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African Diaspora Newsletter No.9

   Graduate Students Reports

   José Cairus: Ph.D Student

José Cairus is a Ph.D. student in the department of History associated with the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora. He did his masters degree at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro under the supervision of Professor Manolo G. Florentino. José's main area of study is African Muslims in Brazil during the nineteenth century and he has published one article on this topic to date.1 He wrote his master's thesis on the Muslim uprising of 1835 in Bahia and has a forthcoming chapter in an edited volume in Brazil.
    José came to Toronto in September 2002 to begin his doctoral studies at York University with Professor Paul E. Lovejoy. In fact he had already been working with Professor Lovejoy and the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre since he had attended conferences at York University, at Binghamton University in the U.S. and at Essaouira, Morocco. He had also worked as a research assistant on the project dealing with the enslaved African Muslim, Mahomma Gardo Baquaqua, in the Brazilian and American archives.2 His work for the Harriet Tubman Centre, made it possible for him to create a database that brought together information extracted from the criminal court records produced in the aftermath of the African slave rebellion in 1835 in the city of Salvador, Bahia. He was also able to bring to Toronto the complete collection of Arabic manuscripts of those people arrested by the Brazilian authorities in Salvador, documents now housed in the archives of the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro).3 Just before coming to Toronto, he worked with Professor José C. Curto doing research at the Brazilian Historical Society in Rio de Janeiro (Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro) and in the National Library (Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro), also in Rio. At that time they worked on sources dealing with West Africa, North Africa and Angola. During this research in the National Library he uncovered an Arabic Codex, which includes a copy of the Koran beautifully handwriting in the Maghrebian style of Arabic.
José is currently doing his PhD course work, and working at the Harriet Tubman Centre as a research assistant. He is also on the organizing committee for the upcoming conference "Islam, Slavery and the Diaspora" taking place next April at York University. He will present a paper entitled "Brothers,' 'Partners,' and 'Clubs': Muslim Brotherhoods and Sufi Practices in the Shadow of the Malé Uprising's Criminal Court Records, Bahia (1835)" at this conference.
José has also received a research grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, to undertake research next summer at the Arquivo Ultramarino, on the documentary collections for West Africa.
1 "Rebelião Malê de 1835: uma abordagem sobre a motivação da liderança afro-muçulmana sob uma perspectiva atual" Revista de Ciências Humanas da Universidade Gama Filho (Rio de Janeiro) dezembro de 1999.
2 LAW, Robin & LOVEJOY. Paul E (ed.). The biography of Mahomma Baquaqua: His passage from slavery to freedom in Africa and America. Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2001.
3 Database constructed on based in the records extracted in the Devassa Do Levante De Escravos Ocorrido Em Salvador Em 1835, in: Anais do Arquivo Público do Estado da Bahia, Volumes 38-40-50-54. Arabic manuscripteds collection in Rio de Janeiro at Coleção Instituto Histórico. "Livrinho Encontrado Preso ao Pescoço de um Negro Morto Durante a Insurreição dos Malês na Bahia". Doação de J. de Sampaio Vianna, originais: IHGB, 102 p., lata 987, pasta 5.

Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173