Harmata Aboubakar, Julia Jeonghyun Parke among winners of SSHRC’s 2024 Storytellers Challenge

Harmata Aboubakar (L) and Julia Jeonghyun Parke (supplied images)

Harmata Aboubakar (L) and Julia Jeonghyun Parke (supplied images)

This article originally appeared on U of T Celebrates.

University of Toronto PhD students Harmata Aboubakar and Julia Jeonghyun Parke have been named among five winners of the 2024 Storytellers Challenge by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The annual challenge asks post-secondary students across the country to inspire audiences with a compelling research story – in up to 300 words or three minutes – demonstrating how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians.

Aboubakar, a PhD student in the department of sociology in the Faculty of Arts & Science, crafted a video story, “Contested Memories and Revised Myths,” that examines how collective memory shapes identity and belonging. Drawing on archival analysis and interviews with former members of the Mau Mau movement that originated in Kenya in the 1950s, Aboubakar argues that memories shift in response to transnational politics, and explores implications of the research for reconciliation, justice and addressing historical grievances.

Parke, a PhD student in the Faculty of Information, also submitted a video story, “Speculating Race: Creator Motivations for Designing Virtual Influencers of Colour,” that discusses the juxtaposition between market research that asserts that white and female influencers are disproportionately favoured by both audiences and brands and the virtual influencer world, where a majority of CGI- and AI-rendered characters present themselves as ethnic minorities. The project addresses critical questions about who creates virtual social media influencers and what drives their choice of race and ethnic identity in the design of these non-human agents.

Read about the 2024 Storytellers Challenge

Watch Harmata Aboubakar’s winning entry

Watch Julia Jeonghyun Parke’s winning entry

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