Sara Ross

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Dissertation Title: Law, Culture, and the City: Urban Legal Anthropology and the Management of Cultural Spaces within Toronto’s Municipal Legal Frameworks

Dissertation Topic:

My doctoral research project examines the governance of culture in the city by municipal legal frameworks—specifically the spaces where culture is practiced and communities gather. I am particularly concerned with the decision-making processes used in the context of redevelopment proposals and municipal planning initiatives. Here, I look at how these municipal decision-making processes balance stakeholder interests—from those of developers, to neighbourhood residents, to community and cultural organizations, to the spaces of culture and the “third realm” where urban citizens congregate, build relationships, express themselves, and find meaningful space in their city. Where these cultural spaces, such as music venues, galleries, performance spaces, studios, and so on, bring great meaning to our lives, my research is uncovering the realities of how municipal governance and urban planning do not equitably or effectively respect the diversity of what culture, cultural spaces, and cultural practices are within cities. Whose culture matters? And how do we ensure that the voices of all—especially those of alternative, transgressive, or marginalized individuals and communities—are equitably consulted and represented? Here I turn to the international sustainable development principles that focus on unseating dominant voices and decolonizing governance frameworks in relation to culture, as well as international legal frameworks for respecting and preserving intangible cultural heritage, and I ask how these might be meaningfully shifted downwards to the level of municipal governance. Through an legal anthropological approach that utilizes ethnographic methods and participant observation within my primary case study of Toronto, I track redevelopment projects, decisions that affect cultural spaces, public consultation design, and the dialogue, practices, and effects these elements of municipal legal governance have on (sub)cultural communities and their flourishing within the city—especially within the context of Toronto’s “Music City” cultural development strategy.

Education

  • LLM - University of Ottawa
  • Degree of Barrister-at-Law and Solicitor Certificate - Law Society of Upper Canada;
  • LLB with a Major in Commercial Negotiation and Dispute Resolution - McGill University
  • Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) - McGill University
  • BA Honours in Anthropology with Distinction - McGill University
  • BA in French Language and Literature with Distinction (minor in Spanish Language and Literature) - University of Alberta

Teaching Experience

  • Tutorial Leader, “Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community” course, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. (2016-18)
  • Instructor, “Legal Process” course, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. (2014-16)

Professional Experience

  • Clerkship – The Honorable Justice Luc Martineau, Federal Court of Canada

Publications

  • Sara Ross, “Making a Music City: The Commodification of Culture in Toronto’s Urban Redevelopment, Tensions between Use-Value and Exchange-Value, and the Counterproductive Treatment of Alternative Cultures within Municipal Legal Frameworks”, (Fall 2017) vol. 27 Journal of Law and Social Policy. 50pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “Development Versus Preservation Interests in the Making of a Music City: A Case Study of Select Iconic Toronto Music Venues and the Treatment of their Intangible Cultural Heritage Value”, (Winter 2017) 24:1 International Journal of Cultural Property 31. 25 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “Protecting Urban Spaces of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Nighttime Community Subcultural Wealth: A Comparison of International and National Strategies, The Agent of Change Principle, and Creative Placekeeping” (2017) 7:1 Western Journal of Legal Studies. Art. 5. 20 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “Book Review: Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide” (2017) 55:1 Alberta Law Review. 9 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “Legislating Tolerance: Article 976 of the Civil Code of Quebec and its Application to Mixed-Income and Mixed-Use City Redevelopment Projects”, (Fall 2016) 62:3 Loyola Law Review 749. 26 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “Preserving Canadian Music Culture: The Intangible Cultural Heritage Management of Urban Spaces of Culture and the Case of the Iconic Toronto Music Venue the Silver Dollar Room” (2016) 10:2 Architecture_MPS 1. 30 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “Causing a Racket: Unpacking the Elements of Cultural Capital in an Assessment of Urban Noise Control, Live Music, and the Quiet Enjoyment of Private Property”, (Fall 2016) 1:2 The Quiet Corner Interdisciplinary Journal 35. 22 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “Res Extra Commercium and the Barriers Faced when Seeking the Repatriation and Return of Potent Cultural Objects: A Transsystemic Critical Post-Colonial Approach”, (2016) 4:1 American Indian Law Journal 297. 93 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, ““So, What’s the Point?”: Practical Language in Practical Teaching in the Law School”, Canadian Association of Law Teachers blog (8 July 2016) online: < http://www.acpd-calt.org/so_what_s_the_point>.
  • Sara Ross, “Buen Vivir and Subaltern Cosmopolitan Legality in Urban Cultural Governance and Redevelopment Frameworks: The Equitable Right to Diverse Iterations of Culture in the City and a New Urban Legal Anthropological Approach” (2015) 5:1 City University of Hong Kong Law Review 55. 29 pgs. [Peer-reviewed] [Winner of the 2016 Austin Sarat Award from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities]
  • Sara Ross, “Effective Aggressiveness and Inconsistencies in the Bijuridical Treatment of Aggressive Behaviour: Mixed Martial Arts, Bullying, and Sociolegal Quandaries”, (Spring 2015) 66 University of New Brunswick Law Journal 328. 21 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “From the Octagon to the Courtroom: The Right to Fight, Subaltern Cosmopolitanism, and Public Interest Litigation as Tool for Mixed Martial Arts as a Community/Cultural Normative System”, (Spring 2015) 11:1 DePaul Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems 91. 36 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “Legalizing MMA: Mixed-Martial Arts, New York State, and Strategic Litigation”, Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal blog (15 June 2014) online: .
  • Sara Ross, “Unasur: The Newest “Global Player” or Neo-Boliverian Fantasy?”, (Fall 2014) 30:1 Connecticut Journal of International Law 29. 22 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “The Business of Piracy: Commercial Shipping, Risk Management, and the use of Private Security Firms”, (Fall 2014) 20:3 Journal of International Maritime Law 193. 26 pgs. [Peer-reviewed]
  • Sara Ross, “Editor’s Note for the McGill Law Journal Annual Lecture 2011 by Carlos Fuentes” (2011) 56:4 McGill Law Journal 1189. 1 pg.
  • Sara Ross, “Mexican Lucha Libre and Social Reality” (2007) 4:1 Cultural Digest 39. 14 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, The San Blas Kuna of Panama: Strategies of and for Indigenous Autonomy (Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2007). 120 pgs.
  • Sara Ross, “Biblical Archaeology and Pseudoarchaeology: In Pursuit of Exodus”, Pseudoarcheology Research Archive (21 May 2007) online: .
  • Sara Ross, “The Ica Stones and Dr. Javier Cabrera”, Pseudoarcheology Research Archive (21 May 2007) online: .

Awards

  • The Austin Sarat Award paper prize – Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities;
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award – Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
  • Hon. William Z. Estey Teaching Fellowship in Law – Osgoode Hall Law School;
  • Scarlet Key Society Award – McGill University;
  • I. Ballon Memorial Medal – McGill Faculty of Law;
  • Editor-in-Chief – McGill Law Journal;
  • Aisenstadt Research Fellowship – McGill Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism;
  • Book Review Editor – McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy

Presentations

  • Sara Ross, “Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation and the Managing of Culture in Urban Redevelopment” (Paper delivered at the Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Meeting, Montreal, 11-13 August 2017). [Additional Pre-Conference Workshop on Institutional Ethnography]
  • Sara Ross, “Practical Ethnographic Methods and Consultation Practices for Inclusive and Equitable Community Representation in Urban Redevelopment and Cultural Heritage Decisions” (Paper delivered at the International Meeting on Law and Society, Mexico City, 20-23 June 2017). [Additional Pre-Conference Workshop on Global & Comparative Socio-Legal Studies & Methods]
  • Sara Ross, “Safety v. Safe Spaces: Striking A Balance Between Grit and Maintenance, Intergenerational Equity, DIY Spaces, and the Protection of Precarious Cultural Space in the Face of Building Code Vigilantism and Gentrification” (Paper delivered at the Association for Law, Property & Society Annual Meeting, held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 20 May 2017).
  • Sara Ross, “Intergenerational Equity and Intertemporal Distributive Justice in the Preservation of Contemporary Urban Spaces of Intangible Music and Dance Culture and Heritage” (Paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, held at Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, 31 March 2017).
  • Sara Ross, Workshop on “Academic Publishing: Taking Your Conference Paper to the Next Step” (Osgoode Hall Graduate Law Student Conference “Rights Right Now: Classic, Contemporary and Alternative Approaches”, Toronto, 23 February 2017).
  • Sara Ross, “Tension in the Cityscapes: Redevelopment, Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation, and Assets of Community Value” (Paper delivered at the Critical Legal Conference 2016, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, 1-3 September 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Do-It-Yourself (“DIY”) Venues: Transgressive Transformative Cultural Spaces in the City, Cultural Preservation Interests, and Contestations of Dominant City Redevelopment and Gentrification Processes” (Paper delivered at the US Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2-5 June 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Community Subcultural Wealth: Energizing and Preserving Subcultural Music Communities Through the Agent of Change Principle” (Paper delivered at the Canadian Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, University of Calgary, Calgary, 28-30 May 2016).
  • Sara Ross, Workshop on “So, What’s the Point? Practical Language in Practical Teaching” (Delivered at the York University Teaching and Learning Conference - Teaching In Focus, York University, Toronto, 20 May 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Decolonizing Culture in The City: A Buen Vivir Approach to Urban Cultural Governance” (Paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, held at the University of Connecticut Law School, Hartford, Connecticut, 1-2 April 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Law, Culture, and the City: Urban Legal Anthropology and the Management of Cultural Spaces within Toronto’s Municipal Legal Frameworks” (Paper workshopped at the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities Graduate Student Workshop, held at the University of Connecticut Law School, Hartford, Connecticut, 31 March 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Protecting Urban Spaces of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Nighttime Community Subcultural Wealth: A Comparison of International and National Strategies, The Agent of Change Principle, and Creative Placekeeping” (Paper delivered on the Plenary Panel on Comparative Property Law at the Younger Comparativists Committee Global Conference, held at Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana, 19 March 2016). (Invited)
  • Sara Ross and Sarah Hamill, Workshop on “Navigating Academic Publishing and Demystifying the Peer Review Process” (Delivered at the Osgoode Hall Graduate Law Student Conference “Exploring Law and Change through Interdisciplinary Research, New Legal Realism and Other Perspectives—Choose Your Own Adventure”, held at Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, 17 February 2016).
  • Sara Ross, “Legislating Tolerance: A Comparison of the Sustainability of Cultural Practices in the Common Law and Civil Law Jurisdictions of Canada” (Paper delivered at the Fourth Worldwide Congress of The World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists, held at the McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal, 25 June 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “Diluting Poverty: Urban Legal Anthropology and Mixed-Income Communities in Toronto” (Paper delivered at the Canadian Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Ottawa, 4 June 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “Protecting Cultural Vintage: The Human Right to Culture Faces the Forces of Gentrification” (Paper delivered at the US Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, 30 May 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “The Waves of Gentrification: The City and the Tide Tables of Human Displacement” (Paper delivered at the Association for Law, Property & Society Annual Meeting, held at the University of Georgia School of Law, Athens, Georgia, 1 May 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “Legislating Tolerance: A Comparison of the Treatment of Culture between Civil and Common Law Traditions” (Paper delivered at the Conference of the Younger Comparativists Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law, held at the Florida State University College of Law, Tallahassee, Florida, 17 April 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “The Commodification of True Grit: The Artistic Essence of Cultural Enclaves, Displacement, and Gentrification” (Paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, held at the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC, 7 March 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “Who Wins the Waterfront: A Sociolegal Approach to Port Development, Urban Regeneration, Industry, and Culture” (Paper delivered at the Canadian Law and Society Association Mid-Winter Meeting, Montreal, 17 January 2015).
  • Sara Ross, “Res Extra Commercium and the Barriers Faced when Seeking the Repatriation and Return of Potent Cultural Objects: A Transsystemic Critical Post-Colonial Approach” (Paper delivered at the 3rd Dean Maxwell and Isle Cohen Doctoral Seminar in International Law, held at the McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal, 23 August 2014).
  • Sara Ross, One of thirty scholars (and only two Canadians) invited internationally to participate in the workshop “Reinvigorating Sociolegal Studies Workshop” at the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, 21-22 July 2014.
  • Sara Ross, “The Hierarchical Politics of Noise Complaints and Music Culture” (Paper delivered at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, 29 May 2014).
  • Sara Ross, “The Great Under the Direction of the Small: Student Editors as Gatekeepers” (1.5 hour workshop and paper delivered at the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education Annual Conference, Charlottetown, 27 April 2014).
  • Sara Ross, “Your day in ‘Wiki-Court’: ADR, Fairness, and Justice in Wikipedia’s Global Community” (Paper delivered at the International Conference on “Negotiation: Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management in a Changing World”, held at the Center for Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, 11 April 2014).
  • Sara Ross, “‘Effective Aggression’ and the Moral Quandaries of Professional MMA Fighters” (Paper delivered at the Annual University of Ottawa Graduate Students in Law Conference “Law and Our Diverse Nature(s)”, held at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa, 22 February 2014).