Afsoun Afsahi

Assistant Professor

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Cartographic resistance/prefigurative world-building : the democratic implications of Indigenous participatory mapping (2023)

In recent years, participatory mapping projects initiated by historically and presently marginalized groups, including those undertaken by Indigenous peoples, have been gaining prominence in scholarly discourses. Examined predominantly under the framework of counter-mapping, much of this scholarship is focussed on how Indigenous communities in various locales mobilize traditional knowledge systems to demarcate their territories in resistance to colonial and capitalist incursions. In taking these discourses as a point of departure, this thesis argues that by positing Indigenous participatory mapping initiatives solely in the form of resistance to (neo)colonial dispossessory acts, the framework of counter-mapping occludes their prefigurative and democratic potentialities. Examining Indigenous mapping projects in settler colonial contexts, this thesis proposes an alternative approach to examining these initiatives— as a process of prefigurative world-building where communities can realize their democratic potentialities by participating in decision-making regarding what is mapped and how. Not only do these initiatives serve a generative refusals to dispossessory acts, but they also disrupt coercive territorial and civic boundaries imposed by the colonial ‘democratic’ state. I begin by critically examining the role of cartography, colonial notions of space, sovereignty, and boundaries operate to create and uphold coercive settler colonial borders. I then explore existing approaches to boundaries and borders in democratic theory, revealing how the separation of the territorial and civic questions of borders obscures their interconnectedness and their implication in coercively, contingently, and destructively including Indigenous lands and bodies into the bounds of the settler state. This coercive inclusion is further reified through (neo)colonial dispossessory acts justified by invocations of democratic legitimacy and sovereignty by the colonial state. Indeed, it is these dispossessory acts that projects and scholarly discourses on counter-mapping highlight resistance towards. I then lay out a theoretical framework for examining Indigenous participatory mapping as a form of prefigurative world-building, grounding this framework in cartographic undertakings in the Amazonas and on Turtle Island. The thesis concludes with an examination of the implications of the presented arguments for the theory and practice of democracy, emphasizing the importance of untethering democracy from its dominant, Western state-centric conceptions and redefining it to include subaltern participatory initiatives.

View record

Reproductive Justice and abolition: an intersectional analysis of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in the Canadian carceral system (2022)

Abolition and abolitionist movements have the ability to address the dismantling of multiple oppressive structures and institutions, including slavery, policing, prisons, detention centres, and borders. The scope of this paper focusses on the prison and carceral aspects of abolition in an effort to provide an anti-colonial, intersectional analysis of Canadian prisons. In addition to a general intersectional analysis of the Canadian carceral system, this thesis specifically examines sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) violations in Canadian prisons and the lack of Reproductive Justice (RJ) for those who are incarcerated. This paper ultimately argues that if we take the meaning of intersectionality seriously, recognizing that colonial violence, criminalization and incarceration, and reproductive violence are interconnected and reinforcing forms of oppression, we understand that there can be no Reproductive Justice without abolition. Abolition is a crucial step in the fight for Reproductive Justice in Canada because the Canadian carceral system not only jeopardizes the self-governance and body sovereignty of individuals, but also the self-governance, self-determination and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples on their own territories, acting as a continuation of genocide. The Reproductive Justice framework and subsequent movement(s) can help us address SRHR in Canadian prisons from an intersectional standpoint. Dismantling the carceral system — a key “actor” in the settler state of Canada — is a crucial point on the path to intersectional, decolonial Reproductive Justice for all people.

View record


Membership Status

Member of G+PS
View explanation of statuses

Program Affiliations


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Sign up for an information session to connect with students, advisors and faculty from across UBC and gain application advice and insight.