Johnny El-AlamCarleton graduate student Johnny (El-) Alam has been selected as one of 25 winners of SSHRC’s Research for a Better Life: Storytellers Challenge. The challenge tasks post-secondary students with showing Canadians how social sciences and humanities research affects our lives, our world and our future prosperity.

(El-) Alam, a PhD candidate in Visual Culture at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC), is currently studying relations between art, memory, war, trauma and the nation. The case study that he submitted to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) examined Canadian artists of Lebanese heritage who represent the Lebanese civil wars, comparing them to other transnational Canadian artists who represent similar traumas. Among many questions (El-) Alam wished to explore is why this art is successful and how it reflects upon Canadian identity.

You can watch (El-) Alam’s video here on the SSHRC Storyteller website.

As part of his submission, (El-) Alam shot, produced and edited video promoting his SSHRC-supported research featuring experts from Carleton, the National Gallery, the Canadian War Museum, the University of Ottawa and beyond. The video foreshadows a full feature documentary on the topic (El-) Alam is hoping to produce in the future.

“Humanities are always important,” said (El-) Alam. “Being included among the SSHRC Storytellers is a great honour and a reassurance that our research matters. There are a lot of people I’m in debt to, including SSHRC and those who didn’t make it into the film but helped me compile research for it.”

As part of the challenge, (El-) Alam will participate in an exclusive research communications workshop at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, taking place in Victoria, B.C., on June 2 and 3.

In addition to the workshop, the winners will be taking part in the Storytellers Showcase, a “three-minute thesis” style presentation. At the showcase, five final winners will be awarded a trip to Montreal to give a featured presentation at the World Social Sciences Forum in October 2013.

In addition to being a recipient of the SSHRC Doctoral Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, (El-) Alam was awarded the first Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) in 2012.