Matthew Hayes came to St. Thomas University in 2009. Prior to that, he taught at Université de Moncton and UNB, and was a graduate student at York University in Toronto, where he defended his PhD dissertation in 2008. He is originally from Dalhousie, New Brunswick, on the traditional Mi’kmaw territory of Gespegeoag.
Growing up in a pulp and paper town, Dr. Hayes developed an interest in questions that would eventually lead him to sociology. The transformations in New Brunswick’s resource-based economy in the 1990s led him to question the territory’s relationship to larger centres, and its history of colonization and insertion into global networks of accumulation. His childhood on this territory inspired his work as a sociologist thinking about connected global histories, which shape our biographies.
Dr. Hayes’s hometown has a long tradition of English-French bilingualism. He attended a francophone, Acadian school, but spoke English at home. This also led him to reflect on contemporary issues of cultural identity, and continues to be a source of inspiration for his research. In addition to being a useful tool for navigating the world, bilingualism is a standpoint for Dr. Hayes, from which to think about Canada and the world—a standpoint inflected with different and sometimes competing memories. This standpoint is a springboard for engaging with other standpoints. Hayes also speaks several other European languages, and has begun learning Moroccan Darija as a result of his research work.
Like many sociologists who study how society works, Dr. Hayes is not indifferent to current events and to the policies that shape how we live. Long interested in social justice and equality, Dr. Hayes was a founding member of the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights in 2020, and has remained a housing activist pushing all levels of government to recognize the ongoing affordable housing and tenants’ rights crises; its origins in the federal government’s abandonment of housing policy in the 1980s and 1990s; and the need for cooperative, non-profit, and publicly-funded solutions that would de-commodify one of our most basic human needs. This activism now informs his current research interests, which are pivoting from transnational mobility towards global urbanization and the political economy of housing.