Canton Winer

Name: Canton Winer
Major and current year at UCI: 5th year sociology Ph.D. student
Winning paper: “This Isn’t My Place to Talk About It:' Interwovenality and the Invisible Power of Whiteness Among Asexual Individuals”
Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL
Undergraduate institution and major: Fordham University

What prompted you to pursue graduate work at UCI?

After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Shanghai, China for two years. Living there has influenced the way I understand the social world. Experiencing life in a society that, despite its many overlaps, is quite different from life in the U.S. helped me expand my worldview—and helped me better appreciate how much of the way we perceive the world is subjective.

When I was applying to graduate school, I was still living abroad. As a result, I couldn’t easily do any visit weekends, so I essentially had to choose a program sight unseen. UCI had the best financial offer and I felt like my work would be supported here, so I chose UCI. And I haven’t regretted it.

Tell us about your research and what your findings will help illuminate.

I’m interested in understanding how inequality is reproduced in our social world. Sociology offers us many tools to explore—and address—those issues. I hope that my research and teaching can help others imagine and pursue a more just world.

My dissertation focuses on what we can learn about the relationships between gender, sexuality, and race through the perspectives and experiences of people on the asexuality spectrum. Asexuality, which commonly refers to those who do not experience sexual attraction, can help us better understand those relationships—and other core sociological concepts, including power, agency, consent, desire, the family, etc.

Defending my dissertation proposal felt like a major accomplishment. It was thrilling to present my ideas to brilliant professors and to receive such enthusiasm about my proposal.

What activities have you been involved in on campus?

Since 2018, I have been the president of the Queer Graduate Caucus, the largest and oldest interdisciplinary group for queer graduate students at UCI. I am also currently the co-chair of the Sociology Graduate Student Association, co-founder of the Ace/Aro Scholars Support Network, co-chair of the National Women’s Studies Association’s Asexuality Studies Interest Group, and vice president of financial affairs for Associated Graduate Students (the graduate student government at UCI). I’ve also volunteered as an LGBTQ+ mentor through the UCI Counseling Center and as a mentor through Competitive Edge and GradInterconnect.

Who has played an important role in your journey thus far?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my partner, Bradford Chin, who is a dance MFA student here at UCI. In addition to being an amazing dancer and choreographer, he’s also a remarkable advocate for disability justice. His activism has deepened my understanding of inequality and oppression, and I look forward to continuing to learn from and with him.

Where can you most often be found on campus? And do you have a favorite UCI memory?

I love working from my on-campus apartment. My partner and I live on the third floor, and we have a beautiful view. We regularly have hummingbirds and other birds visit the plants on our balcony, and we get tons of natural light. It’s a happy place.

I have many fond memories of evenings huddled with friends around a bonfire at Corona del Mar State Beach. Coming from Florida, the experience of wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, sitting by a fire and STILL being chilly at the beach never gets old.

And what are your plans post-graduate school?

I plan to finish in spring 2023, at which point I hope to start either a post-doc or a tenure track position.


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