Researcher awarded prestigious Banting Fellowship comes to York

Nielson Bezerra head shot

Nielson Bezerra, who received his PhD at Universidade Federal de Fluminense in Brazil in 2010 and now teaches at Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, has been awarded a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue his research program at York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute.

The awards were announced by Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science & Nielson Bezerra head shottechnology, Thursday, Sept. 13. Bezerra will receive $140,000 in research funding over two years.

Nielson Bezerra

Bezarra’s research project, Liberated African Slaves in Brazil in the Nineteenth Century, examines patterns of forced migration of enslaved Africans to the Americas after the British and North American abolition of the slave trade.  The research focuses on the 100,000 enslaved Africans who were destined for Brazil, but were removed from slave ships by the British Royal Navy after 1820 and declared “Liberated Africans”.

The individuals taken off these ships provide a representative sample of the migration to Brazil in this period. They will be studied for the purposes of revealing the broader pattern in determining where people came from in Africa and what happened to them in the Americas. Bezerra has published four books and is a member of the Board of Directors of Museu Vivo do São Bento in Duque de Caxias.

“The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are Canada’s most prestigious awards for postdoctoral researchers,” said Goodyear. “These internationally competitive awards allow our country to retain and attract some of the best and brightest researchers in the world, thereby building Canada’s economic and competitive edge.”

York’s Vice-President Research & Innovation, Robert Haché, said, “We are most pleased to have Dr. Nielson Bezarra pursue his research program at York. The Banting Fellowship program leverages an opportunity to attract, retain and recognize exceptional postdoctoral researchers and support them early in their careers.”

As a post-doctoral fellow at York University, Bezerra will be supervised by Professor Paul Lovejoy, Distinguished Research Professor, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History and director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples. Bezerra joins a research team that is digitizing and analyzing documentation on Liberated Africans in Sierra Leone, Angola, Cuba, and elsewhere, besides Brazil.

The purpose of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships is to build world-class research capacity by recruiting top-tier Canadian and international postdoctoral researchers at an internationally competitive level of funding. Seventy fellowships are awarded yearly through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.