"In the four decades since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iranian-Americans have made sense of their lives and reconciled their sense of belonging and not belonging through writing, first through poetry and memoir in the immediacy of migration and exile, and later in a developing and rich explosion of fiction. In the past decade, we have seen a blossoming of nonfiction writing that reflects complex voices and modern sensibilities and that reveals a broader range of stories and remembrances than ever before." - Katherine Whitney and Leila Emery, Editors, My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora

In association with the University of Texas Press, we are proud to present "My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora: a Special Series on What's That Noise?!" - a collaboration that aims to lend a hand, if only modestly, in further cultivating this ongoing blossoming of otherwise marginalized reflections about life, identity, and belonging from the Iranian diaspora. 

In this first episode, Tommy chats with the book's editors about their project, of how it came together, its sources of inspiration, its aims, and its aspirations. We trust you will find, just as Tommy did, that My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora is a vitally important contribution to an often overlooked, ongoing struggle - particularly in a time filled with system political intolerance, exceptionalism, and racism; in a world of increased distancing, My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora brings us closer together. Stay tuned for future episodes that interview contributors to this excellent book, which we aim to bring to you every month. On behalf of Katherine, Leila, their wonderful contributors and the University of Texas Press, thank you for opening your heart and mind to these powerful stories.

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Follow Katherine, Leila and their contributors: @IRANMusings

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A very special thanks to Dr. Babak Elahi and The Resonant Freqs for sharing their incredible music for this special series. Dr. Elahi is also a contributor to My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora - we look forward to his interview, indeed!

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In today's chat, Tommy sits down with his wife, Cristina, and his new second-cousins, Georgi and Florin Stancu, to share their incredible journey. Born, raised, and built lives in Bucharest, Romania, Cristina translates between Tommy and his new family to discuss their decision to leave Romania in search of better opportunities and a better for life for their daughter, Alyssa. Now living in Dachau, Bayern, Germany for the past seven years, Georgi and Florin reflect upon some of the challenges they endured not only living under Marxist-Leninist one-party Communist rule prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, but of the challenges they faced in a new democratic system after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As you'll find out, political corruption and failing public institutions persisted for years to come. New challenges emerge in face of old ones. While the move to Dachau brought new opportunities, it brought new uncertainty as well: finding new jobs, not speaking the local language, and navigating Germany's intensely admin-oriented public services made for a daunting set of new problems. And yet, the Stancus are an incredibly down-to-earth, grounded, passionate, fun-loving, and in-the-moment family. Their story is uplifting, precisely because of their perseverance and their love for one another's well being. Money and things are not everything - connections are; a particularly timely and sobering point of reflection as we all navigate COVID-19 together in April 2020. 

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Thank you for joining us on the most important episode we've published to date, and perhaps will be the most important episode we will publish - for more reasons than we could possibly articulate here in written text. In this episode, we discuss the inescapably difficult but exceedingly important matter of quality versus quantity life - when given a terminal diagnosis. It is impossible to convey our saddened we are that a dear friend to this show, Dr. Karen Rees-Milton (who joined us on episode 27), is bravely surviving a terminal diagnosis. As a true reflection of her character, commitment, and passion for life, Karen wishes to broach with us just how important it is for communication between doctors and patients about the end of life. We are also so grateful to be joined by Dr. Sarah McLean, an Assistant Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology and Anatomy & Cell Biology at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Like Karen, Sarah is an expert in cancer research - and she too has directly experienced the pains of being a centre for communication for and between her brothers, doctors, and her dear father, who she lost very quickly to cancer in the summer of 2019.

Karen and Sarah are experts in cancer research, and their direct experiences with cancer make for a particularly important conversation. As you will see, doctors do not always communicate quickly or efficiently about terminal diagnoses. The very human impulse to make people happy in desperate situations often creates moral ambiguity that distracts from the hard but important conversation about whether or not often debilitating treatments are worth one's precious time. We hope that you will use this episode as a guide to help you when faced with these difficult matters, as we all will inevitably deal with them - one way, or another. 

 

As mentioned in the episode, please visit the London Regional Cancer Program, the Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases, Kingston General Hospital's Endoscopy Unit, and Jayne Dill's (RN) New Before You Go - a wonderful woman and tremendous resource for helping us navigate matters of value, wishes, and communication when dealing with the end of life.  

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Dr. Sarah McLean can be followed on Twitter @drsarahmclean

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Happy New Year, everyone! 

Derek and I are excited to bring you our first episode of 2020. Today's chat is a follow-up to the last episode of 2019. If you haven't heard it yet, you'll want to go back and check it out or this episode will leave you feeling as confused as Tommy was after Episode 28: Kawhi Leonard and the Expectation of Privacy in the Public Sphere.

Over the break, Tommy felt Episode 28 should be continued as a discussion about culture industry: the production of psychological need, desire, and interest through the mass production of capital goods - like sports, like social media, like the celebrity. Tommy entered the break unsettled with the idea that sports fans simply enjoy sports because they choose to - a notion that Tommy felt Derek was endorsing in the previous episode. As it turns out, this was not the case. Nonetheless, chatting about what was meant launches into a fascinating chat about how and whether we can think of celebrities as products versus drivers of culture industry. Their debate leads to an important and perhaps forever unsettle-able question: do we fuel the media, or does the media fuel us? Perhaps the question itself is misleading? Tune in the find out!

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After the Toronto Raptors won their first championship in franchise history, attention quickly shifted from celebration to discussions of whether or not the team’s star player and finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, would resign with the team. What ensued was commonly referred to by media as the “Kawhi Watch,” which captivated the city, and perhaps even all of Canada, and led media and fans on path that would see them attempt to track and monitor Kawhi’s every move, on and offline.

Perhaps predictably for Tommy and I, this whole thing led to questions related to the expectation of privacy in the public sphere. Why do we care so much about our own privacy and yet completely disregard the privacy of notable people? Why don’t people respect the privacy of individuals who may be – willingly or unwillingly - in the public eye? What do moments of extreme surveillance of notable people tell us about the so-called “surveillance society”? These are just a couple of the questions we touch on in this episode which, I must admit, is one of our personal favourite episodes of “What’s That Noise” to date.

The voice that you hear in the intro and outro is none other than Kristi Lee, host of the podcast Canadian True Crime. Please support Kristi's excellent work by checking out her show on any of your favourite podcast apps.

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November 10, 2019

Episode 27: A Life in Labs

Imagine spending 24.5 years in a specific laboratory. And then imagine switching, to seemingly start all over again. In this show Tommy chats with Dr. Karen Rees-Milton, a veteran bench scientist who is expertly versed in protein biochemistry, enzyme kinetics, classical biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, cell culture, and glycobiology. After nearly a decade as a research coordinator, Dr. Rees-Milton has completely switched gears: computer programming. Karen's new work on Laboratory Information Management System design recently crossed paths with Tommy's empirical work on privacy data at the Surveillance Studies Centre, leading to a reflexive and unique conversation that has a bit of everything: Google, lecturing vs researching, intellectual maturity, and of course, ethical algorithms. 

The voice that you hear in the intro and outro is none other than Kristi Lee, host of the podcast Canadian True Crime. Please support Kristi's excellent work by checking out her show on any of your favourite podcast apps.

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In this episode, we continue discussing a long-standing theme of the show: how government develops, mobilizes, and uses surveillance technologies abroad and at home. More specifically, we focus on a program called the "Real Time Regional Gateway," a secretive data processing and mining system introduced by the NSA and deployed during American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May of 2018, Henrik Moltke of The Intercept published a detailed exposé uncovering the RTRG's journey from the international sphere - used in military operations abroad - to the domestic, where it has been mobilized at the US-Mexico border since at least 2017. In what Moltke has called "mission creep," the US government is actively surveilling digital communications intercepted at the US-Mexico border, thus raising important questions of privacy, accountability, and transparency - all well-documented themes of this podcast. 

The voice that you hear in the intro and outro is none other than Kristi Lee, host of the podcast Canadian True Crime. Please support Kristi's excellent work by checking out her show on any of your favourite podcast apps.

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Tommy sits down with Dr. Midori Ogasawara, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa, and one of the premiere investigative journalists on surveillance in Japan. For nearly twenty years, Midori has researched the legacy of surveillance in Japan, and is the only reporter from Japan to have interviewed NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden. A recipient over 9 academic awards and the author two books on Snowden and surveillance in Japan, Midori has a wealth of insight to share. Tommy and Midori chat about the differences between media attitudes and (in)tolerances towards whistleblowing and surveillance in both Japan and the USA. They also touch on matters of heroism, individuality, and the insecurity mass surveillance perpetuates as well.

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This episode is centered on the theme of representation and authority in the public sphere. Can we trust what authorities tell us about how we use our digital technologies, or how laws and public policies are developed and mobilized? How can we make sense of official justifications for interventions that are increasingly intrusive in our daily lives? From Apple and Google to our own governments, tune in as Derek and Tommy discuss these questions through the contexts of how we use our smartphones, dark tourism and prisons, and terrorism as an issue of public health. Derek also gets to FINALLY plug his own research! Needless to say, he is a bit giddy about that one.

We're honoured to have Kristi Lee, host of the podcast Canadian True Crime, so graciously contribute to our show by providing us a shiny, brand new intro and outro. Please support Kristi's excellent work by checking out her show on any of your favourite podcast apps.

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August 15, 2019

Episode 23: The NMEA

It's been so long! But we're back! Derek and I have reconnected and we've got a great run of new content coming your way. Today, we begin by touching base - to see where we've been to figure out where we're heading. A big focus of our reconnection is something that has kept Tommy really busy this past half year. In what we might otherwise call "A Day in the Life of Metadata: Part Two", Tommy updates us on his collaboration project, which has led him and his research team at Queen's University to the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA). As it turns out, this organization has a lot to do with your smartphone, and even more to do with your privacy.

We're honored to have Kristi Lee, host of the podcast Canadian True Crime, so graciously contribute to our show by providing us a shiny, brand new intro and outro. Please support Kristi's excellent work by checking out her show on any of your favourite podcast apps.

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An episode to begin the term, and one to close off. Thank you so much, and our deepest apologies, for our hiatus! It has been a great calendar year thus far, and also an exceptionally busy one. In today's episode, Tommy sits down with Dr. Samer Abboud, Associate Professor of Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University to chat about language. Tommy and Samer are old buddies and colleagues, and were able to catch up for the first time - in many years - at the recent International Studies Association Annual, which was held this year in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tommy and Samer don't discuss privacy, or even Samer's research expertise in Middle Eastern politics. Rather, they talk about language. Born and raised in an Arabic speaking househould in Ottawa, Samer's personal and professional travels throughout the Arab speaking world have given him a number of valuable, interesting experiences when it comes to verbal and written communication. Given their mutual passion for interdisciplinary things, we hope you will enjoy their exploration of language - linguistic and academic. 

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Happy New Year, everyone!

We're so very excited to share our first episode of the New Year, feat. John Hannant-Minchel, a Masters student of Kinesiology at Queen's University. After meeting at a local breakfast hotspot in the beautiful city of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, John and Tommy found time to sit down again - over another coffee - to explore perspectives from within, and around, the Sociocultural Studies of Sport, Health and the Body. Much of our discussion explores interdisciplinarity - not merely in terms of intellectual enrichment, but as John puts it, "a way of keeping an eye on things." John shares a lot of valuable experience and insight about what it means to have a truly multidisciplinary background in an incredibly interdisciplinary field. 

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In Volume 20, Derek and Tommy sit down with Cale Sutherland, an Associate Lawyer practicing injury and health law at Lerner's LLP in the beautiful city of London, Ontario, Canada. Mr. Sutherland helps our co-hosts not only debunk some preconceived ideas they had about how much the law is like our favourite tv shoe, Suits. Cale also helps them debunk the notion that the courtroom and classroom are radically different. Anxiety, expectation management, the role of confidence, and the value of failure are all exceedingly central in both spaces.

At the heart of the chat today is a thought-provoking conversation about the role language and data play in all our daily lives, which takes the interviewers and interviewee into a challenging discussion about privacy, agency, and trust in response to the recent Ottawa Senators controversy. 

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In this week's episode, Derek and Tommy chat about application privacy on iOS and Android. New technologies such as the Samsung Galaxy, Pixel, and iPhone have become so heavily relied upon for communication that it is almost unfathomable to be fully 'disconnected' from the social world. But our phones are not simply communication devices - they are now repositories for a host of sensitive information about our lives, our bodies, and our desires. In this episode, the hosts break down what is at steak when we simultaneously treat our personal communication devices as such repositories without knowledge about how those data will be collected, used, stored, and shares. Do we simply not care about our data and privacy? Or are we just misinformed? Tune in for this heated debate between Tommy and Derek.

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Tommy is back! 

After a summer spent researching data privacy in Bochum, Germany (and traversing the Swiss alps with his newly-engaged parter), Tommy is back in studio to chat with Derek about his research project on visualizing data flows in smartphones. In many ways our cell phones are the most important communication tool in our daily lives. Not only are smart phones embedded into the fabric of social life, they also act as repositories for a host of personal and impersonal information about us. Applications collect, analyze, interpret, translate, and share data on their users in continuous flows. Yet, not much is known about how those flows operate - this is where Tommy's intervention comes in. Tune in for our discussion about the importance of visualizing the flow of data and its implications on accountability, privacy, and, ultimately, democracy. 

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The ASA annual meeting is almost upon us! In our final pre-ASA episode, Derek chats with one of his own mentors, Dr. Carla Pfeffer, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina (Derek's alma mater!), about her book Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men (Oxford University Press), teaching conversial topics and issues, and some of the problems with traditional approaches to peer-review. Nothing like a chat about peer-review before thousands of sociologists gather in Philly, huh?  

Carla's research lies at the intersections of sociological inquiry into contemporary families, genders, sexualities, and bodies considered marginal, as well as social actors' management of stigma and discrimination. Her book Queering Families, published in 2017, is one of the first deep explorations into the lives and partnerships of cisgender women married to transgender men. Her work has been widely published in the Archibes of Sexual Behavior, American Journal of SociologyGender & Society, Journal of Homosexuality, the Journal of Marriage and Family, and many other academic journals. Currently, Dr. Pfeffer is working as the United States co-Investigator on the projvect, "Trans Pregnancy: An International Exploration of Trans Male Experiences and Practices of Reproduction" (w/ Dr. Sally Hines, Leeds University), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

In addition to her great work, Dr. Pfeffer is wonderful person, mentor, and colleague. You can follow Carla on Twitter!

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting - August 11-14, 2018 in Philadelphia, PA.

2018 ASA Sexualities Preconference - August 9-10, 2018 in Philadelphia, PA.

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Welcome to the second episode of our little University of Toronto mini-series! As we ramp up for the ASA annual meeting this weekend in Philadelphia, Derek chats with Dr. Jooyoung Lee (PhD UCLA), Associate Professor in the Deparment of Sociology at the University of Toronto and faculty member at the Centre for the Study of the United States in the Munk School of Global Affairs. In this episode, we discuss Jooyoung's award-winning book Blowin' Up: Rap Dreams in South Central (University of Chicago Press), his current projects, academic twitter, gun control and mass shootings, and strategies for teaching ethnography in the classroom! 

He researches and writes about gun violence, health disparities, Hip Hop, and true crime. He is currently writing a new book, Ricochet: Gun Violence and Trauma in Killadelphia (under contract with University of Chicago Press). In addition to his academic work, Jooyoung is also a fantastic public speaker who frequently appears on TV as a news commentator and an award-winning teacher. His work is featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, VICE, Maclean's, and other notable media outlets. You can find Jooyoung on Twitter!

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Following a few weeks off, we are finally back in the groove in the leadup to the American Sociolocial Association's annual meeting in Philly!

In this week's episode, Derek sits down with a long time twitter-friend Dr. Neda Maghbouleh (PhD University of California), Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, to chat about her book The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race (Stanford University Press), her current work with Syrian newcomers in the #6ix, and the role of social media in academic circles. Neda is an expert on racism and immigration, with a particular focus on groups from the Middle East - broadly conceived.

Some of her research currently on-the-go includes a SSHRC/IRCC-funded project on stress and the integration of Syrian newcomer mothers in Toronto and Peel regions (with Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng); a Connaught-funded project on boundaries and inequalities in local mothers' groups; and survey research on the "new U.S. racial and ethnic hierarchy" (with Ariela Schachter and René Flores). Dr. Maghbouleh frequently provides commentary to media outlets like CTV News, Global News, NPR Code Switch, Salon, Toronto Star, Vice, and Vox. She enjoys conducting research with UTM students and is running two undergrad ROP research teams, aligned with her SSHRC/IRCC- and Connaught-funded projects, in 2016-8. Not only all that, she is a totally rad person and her Twitter presence is awesome! You can find Neda on Twitter!

 

Don't forget to follow the show on Twitter!  

 

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In this long overdue episode, Tommy and Derek finally reunite to reflect upon the podcast's first episodes while chatting about the past, present, and future direction of What's That Noise. We also have some REALLY, REALLY BIG NEWS to share about @thomasncooke's personal life! Tune in as we discuss the confusion and noisiness surrounding the production your own podcast while sharing a bit about what is to come over the next few months. We cannot wait to share the next bunch of episodes with you all while returning to our regular production schedule :)

Tune in over the next two weeks as we sit down with Dr. Neda Maghbouleh (@nedasoc), Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Jooyoung Lee (@theyoungjoo), Associate Professor at U of T, to chat about their wonderful books The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, and Blowin' Up: Rap Dreams in South Central! 

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In our second episode from Germany, co-host @thomasncooke planned to chat with a new friend and colleague about her summer research project at the Centre for Advanced Internet Studies (@CAIS). That will have to wait, as our guest @julirone - a recent Social and Political Sciences PhD graduate of the European University Institute, Florence, Italy - shares numerous complex and thought-provoking perspectives that challenge many of @Thomasncooke's ideas and assumptions about European culture, politics, and research agendas. 

Beginning with a quick lesson on how to properly pronounce Dr. Rone's name, today's episode moves through a wide range of topics and themes that activate many curiousities for our co-host. As @thomasncooke and @julirone discover, the differences in their backgrounds, training, and analytical orientation set the table for an open chat about themes, concepts, and notions that our co-host may have otherwise taken for granted: east vs west, theory-praxis, the legacies of communism upon the Eastern Bloc, and something about cultural self-colonization. There is a little bit of everything in store for any listener. So grab your favourite German beer or a fistful of spargle, sit back, and enjoy!

Please don't forget to follow the show on Twitter!

Give our special guest, Dr. Julia Rone, a follow on twitter: @julirone

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