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Queen's University

Melissa N. ShawShaw.JPG

Ph.D. Candidate
20th Century Black Canadian History

Phone: 613-533-2150
Fax: 613-533-6298


M.A., Queen's University
B.A. (Honours), University of Toronto


Melissa was awarded her B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Toronto with a Specialist in History and Political Science and Minors in Francophone Studies and Philosophy of Science. She then came to Queen’s where she completed her M.A. in nineteenth century Canadian history focusing on the dynamic activism of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Pursuing a doctorate in twentieth century Canadian history under the supervision of Prof. Barrington Walker, her dissertation, Blackness and British “Fair Play”: Burgeoning Black Social Activism in Ontario and its Responses to the Canadian Colour Line, 1919-1939, examines the symbiotic relationship between anti-Black racism in Canada and the maturation of Black activism in Ontario.


2012 Teaching Fellow, Queen’s University
• Gender in North American History (HIST 280)

2006-2012 Teaching Assistant, Queen’s University
• Slavery in North America: Colonial Era to 1865 (HIST 258)
• Canada from the Conquest to the Present (HIST 260)
• Canada from the Conquest to 1896 (HIST 278)
• Issues in History: Canadian Military History (HIST 242)
• United States, Colonization to 1865 (HIST 248)
• United States, 1865 to Present (HIST 249)
• The Holocaust (HIST 295)


• Black Canadian Experiences and Diaspora “Race” Politics
• Black British Imperial Belonging
• Moral and Social Reform Movements
• Gender and the Politics of Respectability
• Migrations, Kinship Connections, and Communities


“Dawn of Tomorrow, ‘A Noble Tradition to be Maintained’ in the Historical Memory of Canada” in Slavery, Memory, Citizenship, in Paul E. Lovejoy and Vanessa S. Oliveira, eds., Trenton: Africa World Press. Forthcoming.

“James Francis Jenkins,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16,, Web, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Forthcoming.

Review of Making Freedom: the Underground Railroad and the politics of slavery by R.J.M. Blackett, Journal of African American History. Forthcoming.

Review of The Hanging of Angelique: the untold story of Canadian slavery and the burning of old Montreal, by Afua Cooper, Race and Class 52, 1 (July 2010): 111-113.

Conference Presentations


“ ‘Our Brethren Across the Line’: From Atlanta to Ontario, James F. Jenkins and Canadian ‘New Negro’ Race Politics,” Crossing Borders, Organization of American Historians (OAH) 105th Annual Meeting, Hilton, Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-13, 2014.


“‘A Studied and Silent Sinister Prejudice’: The Canadian State and Society’s Interwar Anti-Black Racisms,” Histories of Capitalism, Social Science History Association (SSHA) 37th Annual Meeting, The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, British Columbia, November 1-4, 2012.

“‘An Attitude of Antagonism to American Slavery’: Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s Fight for Racial Equality in British North America,” Claiming the Promise: A Retrospective on African Canadian History and Invitation to New Research, 5th Promised Land Project Symposium, Buxton Historic Site and Museum, Buxton, Ontario and Chatham Cultural Centre, Chatham-Kent, Ontario, June 12-14, 2012.

“‘More Than 200 Years of Unbroken, Unblemished Citizenship’: Confirming Black Canadian Citizenship Amidst the Colour Bar, 1920-1930s,” Seminar 2012: The Contribution of the African Canadian Community to Multiculturalism in Canada, The Canadian Studies Centre “William Albert Charles Ryan" of the University of Matanzas “Camilo Cienfuegos”, Matanzas, Cuba, February 27-28, 2012.


“‘Prejudice is in the Land’: The Dawn of Tomorrow Narrates Canada’s Anti-Black Racisms of the 1920s,” Revisiting the Promise: Time, Place and Contested Space in African Canadian Communities, 4th Annual Promised Land Symposium, Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, May 6-8, 2011.

“‘Spiritual and Mental Lynchings are Just As Bad as Physical Lynchings’: Black Colonial Professionals and Anti-Black Sentiment in Britain, 1919-1939,” Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies (MACBS), 2011 Annual Meeting, Penn State Abington, Abington, Pennsylvania, March 26-27,2011


“Producing Inter-Racial Social Intercourse: The League of Coloured Peoples and the Keys Confront the Inter-War “Colour- Bar” of a British Imperial World,” Engaging and Articulating ‘Race’:Historical Encounters with ‘Race’ and Racialization, Graduate Student Symposium, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, June 18-20, 2010.

“The Darker Side of Imperial Belonging: Epistemic Violence and the Black British Colonial ‘Self’ in the 1930s,” New Frontiers in Graduate History Conference, York University, Toronto, Ontario, February 18-20, 2010.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000