SFU Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair, 2008-2009
Dr. Afua Cooper is a senior academic trained in the history of Black people in Canada, and the African Diaspora. Her indomitable research on slavery, abolition, freedom, Black education, and women and youth studies has made her one of the leading figures in African Canadian studies. She currently teaches in the History, and Sociology and Social Anthropology departments at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Her book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal broke new ground in the study of Canadian and Atlantic slavery. Angelique was nominated for a Governor-General’s award, and was named by the CBC as one of the best books published in Canada. Her co-authored publication We’re Rooted Here and they can’t pull us up: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History helped centre the study of Black women’s history in Canada. Her commitment to social justice education has resulted in her curating eight exhibits on Black history, slavery, and freedom. Afua recently chaired the ground-breaking Dalhousie University panel on slavery and race, which investigated the university’s entanglements with race, slavery, and anti-blackness, and the role of Canadian universities in slavery and the slave trade. She is also the lead author of the report.
A recognized poet, spoken word artist, and wordsmaestra, Afua helped found the Dub Poetry movement in Canada, and popularized Dub Poetry around the world. She has organized and co-organized five international Dub Poetry festivals in Canada. Additionally, Dr. Cooper has published five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems. She has recorded two poetry CDs, Worlds< of Fire (2002) and Love: The Revolution (2019). She is currently working on Black Matters: Poetry and Photography in Dialogue (Fernwood, 2020) with German multidisciplinary scholar and artist, Wilfried Raussert. In recognition of her poetry Afua was installed in 2018 as Halifax Region’s Poet Laureate.
An academic leader, Afua founded the Black Canadian Studies Association and the Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus. She also established the Black and African Diaspora Studies Minor at Dalhousie.
Dr. Cooper’s awards and achievements include: Poet Laureate of Halifax; the Ontario Black History Society, Daniel G. Hill Community Service Award (2019); Canadian Trailblazers Award, Historica Canada Recognition (2017); a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Scholar of Honour feature (2017); Honouree: Hanging of Angelique named as one of the "Best Canadian Books Published,” CBC (2016); Honouree:100 Accomplished Black Women, Ryerson University (2016); Nova Scotia Human Rights Award (2015); and The Planet Africa Renaissance Award (2007).
The impulse behind the work of this multi-disciplinary scholar/artist is democratic. She aims to bridge the gap between academe and the world at large.