SSHRC Canada Generic photo illustration

History grad student receives Nelson Mandela distinction for research


York University  doctoral student Matthew Robertshaw has earned a Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) in honour of Nelson Mandela.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) select up to 10 master’s and doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients whose work is aligned with one or more of the five areas championed by Nelson Mandela: national unity; democracy, freedom and human rights; leadership; children’s participation in society; and children’s health. Four of the recipients are at York.

Candidates selected are among the highest-ranked CGS award winners. Doctoral recipients receive funding of $35,000 per year for three years.


Matthew Robertshaw (cenrre)

Robertshaw’s proposed thesis “The Two Haitis: Cautionary Tale or Postcolonial Epic?” explores Haiti’s role in the colonization and decolonization of French West Africa. He conducts his research in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas.

“Before the successful slave revolt and War of Independence (1791-1804), Haiti was the French colony of Saint-Domingue – one of the most lucrative colonies in the world,” said Robertshaw. “I’m going to examine how the disastrous loss of this colony affected the way the French went about designing their second concerted attempt at colonial expansion (post 1871). From there I will turn to the role that Haiti and Haitians played in the articulation of arguments against the French presence in Africa and elsewhere.”

The hope of his work is to contribute to the reevaluation of the non-west in this important aspect of world history.

“I’m excited to be working on this project at York among such supportive and distinguished faculty and students, and I’m honoured to have been granted this award,” he said.

See Y-File for to see all the recipients at York, and visit the SSHRC website for a full listing of CGS award recipients.