Alissa Overend

Associate Professor, Sociology

PhD (Alberta)

6-398A, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB


Alissa's primary research interests include critical approaches to food, health and nutrition. She is currently working on a book project that investigates contemporary, contradictory dietary claims articulated both by popular culture and nutritional science. Her previous research examined the politics of biomedical diagnosis in chronic, undefined illness. In both research and teaching, Alissa uses critical discourse analysis to explore the shaping of contemporary phenomena and the politics of knowledge therein. Her secondary areas of research include social and structural marginalization and intersectional feminism. She has previously supervised upper-year sociology students on projects related to human trafficking, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, fatness and body politics, politics of social difference and diversity, resources for low-income mothers in Edmonton and the opioid crisis in Canada.

Available to supervise senior students' independent study.

Food and nutrition, health and illness, disability studies, mental health, discourse analysis, contemporary theory, intersectional feminism

Teaching and Research Interests

At a time when “committing sociology” is actively discouraged, Alissa approaches teaching and research as rare opportunities to engage in-depth with the social and structural forces that make up contemporary Canadian society. In a globalized, information age where knowledge is often disseminated in 140 characters or less, and where “abstracted empiricism” (i.e., easily-digestible fact-based information) tends to dominate the mediasphere, Dr. Overend treats classrooms and research as places to think critically about social phenomena. With the help of critical social theories, she works to deepen awareness of the social, historical, legal, and political structures that function to keep social marginalization in place. Using relevant cases of media and popular culture, she encourages an intellectual and contextual engagement with the social world.

Dr. Overend's teaching interests and expertise include Introductory Sociology (SOCI 100), Social Problems (SOCI 102), Sociology of Health and Illness (SOCI 290), Sociology of the Family (SOCI 271), Sociology of Gender (SOCI 301), Contemporary Theory (SOCI 333), Sociology of Mental Illness (SOCI 363), and the Sociology of Food and Nutrition (SOCI 402). Her academic work has been published in Seasonal Sociology (forthcoming, U of T Press), Feminist Food Studies (forthcoming, Women's Press), Nursing Inquiry (2016), Mothers and Food (2016, Demeter Press), Social Theory & Health (2014), Food, Culture & Society (2012); Women’s Health & Urban Life (2011), and her monograph—Food Facts in a Post-Truth Culture—is forthcoming with Routledge in 2019.

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

Kunyk, D., Milner, M. & Overend, A. (2016). Disciplining virtue: Investigating the discourses of opioid addiction in nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 23(4)315–326.

Overend, A. (2016). Mothering discourse and the marketing of dairy as a cancer-fighting food. In Mothers and Food: Negotiating Foodways from Maternal Perspectives. (Eds. F. Pasche-Guignard, T. Cassidy),  Demeter Press, pp. 73–87. 

Overend, A. (2014). Haunting and the ghostly matters of undefined illness. Social Theory & Health, 12(1), 63–83.

Overend, A. (2012). Candida, food discipline and the dietary taming of uncertainty, Food, Culture & Society, 16(1), 145–160.

Overend, A. (2011). Leaky bodies and the gendering of candida experiences, Women’s Health and Urban Life, 10(2), 94–113.

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • Research, Scholarly Activity and Creative Achievements Fund, MacEwan University (2018, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2012)
  • Faculty of Arts and Science, Project Grant, MacEwan University (2017)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral), University of Alberta (2007)
  • Province of Alberta Graduate Fellowship (Doctoral), University of Alberta (2006)
  • University of Alberta Ph.D. Recruitment Scholarship (2004)

Professional Associations / Memberships

  • Canadian Sociological Association
  • Canadian Association for Food Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies et Recherches Feministes

Boards / Committees

Select: boards/committees

  • Joint Committee for the Management of the Agreement, Faculty Association, MacEwan University (2018)
  • Conference Committee, Critical Dietetics (2018)
  • Executive Committee, Faculty of Arts and Science, MacEwan University (2015–2017)
  • Conference Committee, Women and Gender Studies Recherches Feministes (2017)
  • Coordinator, Gender Studies Minor, MacEwan University (2017- )
  • Information and Technology Management Committee, MacEwan University (2016)
  • Curriculum Committee, Department of Sociology, MacEwan University (2013–2016 & 2018)