Shari Wejsa

Shari Wesja


BA in History and Spanish Literature and Culture, Rutgers University, 2009
EdM in Social Studies Education, Rutgers University GSE, 2010
MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Columbia University, 2013

Research Interests

Modern Brazil
The Lusophone World
Migrants and Refugees
Race and Ethnicity
Human Rights and the Law

Dissertation Title

Migrant Agency and Racial Identity: Angolan Refugees and Immigration Policy in Brazil, 1974-1988

Faculty Advisors

Jeffrey Lesser
Thomas D. Rogers
Yanna Yannakakis


As a PhD student in Latin American history, I am broadly interested in migration history, race and ethnicity, and the law in modern Brazil. My specific research interests explore how refugees from Angola shaped immigration policies and popular ideologies of race in Brazil between 1974 and 1988. This was a period marked by a military dictatorship in Brazil and the decolonization of Portuguese Africa. My current work expands upon my previous research about the inequalities of educational access for Afro-Brazilian girls and women in Brazil’s Northeast, which I completed with a Fulbright Research Grant in 2013. My Master’s thesis at Columbia University examined the decentralization of Brazil's National Truth Commission, established to investigate the human rights violations committed primarily during Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

As an educator, I encourage students to think critically about human rights issues and inequality and to combat injustice through civic engagement.