Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

PhD student

Summary: The Mixed Commissions for the abolition of the slave trade in Rio de Janeiro and Havana in the nineteenth century.


My Research

My PhD focuses on nineteenth century transatlantic slavery and the transition to freedom in Latin America.  I’m comparing two Courts of Mixed Commission for the suppression of the slave trade in two notorious slave trading ports: Havana and Rio de Janeiro. These Courts were established on the basis of bilateral anti-slave trade treaties with Britain, and have been described as the first International Courts of Human Rights. The existence of the Courts of Mixed Commissions created a unique set of challenges, and they were a source of antagonism in societies which relied heavily on slave labour. By carrying out new archival research into the function of the Courts and the micro-histories of the emancipados, the Africans who the Courts of Mixed Commission were intended to liberate, I aim to advance current understanding of the role of the Mixed Commissions in the Atlantic World. The study of the Courts is a platform to re-examine the nuanced meanings of freedom itself, and contribute to scholarship which addresses the legacy of African slavery. My research is funded by a bursary awarded by the School of Modern Languages at Leeds University.


Manuel Barcia Paz

Stephanie Dennison

About me

I came to Leeds in 2006 and undertook a BA in joint honours Spanish and Portuguese. I was lucky enough to spend time in Spain and Brazil on exchange as part of the program of study, and carried out archival research for an extended essay in Portuguese. I have since returned to Brazil on several occasions, and continue to be passionate about the culture and history of the Latin American region as a whole. My passion fomented my interest in continuing to postgraduate study at the University of Leeds where I completed a Masters by Research in 2011, and am now studying for a PhD. I decided to stay at Leeds because of the support I received from my supervisors, and the strength of the academic community. I have recently returned to Leeds after carrying out fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro and Havana.

 Conference papers

 ‘Identity and shipmate bonds amongst Cuba’s emancipados. ’International Virtual Conference: Afro-Hispanic Studies in Africa/Africa in Afro-Hispanic Studies, University of Guelph, 4-8 March 2013.                                                                                                                                                                        

‘Africanos livres in the Atlantic World’. Africa and the Atlantic World, 1450-1850: The Maritime and Oceanic History Workshop and The Centre of African Studies Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge, 22-23 June 2012.                                                                             

‘Africanos livres in the Atlantic World’. IV ABIL Conference, Communities/Comunidades, University of Leeds, 9-10 September 2011.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Other responsibilities

I am a committee member for PILAS- Postgraduates in Latin American Studies this academic year 2013/2014. PILAS is the the postgraduate affiliate of the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS).