Currently accepting graduate students - yes

  • Master's
  • PhD


  • WOMN 1600 - Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies in the Social Sciences
  • WOMN 2620 - Feminism and Popular Culture
  • WOMN 3100/7270 - Sex Work in Contemporary Canadian Culture
  • WOMN 3560/7270 - Feminist Perspectives on Violence Against Women


Shawna Ferris researches, teaches, and accepts speaking engagements relating to sex work/prostitution studies, critical race studies, the ethics of community-based research, and anti-violence feminist activism. She also works with local and national activists and artists in these areas. She is particularly interested in the ways that activists and advocates organize to resist cultural marginalization, and to humanize, support, and appropriately represent victims of racialized, gendered, and classed violence. Most recently, her work has appeared in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, and in the collection Sex Work Activism in Canada, which she co-edited with research partner and long-time sex work activist Amy Lebovitch. 


  • PhD (English and Cultural Studies), McMaster University, 2007
  • MA (English), Dalhousie University, 2001


Research summary

Ferris is a feminist anti-violence scholar who is deeply committed to respectful community research. Her various research programs and publications contribute substantively to (hi)storytelling and recordkeeping for anti-violence activists advocating for those marginalized by gender, race, class, and labour category. Her work also interrogates established research methods and associated policies to better reflect and value the relationships necessary for effective anti-oppressive community-based research programs. Together with research partners Amy Lebovitch (Sex Professionals of Canada; Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition) and Dr. Danielle Allard (U Alberta, School of Library and Information Studies), Ferris launched the project Ecosystems for Community Research and Recordkeeping (ECRR), and has worked for more than a decade on the Sex Work Activist Histories Project (SWAHP). Ferris and Allard have also partnered for a number of years with Dr. Kiera Ladner (UM, Political Studies, Mamawipawin) on two other community digital recordkeeping projects. 

Selected publications


  • Ferris, Shawna, and Amy Lebovitch (eds). (2019). Sex work activism in Canada: Speaking out, standing up, ARP Books. 
  • Ferris, Shawna. (2015). Street sex work and Canadian cities: Resisting a dangerous order. University of Alberta Press, 237 pgs.

Journal articles

  • Allard, Danielle, Shawna Ferris, Kiera Ladner, and Carmen Miedema. (forthcoming). “Reconciliation is not a great big hug”: Embracing miyo wice’tawin as decolonizing practice in the Post-Apology Residential School Database." Archivaria.
  • Ferris, Shawna, Amy Lebovitch, and Danielle Allard. (2021). "Sex work research, research ethics review processes, and institutional challenges for “sensitive” collaborative research." IJQM: International Journal of Qualitative Methods 20, 1-12, doi: 10.1177/16094069211033437  
  • Bak, Greg, Danielle Allard, and Shawna Ferris. (2019). “Knowledge Organization as Knowledge Creation: Surfacing Community Participation in Archival Arrangement and Description.” Knowledge Organization 46(7): 201-521. 
  • Ferris, Shawna, Ladner, Kiera, Allard, Danielle, & Hughes, Micheline. (2018). “Commemoration and Decolonization in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Database." PUBLIC: Art, Culture, Ideas: Special Issue on Archive/Anarchive/Counterarchive, 57, 96-106.

Book chapters

  • The Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition, and The Sex Work Activist Histories Project. (Forthcoming, 2024). “Sex Work in a Prairie City: Mapping Sex Work in and Around Winnipeg.” Winnipeg Historical Atlas. University of Manitoba Press. 
  • Ferris, Shawna, Lebovitch, Amy. (2019). “Introduction.” In Sex Work Activism in Canada. Eds. Shawna Ferris and Amy Lebovitch. ARP Books, 11-19.
  • SWUAV, Ferris, Shawna, & Lebovitch, Amy. (2019.) “Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society.” In Sex Work Activism in Canada. Eds. Shawna Ferris and Amy Lebovitch. ARP Books, 50-64.

Community-oriented publications


  • 2023 - International Women’s Day Inspirational Professor, Justice for Women MB, UM student group awards series
  • 2021/2022 - Ethics Research Fellowship - faculty, Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of Manitoba 
  • 2017 - WGSRF Outstanding Scholarship Prize, Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes Association, for Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities
  • 2016 - Book of the Year Award — Scholarly and Academic, Book Publishers Association of Alberta, for Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities
  • 2016 - Eileen Sykes Award for Best First Book, Manitoba Book Awards, for Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities: Resisting a Dangerous Order

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