Norma Rantisi

Norma Rantisi is an Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning at Concordia University. Her research interests span economic, urban and cultural geography.

Most of her research has focused on an analysis of the socio-spatial dimension of innovation in mature manufacturing sectors, such as apparel.  In particular, she draws on insights from economic sociology, evolutionary economics and political economy to examine the role that local institutions (public and private) play in providing economic actors with information on market trends and with the resources and capacity to utilize this information in the design and marketing of their products. She recently completed a project that looked at the design innovation process for the Montreal apparel and fur industries. In this research, she analyzed the extent to which Montreal designers draw on social networks, place-based institutions and material attributes (affordable rents; industrial heritage) and the image of Montreal as fashion centre to design and market their products.

Currently her work focuses on the Cirque du Soleil, and involves a collaboration with Dr. Deborah Leslie at the University of Toronto.  This research analyses the role of historical and geographical assets in the evolution of the company. In specific, it looks at the role that government policies have played in shaping the economic practices of the company, how the company has drawn on a large number of cultural industry fields in Montreal (dance, theatre, music, fashion) for creative inspiration and direction, and how the company in turn is playing a role in shaping the policy context and aesthetic trends for the circus arts milieu in Montreal as well as other cultural industries (please see Dr. Leslie’s bio for more information about our project)


Circus research research grants

  • SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2010-2014 “Place-based Dimensions of Creativity: the Case of the Cirque du Soleil”. Deborah Leslie: Principal Investigator, Norma Rantisi: Co-Investigator $87,937 Award Number 410-2010-0917


Circus research related academic papers

  • Leslie, D. and N.M. Rantisi, 2011 “Creativity and Place in the Evolution of a Cultural Industry: the case of the Cirque du Soleil”. Urban Studies 48(9): 1771-1787.


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cirque circus group


Members of the group are regular collaborators engaged in an ongoing conversation. They regularly attend Working Group meetings in Montreal or elsewhere and are expected to give at least one talk a year or to act as respondents to colleagues' papers.


Graduate Students

Regular participants, working with Working Group members or working on circus-related scholarly topics:

  • Joanna Donehower
    doctoral candidate, PhD in Humanities, Concordia; supervisor: Louis Patrick Leroux
  • Lyn Charland
    doctoral candidate, PhD in Humanities, Concordia; supervisor: Louis Patrick Leroux
  • Sue Proctor
    MA in SIP, Concordia; supervisor: Louis Patrick Leroux
  • Johanna Tzountouris
    MA, Laval University
  • Katie Lavers
    PhD Candidate through WAAPA (Edith Cowan University, Australia)


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