Canadian identities, arts, activism & communities
  • Anti-Asian racism, Asian Canadian identities & model minority myth
  • Immigrants and refugees
  • “Canadian experience” (immigrant employment discrimination)
  • Community-based, participatory, arts-based research
  • Critical tacit knowledge
  • Critical consciousness and social work pedagogy
  • Critical international social work

Izumi Sakamoto is currently an Associate Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and an Academic Fellow with the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research. She is also a Core Faculty Member of the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and brings interdisciplinary perspectives from social work, social psychology, and cultural psychology, and works transnationally.

Izumi’s research has focused on immigration, anti-oppressive practice, gender, empowerment, critical consciousness, community organizing, and the arts. She has methodological expertise in qualitative, community-based and arts-informed research methodologies. Izumi currently leads the Japanese Canadian Arts and Activism Project (JCAAP), examining the intersections of artistic practice and activism within the contemporary Japanese Canadian community, while focusing on the themes of memory, identity, emotion and accountability. She is the first author of the book on anti-oppressive practice (AOP) published in Japan (2021), the first book on AOP in that country.

Izumi’s research has been shedding light on the experiences of im/migrants and other marginalized communities for the past 20+ years. For example, she developed a Model of Cultural Negotiation for immigrant ‘acculturation’ and integration; conducted ethnographic and media analysis on the notion of “Canadian experience”; and collaboratively mobilized knowledge for employers to consider diverse talents beyond Canadian experience (Beyond “Canadian Experience” Project). In 2013, her collaborative research on immigrant employment helped the Ontario Human Rights Commission to create the “Policy on removing the ‘Canadian experience’ barrier”. Subsequently, Izumi was awarded the 2014 Pioneers for Change Award (Women in Leadership category) by Skills for Change, Toronto. Her award-winning research on homelessness explored the social networks of people who are homeless, specifically of Indigenous women and transwomen. An ensuing collaborative knowledge-synthesis project, funded by SSHRC, resulted in a joint exhibition and creative research dissemination approaches toward social change. She is a frequent invited speaker at research colloquia and conferences; for example, recently, she was a keynote and invited speaker domestically and internationally, for example, recently in Singapore, Japan, the US and Canada.

Izumi currently leads four research projects as the Principal Investigator: 1. Many faces of Japanese Canadians: remembering inter-generational trauma and renewing cultural identity through activism, art and community (SSHRC, 2017-2021); 2. Arts organizing as antidote to state-based racial violence: Imagining Japanese Canadian genealogies and relationships through the Powell Street Festival (SSHRC, 2019-2021; Community partner – Powell Street Festival Society); 3. From margins to frameworks: Praxis-ing (im)migrant/ racialized/marginalized communities’ tacit knowledge in anti-oppressive social work (Dean’s Network Award, 2019-2021); and 4. Canadian Race Relations from the Vantage Point of Chinese Canadians: A Virtual Intergenerational Storytelling Project (SSHRC 2020-2022; partner: Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter). In addition, she is a Co-Investigator of research projects focusing on anti-Asian racism in the COVID-19 era (PI: Lin Fang) and the discourse of neurodiversity (PI: Margaret Gibson).

Knowledge Mobilization Presentations & Videos: