Graduate Student Presentation Prize – 2021

Tyler Ball (York University) wins the 2021 CACLALS Graduate Student Presentation Prize for his paper “Insurgent Sea: Political Ecologies of the Indian Ocean.”

Congratulations to Tyler Ball, PhD candidate at York University and SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholar. Tyler was selected by the panel of judges―Drs. Susan Spearey, Anindo Hazra, and J. Coplen Rose―as the winner of the 2021 Graduate Student Presentation Prize. The panel also included groundbreaking presentations by finalists Tavleen Pureval (University of Toronto) and Alexandra Sweny (Concordia University).

Comments from the chair of the judges’ panel are featured below:


The Committee faced a challenging decision this year. The Graduate Student Prize for 2020-2021 goes to Tyler Ball, Doctoral candidate from York University, for his paper, “Insurgent Sea: Political Ecologies of the Indian Ocean.”  Tavleen Purewal, Doctoral candidate from the Department of English at University of Toronto and Alexandra Sweny, MA student at Concordia University, are this year’s runners up, both of whose work was also highly commended by the  Adjudication Committee. I am naming the runners-up in alphabetical order, as the runners-up are not ranked.
When we reviewed the criteria according to which the graduate paper prize is evaluated, we agreed that all three presentations were tightly argued, polished in their delivery, well-paced, clearly focused, and timely in the ways they respectively addressed current issues and emerging theoretical questions and fields of exploration. All three papers were well delivered within the allocated time frame, and all of them engaged the audience. Additionally, all three presenters responded thoughtfully and articulately to the questions that were put to them. And it was easy to imagine each of the three papers being developed for digital or print publication.
As a mark of how rich the three projects were, I think it worth mentioning that, during our discussions of adjudication we also found ourselves considering the further intellectual ramifications of the arguments with which we had been presented.
Ultimately, Tyler’s paper, we agreed, was notable for its expansive, generative, and rich discussion of the interface between indigenous knowledges and hydro-colonial studies, for its nuanced treatment of three primary texts as well as its theoretical sophistication, for its originality, and for the way the “oceanic reading” he offered works to reposition the reader in terms of questions of authority, while also continuously and fluidly recalibrating the demands of reading practice. All three of us noted how fascinated we were by Tyler’s application of indigenous Hawaiian wisdom traditions to the act of surfing, and how these practices departed so markedly from the vocabularies of mastery and domination by which more mainstream, and white-dominated, surfing narratives are characterized.
We extend our congratulations to all three of our presenters, and to Tyler for his significant contribution to the conference.