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Paola holds a Ph.D. in Social History from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, an M.A. in African Studies from El Colegio de Mexico, and a B.A. in Anthropology from National Colombian University. She acted as Visitant Researcher at the Centro de Historia from Lisbon University, and participated twice from the Brown University Research Institutes BIARI. Her research focus on how the African population combated the enslavement in the northern region of South America, which currently comprises Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela. She is looking forward to approach how these struggles connected them to the African side of the Atlantic, and how their answers impacted the ongoing historical processes. She is Collaborator on the Freedom Narratives Digital Humanities project, an online database of testimonies of West Africans from the era of slavery, at

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Transatlantic slave trade to the Caribbean and South America
  • Spanish and Portuguese colonization of America and Africa
  • Construction of biographies
  • Latin-American early modern history
  • Decolonising Curricula

My research interests encompass the study of who were the Africans introduced to the northern part of South America between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries, which contributions they did to the cultural, political and technological arenas, and how those contributions were connected to their African cultural origins. This implies a broader analysis of how the Portuguese, English, French and Dutch installed the Transatlantic slave trade, as well as of the type of Spanish colonization designed for this region. A double approach to interpret the primary sources intertwines the full-length analysis of Latin American early modern history, with the detailed reconstruction of individual life histories of Africans and other subjected populations, with the aim of understanding from the different and sometimes opposed perspectives, the social and cultural processes occurred during the first centuries of the European occupation of America.

Selected publications

  • “The Introduction of the Subjects of Slavery and Slave Trade History in African Higher Education Curricula”, Codesria Bulletin No. 2 (2018),
  • “The Impact of Colonised African Historiography among Diaspora Populations: The Case of Kongo Kingdom Historical Narratives”, in Perspectives on Thought Leadership for Africa's Renewal, UNISA (2014), p. 285-295.
  • “Causas, estrategias y respuestas africanas ante la cauchería anglo-belga en la cuenca del Río Congo”. In: Claudia Steiner Sampedro (Org.), El paraíso del diablo Roger Casement y el informe del Putumayo, un siglo después. Bogotá: Ediciones Uniandes (2014), p. 195-230.
  • “A problemática das fontes na interpretação histórica da cristianização do Reino do Congo no século XV. Considerações preliminares”. In: Agnolin, Adone (Org.). Contextos Missionários - Religião E Poder No Império Português. São Paulo: Fapesp Fundibio, 2007, p. 290-307.
  • “Pedro Claver y la labor de evangelización en Cartagena de Indias (siglo XVII). Fuentes para analizar los africanos en el Nuevo Mundo”. Revista de História, número 155, Universidade de São Paulo, 2006, p. 43 – 81,