Shehla Burney, PhD

Associate Professor

Queen's University, Faculty of Education
Duncan McArthur Hall, Room A214
511 Union Street
Kingston, ON
K7M 5R7
Phone: 613-533-6000 x 77270


Biographical Statement

Dr. Shehla Burney teaches in the area of Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, Faculty of Education. Her research interests lie in the applications of postcolonial and poststructuralist theory to cultural critique and teaching praxis. Her critical pedagogy strategically involves deploying the “Other as the supplement of knowledge” in Jacques Derrida’s phrase and using the “World” as text in Edward Said’s terms, in order to undercut the discourse of marginality and otherness. She has published widely, both in academic and popular journals, on media and representation, semiotics of theatre reception, drama and performance, ethnocultural (hi)stories, identity politics, and interculturalism. Her current research is on Edward Said and postcolonial theory.

Shehla Burney has worked on a mission for the United Nations Development Project in Crimea, Ukraine at the UNO School in Simferpol on the retrieval and reaffirmation of cultural identity of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people who were deported during World War II and have recently been repatriated to their homeland. During exile the Crimean Tatars lost their language, culture and identity and are in the process of retrieving and renewing their cultural history. Dr. Burney’s article on this UNDP venture, “Ethnicity, Identity and Ethnogenesis” was published in the prestigious Harriman Review, Columbia University, New York.

Burney has also created an intercultural pedagogy series entitled, Shared Hi(Stories)s, for the school curriculum. Using story, narrative, montage and other Brechtian modes of representation she constructs a “3-R Pedagogy” of Re-thinking/Re-playing/Re-cognition to create critical thinking. Coming to Gum San: The Story of Chinese Canadians and Across the Atlantic: The Story of Portuguese Canadians are designed to create a sense of global identity and hybridity and are being used in the curriculum.

Shehla Burney received a PhD from the University of Toronto with a citation for her dissertation from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, New York. Her doctoral thesis deployed Bertolt Brecht’s “pedagogics of theatre” and drama-theory to an understanding of the meaning-making processes of a non-literate, working class audience in India by staging a Brechtian Lehrstucke or “learning play”. She discovered that the non-literate audience was able to decipher Brecht’s so-called “avant-garde” forms through collective memory and experience because the Verfremdungseffeckt or alienation of the street had become a metaphor of their lives.

Burney was also the recipient of two gold medals for receiving the highest marks in BA and in BEd. She also received a Distinction in her “Cambridge University School Leaving Certificate”. She has held SSHRC doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, research grants and a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute fellowship.

Dr. Burney supervises several graduate students. Currently a postdoctoral fellow is also working with her.