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Tracy Ying Zhang 2

Dr. Zhang’s research draws on cultural studies and feminist political economy literatures. She has written about cultural labour, the politics of value, cultural export, the English creative sectors in Quebec, and Cold War cultural diplomacy. Dr. Zhang is currently conducting a study, funded by Mitacs, to examine women student filmmakers’ learning experiences, career choices, and artistic approaches.


Between 2012 and 2018, Dr. Zhang carried out a research project on the transnational production of circus arts, investigating the postcolonial politics of difference, the hierarchy of performance labour, and the contradictions of cultural nationalism. Research results have appeared in two peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters. “ Bending the body for China: the Use of Acrobatics in Sino-US diplomacy,” which was first published in International Journal of Cultural Policy (2014), won the 2015 award from the Fonds de recherché du Québec for best original research paper. A revised version of this paper is included in The Routledge Circus Studies Reader (2017).

Besides academic works, Dr. Zhang co-produced a documentary on transnational circus, entitled The Flip Side: A Global Circus Story. Currently, the film is on the festival circuit. It has gone to several film festivals in the US, including the 41st Asian American International Film Festival in New York and the Art of BKLYN Film Festival. It won the best short documentary at “Disorient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon”. Before joining Concordia, Dr. Zhang was a Bader postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University, a FQRSC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia University, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Montreal Centre for International Studies, Université de Montréal.



MA (Dalhousie University)

PhD (Simon Fraser University)


Areas of Expertise

Cultural production studies, transnationalism, creative industries, media and performance, performance and politics, minority politics, Chinese acrobatics and magic entertainment


Mitacs Elevate Research Project

The Making of a Woman Feature Filmmaker: Gender and Cultural Production in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.

Women In Film Education (WIFE), a Participatory Photography at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

Executive summary

In Canada, women have made significant inroads in television, web series, documentaries, and experimental films. But few women directors and screenwriters participate in big-budget feature film production. This study explores the marginalization of women in the feature film industry through the lens of film production training. As previous studies have shown, film education can shape student filmmakers’ professional identity and aesthetic repertoires. Situated in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, my project will analyze socio-structural arrangements that influence women student filmmakers’ subject formation, career choices, and artistic approaches. Also, this study will explore the strategies that women students employ to succeed in film school and in the job market. Using qualitative research methods, such as participatory photography, interviews, focus groups, and on-site observation, this study will generate new insights to promote a gender-sensitive approach to film education. Further, this project will strengthen the links between the academy and professional organizations for women filmmakers. Finally, research results will raise the public awareness of organized efforts for improving gender parity within and beyond the Canadian film industry.


Tracy Ying Zhang (PhD), Catherine Russell (PhD), Norma Rantisi (PhD)


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