Emmanuel Cannady, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, Investigates Activism and Perserverance

Author: The Graduate School

Emmanuel Cannady, Sociology, 2016Emmanuel Cannady, Sociology, 2016

Emmanuel Cannady, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, was recognized at Commencement on Saturday with the S.J. Dilenschneider Award. As a budding public intellectual, a voice for social justice movements, and a force for good as a researcher, teacher, mentor, activist, and speaker, Cannady is an exemplar among graduate students at Notre Dame. His research as a sociologist explores the internal processes in Black activist organizations. Using an ethnographic approach, Cannady investigates how activists' use of their experiences and knowledge affect the “perseverance process” of their organizations. 

Cannady is “a leader among graduate students,” said Rory McVeigh, the Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Social Movements. “I’ve never seen a graduate student mentor as many fellow students. Moreover, he has a commitment to working with faculty, staff, and students to make real, lasting change. Beyond this, Emmanuel has enlivened the campus in innumerable ways and become central in conversations about race in South Bend.”

As part of his dissertation, titled “Street Smarts or Book Smarts? Liberation, Trauma, and Knowledge Deployment within Black Lives Matter Activism,” Cannady is developing an Activist Knowledge Framework that will have both intrinsic intellectual merit and broader application to those working on the front lines to effect social change. Cannady noted that he can “envision other scholars and the general public” being able to make use of the framework and “apply the logic from my framework to explain processes in any type of group that commits to a decentralized leadership structure.”

Cannady, from La Crosse, Wisconsin, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He is the recipient of a Notre Dame Deans’ Fellowship and the winner of numerous competitive University awards to support his research. Cannady also received external funding as the primary investigator of a 2019 Neighborhood Impact Research Study grant from the city of South Bend’s Department of Community Investment.

Cannady has received outstanding reviews as an instructor and teaching assistant, presented at numerous conferences, and served as a representative for the sociology department’s Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion. As a founding member of Black Lives Matter South Bend, he was honored along with other activists in a 2019 South Bend Common Council Proclamation.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by Notre Dame,” said Cannady. “This moment to reflect on my work is a reminder that science and scholarship must never simply sit on a shelf, but has a duty to empower humanity in creating a better world. The recognition not only honors me but raises up the tireless effort of Black Lives Matter South Bend members and many other activists who fight every day to create a more just society.”

“Graduate students at Notre Dame make an enormous impact on the campus and broader community through their research, teaching, mentorship, and service. We proudly proclaim that ‘Your Research Matters, and You Matter,’” said Laura Carlson, dean of the Graduate School and vice president and associate provost. “Emmanuel is an extraordinarily accomplished leader and scholar, and I’m delighted to share his work more broadly. I am deeply inspired by the dedication of the graduate students who are training at Notre Dame.”

Cannady is a former assistant director in Notre Dame’s Gender Relations Center. During his tenure, he also created and co-instructed one of the nation’s first credited seminars exclusively interrogating white privilege.