Reframing History: Cindy Ewing & Shauna Sweeney receive Connaught New Researcher Awards

September 27, 2019 by U of T News

“I would like to congratulate all the winners of the Connaught New Researcher Award,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives. “These researchers are doing exciting, innovative work across many different disciplines. It’s the University of Toronto’s hope that this funding will help set the stage for world-leading scholarship and important new discoveries.”

During her undergraduate studies, U of T’s Shauna Sweeney was drawn to Caribbean history courses – in particular the history and the economy of the markets in Caribbean nations. It was an area of research Sweeney, who is herself of Jamaican background, wanted to explore further.

An assistant professor in the department of history and at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, Sweeney is currently working on a manuscript that examines the prominent role of enslaved women in developing an informal economy in the Caribbean.

She said that by selling or trading goods to each other, enslaved women asserted their own economic rights and ultimately laid the groundwork for a free community following abolition.

“In conventional studies of capitalism that consider the deeply violent and exploitative context of slavery, enslaved peoples' own economic lives and politics tend to fall out,” Sweeney said.  “So, it’s important to me to restore the social and economic importance of trading to enslaved people and their descendants.”

“In addition to being commodities on paper, enslaved people actually were agents in their own economies and had economic interests of their own.”

Sweeney plans to conduct further transnational research with the Connaught award, travelling to Europe to visit the Archivo de Indias (Archives of the Indies) and the Archives Nationales d’Outre-mer (National Overseas Archives).

The research trips will also help lay a foundation for her second project, which will focus on white female slave owners.

Here is the full list of winners of the 2019 Connaught New Researcher Award, for the Humanities:

Tania Aguila-Way, assistant professor, department of English

Barend Beekhuizen, assistant professor, department of language studies, U of T Mississauga

Brendan de Kenessey, assistant professor, department of philosophy

Catherine Evans, assistant professor, Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies

Cindy Ewing, assistant professor, department of history

Sarah Gutsche-Miller, assistant professor, Faculty of Music

Adam Hammond, assistant professor, department of English

Rosalind Hampton, assistant professor, department of social justice education, Ontario Institute For Studies in Education

Mary Elizabeth Luka, assistant professor, department of arts, culture and media, U of T Scarborough

Luther Obrock, assistant professor, department of historical studies, U of T Mississauga

Shauna Sweeney, assistant professor, department of history and Women & Gender Studies Institute

Katherine Williams, assistant professor, department of English

Original press release: "Rescuing crops, reframing history and researching MMIW: 2019 Connaught New Researcher Award winners announced"