Dr. Janelle Joseph

Professional Biography

Dr. Janelle Joseph is an Assistant Professor of Critical Race Studies in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at University of Toronto. For 24 years Dr Joseph has been engaging in teaching and research, winning awards, and securing funding, including being named a 2020 Connaught New Researcher for her proposal on anti-racism ‘movements’ and Black physical literacies. This funding will support an an ethnographic project on Black Physical cultures such as kizomba, vogue, capoeira and soca and the social activism therein.

In 2020 Dr Joseph became a Co-Lead researcher on racialized women in E-ALliance, the Canadian Gender Equity in Sport Research Hub and in 2019 Dr Joseph began a collaboration with the Re-Creation Collective, funded by a SSHRC New Frontiers in Research Exploration grant.

Dr. Joseph’s most recent book is titled Sport in the Black Atlantic: Cricket, Canada and the Caribbean Diaspora. Her main areas of research include embodied learning and leadership, decolonizing sport studies, and intersectional, transnational, anti racism studies of sport and movement cultures.

From 2017-2019, as the Director of Academic Success, U of T, Dr Joseph successfully managed a team of 14 unionized and student staff, bringing experiential learning and community support to over 5000 students each year. She simultaneously worked as the Assistant Director of the Transitional Year Programme, U of T, and successfully designed initiatives that increased access for mature Black and Indigenous students to attend and thrive in a university setting. She is a proud supporter of educational co-curricular programming through Hill Run Club and Toronto Freedom School, is the former Chair of the Hart House Board of Stewards, and current Lead for two cultural and recreational physical activity/leadership programs, Learning to Lead and Sister Insiders at U of T.

Learn more at https://kpe.utoronto.ca/faculty/joseph-janelle

Questions for Reflection

Reflecting on your education journey, when have you integrated moving and learning? What was that experience like for you?

Reflecting on Dr. Joseph’s reflections of her experience of education, have you ever felt that the education system was not serving or designed for you? What effects did that experience have on you? How did you resist education that was not serving you?

What kind of physical movements and practices do you enjoy? When have you been able to use physical movement to slow down and reflect?

What does embodied learning make possible for you?

What do Dr. Joseph’s reflections on race, space and movement make possible for you?

When have you felt excluded and/or included in outdoor spaces or sport? What was that experience like for you? What did you learn about yourself and your values?

Considering Dr. Joseph’s observations of her students, have you ever felt stress in the classroom? What was that experience like and how did it affect your learning?

What sorts of environments and movements are conducive to your learning? Is there anything new that you would like to try?

What does freedom mean to you?

When have you used spaces in different and opposite ways? What was that experience like?

How do you honour and listen to your body? When was a time that you trusted your body?

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Sport for development” – Simon Darnell and Janelle Joseph from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education discuss their research into sport as a tool for development.

Nachman, J., Joseph, J. & Fusco, C. (2021). ‘What if what the professor knows is not diverse enough for us?’: Whiteness in Canadian Kinesiology programs, Sport, Education, and Society.
This study builds on research that found a significant lack of racial diversity in Canadian university kinesiology programs.

Gauthier, V., Joseph, J. & Fusco, C. (2021). Lessons from Critical Race Theory: Outdoor Experiential Education and Whiteness in Kinesiology, Journal of Experiential Education, 1-17.
This article explores Whiteness, racialization, and Indigenous erasure in outdoor experiential education as an undergraduate curricular practice at a Kinesiology program in a Canadian university.

Below, watch a 2022 presentation by Dr. Joseph on “Race, Ethics, and Intersectional Social Justice in Kinesiology,” which offers a detailed and sophisticated overview of how coloniality and racism impact our understanding of movement and embodiment.

introducing Dr Janelle Joseph

Dr. Joseph describes her interest in race, education, sport and physical culture, multiculturalism—how we get along and learn from one another—and resistance, including activism and critical race theory. She reflects on her own education journey and her motivations for becoming a professor.

Practicing Embodied and Decolonial Learning

Dr. Joseph describes a process of discovery in the education system where she learned that “this was not a system designed for me,” and she began to ask herself what would it mean to learn with her body. She talks about embodied learning, which integrates thinking, learning and moving, as a foundation for decolonial practice insofar as imaging something different from our current colonial, capitalist system of education. She also speaks to the value of movement practices and being in the body as a way to slow down and reflect, and the value of play and getting dirty.  

Intersections between Race, Space and movement

Dr. Joseph invites the listener to consider how “every space that we are occupying has been constructed be someone.” She speaks about the politics of space, pointing to the ways that gyms, parks and other outdoor spaces for leisure and wellness continue to be funded and created by and for white people, to the exclusion of Black, Indigenous and other marginalized communities. She also speaks about the importance of creating inclusive spaces that allow for other forms of expression, noting that feeling safe and included in a space allows for freedom of movement and self-expression. Dr. Joseph describes her research with student athletes, coaches and sports administrators about experiences of racism and anti-racist resistance.  

Building Community Through movement

Dr. Joseph talks about The Sister Insiders, a graduate student group comprised of racialized women who share an interest in sport, leisure and kinesiology as well as equity, anti-racism and feminism. She describes how she incorporates embodied learning in her classes, including challenges she has encountered in engaging students who are resistant to movement practices and/or who feel threatened by the high pressure, evaluative culture at the University of Toronto.  

What is Wellbeing?

Dr. Joseph speaks about wellbeing in terms of freedom, inviting the listener to consider different, opposite ways of being, moving and gesturing in spaces that have been constructed with a colonial mindset, such as making sound in places where you are supposed to be quiet or walking in the grass instead of the path. She encourages students to trust themselves, to listen to what the body is telling them, and seek out the resources that they need for their success.