Principal Des Rosiers hosts Senior Fellow John Ralston Saul, Writer of The Unconscious Civilization and President Emeritus of PEN International, in conversation with Senior Fellow and and Toronto Star editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui and Junior Fellow and PhD student at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, Jona Zyfi.
Click here to watch the livestream. The Dialogues are open to the public – we invite everyone to join and take part in what will be a very informative online discussion. Participants are invited to submit questions to the speakers in real time via the youtube channel’s chat function as well as through Twitter with the hashtag #MasseyDialogues. For information about the Massey Dialogues salon series, click here.
John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist and novelist. His works of ideas, history and philosophy are constantly being reissued and translated for a broad readership, as well as taught around the world. A long-time champion of freedom of expression, he was the elected President of PEN International from 2009 to 2015. He is a leading voice in the international movement supporting immigrants and refugees.
Saul has had a growing impact on political and economic thought in many countries, particularly among young people confronting what they feel is a stagnant yet walled-off society. Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, his 14 works have been translated into 28 languages in 37 countries.
He was elected to two three-year terms as President of PEN International (2009-2015), the only worldwide organization of writers and journalists. Saul acted as the president of the Canadian Centre of PEN International between 1990 and 1992. PEN is a leading force for freedom of expression, getting writers out of prison and working against the growing tendency to kill journalists.
Saul is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of both 6 Degrees, the Global Forum for Inclusion, and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a national organization promoting the inclusion of new citizens. 6 Degrees is a movement that involves a growing coalition of people around the world who are working to create new language, policies, and actions supporting immigration and refugees, and their rapid inclusion in society through citizenship.
Saul is widely considered to have led PEN International into a new era of international activism, from negotiating with dictators around the world, to speaking out for endangered languages. When Saul stepped down as President, Leonard Cohen thanked him in a written tribute for his “personal courage in hostile territory; for patience and skill in the face of the world’s relentless indifference to cruelty; for being all that a man can be in these times, and more.”
He has received many national and international awards for his writing, including: Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal, South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature and The Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature. The Unconscious Civilization won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. His Reflections of a Siamese Twin was chosen by Maclean’s magazine as one of the ten best non-fiction books of the twentieth century. His novel, The Paradise Eater, won Italy’s Premio Lettarario Internazionale.
He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. His 21 honorary degrees range from McGill University and King’s College London, to Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Born in Ottawa, Saul studied at McGill University and King’s College, University of London, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1972.
Haroon Siddiqui, O.Ont., C.M., a longtime Massey Senior Fellow, is Editorial Page Editor Emeritus of the Toronto Star. From 2017-2019, he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Communication & Design of Ryerson University.
Jona Zyfi is a PhD student at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies. Born in Albania, raised in Australia, and having moved to Canada on her own at the age of 16 to pursue an education, her research is motivated by her lived experience with immigration and refugee systems and processes. While her research interests are broad, her PhD work focuses on the role and human rights impact of artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms in immigration and refugee status determinations. Jona is a past SSHRC Storyteller award recipient for her research on asylum, policy, and human rights in Canada, and in 2019, was awarded the Barbara Frum Award in Canadian Scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. She is currently a research assistant for a project examining private refugee sponsorship from a sponsor’s perspective and is part of a group sponsoring a Syrian family to Toronto. Jona is also affiliated with the Big Data and Social Justice Lab at U of T, serves as the Student Director for the Canadian Association for Refugees and Forced Migration Studies and is a Cluster Lead for the Emerging Scholars & Practitioners in Migration Issues Network. Outside of academia, Jona is an avid yogi, plays tennis, enjoys running with her husky (Nala), and translates novels to her native Albanian.