Dr Pooneh Torabian
“I see myself as a scholar-activist,” she says. “My research platform has been shaped by my lived experience as a non-Western racialised Iranian-Canadian woman and my research aims to expose injustices and inequalities and expand qualitative traditions.”
Torabian has a BA in Tourism Management and an MA in Tourism Marketing from the Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran, Iran, as well as a PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo in Canada. Her PhD research was on Canadian dual citizenship and international (im)mobilities after September 11, 2001.
Since joining the University of Otago in 2019, her research has focused on a range of topics, including freedom of movement, citizenship, migration, the intersectionality of race and gender, arts and leisure, and storytelling and narrative inquiry.
“My research platform has been shaped by my lived experience as a non-Western racialised Iranian-Canadian woman and my research aims to expose injustices and inequalities and expand qualitative traditions.”
Torabian was the lead researcher on a 2020 project looking at how arts and leisure can facilitate community integration and resettlement of refugee women in Dunedin. Afghan women attended four three-hour art workshops, each of which was run by an artist from the community.
“With language being a barrier for some migrants, this series of workshops helped women with self-expression through art as an alternative way of communication.”, she says
“The women found the workshops to be therapeutic and some of them mentioned they were helpful in working through their trauma. The last workshop led to the formation of a group of women who get together to sew every Friday. We were thrilled to see that the workshops helped women with establishing a sense of belonging and network building. I see potential in expanding the scope of this project and am looking at different avenues to pursue funding.”
Torabian is now exploring Māori men's experiences of participating in an art programme at the Otago Corrections Facility to see how arts and leisure help with rehabilitation and in connecting the men with their culture. She is also focusing on (im)mobilities of international students in New Zealand and is exploring the role race and nationality play in providing a basis for legalised forms of othering and exclusion in regards to student visas and travel.
Torabian is involved in two other collaborations: the first is concerned with Muslim migrant women's politics of representation in New Zealand cities; and the second looks at the need for critical thinking in regenerative tourism.
“I plan to continue to develop my work with members of marginalised communities, such as migrants, people of colour and incarcerated women,” she says. “My ultimate goal is to bring about change through my research both within and beyond academia.”
- University of Waterloo President's Graduate Scholarship (2014)
- SSHRC J. Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral (2014)
Centre for Global Migrations Otago Business School
More stories about early career researchers
This story is part of the research publication 'He Kitenga 2022: Talented Futures', which presents the different pathways into research that early career researchers follow.