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kovalchuk sasha, PhD Candidate


sasha kovalchuk is a PhD candidate at McMaster University. Their research concerns the Canadian Sanctuary City movement and how activists, undocumented migrants, and municipal actors are altering international subject-formation processes and redefining notions of citizenship and the city. sasha's experience includes being an activist on refugee and migrant issues, civil liberties, and student rights. They also have worked in the federal government such as in the Departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs. Their upbringing as a refugee from the Soviet Union and being trained in the arts inform his interests on the intersections between aesthetic representation and citizenship politics. 


Tentative Dissertation Title: Sovereign as Sanctified? Sanctuary Toronto in Graphic Novel

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Nyers

Committee Members: Dr. J. Marshall Beier; Dr. Alina Sajed

Areas of Interest:

  • Citizenship
  • Borders
  • Urbanism
  • Migration
  • Political Theory


  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2019)
  • Ellen Louks Fairclough Memorial Scholarship (2018)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017 and 2018)


  • Ph.D in Political Science (International Relations), McMaster University (In Progress)
  • Masters of Arts in Political Science, University of Victoria (2016)
  • Bachelors of Public Affairs and Policy Management (International Studies), Carleton University (2012)


  • POL SCI 2O06 - Political Theory - Dr. Inder Marwah and Dr. James Ingram (2017-8, 2018-9, 2019-2020) 
  • POL SCI 1AB3 - Politics & Power in a Globalizing World - Dr. T. Alway (Winter 2017)
  • POL SCI 1AA3 - Government, Politics and Power - Dr. T. Alway (Fall 2016)



kovalchuk, s. (2020) 'Sovereignty'. States of Refuge II: Key Concepts in in Critical Refugee Studies. Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition Working Paper Series, McMaster University.

Bagelman, J., & kovalchuk, s. (2019). Subterranean Detention and Sanctuary from below: Canada’s Carceral GeographiesSocial Sciences8(11), 310.

kovalchuk, s (2016). Practicing Sanctuary: Sanctuary City and Resisting National Exclusions. Essence: The University of Victoria Environmental Studies Student Association Periodical. Spring.

-----. & vrbaski, s (2014). Harvesting the Commons: Expanding Public Property, Dumpster Diving, and the LawMcGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law [blog]. 

Conference & Workshop Presentations

kovalchuk, s (2018) ‘Sanctuary’s Sovereign Rule: Exceptional Private Power of Local Immigration Policy within Toronto’s Sanctuary City’ ­

  • Workshop Participant at the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions. Université Catholique de Louvain, Mons, Belgium, April 8-12th
  • Panel Presentation at the 60th International Studies’ Association Conference, Downtown Hilton, Toronto ON, March 27th 2019
  • Panel Presentation at The 17th International Association for the Study of Forced Migration Conference, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece, July 25

---- (2017) ‘Nascent Sanctuary City-Hall Actions: Activism Within Institutional Settings’ – Workshop facilitator and presenter at ‘Canada’s Place in the World: Innovation in Immigration Research, Policy, and Practice’ – a Pathways to Prosperity conference, Toronto ON.

---- (2017) ‘Revealing Invisible Global Migrant Classes – Reading Remittances as Capital Flows’. Panel Presentation at the ‘Forgotten Corridors: Global Displacement & the Politics of Engagement’, 10th annual Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Conference. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

---- (2017) ‘Revealing Invisible Capital: Migrant-Remittances Capital Flows’. Panel Presentation at the Global Dimensions of Policy 6 Conference. McMaster University, Hamilton ON.

---- (2016) ‘Waste property: the legalistic means of production in food systems’. Panel Presentation at the Historical Materialism Conference. York University, Toronto ON.

---- (2015) ‘Wartime Sexual Commodities’. Panel Presentation at the Women in International Conference. Queen’s University, Kingston ON.

‘International Societal Objects’. Panel Presentation at Human Being Human: a Cultural, Social, and Political Thought Conference. May 25, 2015, University of Victoria, Victoria BC.

‘International Law and Sexual Assault’. Panel Presentation at Mapping the Global Dimensions of Policy 4 Conference. February 3, 2015, McMaster University, Hamilton ON

Panel Presentations and Public Talks

Invited Lecture (2019) ‘Sanctuary, Hospitality, Local/Global Citizenship’ for POLSCI 4QQ3 ‘Global Citizenship’, course offered at McMaster University, Hamilton ON.

Panelist (2017) ‘An Afternoon with Hannah Arendt’ – as part of the Extraordinary Women series with co-panelist Dr. Michael Keefer at a post-screening discussion following for the documentary ‘Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt’ presented by Back Lane Studios at the Revue Cinema in Toronto ON.

Speaker (2016) ‘Performing Sanctuary Politics: Sanctuary Cities in an age of Trump’ atMaking History Now: Racism, Resistance and Strategies for Building Alliances in the World of Trump, Speeches and Teach-in – McMaster University, Hamilton, ON,

Panelist (2016) ‘Sanctuary City Activism in Canada: Lessons for Victoria’ Panelist Hosted by CBC Host Gregor Craigie and city councillor Jeremy Loveday. Panel followed by facilitated discussions among stakeholders and city officials – Victoria City Hall,