The Slavery North Initiative Gets a Boost in Funding from the Mellon Foundation

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a three-year $2.65 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to enhance the Slavery North Initiative. The initiative is led by provost professor of art history, Charamaine A. Nelson, who serves as the initiative’s founding director. This is the largest grant that the University of Massachusetts Amherst has ever received from the Mellon Foundation.

The Slavery North Initiative, founded in 2020, aims to bring public attention to the history, as well as social and cultural impacts of trans-Atlantic slavery. The Mellon Foundation’s grant will help Dr. Nelson and the University of Massachusetts Amherst develop the initiative’s graduate and undergraduate fellowship programs. Additionally, these funds will contribute to a three-person staff, a lecture series, Black History Month panels, an academic conference, an edited academic book, a podcast series, workshops, art and culture exhibitions, and a historical database for primary sources on the study of slavery in Canada and the United States.

“A fellows program is at the heart of this grant so that we can grow this field of research. Since there are not many scholars studying slavery in the U.S. North and Canada, the ability to grow the field is limited,” Dr. Nelson said. “Mellon’s generous support will provide fellows with the space, time, and a like-minded community in which to develop their own research and the field at a more rapid pace.”

Dr. Nelson received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Manchester in England in 2001. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2022, Dr. Nelson held previous positions at the University of Western Ontario, McGill University in Quebec, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. There she founded the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery and served as the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement.

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