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Associate Professor Christopher Sonn

BA (Monash), Grad Dip Ed (Deakin), Grad Dip Appl Psych (VicMelb), PhD (VicMelb)

Associate Professor, College of Health & Biomedicine | Fellow, Institute for Health & Sport

Christopher is a full-time Associate Professor. He teaches in areas of community, cultural and liberation psychology and qualitative social research methods. His research is in the area of sense of community, social identity, immigration, and intergroup relations.

A major focus of his research is on understanding non-dominant group responses to oppression, including racism. He has investigated the adaptation of different immigrant communities to Australia as well as the responses of Indigenous Australians to dominant group settings and stories. His focus is on understanding the multiple and often hidden resources and structures that groups develop to help protect valued cultural identities, to resist oppression, and to promote liberation. 

Christopher holds a visiting Professor position at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has held visiting positions at the institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bologna, Italy and Pontificio Universidad de Catolica, Valparaiso, Chile.  He is associate editor of the American Journal of Community Psychology and Community Psychology in Global Perspective.

Christopher has written numerous articles and book chapters in the related fields of critical, community and liberation psychology on topics of:

  • migration
  • race and racism
  • whiteness studies 
  • creative and critical approaches to individual and community change.

Recent publications


Oke, N., Sonn, C.C. & Baker, A. (Eds.) (2018). Places of privilege. Amsterdam, Holland: Sense book publishers.

Sonn, C. C., & Baker, A. M. (Eds.) (2017). Creating inclusive knowledges. London, UK: Taylor and Francis.

Refereed journal articles

Cicognani, E., Sonn., C. C., Zani, B., & Albanesi, C. (accepted). Acculturation, social exclusion and resistance: Experiences of young Moroccans in Italy. International Journal of Intercultural Relations.

Oke, N., Sonn, C. C., McConville, C. (2018). Making place in Footscray: Everyday multiculturalism, ethnic hubs, and segmented geography. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 25 (3), 320-338.

Sonn,C. Dutta, U., Arcidiacono, C., Maldonado-Torres, N., Kloos, B., Kiguwa, P. (2017), Beyond disciplinary boundaries: Speaking back to critical knowledges, liberation, and community. South African Journal of Psychology, 47, 448-458.

Stevens, G., Bell, D., Sonn, C. C, & Canham, H. (2017). Transnational perspectives on Black subjectivity. South African Journal of Psychology, 47, 459-469.

Sonn, C., Ivey, G., Baker, A., & Meyer, K. (2017). Post-Apartheid South African immigrants in Australia: Negotiating displacement, identity and belonging. Qualitative Psychology, 4, 41-54.

Ali, L, & Sonn, C. C., (2017). Strategies of resistance to anti-Islamic representations among Muslim Australian women: An intersectional approach. International Journal of Inclusive Education. http:/

Baker, A., Sonn, C. C., Vincent, D. N., Curnow, F. (2017). ‘I haven’t lost hope of reaching out …’: exposing racism in sport by elevating counternarratives. International Journal of Inclusive Education. http:/

Dutta, U., Sonn, C. C., Lykes, M. B. (2016). Situating and contesting structural violence in community-based research and action. Community Psychology in Global Perspective, 2 (2), 1-20.

Refereed book chapters

Sonn, C. C.,  Rua, M., & Quayle, A. F.(2019). Culture, Indigeneity and coloniality: A contribution to decolonizing applied social psychology. In D. G. Hodgetts, & K. O’Doherty, (Eds). Applied Social Psychology Handbook (Chapter 3). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Smith, K., Sonn, C. C., & Cooper, T. (in press). Being black in Australia. In C. Boyce Davies (Ed.). The general history of Africa, VOL, IX, Book II. France, Paris, UNESCO.

Sonn, C. C., Jackson,  K., & Lyons, R. (2018).  Exploring meanings and practices of Indigenous place making in Melbourne’s West. In N. Oke, C. C. Sonn, & A. Baker (Eds.). Places of privilege: Interdisciplinary perspectives on identities, change and resistance (pp. 87-104). Leiden, Holland: Brill Sense book publishers.

Sonn, C. C., Quayle, A. F., & Baker, A. (2017). Emancipatory approaches for community psychology: Two examples of liberatory arts projects. In Y. B. Chaya Widiyanto &  A. Harimurti (Eds). People’s search for meaning through ethnicity, culture and religion: Psychology’s,role in handling conflicts and sustaining harmony in multicultural contexts (pp. 128-143). Yogjakarta, Indonesia: University of Sanata Dharma Press.

Sonn, C. C., Kasat, P., & Quayle, A. (2017). Creative responses to social suffering: Using community arts and cultural development to foster hope. In M. Seedat, S. Suffla, & D. Christie (Eds), Emancipatory and participatory methodologies, peace, critical and community psychology (Chapter 8). New York: Springer.

Sonn, C. C.,  Rua, M., & Quayle, A. F.(2019). Culture, Indigeneity and coloniality: A contribution to decolonizing applied social psychology. In D. G. Hodgetts, & K. O’Doherty, (Eds). Applied Social Psychology Handbook (Chapter 3). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Montero, M., Sonn, C. C., & Burton, M. (2017). Community psychology and liberation psychology: A creative synergy for an ethical and transformative praxis. In M. A. Bond, I. Serrano-García, & C. B. Keys (Eds), APA Handbook of Community Psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical foundations, core concepts, and emerging challenges, (pp. 149-167). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

View a full list of Christopher's publications.

Teaching responsibilities

Christopher teaches the following units:

Postgraduate research students & fellows


Co-supervisor of 7 PhD students.

Sole supervisor of 3 D. Psych students (Clinical and Community), 9 Masters students, and 15 plus Honours students.

Current supervision

Co-supervisor for 5 PhD students, 1 Post Doc Fellow,

Sole supervisor: 3 Master Applied Psychology (Community).

Research grants

  • Displacement and belonging: South Africans Negotiating Belonging and Home in Australia, Christopher Sonn, Gavin Ivey, & Alison Baker, VU, 2013-2014, $11,500,
  • Aboriginal people in Melbourne’s West, Christopher Sonn & Tony Birch, VUIRDG, 2016-2017, $19,589
  • African Australians negotiating belonging and identity: Examining the role of participatory arts practice, Christopher Sonn, Cohealth, 2017, $11,589.
  • Pride, Passion & Pitfalls: Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry, Julie Van Den Eynde, Adrian Fisher, & Christopher Sonn, Entertainment Assist (Pratt Foundation), 2012-2014, $78,000
  • An evaluation of the Horace Petty public housing estate – A place-based education intervention for highly vulnerable young people. Family Focused Educational Engagement Program. City of Stonnington, Alison Baker-Lewton and Chris Sonn, 2016 – 2019,  $30,000
  • Increasing school’s capacity to improve student well-being, City of Stonington, (Role: Lead CI w/ Assoc. Prof Chris Sonn and Senior Lecturer Romana Morda) 2015, $15, 000

Professional memberships

  • Australian Psychological Association
  • College of Community Psychologists
  • Society for Community Research and Action.

Industry experience

Researcher with Community Arts Network Western Australia, CoHealth Arts Generator, and Western Edge Youth Arts Network.

Areas of expertise

  • Community and Liberation Psychology
  • Migration and Settlement
  • Qualitative methodologies
  • Race Relations
  • Sense of Community and Social Identity

Contact details

+61 3 9919 5226