Laura Bisaillon

Laura Bisaillon
Assistant Professor
Health Studies


I am an interdiscipinary social scientist whose research program is substantively organized at the intersections of the politics of health and illness, socio-legal studies, and immigration studies. In Canada, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East, I investigate the organization and production of knowledge and practices related to immigration, HIV/AIDS, law and policy application, and applied ethics. I use ethnography, and in particular institutional ethnography, as well as qualitative strategies and insights from the social sciences, humanities, and cultural studies to understand the challenges experienced by people who occupy subaltern positions within social hierarchies. Ultimately, I strive to produce theoretically robust, historically situated, and empirically grounded analyses for public policy and legal decision-making in ways that can make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to the political sociology of health. Je suis bilingue en français et anglais.

I would be happy to engage in discussion about both my research and teaching. I welcome overtures from prospective students who would like to do graduate work with me. I am particularly interested in creatively minded students whose interests align with my expertise. Peruse my work as it appears at, and please get in touch with me via email.


PhD (Ottawa), MUP (McGill), BA (Bishop’s), CEP (Strasbourg III)


  • Canadian Anthropology Society
  • Canadian Law and Society Association
  • Canadian Sociological Association
  • Centre for Refugee Studies, York University
  • International Sociological Association
  • Law and Society Association
  • Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • Sociologists’ AIDS Network

Research Interests: 

My research expertise and interests are in the following areas: critical social science; HIV/AIDS; health and social policy; immigration medical practices; law and socio-legal studies; migration and health; social organization and production of knowledge; sociology of health and illness; and, qualitative modes of inquiry.

Awards and Grants: 

Recent Selection:

  • Im/migration, Mobilities, Circulation Working Group, Jackman Humanities Institute (With R. Silvey & E. Harney), 2016-17.
  • Visiting Researcher Residency, Brocher Foundation, 2017
  • Lupina Senior Academic Fellow Award, Comparative Program on Health and Society, Munk School of Global Affairs, 2014-15
  • Connaught New Researcher Award, University of Toronto, 2014
  • Research Competitiveness Fund Award, UTSC Vice-Principal Research, 2014
  • Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award for an Unusually Significant Contribution to Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Canadian Association for Graduate Studies, 2013
  • Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in the Humanities, University of Ottawa, 2012
  • Joseph De Konink Prize for Best Doctoral Dissertation in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Ottawa, 2012



Recent selection:

Bisaillon, L., & Webster, F. (2017). Blurring the boundaries: Using institutional ethnography to inquire into health professions education and practice. Medical Education, 51, 51-60.

Mykhalovskiy, E., Hastings, C., Sanders, C., Hayman, M., and Bisaillon, L. (2016). “Callous, Cold and Deliberately Duplicitous”: Racialization, Immigration and the Representation of HIV Criminalization in Canadian Mainstream Newspapers. Toronto. A report funded by the CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention.

Bisaillon, L., Gooshki, E., & Briskman, L. (2016). Medico-legal Borders and the Shaping of Health Services for Afghans in Iran: Physical, Social, Bureaucratic and Public Health Conditions of Care. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2(1), 40-58.

Bisaillon, L. (2014). Introduction: The Politics of Practice and the Contradictions for People, Policy and Providing Care: Investigations Into the Implictations of Health Work Organized Within State Interests. Public Health Ethics, 7(3), 225-228.

Bisaillon, L., & Ells, C. (2014). When Doctoring is not About Doctoring: An Ethical Analysis of Practices Associated with Canadian Immigration HIV Testing. Public Health Ethics, 7(3), 287-297.

Bisaillon, L., & Eakin, J. (2014, Nov. 12). Strategies for Understanding and Navigating the ‘Academic Underlife’. University Affairs (blog).

Bisaillon, L. (2013). Disease, Disparities and Decision Making: Mandatory HIV Testing of Prospective Immigrants to Canada. BioéthiqueOnline, 2(10), 1-6.

Bisaillon, L. (2013). Contradictions and Dilemmas Within the Practice of Immigration Medicine. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(1): e45-e51.

Bisaillon, L. (2013, Sept. 30). No Test, no Visa: How Mandatory Immigration HIV Testing Makes Canada—and HIV—Stand out as Exceptional. Healthy Policies (blog).

Bisaillon, L. (2012). Les impacts du cordon sanitaire ceinturant les frontières canadiennes. Remaides, 81(13), xi-xv.

Bisaillon, L. (2011). Mandatory HIV Testing and Everyday Life: A Look Inside the Canadian Immigration Medical Examination. Aporia, 3(4), 5-14.

Bisaillon, L. (2010). Human Rights Consequences of Mandatory HIV Screening Policy of Newcomers to Canada. Health and Human Rights, 12(2), 119-134.

Teaching Interests: 

I created and currently teach the following courses, which are at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: Critical Qualitative Health Research Methods (HLTC04); Migration and Public Health (HLTD06); Social Determinants of Health (HLTC05/HLTB41); and, Migrations, Mobilities and the Law (CRI3310). For an overview of the content of these courses, see