Adjunct Assistant Professor

Mark Dolson Profile PictureOffice: PAS 2017


Research Interests 

Public anthropology; poverty, social suffering and precarity; existential anthropology; psychological anthropology; memory and history; neoliberalism and workfare programs; anthropologies of care; Indigenous issues; ethnographic methods and writing.


Mark earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology (with a research focus on urban anthropology and poverty) in 2012 from Western University; an MA in the Anthropology of Medicine from McGill University; and an Honours BA in Anthropology from Western University. Mark completed a SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship focusing on homelessness, addiction, political violence and social suffering in Reykjavik, Iceland through the Scott Polar Research Institute in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Before completing his Ph.D., he worked as an applied anthropologist for the Department of Paediatrics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University as well as at the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. While part of the Department of Paediatrics, he carried out an ethnographic research project which sought to understand the culture of medicine, power dynamics between medical residents and their teachers in the context of medical education at the Children’s Emergency Department at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario. During Mark's time at the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, he took part in developing research projects centered on youth Indigenous health issues in remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. Mark’s current research and teaching expertise are in ethnographic approaches to homelessness and mental illness (particularly trauma, addiction and their socio-political causes); as well as critical approaches to neoliberalism, workfare, moral regulation, and policy related to poverty reduction and housing/re-housing the homeless in both Canada and Iceland. Following his SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, Mark is continuing research on an ethnographic approach to homeless and marginalized subjectivities in Reykjavik, Iceland. He is attempting to trace ethnographically the shifting contours of one informants’ experience with hoarding, her self-exile into homelessness and extreme existential suffering resulting from political violence and paternalistic attitudes towards the homeless.  As well, Mark has just started a new ethnographic project in Sampi (the Indigenous territory of the Sami), Norway.  As a new member of the Research Group Circumpolar Cultures (RGCC), Mark’s new research centres on escalating tensions between the Norwegian Nation State, the Sami Parliament (the official Indigenous self-government in Sapmi, and the often culturally, socially and economically excluded Coastal Sami Peoples, over identity claims and land rights issues.  This ethnographic research is collaborative in nature, and is based on a respectful balance between myself and my Indigenous collaborators.  Most recently, we have written about mounting social, political, economic (financial and representational) issues between the dominant reindeer herding Sami and their cultural counterparts, the Coastal Sami—especially with respect to access to resources, land and political recognition.  During Mark’s two years at Western University, he won the USC Social Science Award of Excellence in Teaching each year.  Mark is currently teaching in both the Department of Anthropology and the School of Public Health and Health Systems.


Honours BA in Anthropology  (Western University)

MA in Anthropology of Medicine  (McGill University)

PhD in Anthropology  (Western University)

Postdoctoral Fellowship - Research focus on political violence, homelessness and addiction in Reykjavík, Iceland (2013-2015, The Scott Polar Research Institute, The University of Cambridge)

Courses Taught


  • ANTH 202: Introduction Sociocultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 400: Mental health and healing

The School of Public Health and Health Systems:

  • HLTH 173/273: Introduction to Indigenous Health in Canada
  • HLTH 260: Social Determinants of Health
  • HLTH 344: Qualitative Methods for Health Research
  • HLTH 373: Addiction and Poverty
  • HLTH 432a/b: Honours Research Thesis 
  • HLTH 448: Health and Homelessness
  • HLTH 472: Independent Reading Courses
  • HLTH 473: Re-Imagining Care
  • HLTH 652: Qualitative Methods and Analysis

Selected publications

  • * 2019 (currently submitted) Dolson, M. S. Withstanding the Impress of Neoliberal Workfare Restructurings: On Street-Involved Youth, Tall-Tale Telling, and the Relational Ironies of Resistance. Submitted as Chapter in Ungovernable Life, Wendy Russel and Lucas Savino, eds. 
  • 2019- (in preparation) Dolson, M. S., Forchuk, C. and T. Wafa. An Ethnographic Examination of the Lived-Actualities of Choice and Decision-Making in Homeless and Street-Involved Youth: The Youth Matters in London Study. To be submitted to Canadian Journal of Nursing.
  • *2019- (in preparation) Dolson, M. S. Subjectivity, Homelessness and the Limits of the Politics of Help and Housing in Reykjavík, Iceland. To be submitted to Medical Anthropology Quarterly
  • 2018 - Dolson, M.  S.  “The Best Laid Plans…” Of Qualitative Research: On Chance and Precarity in Doing Ethnographic Fieldwork.  Book chapter for The Craft of Qualitative Research.  Steven Kleinknecht, Lisa-Jo van den Scott and Carrie B Sanders (Editors).  Canadian Scholars Press.
  • 2017 - Bannister, S, Dolson, M. S., Lingard, L., Keegan, D.  Not just trust:  Factors influencing opportunities for residents to conduct technical skills on real patients.  Medical Education 52(6): 1-15.
  • 2015 -Dolson, M. S. By Sleight of Neoliberal Logics: Street Youth, Workfare and the Everyday Tactics of Survival in London, Ontario, Canada. City & Society 27(2): 116-135.
  • 2014 - Dolson, M. S.  Precarity, Workfare, and the Social Contingency of Suffering: The Story of a Canadian Street-Youth. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. Published Online first (October 8th, 2014 DOI 10.1007/s11013-014-9409-4) 39 (1): 134-161 (March, 2015).
  • 2013 - Forchuk, C., Richardson, J., Laverty, K., Bryant, M., Rudnick, A., Csiernik, R., Edwards, B., Fisman, S., Mitchell, B., Connoy, M., Dolson, M. S. & Kelly, C.  Service Preferences of Homeless Youth with Mental Illness: Housing First, Treatment First, or Both Together. In Youth Homelessness in Canada:Implications for Policy and Practice.  S. Gaetz, B. O’Grady, Bucceri, K., Karabanow, J., and Marsolais, A. (eds). York University, Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press. *Authorship role: I wrote the entire chapter and analyzed the data (authorship order follows the medical model).
  • 2013 - Dolson, M.S. Reflections Through Reflexivity: Why my Collaborative Research project in arctic Labrador did not work.  Collaborative Anthropologies, vol. 6: 201-236.                   
  • 2009 - Dolson, M. S. On Benjamin's Temporality of Crisis, Foucault's Subjugated Knowledges, and their Import in Theorising Revitalisation Movements: A Critical Theoretical Examination. Anthropological Notebooks 15(3): 43-64.
  • 2008 - Dolson, M.S.  Book review for: Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork, by Cerwonka, Allaine & Malkki, Liisa. Anthropologica: Journal of the Canadian Anthropology Society, 51(2): 442- 443.
  • 2006 - Dolson, M. S. & Naqshbandi, M.  Review of Canadian Aboriginal Literature  and Funding: Current Status, Gaps and Strategies.  Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative: Health Canada and Canadian Institutes for Health Research (Canada Institutes for Health Research—CIHR) Report. Pp. 1-35.
  • 2005 - Dolson, M. S. The Role of Dialogue, Otherness and the Construction of  Insight in Psychosis: Toward a Socio-Dialogic Model.  Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 36 (1): 75-112.
University of Waterloo
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