Workshop at Bathurst United Church: Anti-racist allyship, February 18th, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

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Anti-Racist Allyship Workshop

When: Sunday, February 18th, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

About: As part of Bathurst United Church’s series on decolonization and postcolonial theology, they are making use of regular worship service time next Sunday for a workshop on anti-racism and white allyship. I will be giving an introductory talk and will be leading a participatory discussion on strategies for addressing more subtle forms of racism. Topics include white privilege, practical tools for developing allyship, and intersectionality.

All are welcome. Feel free to contact me for more information, or for access to preparatory readings.


FTM & AFAB Surgical Groups host “Physiotherapy for FTM and AFAB people” with Michelle Fraser on February 28th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Physiotherapy with M Fraser.jpg
Please share widely! This public workshop is open to all those who identify as FTM, transmasculine, or AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans people.
For more information, please contact Tobias at the Sherbourne Health Center


Physiotherapy for FTM and AFAB people
with Michelle Fraser 
February 28th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
at the Sherbourne Health Center, room 4066

Workshop Summary 

Have you ever wondered how physiotherapy might support your overall health, or aspects of your gender transition, but were unsure of where to start?  In this dynamic workshop, we will build the foundation for knowledge surrounding mobility, function, and quality of life for FTM and AFAB trans people. Topics will include effects of hormones on the body, binding and the body, anatomy and function of your pelvic floor, the connection between emotions and your pelvic floor, what you can do to promote health both before and after potential surgery/surgeries, and how to recognize post-surgical complications. Familiarize yourself with different aspects of bodily health with Fraser through lecture, discussion, and embodied movement.

Important content information: This workshop will have content that could be triggering to some. Please read over this list closely, to make sure you would feel comfortable attending. This workshop will contain:

– anatomical drawings of genitals (to illustrate the location of the pelvic floor muscles, for example)
– gendered anatomical language (when possible Fraser will use gender-neutral language to refer to genitals, however, she might occasionally, if necessary, use some anatomical language)

– physical breathing and muscular activities (which you can elect not to participate in!)
– discussion of internal aspects of genitals (as the pelvic floor muscles are located internally)

Accessibility information:
– The Sherbourne is physically accessible with elevators and accessible washrooms
– If you need ASL or childcare please contact Tobias
– More access information, including accessibility policy

About Fraser

Fraser is a physiotherapist, pelvic health and queer advocate and educator who works with persons of all gender identities experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction or interested in understanding the complexities of pelvic health.  She is on a mission to empower people in Canada and internationally to take charge of their pelvic health, which can often be a life changing experience for anyone who has suffered pelvic health dysfunction. She is also a certified yoga instructor, has earned her Masters of Education at OISE specializing in global health education, and has been involved with teaching physiotherapists pelvic health and advanced orthopedic skills both in Canada and in Nicaragua. She is an associate instructor with Pelvic Health Solutions, where she helps physiotherapists understand how to evolve towards LGBTQ-informed practice.

Review: CALPURNIA fiercely tackles everyday racism with tact and humour

Review originally posted on Nightwood Theatre’s website:


Calpurnia by Audrey Dwyer, co-produced by Nightwood and Sulong Theatre

Audrey Dwyer’s game-changing play effortlessly captures the ways that complex legacies of oppression can function in everyday, contemporary Canadian domestic space.


Calpurnia, a play by Toronto-based writer/director Audrey Dwyer, has been building a steady buzz. Already selling out almost all of its opening shows, it has quickly reached become one of Nightwood’s best-selling productions in its 38-year history, with the actors receiving an electrified standing ovation with each curtain drop.

But all of this hype and excitement is especially impressive, considering the emotional tenor of its main themes, and the political work Dwyer is asking her audience to do.

The play is set in a contemporary upper middle class Black Jamaican-Canadian home, where Julie (Meghan Swaby) struggles to revise a draft of her radical screenplay of To Kill a Mockingbird, which reimagines the famous story, but from Calpurnia’s perspective. Her brother Mark (Matthew Brown) does not appreciate her critical reading of Calpurnia’s strife, and is not shy in letting her know that, as a rich 20-something living with her family in Forest Hill, she is “not Black enough” to write from the perspective of a Southern maid in the 1930s.

In a living area next to the opulent modern kitchen (flawless set design by Anna Treusch), Julie fights with her laptop for inspiration while the Gordon family’s Filipina cook and housekeeper Precy (Carolyn Fe) continuously hovers and tidies the space around here. They have a clear closeness, especially given that after Ms. Gordon passed away, Precy cared for the children. Yet despite their familial connection, Precy is still available in a hired domestic role, a tricky parallel with maid Calpurnia that Dwyer maneuvers with ambition.

The rivalry between brother and sister is punctuated by Mark’s white, spandex-toting yoga-ambassador girlfriend, Christine (Natasha Greenblatt), who while stretching and sipping hot lemon water with fresh mint, continually plays the peacemaker. Their father (Andrew Moodie), a kind and affluent judge, is perhaps overly supportive of his two children. He is in the process of setting up an elaborate dinner for Mark to meet James (Don Allison), the head of a distinguished law firm that he hopes his son will join.

It is at this ill-fated pristine dinner party that all of Julie’s frustrations, and creative impulses, come to a hilarious and disquieting head.

Dwyer explains that she began writing Calpurnia in 2012, and while “time passed as I wrote… Black men in Canada were being brutally murdered by the police… Trayvon Martin had been brutally killed. Sammy Yatim was also brutally killed.”* Informed by a climate of increased visibility and conversations about overt racism and violence against people of colour, Dwyer has taken up the difficult task of representing the intricacies of social injustice that we still don’t always see in the media.

And in actuality, these injustices are invisible by their very design. Everyday racism, or the way that our dominant ideology is founded in white culture, is a more subtle and naturalized form of social discrimination. Because of this naturalization, it can be a lot harder to address. This is especially relevant to a Canadian audience, for whom a national ethos of multiculturalism can lend to complacency, or an inability to identify more systemic, hidden forms of prejudice.

So through the resourceful use of humour and storytelling, the play asks the audience to do some heavy lifting, not only to consider how racism informs the very foundation of everyday spaces like our homes and jobs, but also how racism is inseparable from other systems like classism or sexism – a concept Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw famously termed “intersectionality” in the 1980s.

For example, although clearly attuned to issues of social inequity, Julie’s inability to write the character of Calpurnia is informed by her own class location. Her frustrations and entitlement lead her to inappropriately question Precy at length, trying to derive an “authentic” insight into maids’ lived experience. And Lululemon-Christine, who is often hyperbolically white and privileged, is also sometimes able to speak most fluently about racism. Simultaneously, she has her worth measured in weddings and child rearing potentials by sexist houseguest James, the inflated lawyer, who eventually calls Julie a racist.

The plot is seriously layered! To be playful, I would say watching Calpurnia is a bit like social justice Inception – just when you think you hit a pretty deep level, heart pounding, you get dropped through another couple insights about systemic power. And although its about the “everydayness” of oppression, the play is also a clear commentary on how domestic conventions are steeped in broader legacies of racism, primarily through the creative use of the classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

These complicated dynamics certainly leave the audience a bit unsteady, and unsure about how to feel about each character. Perhaps this is one of the things that makes the play so uniquely humbling and real – none are perfect, and all are prone to struggle.

From Julie, who is unquestionably woke but still getting her sea legs, as she works hard to develop and refine her own political thought; to Mark who often denies obvious racism to survive as a lawyer; to Precy who, although disapproving, tolerates the family’s drama and provides an inordinate amount of emotional labour (a type of under-acknowledged, unpaid care work that is often expected of women) – each strives to somehow manage their social location (their race/class/gender, etc.) with honourable intentions, yet all are susceptible to political “failures.” The question of what is a political failure, however, Dwyer quite artfully leaves unanswered.

is therefore as much of a conversation starter as it is entertaining, which is a feat when broaching difficult issues like intersectionality. And because of this, there is no doubt that your own social location will impact your experience of the performance.

The set was cleverly designed so that the audience sat facing one another, with the all the action happening in between. I felt this was a tangible invitation for us to engage in dialogue, to see other people’s reactions, and to consider our own. Were they moved by the same issues as me? Do they feel angry, delighted, or ashamed? Are they laughing, and should I be? Watching Calpurnia as an ally, you might be inspired to have new conversations with those across from you; and as someone marginalized, you may get the opportunity to share a moment with a stranger, who has undoubtedly had that same experience.

Artfully told, with the softening qualities of comedy and the power of unspoken truths, Dwyer has crafted a theatre experience that is compelling, provocative, and honestly, not to be missed.


*From Audrey Dwyer’s Message from the Director/Playwright in the Calpurniahouse progra


New Publication: Encountering Inheritance in Vivek Shraya’s I want to kill myself


Very excited to share my 2017 article “Encountering Inheritance in
Vivek Shraya’s I want to kill myself” special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly “Transpsychoanalytics,” edited by Sheila Cavanagh. A big thank you to Vivek Shraya for her support on this piece and to the Arts and Culture section editor Eliza Steinbock for soliciting my work.

You can access the article here:

The full TSQ issue here:

A Devil Wears Prada Smackdown Analogy

Ive been researching the history of clinical psychoanalytic writing on transvestism, and for some reason a scene from the Devil Wears Prada keeps coming into my mind – where Miranda lays out the history of Andy’s cerulean top in a total unapologetic and evenhanded smack down. Arguably, one of the best scenes.


I’ve come up with some associations to share.

I think what Maranda does here, is trace an invisibilized genealogy and shows us how even the colour blue has a history that is welded to power. And I guess as I work on my dissertation research, can’t help but think about this in relation to knowledge production surrounding trans people and the discourse of the university. Some white rich guy like Robert Stoller (in this metaphor Oscar De La Renta) comes up with a psychoanalytic explanation for gender identity or sexual pathology (cerulean dresses), the idea floats around, is picked up and remoulded, passed through the hands of many other thinkers, and eventually comes out many other ends – found in the “casual corner store clearance bin,” which could perhaps be homonormativity or homonationalism. Really if we are creating a hierarchy of ideas we could end up at any point, as hierarchy is relative. Let’s not invite Jordan Peterson into this conversation.

But what Miranda leaves out is that Stoller and De La Renta often take these “designs” from somewhere else – and in particular from those minoritarian communities who form ideas or resistances seen as overly radical, unwieldy, aberrant, perverse, repackaged and made digestible for those with social status lends authority. These ideas are often seen as a part of their own genius, their capacity to think outside of the box, and imagine something novel. This one way that colonization and racism function seamlessly too – ideas, culture, knowledge that is considered backwards in the hands of people of colour and indigenous people is held in high regard when appropriated by white folks. And in Robert Stoller’s case, these ideas were borrowed from his patients – trans & intersex folks who stories and dreams (actual dreams!) can be found in the psychoanalytic studies used to condemn them.

So these were our ideas, bodies, and experiences to begin with – keep refinding and rewriting.



Creating a Culture of Consent through Yoga Practice at Union Yoga

Over the past six months, I have had the honour of working closely with Union Yoga as an anti-oppression consultant.

We have been integrating brand new consent cards into their studio, while also facilitating a larger community culture of consent. I wrote this article to accompany the launch of their new cards, after running consent trainings with their staff.

For more information about my yoga practice, see the “Community Support – yoga” section of my website.

See the original article here:


Creating a Culture of Consent through Yoga Practice

By Tobias B. D. Wiggins

To touch and be touched is not an uncomplicated matter. There is something immediately profound and tender about physical proximity to another being. Touch takes trust and elicits vulnerability; it is the vulnerability of two people connecting, of one letting the other into the private space of their own body.

In most Western yoga studios, physical adjustments from the instructor have become a taken-for-granted part of the practice. And like other customary practices, it sometimes becomes difficult to question its normalization. In other words, it can be most challenging to dispute “the way things are,” to disagree with a set of unspoken rules that govern a studio space or larger community.

Some people crave the deepening or alignment that can come from the steady and knowledgable hands of an yoga instructor, while others – perhaps those whose have survived trauma, who are socially marginalized, or who live with chronic pain – might have more mixed feelings. In reality though, everyone’s desire to be touched can change day to day, and even from moment to moment.

Many yoga communities have begun to recognize how social and political issues impact our personal practice – including discussions about how cultural appropriation, capitalism, racism, body positivity, and feminism all transform yoga spaces. As a holistic and embodied movement, the physical components of teaching asanas must also then, consider the politics of consent.

Consent has been discussed in many venues, but is mostly tied to feminist movements that challenge naturalized sexual violence and slut shaming, while also supporting survivors of assault. But discussions about consent reach far beyond sex, to thinking about agency more broadly, and our right to say “yes,” “no,” and to change our minds in any situation. From feminism we’ve learned that consent cannot be implied; consent cannot be assumed from the absence of a “no,” as it requires an active “yes” that can be revoked at any time, without shame.

Because Western yoga spaces carry the taken-for-granted notion that adjustments are desirable, yoga instructors can also face regular pressure to give them. This includes the subtle message that if they do not give expert physical assistance, they are not a “good enough” teacher. The uncertainty about how to actually get reliable consent to touch students may create additional stress.

A yoga teacher may try to ask the student out-loud during a class: “can I offer you an adjustment?” But for many reasons this question restricts an easy, straightforward response. The teacher might already be so close to touching the student that saying “no” feels hard, there may be concern that saying “no” in a public space to a generous offer is rude, or the student may not believe that a “no” is really possible. And because of these and other restrictions, students might be given an unwanted adjustment, one that perhaps carries negative emotional or physical ramification.

This is why creating a culture of consent is so essential for yoga studios. In a larger social world where consent is not seen as normal or natural and where rights to bodily autonomy is often questioned, it can feel embarrassing, challenging, or even impossible to articulate needs (or worse, if you do articulate your needs, they aren’t heard!). Many facets of Western culture often teaches us that we do not know our bodies and mind – in fact we are encouraged to disconnect. Which is, of course, antithetical to a practice of mindfulness through yoga, but still present in a yoga practice taken/up by the West.

Creating a culture of consent in a yoga studio is about much more than asking permission to touch each other. Its about actively challenging a social world that tells us we don’t know ourselves and our bodies, that renders self-care suspect, and encourages us to push ourselves past our limits. Crafting a culture of consent means valuing our many different identities and histories, with the knowledge that those identities and histories are an intimate part of “showing up” in our practice through body, breath, and movement. It’s about normalizing conversations about boundaries, self-love, and choice.

Touch is important. It is also a beautiful part of yoga – allowing someone who has committed a part of their life to the practice, to impart their knowledge through physical connection. This is why tools like consent cards, which allow students to flip between a “yes” and a “no” during their practice, are so essential. These cards are becoming more common in studios across North America, including their introduction in Toronto by Christi-an Slomka and Jamilah Maiika in May 2013. Other local studios have been following suit, including Union Yoga’s upcoming launch of their cards in August 2017. Slomka shared in an interview the year of their release:

“We can’t always know what someone has been through and if touch may be a trigger (especially when it comes without consent). Rape and sexual abuse can continue unchecked in a culture that doesn’t value consent. By demonstrating that consent is important to us, I believe we may be able to empower a shift in culture. Ultimately consent helps us to cultivate a safer space.”

By including these cards, yoga instructors communicate a vital message to their students. Consent cards, if well integrated into a studio’s culture, highlight that their community prioritizes informed choice, accountability, and student’s agency regarding their own bodies. It allows everyone to develop self-awareness, empowering both teachers and students in the processes of offering and receiving adjustments. Most importantly, it is through having these conversations, with each other, that we can continue to build the types of healing communities we truly need to thrive.


I want to acknowledge Christi-an Slomka (, and thank her for her contributions to my thoughts and progress towards writing this article. I’m continually moved and inspired by your yoga practice and politicized care work.


Tobias B. D. Wiggins is an academic, consultant, artist, and social justice advocate in Toronto, Ontario. A Ph.D. candidate at York University, his research investigates issues surrounding transgender mental health. Wiggins teaches and writes on topics relating to sexuality, gender, race and racism, dis/ability, and colonization. He also works in the Toronto community, organizing various anti-oppression workshops, trainings, and mental health support groups. He has been practicing yoga for 17 years, and was recently awarded the Yoga Alliance “Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship” for his social justice contributions in local yoga communities. Visit for more information.

FTM & AFAB Surgical Groups host “Holistic Healing from Top Surgery” with Lauren Pragg

Holistic Healing from Top Surgery: Navigating Pathways to Health for Trans Men and AFAB people

with Lauren Pragg

Holistic Healing Top Surgery poster.jpg

What: Holistic Healing from Top Surgery
part of the FTM and AFAB Surgical Support Groups (see below for more info about the top surgery support group)*

For Who: Trans Men and AFAB* people who have had, or who are considering top surgery

When: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: Room 2008 at Sherbourne Health Centre, 333 Sherbourne St, Toronto.


Facebook event:

Workshop Description 

This workshop will seek to demonstrate the ways holistic nutritional healing can help trans men and AFAB people prepare for & recover from top surgery. Many of the issues addressed will encompass physical, emotional, and mental health. The workshop will focus on providing whole food recommendations but will also incorporate supplement and herbal recommendations, along with lifestyle guidelines (both pre and post operatively). Ideally these recommendations could be used in conjunction with western medicine to offer a variety of options for healing, and the greatest opportunity for long-term health.

Lauren Pragg is the child of Trinidadian immigrants. They grew up in Scarborough and still live in East Toronto. Lauren has spent over ten years in graduate school studying identity, gender and sexuality. They have most recently begun training as a Holistic Nutritionist at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. They believe that food is energy and medicine we integrate into our bodies every day, and that understanding how it can heal and harm us is a foundational aspect of health. They hope to collaborate with health care practitioners across all spectrums to offer truly holistic care and research.


this workshop is a part of the AFAB & FTM surgical support groups run through the Sherbourne

Top Surgical Discussion (“pre-op”) & Post-Operative Group

When: Last Tuesday of the month

This group is open to trans men and AFAB people who are considering top surgery, and to those who have undergone top surgery. Through peer-to-peer support, the meetings aim to provide information about surgery options, surgical processes, navigating Ontario health care systems, trans resources, mental health, and sexuality. The discussion aims to help participants create a lasting support network of trans people from a range of social locations and experiences. The group will also host guest speakers on a variety of issues, dependent upon the participants’ interests and needs. Pre-registration is not required.

Contact Tobias for more information –


*AFAB stands for “assigned female at birth,” and is an umbrella term that encompasses those who identify as gender variant, Two-Spirit, genderqueer, male, trans man/masculine, transgender, transsexual, and non-binary etc, who have been assigned female at birth. Not all those listed under this umbrella may identify with AFAB terminology.

Photos and closing remarks from the Summer Institute for Sexuality Studies



Introducing Dr Aparna Mishra Tarc

The Summer Institute for Sexuality Studies was a project three years in the making, spearheaded by myself and another graduate student at York University. We came to the idea after attending a summer institute in Europe, and wanting to bring something similar that focused on interdiciplianry, intersectional conversations around a single scholarly topic. “Perversion” was our primary query, and we chose three locations that were not often in conversation as our lense: critical race theory, psychoanalysis, and queer theory.  Our invited lecturers – David Eng, Trish Salah, Amber Jamilla Musser, and Aparna Mishra Tarc –  gave incredible talks and master classes. The students selected for the institute were very engaged and their scholarship was compelling. Many connections were made, many new ideas inspired. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this a success, espcially Daria Davydova, Alison Crosby, Allyson Mitchell, Ena Dua, and Julia Pyryeskina.



SISS Lecture, “Race as Relation” with Dr. David L. Eng

SISS Eng lecture poster
The Centre for Feminist Research at York University presents:
Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies (SISS) 2017 
Perversion at the Crossroads of Critical Race Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Queer Theory
Race as Relation
Public Lecture by Dr. David L. Eng
Introduced by Dr. David Murray
Thursday, June 8th
519 Kaneff, York University
Race is not a “thing” as it is commonly understood—an unchanging biological trait, a bodily attribute, a difference of blood quantum or color, a static identity. Rather, race is a relation—a continuous, modulating relationship among subjects mediating processes of social inclusion and exclusion.
This talk investigates “race as relation” in law and psychoanalysis. It begins with the idea of race as it emerged from the Transatlantic slave trade and the objectification of the slave as property. How did property, as a relationship and a set of rights and privileges, shape histories of racial inclusion and exclusion in U.S. law and society? In turn, how do psychoanalytic theories on subject-object relations rework fundamental assumptions about race and property? Finally, how do histories of race challenge ideas of the universal subject in psychoanalysis?
Dr. David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor and Graduate Chair in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Eng is author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, 2010) and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001). His forthcoming book Reparations and the Human investigates the relationship between political and psychic genealogies of reparation in Cold War Asia.
Interested in attending? 
This lecture is free, but please RSVP to confirm your attendance via EventBrite ( )
For more information, please visit
For the full list of SISS events open to the public, please visit (or see the attached poster)
Follow us on Twitter @SISS2017
See the event on Facebook
With support from a SSHRC Connection Grant and York University: Office of the Vice President Academic & Provost; Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; the Faculty of Graduate Studies; the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies; the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Glendon Gender and Women’s Studies Program; the Sexuality Studies Program; Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School; Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought; Department of Anthropology; Department of History; Department of Political Science; Department of Social Science; and the Centre for Feminist Research.
Public transit directions to York University are here –
The York Keele campus map is here –

SISS Lecture, “Carrie Mae Weems and the Question of Brown Jouissance” with Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser

SISS Musser lecture poster
The Centre for Feminist Research at York University presents:
Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies (SISS) 2017 
Perversion at the Crossroads of Critical Race Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Queer Theory
Carrie Mae Weems and the Question of Brown Jouissance
Public Lecture by Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser
Introduced by Dr. Sheila Cavanagh
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
519 Kaneff, York University
Carrie Mae Weems’ 1995-1996 installation “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” provides an opportunity to meditate on the discourses of woundedness that permeate much thinking on race, affect, and masochism while also allowing us to theorize brown jouissance. Following Lacan, Dr. Musser takes jouissance to be the experience of being a body, “‘something’ lived by a body when pleasure stops being pleasure”. This lecture dwells on jouissance in order to retain the ambivalence of emotion that is provoked by Weems’ invocation of tears. Brown jouissance offers to consider this opacity as strategic, masochistic, and deeply connected to the flesh, and enables a rethinking of the relationship between psychoanalysis, femininity, and race.
Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include critical race theory, queer theory, and sexuality studies. Her monograph Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism was recently published by NYU Press, and she is currently at work on another project tentatively titled “Brown Jouissance: Feminine Imaginings.”
Interested in attending? 
This lecture is free, but please RSVP to confirm your attendance via EventBrite ( )
For more information, please visit
For the full list of SISS events open to the public, please visit (or see the attached poster)
Email us @
Follow us on Twitter @SISS2017
See the event on Facebook
With support from a SSHRC Connection Grant and York University: Office of the Vice President Academic & Provost; Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; the Faculty of Graduate Studies; the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies; the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Glendon Gender and Women’s Studies Program; the Sexuality Studies Program; Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School; Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought; Department of Anthropology; Department of History; Department of Political Science; Department of Social Science; and the Centre for Feminist Research.
Public transit directions to York University are here –
The York Keele campus map is here –