Joshua Ramisch, Director

I studied… (What? Where?)

All of my degrees have been in interdisciplinary “Development Studies”, first at the University of Toronto (BSc 1995), then the University of East Anglia (Ph.D. 1998). My training in anthropological and geographic methods keep me focused on the human, grassroots experience of development, which has covered topics as wide-ranging as soil fertility management, rural-urban migration, cellphones, and masculinities.

I began my teaching career (where, when?)

I started at the University of Ottawa in 2006, after about a decade of working as a Nairobi-based, social scientist in an international agricultural research organisation. My research and teaching continues to draw on concrete examples from rural and urban Africa, and my networks of peers throughout the Global South.

Why did I accept this position?

I wanted to play a role in supporting our School, its students, instructors, and other staff as we navigate this moment of trauma and a return to campus-based life. Change is hard, but development studies is all about understanding how to confront challenges that are interlaced with each other, like the pandemic, settler colonialism, or environmental crisis.

Joshua Ramisch

The best part about my job

I love teaching: helping people to see something they thought was familiar in a new light, or to find connections between things they never considered before. Because our School is so multi- and interdisciplinary, I am surrounded by students and faculty who bring a fantastic diversity of perspectives to everything they do.

What people don’t know about me…

I have always been obsessed with learning languages. Besides English and French, I speak Swahili, can revive my Arabic, Bambara, German, Spanish, and Mandarin with some effort, and am currently studying Algonquin (Anishnaabemowin).

My favourite quotation

The proverb “The tree remembers, the axe forgets” is a great reminder of the asymmetries inherent in trauma and oppression. I want always to be on the side of the trees and regrowth.