University of Calgary

Jay Cavanagh

  • Doctoral Student
  • Graduate Assistant-Teaching


Jay Cavanagh (he/him) is a queer and first-generation doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary, where he is currently working under the supervision of Professor Ariel Ducey. Jay is also a Graduate Scholar at the Graduate College and as of mid-2023, became a recipient of one of the University of Calgary's competitive $20,000 Doctoral Entrance Scholarships

Prior to joining the University of Calgary's Department of Sociology as a doctoral student, Jay lived and worked in Brazil as a teacher. He has experience teaching Grades 6 through 12 for the International Baccalaureate's Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme, as well as teaching English to elementary-age students.

Jay's research lies at the intersections of the sociology of health and illness, mad studies, and critical disability studies. While still working to develop his theoretical and methodological trajectory, Jay is interested in critical feminist, critical disability, and phenomenological frames of analysis and methods. 

A self-identifying member of mad and psychiatric survivor communities, Jay's work takes up the task of reorienting understandings of the borderline personality through lived-experience lenses. He is particularly interested in the borderline experience as captured through the sensorium. Jay's research sets out to frustrate the many ways in which society suppresses and systemically others neurodivergent ways of being and feeling, considering how we might benefit from reimagining the spectrum of human emotion. 

Outside of his research, Jay engages with a range of community-oriented and academic initiatives. He is the current elected Chair of the Sociology Graduate Student Caucus (SGSC) at the University of Calgary and also collaborates with non-profit organisations and other community activists on issues relating to borderline personality disorder. In 2023 alone, Jay was invited to talk as part of a panel on peer support at a lived-experience conference hosted by Emotions Matter Inc., as well as being made a co-host of The BPD Bunch, a podcast by and for people with borderline personality disorder.

Photograph of Jay Cavanagh


Current Studies

  • Doctoral Student
    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
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