Christopher Petersen wins Smythe Award

Recent Lakehead University graduate Christopher Petersen was one of three Dallas Smythe Award winners for his paper “Therapy Tech in Surveillant Smart Cities.”

This award, offered by the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), recognizes the groundbreaking scholarship of Canadian scholar Dallas Smythe. Petersen was able to present his scholarship this July at the IAMCR’s annual conference in Lyon, France.

In recognition of Smythe's work, the Dallas Smythe Award was established by IAMCR for “a paper which combines scholarly excellence with a commitment to developing and extending the critical, innovative and engaged spirit that characterised Smythe’s contribution to media/communications analysis.”

The Smythe Award Committee described Christopher Petersen's paper as: a critique of how the take-up of mental health therapy technologies is exploiting users, engaging them with the features of ‘gamification’ and ‘responsibilization’, at the same time as they surrender their personal data. This is cast in the context of the ‘dataveillance’ of ‘smart cities’, and explored via the case studies of Sidewalk Labs in Toronto, and the Inuit community of Nunavut.

Petersen initially developed his paper in a graduate seminar, “Surveillance and (In) Justice” taught by Dr. Debra Mackinnon, Winter 2023.

Petersen graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Social Justice Studies from Lakehead University and received the 2023 Dean’s Scholar Award in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. His masters research-creation project explored pop music and the problem with the nostalgia industry. He has a BA in Electroacoustic Music Studies from Concordia University, Montreal.

For a complete account of the Smythe award, please visit