March 17, 2022

Congratulations to Tara Cranna

Winner of the 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)—Doctoral!
mountain lake

The Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES) recognizes outstanding academic achievement in graduate studies. The AGES Indigenous program was established by the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education to encourage indigenous Canadians to pursue graduate studies in Alberta.


Tara Cranna is working under the supervision of Dr. Gavin Cameron. Tell us a bit about what makes Tara’s work stand out?

Tara’s doctoral research offers an important and timely addition to critical analysis of terrorism and counterterrorism. Canada’s definition of terrorism is ostensibly gender-neutral, but characterizes it as an intrinsically political activity occurring within the public sphere. By categorizing most gender-based violence as occurring in the private sphere, this understanding precludes such violence from Canadian definitions of terrorism. This gap is particularly problematic with the growing prevalence of incel-based violence where the divide between public and private spheres has become increasingly blurred. By applying a gender lens to the Canadian government’s definition of terrorism and implementation of that definition, Tara’s research will problematize and examine the implications of this categorization, and therefore offer a corrective perspective

Cranna Picture

Tara, your own broad research interests include terrorism studies and counterterrorism policy. How did you come to focus on these areas?

I’ve always been interested in studying political violence outside of the traditional war framework, but I only really started to focus on terrorism studies during my Masters degree. My thesis looked at how terrorist groups like ISIS justify and use sexual violence. It was heavy work but it peaked my curiosities about how a country like Canada can respond to evolving terrorist threats. With my research now, I have transitioned to a more counterterrorism focus in order to work from a policy perspective, but it was important to me that I kept the gendered issues and perspectives from my MA at the forefront of my work!

Can you tell us a bit about your specific proposed thesis research?

My research now is going to look at how gendered conceptualizations of terrorism affects Canadian domestic counterterrorism policy. When we securitize an event or group and characterize it as “terrorist”, what role do our ideas and biases of masculinity or femininity play? Does Canadian policy adequately respond to the rising threats of terrorist violence motivated by gender, such as the incel movement, or are there weaknesses that need to be dealt with?

It’s still early days for your research, but what are your next steps in your program?

Well, surviving classes this semester is the first step! I’ll move on to writing my Field of Study exams in the fall, with my own research starting hopefully mid-next year!

Congratulations to Tara Cranna on your 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES) — Doctoral!

To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners, please visit the Political Science website.