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New Member Feature Sam Popowich

Headshot of Sam PopowichSam Popowich joined CRiCS and the University of Winnipeg as an academic librarian in 2022. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include political and cultural theory, Marxism, technology and librarianship. His PhD dissertation looks at recent controversies in Canadian librarianships over security, race, class, gender, and intellectual freedom using the work of Stuart Hall. He is the author of Confronting the Democratic Discourse of Librarianship: A Marxist Approach (Library Juice Press, 2019).

Learn more about Sam from the short interview below:

CRiCS: What brought you to academia and, more specifically, Cultural Studies?

Sam: When I was in library school, I became interested in the politics of librarianship, reading Habermas and Foucault in particular, who were prevalent in a certain kind of critical library history. After library school, I started working at University of Manitoba before moving to University of Ottawa as an academic librarian, where I decided I wanted to get deeper into academic work outside of librarianship. I completed an MA in Music and Cultural Theory at Carleton University, where I read a lot of cultural theory. Then in about 2016 I began researching and writing more in the area of culture, political, technology, and librarianship, all from a Marxist perspective. Finally, in 2018 I started a PhD in political science at University of Birmingham where, because of the history of cultural studies there, they were open to a cultural-studies focussed dissertation.

CRiCS: What are your areas of research interest?

Sam: My PhD is looking at Canadian librarianship through the lens of political theory and Canadian constitutional debates, all through the framework of Stuart Hall's work on hegemony, ideology, populism, and communications. In particular I'm interested in hegemonic role that the concept of Intellectual Freedom plays in libraries. More broadly, I'm interested in Marxism and the politics/culture of technology and librarianship.

CRiCS: What research projects are you currently working on or plan to work on in the future?

Sam: Besides finishing up my dissertation, I'm working on a book project called Solving Names: Metaphysics and Worldliness in Librarianship for Library Juice Press.

CRiCS: Why do you think it’s important to have intellectual community and the opportunities for research collaboration that CRiCS might offer?

Sam: Since returning to Winnipeg in August 2022, I've felt that Winnipeg is at the forefront and intersection of all kinds of important debates around class, politics, culture and ideology, gender and sexuality, Indigeneity and race, all of which make a multidisciplinary community like CRiCS vital for research, understanding, and engagement. No one field can tackle all of these things, and CRiCS offers a broad umbrella under which each person's work can be fitted into the wider context. Being located in downtown Winnipeg is important in making CRiCS what it is.

CRiCS: Has any particular book/film/work of art/etc. influenced your approach to your academic work and your perspective more generally?

Sam: Besides Marx's Capital, which continues to be a major touchstone for me, I think my approach to academic work has been influenced by creative writing. I tend to approach scholarly research and writing in the same way I would approach a creative writing project, and wide reading in fiction and poetry has helped me frame a lot of my academic arguments and given me ways to tackle narrative, style, and readability in an academic context.