Meet Prof. Jessica Merolli, Political Science

Photo: Jessica Merolli

I recently moved back to my hometown, and greatest city in the world, Hamilton to join Sheridan as a Professor of Political Science. I held the Skelton-Clark Postdoctoral Fellowship in Canadian Affairs (2015-2017) at Queen’s University, and received my PhD from McMaster University.

I didn’t expect to have an academic career, but when I look back it was probably very obvious to many of my teachers. I distinctly remember complaining to my librarian in elementary school that there were not enough history books about women at our school, and that it was not fair. I come by my feminist politics honestly.

My academic research is closely tied to my commitment to social justice, and my family history of immigration. Both my PhD work and current projects focus on immigration, citizenship, and identity politics. I draw on interdisciplinary research methods to destabilize borders as rigid, securitized, state-driven boundaries and illuminate the multiplicity of identities that can arise through living in and across the border. Using longitudinal interviews and PhotoVoice, the project investigates how the naturalization process shapes the way in which applicants view themselves and their relationship to the state and the community. In other words, it is about control and resistance.

Teaching politics can sometimes be difficult because we are often dealing with troubling and controversial issues. I do not hide my politics in the classroom because I think it does a disservice to students. The center is a political position, so pretending it is neutral not only hides that fact, but it can help to further normalize systems of oppression. I am excited to be back in a smaller classroom where we can face these challenges together in a supportive environment.

When I am not teaching, you can catch me starting, but rarely finishing knitting and crocheting projects. Or on my bike (a habit I picked up when doing research in Amsterdam). If you are wondering how I bike in *those* shoes, it’s the same way you bike in runners, but it looks better. I also really love a good hat.

Jessica Merolli answers Alchemy’s Proust Questionnaire:

Favourite virtue: Kindness.

Most overrated virtue: Deference.

Most important lesson I learned in kindergarten: One of my friends would tell on me every day because when I did some wrong, I would call myself stupid. I would explain to my teacher that is was OK, but I would never call someone *else* stupid. Being kind to myself was one of the most challenging lesson for me to learn.

Most important lesson I’ve learned this year: Expect the unexpected. Thanks, Donald Trump.

My favourite qualities in a student: Creativity and a willingness to fail.

My favourite qualities in a teacher: Patience and enthusiasm.

Moment in my life I’d like to re-live: My PhD fieldwork in London and Amsterdam.

My idea of perfect happiness: A group bike ride to a picnic (or a bar).

My idea of complete misery: Driving anywhere when the Skyway bridge is closed.

In my opinion the secret to success is: Learning from your mistakes.

The phrase I overuse in life: Where is my phone?

The phrase I overuse in the classroom: “Today Donald Trump signed an executive order that…”

If I weren’t a teacher I’d be: An Ontario Public Servant.

The talent or skill I wish I had: Playing any instrument.

Language I’d love to be able to speak: Italian (more fluently) and Dutch, for my research.

A country I’d like to visit: India.

My favourite literary or cinematic character(s): Starbuck, Battlestar Galactica.

My favourite food/meal and drink: Pizza and Brio.

The most embarrassing song/album in my iTunes or music collection: Celine Dion.

My guilty TV pleasure: The Young and the Restless.