Our Newest Doctor, Dr Adam Ellis | CrimSL News Winter 2021

Photo of Adam EllisCongratulations to Dr. Adam Ellis, who successfully defended his dissertation, “Reconceptualizing Urban Warfare In Canada: Exploring The Relationship Between Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress, And Violence Among Male Combat Soldiers and 'Street Soldiers,” earlier in 2020.

Bravo, Dr. Ellis!

Bio: Adam Ellis was named a 2016 Vanier Scholar [and in] 2018 Adam also became a top 25 SSHRC Storyteller with respect to his research on trauma, PTSD and gang violence. Adam’s doctoral work is inspired by his own lived experience within the gang sub-culture. Adam is not new to the field of criminology. With an MA in Immigration and Settlement from Ryerson University, he has worked on several research projects focusing on mental health and the law, including topics on gang violence, organized crime and refugee determination. He has provided consultancy on mental health and criminal justice-related issues with a variety of public and private institutions including the United Nations, At Home Chez Sois Project, the Provincial/Federal Courts, the Ontario Review Board, and community organizations interphasing between mental health and justice. Adam is currently developing his first edited text “Thug Criminiology’ which will be published in 2019 through the University of Toronto Press. Adam is also currently developing a community program that seeks to disrupt inner-city gang violence through physical fitness, mentorship and trauma therapy.

Disertation abstract: When we hear the word “trauma” we often conflate this term with the experiences of combat soldiers returning from war. While the current state of the art on trauma/Dissociation and PTSD has predominantly focused on the traumatic experiences of combat soldiers, less is known about other vulnerable populations who are exposed to similar types of war-related violence, including gang members (or street soldiers). Drawing on a multiple-case study approach, including, in-depth qualitative interviews, my study compared and contrasted the experiences/stories of combat veterans with those of ex-gang members as a way to understand the psychological sequelae of “gang violence”. Building on the knowledge on combat trauma, I sought to develop a Trauma-Based Theory of Gang Violence that identifies how pre-existing (i.e. poverty, masculinity and exposure to “pre-war” violence), peri-traumatic (i.e. indoctrination and exposure to violence) and post-traumatic factors (i.e. transition stress, post-traumatic stress and the reenactment of trauma) may contribute to gang membership and the cycle of violence that permeates marginalized/gang-dominated communities.


  • Ellis, A. and O. Marques. Researcher, Expert, and/or Spectacle? Insider/Outsider Academics and the Advancement of Thug Criminology. [Manuscript Submitted to Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies] 2018
  • Ellis, A. Memories of Urban Warfare: Trauma, PTSD and Gang Violence. Journal of Community Corrections, 2, 26, 1546-7627. 2017
  • Ellis, A., and Julian. Gojer. PTSD and Dissociative Homicide: Exploring the Eaton Centre Shooting 2016 [Manuscript Submitted to Taylor & Francis]
  • Gojer, J., and Adam Ellis. PTSD and the Refugee Determination Process in Canada: Starting the Discourse. UNHCR: New Issues in Refugee Research, 270: 1-26. 2013
  • Ellis, A. The Immigrant Crime Link in Canadian Society. Ryerson University. 2010 [Unpublished Thesis]
  • Ellis, A., and Olga Marques. THUG Criminology: An Introduction, 2019 [Manuscript under consideration-University of Toronto Press]
  • Wortley, S., and Ellis, A. Chapter 17. In Boyd, N. Understanding Crime in Canada, 2019 Second Edition
  • Ellis, A. Gang Injunctions. In Race, Crime, and Justice: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic. ABC-CLIO, 2019
  • Ellis, A., and Barbara Perry. Life after Hate: Trauma, Violence and Resilience, 2019 [Manuscript under consideration-Canadian Scholars Press]

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