Research-Action Axes

Work conducted at CIRM is anchored to one or more of the six following research-action axes:

Digital culture, art, literature, and performance

Deputy Director: Will Straw

The place of culture in Montreal is over-determined by at least three factors : the longstanding reputation of Montreal as a city distinguished by its commitment to leisure and cultural expression; current innovation agendas which emphasis the interplay between technological invention and artistic experimentation (gaming, lighting, circus arts, etc.); social-political doctrines which emphasize the role of culture in the sustaining of languages and the expression of cultural diversity. Work in this axis will trace the interplay between traditional cultural forms (music, literature, visual arts, performance, etc.) and the digital platforms or networks within which they are increasingly implicated.  We will study the role of cultural forms, events and institutions in solidifying or eroding the boundaries between linguistic and ethno-racial communities. We will examine, as well, the ways in which cultural expression in Montreal offers particular “maps” of the city and interweaves the different voices, perspectives and stories of its populations.

Language, belonging, and plurilingualism

Deputy Director: Wim Remysen

Language has long been a major social and political issue in Montreal, particularly since the Révolution Tranquille. Sometimes described as a divided city made up of many solitudes, Montréal has also been represented as the battleground on which the future of the French language will be won or lost. Montréal is, in effect, home to most of Quebec’s immigrant and Anglophone population.  This axis examines how language plays out and shapes life in the city, today as well as in the past, in politics and issues of citizenship and belonging, in cultural expression, in economics, the workplace and in everyday interactions and collective initiatives.  New ways of conceptualizing language propose new ways of studying language demographically, politically and ideologically, as well as the growing bilingualism and plurilingualism of Montrealers. ​

Economy, social innovation, and social transformation

Deputy Director : Richard Shearmur

The Economy – meaning not only the system put in place by society for production and distribution of goods and services, but also status given to those participating to the system as well as to the distribution of value generated – is changing. For about fifteen years, technological (mobile phones, automatization) as well as political (globalization, austerity) choices have threatened employment by creating precarious work conditions through small gigs, and have made it possible for coordinating work from a multiplicity of places. As a city that relies on heavy industries (transportation, manufacturing) and thus on an economy structurally dependant on technical and material production, Montreal undergoes economical transformations. It is, at the same time, a city with a strong tradition of social cooperation and mutual assistance: a multitude of organizations – communal, municipal, rooted in neighborhoods and in businesses – pull together and act to harness those transformations in order to take advantage of what is best for Montrealers. In this research-action axis, we will examine social, personal and communal repercussions of these changes in Montreal. We will also work, hand in hand with organizations and social innovators, so we can better understand how to inflect economical transformations for the greater good of all Montrealers. 

Mobility, urban planning, and environment

Deputy Director: Juan Torres

Montreal is a city where diversity shows itself through different forms of mobility. For example, one can observe complex residential trajectories, like those of families with children or of new immigrants, that connect central neighborhoods with peripheral zones. As for everyday mobility, Montreal is also the setting of a great diversity of behaviors dependent on mutating accommodations in transportation but also, in a deeper level, on significant spatial transformations: revitalization of central neighborhoods, redevelopment of public spaces, repair of major infrastructures, etc. This axis is an opportunity to think about and study contemporary processes that shape urban space on various scales, while focusing on the relationships between these processes and the residents’ practices of mobility, including the younger ones.​

Governance, institutions, and citizen participation

Co-Deputy Directors: Hoi Kong and Daniel Weinstock

This axis of research focuses on the legal and administrative structures that enable a city to govern itself and that facilitate citizen and stakeholder participation in governance processes. Research projects done under this axis focus on Montreal’s formal and informal governance mechanisms, draw comparisons to other jurisdictions, and involve collaborations among academic institutions, governments and civil society actors.​

Immigration, living conditions, and religion

Co-Deputy Directors: Annick Germain and Frédéric Dejean

Immigration is a central component of Montreal’s reality, although difficult to study and to understand, as it is always increasing in size and in complexity (country of birth, variety of statuses, professional and spatial mobility, etc.). How do immigrants, while they settle in the city, contribute to transforming it? How do mechanisms of inclusion work in Montreal? How can we innovate in regard to welcoming new residents? These questions suppose wide and multi-dimensional approaches, from housing, places of worship to employment, and they invite us to take in account the community of all Montrealers, everyone being a stakeholder in the various processes of inclusion.​