Research interests and relationalities: critical race studies; anti-colonial pedagogies and research methods; Filipinx/a/o studies; Indigenous studies; sociologies of solidarity and social justice; digital media studies; digital humanities; literary studies; writing studies
Dr. Ashley Caranto Morford’s current research asks how literature by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) writers can help settler Filipinx/a/os understand how to be better and more accountable kin and relations to Black and Indigenous communities in colonially called North America.
Her forthcoming book project, entitled Settler Filipino Kinship Care: Confronting Colonial Canada and Honoring Indigenous Life, takes up and addresses the question: How can Filipinx/a/os in Canada be better kin and better relations to Indigenous lands and life? Filipinx/a/os experience immense harms within Canada, ranging from abusive labor practices and policies, to the undermining of Philippine credentials, to ongoing acts of racism and white supremacy. At the same time, however, Filipinx/a/os participate in the displacement of Indigenous peoples by settling in, growing roots, and becoming nourished on the stolen Indigenous lands claimed by Canada. Scholarship on Asian settler colonialism in North America has been predominantly focused on the context of Hawaii, and, more broadly, the US Empire. For too long, the global perspective has framed and mythologized Canada as tolerant, progressive, and inclusive. In actuality, Indigenous peoples continue to experience genocide from the Canadian state and to be dispossessed of their lands. To better understand how settler Filipinx/a/os in Canada can be accountable to our participation in settler colonialism and can be better kin and relations to Indigenous lands and life, Ashley conducts close readings and analyses of literary works by Indigenous, Filipinx/a/o, and diasporic Asian writers. By tracing scenes of settler Canadian mappings imposed on Indigenous lands, settler-Indigenous treaty-making and treaty-breaking, erotic encounters on and with Indigenous lands, and the embodying and refusing of Filipinx/a/o kapwa principles in these texts, her work demonstrates how bringing Indigenous, Filipinx/a/o, and diasporic Asian literatures into dialogue with one another offers pedagogies and pathways of kinship and relationality to follow and embody against and beyond Canada’s settler colonial futurity and ways of existing.
From 2020-2021, Ashley was a co-facilitator of the Jackman Humanities Institute BIPOC Solidarities research group, alongside Sewsen Igbu, Shanna Peltier, and Kaitlin Rizarri. The research group brought together community members, organizers, and scholars from interdisciplinary backgrounds, diverse communities, and various fields of study to read about, discuss, and imagine the potentialities and necessities of BIPOC solidarity work, with a focus on the Canadian context. In particular, the group focused on solidarity work that centres, honours, and amplifies BIPOC women, feminisms, and LGBTQ2IA+ BIPOC communities.
Ashley’s work also closely reflects on and engages with digital spaces, technologies, and infrastructures. Ashley has interest in online social media environments as spaces for social justice mobilization and community organizing. She is an Associate Faculty Member with the Critical Health and Social Action (CHSA) Labs at OISE (the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto). From 2018-2021, as part of this lab, Ashley helped to lead the #DecolonizingDigital project alongside Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos. This project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. Through an archival study of Twitter and interviews with Indigenous Twitter users in Turtle Island, #DecolonizingDigital investigated how Indigenous people are using Twitter for cultural revitalization, language learning, artistic knowledge, and life promotion. Along with Ansloos and Tanja Grubnic, Ashley is currently co-editing a forthcoming special issue of the Indigenous literary studies journal Transmotion, which will focus on Indigenous social media and digital environments. Along with Ansloos and David Gaertner, Ashley is also co-editing a forthcoming book about #NativeTwitter, which studies how Indigenous peoples are crafting the Twitter environment as a community-based space for cultural revitalization, language learning, land-based organizing, and life promotion. This book will be published as part of Wilfrid Laurier University Press’ Indigenous Imaginings series.
Ashley is a member of a Critical Digital Humanities Initiative working group on Digital Threads: Anti-colonial Storytelling and Community Building Through Twine (PI: Arun Jacob). This working group is supported by the Digital Humanities Learning Community Grant, and is focused on understanding the possibilities of Twine – and digital storywork more broadly – as a pedagogical tool for anti-oppressive, anti-colonial, anti-caste, and community-centred digital humanities work. The group — with members in Canada, the US, and India — plans to provide community organizers and educators with an accessible toolkit for ethically teaching and using Twine towards social justice and anti-colonial interventions.