Congratulations to Ioana Sendroiu, recipient of the 2019 Daniel G Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology

November 11, 2019 by Jada Charles

Congratulations to Ioana Sendroiu, winner of the 2018-19 Daniel G. Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology at the University of Toronto.

The prize honours Daniel G. Hill who was a Canadian sociologist, civil servant, human rights specialist, and Black Canadian historian.  He received his Ph.D. in our department in 1960.  Dr Hill applied his insight and expertise in several important roles including his role as a researcher for the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, serving as the Executive Secretary of the North York Social Planning Council, his position as  assistant director of the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, and teaching in the department of sociology at the University of Toronto. In addition, he was the first full-time director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, later becoming the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner. From 1984 to 1989, he served as the Ontario Ombudsman. Dr. Hill also founded the Ontario Black History Society and authored a book titled The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada.  In 1993, he was awarded the Order of Ontario. A few years later, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Ioana's paper, “Human Rights as Uncertain Performance During the Arab Spring,” appeared in the April 2019 volume of Poetics. It explores how events, in this case the Arab Spring, shape how states vote in the UN Human Rights Council. Ioana shows that the political uncertainty that was caused by the Arab Spring led many repressive states to vote in favour of human rights resolutions, but that this shift was only temporary – once Arab Spring pressures subsided, these states returned to their conventional voting patterns. Ioana builds on this finding to theorize voting behaviours as a performance that are responsive to geopolitical events, and in so doing extends and complicates sociological analyses of human rights diffusion.

Ioana Sendroiu is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto and an Affiliated Scholar of the American Bar Foundation. Her work brings insights from cultural sociology to the study of politics and law, with published articles in Poetics, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Law & Social Inquiry.

We have pasted the citation and abstract below. The full article is available here.

Ioana Sendroiu, Human rights as uncertain performance during the Arab Spring, Poetics, Volume 73, 2019, Pages 32-44,

Sociological research on human rights analyzes the degree to which states engage with international human rights commitments over time. Yet we have a limited understanding of how specific events shape the long-term trajectory of human rights norms. This paper explores the effect of the Arab Spring on voting in the UN Human Rights Council. Using multiple growth curve models, I find that the emergence of the Arab Spring changed the voting patterns of most non-free states, but only temporarily, and that this holds even when controlling for protest events facing a given country. In contrast, a small set of non-free states did not change their votes during the Arab Spring. Drawing on research from cultural sociology, this paper explains these divergent voting patterns as heterogeneous performances in the face of an event causing deep uncertainty such as the Arab Spring. The paper concludes that commitments to human rights norms must account for how events puncture broader trends, and that engagement with the human rights regime – and perhaps other performances of state legitimacy — requires an understanding of the multiple audiences, events, and policy possibilities to which states are attuned in international forums.