_MG_4581BA (Toronto), MA (Sussex), PhD (Dalhousie)

Phone: 457-6472
Office: McCain Centre 208A
@MeredithRalston (Twitter)

Dr. Ralston has been a member of the Department of Women’s Studies since 1993 and is cross-appointed with the Department of Political & Canadian Studies. Also a documentary filmmaker, Dr. Ralston’s documentary, Hope in Heaven narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, examined the lucrative and exploitative sex tourism industry in the Philippines. Her most recent documentary, Selling Sex, follows a currently working escort whose mission is to educate others about the value of sex work and eliminating stigma.

Dr. Ralston was involved in a development project in the Philippines from 1999 to 2004 and was also involved in the Gambia Tier 2 project led by Dr. Stephen Perrott of the Psychology department.

Her academic interests include:

  • Prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines and Canada
  • Feminist epistemology
  • Women in politics

Selected Publications:

Reluctant Bedfellows: Feminism, Activism and Prostitution in the Philippines with Edna Keeble, published by Kumarian Press, 2008
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“David Braybrooke’s Philosophy of Social Science” in Engaged Philosophy, eds. Susan Sherwin and Peter Schotch, 2007
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“Discourses and Dollars: Sex Trade in the Philippines” with Edna Keeble, in Canadian Foreign Policy, eds. Deborah Stienstra et al, 2003

“Upstream in the Mainstream: Strategies for Women Organizing,” in Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme, Vol. 20. No. 3, Fall 2000.

Nobody Wants to Hear our Truth: Homeless Women and Theories of the Welfare State, published by Greenwood Press, 1996
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“Homeless Women and the New Right” in Francois-Pierre Gingras’ Gender and Politics in Contemporary Canada, published by Oxford University Press, 1995
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Film History:

Selling Sex (2015): Premieres September 18, 2015 at the Atlantic Film Festival (BUY TICKETS »)

SellingSexSelling Sex is a thought-provoking film that challenges our negative view of sex work, through the eyes of an online escort named Megan. Dispelling the myth that all sex workers are victims, Megan calls sex work her calling and shows how stigma, double standards and the marginalization of sex workers harm all women. Featuring interviews with her colleagues, a client and researchers, the film follows Megan as she prepares to give a speech on the value of sex work to an audience of missionaries, anti-trafficking activists and law enforcement personnel. Smart, funny and articulate, she demonstrates her bravery and conviction from beginning to end.

Hope in Heaven (2007)

This film follows two years in the life of a Filipino bar girl and deals with the issues of sex tourism in the Philippines. Mila works at a bar called Heaven and lives in hope that a foreigner will rescue her. Writer-director-producer. 45 min. Trailer

  • Winner, Beyond Borders national media award, 2007

  • Winner, Best documentary, Big Bear Lake Film Festival, 2007

  • Broadcast license with CBC Newsworld. Broadcast premiere 16 January 2007 as Selling Sex in Heaven. Reviewed by Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun

Wendy Lill: Playwright in Parliament (1999)

A look at award-winning playwright Wendy Lill’s rookie year as a Member of Parliament. Co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada and Ralston Productions Ltd. 50 min.

Why Women Run (1999)

Chronicles the fierce 1997 federal election contest between Alexa McDonough and Mary Clancy and examines the barriers to women in politics. Produced by Kent Martin, National Film Board of Canada. 46 min.

Making the Links: The Road to Beijing (1996)

Filmed for the United Nation’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Part I documents the Nova Scotia/Beijing Women’s Action Group preparing for the conference. Part II follows two members of the group to Beijing. 50 min.

Upstream in the Mainstream (1995)

Documents the experiences of Nova Scotian women from varied backgrounds. African Canadian, aboriginal, disabled, lesbian, and immigrant women come together to discuss the issues that face their communities. 24 min.