Leila Qashu is a 2016-2018 Banting postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS). She is interested in theoretical and practical intersections between the expressive arts, women’s rights, vernacular feminism, legal pluralism, and vernacular belief. With a commitment to community-driven research, she is looking for ways to apply participatory, practice-based methodology.expand
She has been working with the Arsi Oromo in Ethiopia (the Arsi are a subgroup of the Oromo ethnic group) and conducting fieldwork since 2002, independently and in conjunction with a French research team and the UNESCO – Norway funds-in-trust project on Ethiopian instruments, music and dance (2005-2009). Her PhD research, for which she held a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship (2010-14) and was a member of the SSHRC – MCRI project, Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing, she focused on ateetee, an Arsi women’s sung dispute resolution ritual; the dissertation examined how an expressive form enables women to peacefully protect, promote and claim their rights in a rapidly changing social environment. Her current research project focuses on marriage by abduction and other challenges facing young Arsi women, and their strategies – especially the use of expressive arts – for questioning, resisting and changing cultural practices. She plans to use collaborative, participatory video work as a primary medium to create collaborative representation of Arsi stories. Her aim is to create a research-creation dissemination model that will constitute action for young women and includes ethnographic research, multimedia collaborations, and representations of the women’s expressions.