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Sarah Zell

Dr. Sarah Zell Title: Assistant Professor
Phone: 204-988-7195
Office: Room 133
Building: Merchants Corner
Email: s.zell@uwinnipeg.ca


PhD – Geography, University of British Columbia
MA – Latin American Studies/Migration Studies, University of Texas at Austin
BA Honors – English/Romance Languages, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Dr. Sarah Zell is a broadly trained human geographer whose research interests center on migration settlement patterns and processes, migration and border policy and governance, feminist political geography, and labour mobility and precarity. She is also interested in questions related to housing and urban change and adaptation, citizenship and belonging, and qualitative and community-based, participatory research methodologies.

She completed her PhD in Geography at the University of British Columbia, where she held a Pacific Century Fellowship and was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Metropolis British Columbia, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues. Her doctoral work examined the recruitment and migration process of temporary migrant workers to Western Canada, analyzing their precarity and associated spatializations of borders and state power. She previously worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg, where she led and was involved in several large-scale research projects focused on a range of urban issues, including housing and homelessness. She has been a research consultant for the Government of Manitoba, Government of British Columbia, and the Vancouver Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration.

Sarah’s work engages with critical theory, and she often collaborates with community-based organizations to mobilize research in meaningful ways to promote advocacy and progressive change. Dr. Zell is a founding member of the SSHRC-funded Migration Research Collective/Collectif de Recherche sur les Migrations (MRC/CRM). She is also a Research Affiliate with Immigration Research West and sits on the Research Committee of the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO) and on Immigration Partnership Winnipeg’s Civic Engagement Sector Council. She enjoys engaging with and supporting students.


• Housing and Neighbourhood – UIC 3430/GEOG 3430
• Community Organizing – UIC 3210/IDS 3210
• Immigration and the Inner City – UIC 3050

Zell, S., & Curran, A. (forthcoming). Borders, New Materialism, and Resistance as Method. In S. Hughes (Ed.), Critical Geographies of Resistance. Edward Elgar Press.

Zell, S., & McCullough, S. (forthcoming). Seniors and Eviction in Canada: A Life-Course Approach. Institute of Urban Studies; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Labman, S., & Zell, S. (2021). The shift toward citizen-driven migration in Canada. In C. Dauvergne (Ed.), Research Handbook on the Law and Politics of Migration (pp. 110 –124). Edward Elgar Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781789902266.00018

Distasio, J., Maunder, M., Zell, S., & Quanbury, D. (2020). Divided Prairie Neighbourhood: West Broadway’s Story of Hope, Challenge, and Resiliency. Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg.

Zell, S., & McCullough, S. (2020). Evictions and Eviction Prevention in Canada. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Distasio, J., & Zell, S. (2020). People, Policies, and Place: Indigenous and Immigrant Population Shifts in Winnipeg’s Inner-City Neighbourhoods. In J. Grant, A. Walks, & H. Ramos (Eds.), Changing neighbourhoods: Social and spatial polarization in Canadian cities (pp. 215–34). University of British Columbia Press.

Pratt, G., Zell, S., Johnston, C., & Venzon, H. (2020). Performing Nanay in Winnipeg: Filipino Labour Migration to Canada. Creative Intervention. Studies in Social Justice, 14(1), 55–66. DOI: https://doi.org/10.26522/ssj.v2020i14.2224

Distasio, J., Zell, S., McCullough, S., & Edel, B. (2019). Localized Approaches to Ending Homelessness: Indigenizing Housing First. Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg.

Distasio, J., Zell, S., & Snyder, M. (2018). At Home in Winnipeg: Localizing Housing First as a Culturally Responsive Approach to Understanding and Addressing Urban Indigenous Homelessness. Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network, Prairie Research Centre.

Zell, S. (2017). Intermediaries. In D. Richardson, N. Castree, M. Goodchild, A. Kobayashi, W. Liu, & R. Marston (Eds.), The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. Wiley-Blackwell.

Polanco, G., & Zell, S. (2017). English as a Border-Drawing Matter: Language and the Regulation of Migrant Service Worker Mobility in International Labor Markets. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 18(1), 267–89. DOI: 10.1007/s12134-016-0478-9