Faculty of Environmental Studies


Ford-Smith, Honor

Ford-Smith, Honor
Associate Professor
BA (Theatre and English) - Wisconsin Madison
MA (Adult Education) - Toronto
PhD (Education) - Toronto

Areas of Academic Interest

  • Performance and social movements
  • Race, gender, nation and colonialism and post-colonialism
  • Caribbean societies and their diasporas
  • Community and environmental arts and education

I grew up and was educated in Kingston, Jamaica where I lived most of my life on the Hope Road, ironically built on top of the land occupied by a slave plantation that no doubt long ago contributed much to English coffers. One day, a Rastaman called Bob Marley moved into a house across the street. From there he poured out his songs, changing popular music and representations of African diaspora forever. What a lesson! My research and artistic work is linked by a focus on performance and social change. Initially focusing on gender, class, drama, popular culture and popular education, I became active in the Caribbean women’s movement creating plays and popular dramas dealing with critical social issues. I worked in collaborative theatre, collected oral testimonies about women’s lives and researched the contribution of the Jamaican women’s movements to anti-colonialism.

I then turned to the study of performance as a site of anti-imperial nationalism in postcolonial Jamaica. Critiques of Western development paradigms, racism and mixed race identity, community arts practice and organizational democracy have been themes of my work especially as these are linked to social movements in the former colonized world. I became interested not only in what we know but also in how we know and began a search for methods of knowledge creation that rupture colonial knowledge-making practices underlying what one Jamaican writer has called "the unfinished project emancipation" (Brodber). Presently I am working on questions of place, memory and violence in the context of neo-liberal globalization. I am interested in ways in which neo-liberal violence has ruptured people's relationship to place and the ways in which performances of various kinds represent and can represent this. I welcome the challenge of working at FES because it allows me to bring together many interests across the disciplines and to work on the development of a critically engaged curriculum.

Major research projects

Youth and community development in Canada and Jamaica: A transnational approach to youth violence, Collaborator with Andrea Davis (CERLAC), SSRHCPartnership Development Grant, 2011-2013.

Memory, Urban Violence and Performance in Jamaica, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2008-2011.

The Soucouyant of Hope Road, Level 2 Writing Grant Award from Toronto Arts Council, 2002.

Select prizes and awards

  • Otto Rene Castillo Award for Poltiical Theatre to Sistren (Sisters) Theatre Collective, Jamaica, 2012
  • Best Film/Video Documentary Production, XXII, Black International Cinema for Honor Bound directed by Jay Prychidny, Toronto, Canada: Leda Serene, 2008

Select publications

2012 "White women and anti-colonial drama: Cicely Howland in Jamaica." Mixed Company: Three Early Jamaican Plays. Ed. Brewster, Yvonne. London: Oberon, 211-221.

2011 3 Jamaican Plays: A Postcolonial Anthology (1977-1987), Kingston, Jamaica: Paul Issa Publications.

2011 "Whose community? Whose art? The politics of reformulating community art in Canada." Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English: Community Engaged Performance. Ed. Julie Salverson. Toronto, Playwrights Canada Press (revised version of 2001 article).

2005 Lionheart Gal: Life-Stories of Jamaican Women* (with the Sistren Theatre Collective), Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press. Including a new afterword by me. (first published 1986)

2004 "Unruly Virtues of the Spectacular: Performing Engendered Nationalisms in the UNIA in Jamaica"* in Interventions: International Journal of Post-colonial Studies, Vol 6 Number 1. pp. 18-44

2001 "Whose Community? Whose Art? The Politics of Reformulating Community Art in Canada." No Frame Around It: Process and Outcome of the A Space Community Art Biennale. Ed. Melanie Fernandez. Toronto: A Space Gallery: 11-27.

1997 "Ring Ding in a Tight Corner: Sistren, Collective Democracy and the Organization of Cultural Production."* Abridged version of monograph in Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures. Ed. Jaqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty. New York: Routledge: 213-258.

1997 My Mother’s Last Dance (Collected poems). Toronto: Sister Vision Press.

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