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The Tubman Institute for Research on Africa & its Diasporas


The Harriet Tubman Institute seeks to be the preeminent, interdisciplinary centre for research, both historical and contemporary, on Africa and its global diasporas. Our mandate encompasses the study of pre-contact cultures and histories of Africa, histories of slavery and colonialism. It focuses on the struggles in current lives of African peoples and diasporic communities to achieve social justice and covers contemporary forms of exploitation. 

The Institute offers York University and the broader community an internationally recognized hub for studies and documentation on Africa and its Diasporas. In pursuing its mandate, the Institute fosters debates among scholars, engages with the community, and informs public policy. It is committed to equity and social justice.

Being located in the francophone minority context in Toronto, which has become the home of a growing number of Black francophone peoples, the Institute aligns with York University's White Paper, which highlights Anglophone and Francophone bilingualism.

The HTI Research Agenda is available here.

Harriet Tubman

" I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other. "

Harriet Tubman
Professor Omosalewa Olawoye

Director's vision

As an African-Born woman of colour, feminist, Economist, I bring a wealth of diversity to my role as the Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas. My interdisciplinary research spans across issues that affect Africans in Africa and people of African descent in the diasporas. Building up on the legacy of my predecessors at the institute, my goal is to work closely with academics within and outside the York community and Black communities to study and understand the experiences of African people and African-descended people to promote equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice. The overall goal is to promote discussions and policies that address anti-Black racism and encourage freedom for all people, not just some people. The journey to true equity and freedom is one that we cannot give up on. As Harriet Tubman once said, “If you hear the dogs, keep going, if you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” In the face of many oppositions to true justice and freedom, my goal is to encourage discourse and research that encourages Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora to keep going till positive changes occur and true freedom is achieved.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”

― Harriet Tubman