Research-action axes

The work of CIRM and its members is related to one or more of the following six axes:


Digital culture, art, literature, and performance

Axis director: Anouk Bélanger

The role of culture in Montreal is 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 emphasize the interaction between technological invention and artistic experimentation (gaming, lighting, circus arts, etc.); and socio-political doctrines that emphasize the role of culture in the sustaining of languages and the expression of cultural diversity. Work in this axis will trace the interaction 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

Axis co-directors: Wim Remysen and Julie Auger

Language has long been a major social and political issue in Montreal, particularly since the Quiet Revolution. Sometimes described as a divided city made up of many solitudes, Montreal has also been represented as the battleground on which the future of the French language will be won or lost. Indeed, Montreal is home to most of Quebec’s immigrant and Anglophone populations.  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, in the workplace, and in everyday interactions and collective initiatives.  New ways of conceptualizing language permit 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

Axis 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 the status given to those participating in 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 contracts and gigs and have made it a reality to work from multiple places. As a city that relies on heavy industries (transportation, manufacturing) and thus on an economy structurally dependent on technical and material production, Montreal is undergoing economical transformations. It is, at the same time, a city with a strong tradition of social cooperation and mutual aid: a multitude of organizations – communal, municipal, rooted in neighbourhoods and in businesses – come together and act to harness those transformations in order to obtain 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 enact economical transformations for the greater good of all Montrealers. 


Mobility, urban planning, and environment

Axis 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 neighbourhoods with peripheral zones. As for everyday mobility, Montreal is also the setting of a great diversity of behaviours dependent on mutating accommodations in transportation but also, on a deeper level, on significant spatial transformations: the revitalization of central neighbourhoods, the redevelopment of public spaces, the repair of major infrastructures, etc. This axis is an opportunity to think about and study contemporary processes that shape the urban space on various scales, while focusing on the relationships between these processes and the residents’, including the youth's, practices of mobility.​


Governance, institutions, and citizen participation

Axis co-directors: Hoi Kong and Kevin Manaugh

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 conducted under this axis focus on Montreal’s formal and informal governance mechanisms, draw comparisons to other cities, and involve collaborations among academic institutions, governments, and civil society actors.​


Immigration, living conditions, and religion

Axis co-directors: Annick Germain and Frédéric Dejean

Although difficult to study and understand, immigration is a central component of Montreal’s reality 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 terms of welcoming new residents? These questions presuppose varied and multi-dimensional approaches, from housing to places of worship to employment, and they invite us to take into account the community of all Montrealers, where everyone is a stakeholder in the various processes of inclusion.​

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