University of Rochester
Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African American Studies

Current Fellows at the FDI

Pre-doctoral Fellow 2014-2015

Adela Amaral received her B.A. in anthropology and history from UCLA and her M.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her interests include Historical anthropology and archaeology, the Afro-Atlantic world, maroonage, colonialism, architecture, ruins, and spatial practice. Her dissertation, “The Archaeology of a Maroon Reducción: Colonial Beginnings to Present day Ruination” combines archaeological, historical and ethnographic work to develop a thorough and long term understanding of African slavery and runaway slavery in Colonial Veracruz, Mexico. Her work centers on the reducción, Nuestra Señora de los Negros de Amapa, founded in 1769 by runaway slaves of African descent or, maroons. Adela’s dissertation examines the political impulses that led to the founding of Amapa and its short and long term ramifications. The project investigates the local creation of the maroon colonial social category and questions the connections between racialized social groups, built environments, and things. Her work also uses the political present as local knowledge and present day relationships are used to interpret the past and to understand how the past is used in the present.


Post-doctoral Fellow 2014-2015

Erin Pearson received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Irvine, and a B.A. in English from Harvard College.  Her research examines the discourse on slavery to reveal the ways race and power were perceived, constructed, and challenged not only by slaves and slaveholders, but by politicians, abolitionists, and consumers.

Her current book project, Savage Hunger: Cannibalism and the Discourse on Slavery in the United States and Caribbean, argues that cannibalism was a defining feature of the discourse on slavery.  From the proslavery advocates who used allegations of African cannibalism to justify enslavement, to the antislavery activists who used cannibalism as a metaphor for human exploitation, cannibalism afforded Anglophone writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a powerful conceptual tool for making sense of slavery.  Her approach combines the examination of rare archival materials like political cartoons and blackface minstrel songsters with extended close readings of major works by writers including Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Herman Melville.