Biography

Afua Cooper is a scholar, author, and poet. She earned her Ph.D. in Canadian history and the African Diaspora with a focus on the Black communities of 19th century Ontario. Her doctoral dissertation was a biography of Henry Bibb, the renowned antislavery crusader. Further, she has done extensive work on Mary Bibb as a schoolteacher and abolitionist reformer. Afua has also done ground-breaking work on the enslavement of Black people in Canada. Such research has resulted in The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montréal (HarperCollins, 2006); released in the United States by the University of Georgia Press. The French language version was published by L’Editions de L’Homme in 2007. Angélique has become a national bestseller and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 2006. Angélique has now gone in its third printing, and after almost two years of publication is still on the Canadian bestseller’s list as of 23 Nov. 2007. Dr. Cooper’s work on Canadian Black history and slavery has made her the leading authority on such topics. Afua is also a well-known poet, having published five books of poetry, the latest of which is Copper Woman and Other Poems (Natural Heritage Press, 2006). In 2007 Dr. Cooper served as the co-ordinator of and advisor to the Ontario Bicentenary of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade Initiative for the Government of Ontario. Afua is currently the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in the Women’s Studies Department at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia.


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Afua is a dynamic and riveting performer. She has brought her poetry from page to stage in such diverse events as the prestigious Toronto Harbourfront International Reading Series, and Diaspora Dialogues. She has read all across Canada, the Caribbean, the UK, the United States, and West Africa. Known as a proponent of the African-Caribbean poetry genre, Dub poetry, Afua has fused together the scribal, literary, musical, and performative aspects of that artform in her performances. Cooper has worked with such bands as the Gayap Drummers, Juno award winner, Lazo and the Radicals; she now tours with the Dub Trinity Band. Further, she co-hosted and organized three international Dub Poetry Festivals in Toronto (1993, 2004, and 2005).

Afua holds a Ph.D. in history with specialties in slavery, abolition, and women studies. She is one of Canada’s premier experts and chroniclers of the country’s Black past. Dr. Cooper has done ground-breaking work in uncovering the hidden history of Black peoples in Canada. Her most recent history publication The Hanging of Angélique, The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal cogently explores the life and death of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a Portuguese-born Black slave woman who was hanged in Montréal in 1734 for allegedly setting fire to the city. Further, she is writing a series of historical novels for the young adult audience. These novels are based on the experiences on enslaved children from the Black Diaspora. For that series, Afua recently completed The Young Phillis Wheatley, a fictionalized account of the life and art of the eighteenth-century Black poet Phillis Wheatley.

Dr. Cooper is currently the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.