A PhD student from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is celebrating her graduation having successfully completed a doctorate in History at the University of Worcester.
Erika Melek Delgado, 32, whose PhD brought to light the experiences of African children caught up in the slave trade during the 19th century, made the 6,000 mile journey from Rio to Worcester to work with Worcester academic Professor Suzanne Schwarz, a world-leader in the field.
“I saw a scholarship opportunity to study with Professor Suzanne Schwarz, a specialist in the history of Sierra Leone and Maritime History at Worcester, and had to apply,” Erika said. “Suzanne’s in-depth knowledge on Sierra Leone’s history was fundamental for the development and quality of my research, and the scholarship made it possible for me to move from Brazil to the UK to develop my work.”
“12.5 million people were transported during the transatlantic slave trade, and despite the experiences of Europeans in Africa and in the slave trade being widely recorded, very little was known on the experience of Africans. I wanted to shift focus and to look at the people behind the figures. As part of this move, I decided to research children as they were part of an even more silenced group,” she added.
“Coming from Rio de Janeiro, moving to Worcester was a huge change in lifestyle for me. Worcester is a beautiful, historic city, and I enjoyed getting to know a part of England that most international scholars do not see. I will take the friendships that I made in Worcester with me wherever I go in the world.”
Since completing her PhD, Erika has secured a fellowship at the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas, at York University in Toronto, from where she intends to continue her international approach to the study of African history.
“My aim is to create more international collaboration among scholars,” she said. “For the next years I am planning a long period of research and temporary posts in different institutions, in different countries, mainly in West Africa.”