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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

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 was a Mellon Distinguished Scholar (2010) at the University of the Witwatersrand where he currently holds a Visiting Professor position. He was a Senior Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna in 2012 and visiting scholar at Pontificio Universidad de Catolica, Valparaiso, Chile in September 2016. He is a lead researcher on the international Apartheid Archive Project based in South Africa.

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, and creative and critical approaches to individual and community change.

Christopher is currently working on a number of projects for the Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network (CIDRN).

Recent publications


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

Refereed journal articles

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:/

Sonn, C. C. (2016). Swampscott in international context: Expanding our ecology of knowledge. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58(3-4), 309-313. doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12038

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

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., 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., & Rua, M. (In press). Culture, Indigeneity and coloniality: A contribution to decolonizing applied social psychology. In D. G. Hodgetts, & K. O’Doherty, (Eds). Applied Social Psychology Handbook. 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