University of Calgary

Yahya El-Lahib

  • Associate Professor
  • PhD/MSW Thesis Program Coordin

Research Interests

International Social Work:

Immigrants & Refugees:

Currently Teaching


Yahya El-Lahib came to the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary after finishing his PhD at the School of Social Work, McMaster University.  As a long time disability activist, Yahya’s research, practice and policy background has centred on working on disability issues at all levels of intervention, from frontline work with individuals and families, to community practice, policy development, and research on a variety of issues including education, employment, poverty, political and civic engagement, as well as the impacts of war. Throughout this involvement, Yahya has been closely affiliated with the disability movement in Lebanon working from a grassroots social justice approach which has allowed him to bring to his current community involvement, teaching and research in Canada a critical transnational dimension to social work.  

Current Research and Scholarly Activity

Yahya’s research interest centers on knowledge production and legitimization.  Specifically, in his SSHRC CGS funded (2012-2015) doctoral research, Yahya examined the intersection of disability, immigration and social work.  His research specifically questioned colonial North/South power dynamics and relations and interrogated the assumed universality of knowledge and practice models produced in the global North.  Yahya’s research aims to question dominant discourses that construct people with disabilities and shape their immigration and settlement experiences.  He seeks to bridge between theories and practice models developed within Global North and South to respond to the knowledge gaps and limitations that manifest themselves through transnational issues at the intersection of disability, immigration and social work.  As an outcome of his doctoral research, Yahya is in the process of developing a community research partnership to enhance practice and equip social workers and settlement workers to better engage with immigrants and newcomers with disabilities.  In addition, as part of an across-province research team (Alberta, British Colombia and Ontario), Yahya is currently working on the development of a research project that examines the construction of diasporic professional identity in relation to transnational social work theory and practice.  Using arts-informed methodologies, this research project aims to inform social work theory, practice and education.  


2015, PhD, Social Work, McMaster University

2012, MSW, Social Work, Ryerson University 

2011, BSW, Social Work, Ryerson University

Professional & Community Associations

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE)

Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA)

Toronto Community Development Institute (TCDI)

Selected Awards

Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Scholarship

Recipient, SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Award for the Doctoral Program 2012-2015

Office of International Affairs, Ryerson University

Recipient, Travel Grant, International Conference & Travel Fund

Social Science and Humanities Research Council Scholarship

Recipient, SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Masters Scholarship for the MSW Program 2011-2012

Publications from 2008 to Present

Peer-Reviewed Articles

El-Lahib, Y.  (In press, 2015).  The inadmissible “Other”: Discourses of ableism and colonialism in Canadian immigration.   Journal of Progressive Human Services, 26(3).

El-Lahib, Y. & Wehbi, S.  (2012).  Immigration and disability: Ableism in the policies of the Canadian state.  International Social Work, 55(1), 95-108.

El-Lahib, Y., George, P., Pon, G. & Wehbi, S. (2011). Challenging the myth of “studying harder”: A social work response to the oppression of EAL students.  Canadian Social Work Review, 28(2), 209-223.

Wehbi, S., Elin, L. & El-Lahib, Y. (2010). Neo-colonial discourse and disability: The case of Canadian international development NGOs. Community Development Journal, 45(4), 404-422.

Wehbi, S. & El-Lahib, Y. (2008).  Sit (or stand) and be counted!  Campaigning for the voting rights of people with disabilities In Lebanon.  Disability Studies Quarterly, 28(2). (Available on-line:

National & International Peer-Reviewed Conference Presentations

El-Lahib, Y.  (September, 2015).  “Desires for entitlement”: Troubling the immigration and citizenship experiences of people with disabilities in Canada.  Facilitator & Presenter at the Making Space for Intimate Citizenship Conference, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (A SSHRC funded International Research Collaboration: Connections Workshop and Network Development for Disability and Intimacy Inquiry)

El-Lahib, Y.  (June 2015).  Discourses of dominance and the construction of people with disabilities in Canadian immigration: Rethinking social work’s role.   Featured presentation in the joint Canadian Disability Studies Association & Canadian Association for Social Work Education 2015 Congress.  University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.

Chambers, L., Cranmer-Byng, S., El-Lahib, Y., Fudge-Schormans, A. & Robinson, J.  (May, 2014).  “Getting Lost” in becoming a researcher: A reflexive PhD class Journey to research and knowledge production towards social change.  Canadian Association for Social Work Education- 2014 Congress.  Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada.

Cranmer-Byng, S., El-Lahib, Y., Fudge-Schormans, A., Robinson, J., & Chambers, L.  (May, 2014).  “Lost and Found”: A reflexive classroom journey of critical pedagogy and doctoral research education.  7th Annual Social Work Research Symposium, York University, Toronto, Canada.

El-Lahib, Y.  (April, 2013).  The Intersection of disability and immigration: Dominant discourses of inadmissibility. 6th Annual Social Work Research Symposium, York University, Toronto, Canada.

El-Lahib, Y.  (October, 2012).  Dominant health discourses in action: Constructing people with disabilities as the “unwanted other” in immigration.  19th Canadian Conference on Global Health, Ottawa, Canada.

El-Lahib, Y.  (July, 2012).  Examining ableism in the immigration policies of the Canadian state.  Conference of International Federation of Social Workers, Stockholm, Sweden.

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