Six York grad students conduct research in Sierra Leone

Augustin D’Almeida

Six graduate students from York’s Department of History are currently conducting archival research at the Sierra Leone Public Archives in Sierra Leone to help preserve endangered documents and repatriate historical material to the country.

Master’s degree candidates Myles Ali, Chantelle Flowers and Shoshawnah Ross Lautenschlager, along with PhD candidates Katrina Keefer, Jeffrey Gunn and Augustin D’Almeida, are part of an archival research initiative under the direction of Paul Lovejoy, director of The Harriet Tubman Institute, and Professor Suzanne Schwarz of the University of Worcester. The students will be wrapping up their research in Sierra Leone in early May.

Katrina Keefer and Chantelle Flowers

This digitization project is in collaboration with Professor Joe Alie, chair of the Department of History, Fourah Bay College, and Albert Moore, director of the Sierra Leone Public Archives, supported by a grant from the British Library Endangered Archives Program.

In addition to their archival research, the six graduate students will also present at the Sierra Leone Past and Present 2012 Conference. In 2011, Sierra Leone celebrated 50 years as an independent country, and 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the end of the Sierra Leone civil war.

Jeffrey Gunn

The aim of the conference is to explore the diversity of Sierra Leone’s past and to place the modern history of Sierra Leone in historical perspective. It is geared towards assessing the current state of research and how that research can be disseminated within Sierra Leone and abroad.

Ali will present his paper, “Explaining ‘Ill Treatment’ in the Sierra Leone Escaped Slave Registry, 1885-1894”, while Gunn will look at “Kru Agency in West Africa and British Guyana”.

Shoshawnah Ross Lautenschlager

Flowers will discuss the significance of “African Coffee and Slavery in the Upper Guinea Coast”, and Keefer will present her paper “Scarification and Identity in the Registers of Liberated Africans”.

Myles Ali

Lautenschlager will talk about “The Removal of ‘Alien Children’ in the Colony of Sierra Leone 1865-1687”, and D’Almeida will discuss “The Anglo Portuguese Mixed Commission Court in Sierra Leone”.

The conference is sponsored by the Sierra Leone Public Archives, Fourah Bay College, the Harriet Tubman Institute, the Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of Worcester.