PhD student celebrated for his global impact

Tuesday 9 May 2023


A St Catharine’s postgraduate student was among the 16 students from the University of Cambridge recognised for exceptional achievement in social impact at the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards ceremony last week. Malik Al Nasir, a History PhD candidate, was presented with the Global Impact award by Dr Anthony Freeling, the Acting Vice-Chancellor.

Reflecting on the impact of his research since he was first invited by Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, to present a paper in Antigua on Western banking's links to slavery, Malik said:

“My research caught the attention of many academics and CARICOM asked me to go back to the UK and help to start a conversation in the public domain on reparations and reparative justice. I took that mandate very seriously and I reached millions when my research was covered by global media outlets, just weeks before starting a PhD in history at St Catharine’s. I sustained this impact through keynotes and panel discussions for organisations such as The Museums Association, Research Libraries UK and The Federation of Human Rights Museums, as well as numerous universities in the UK and around the world.

“Most recently, I convened a consortium of universities and cultural institutions to consider how to decolonise their collections relating to the multi-national slavery conglomerate that enslaved my ancestors, known as Sandbach Tinne & Co. The Sandbach Tinne project is now developing plans for a centre for colonial research, a positive action doctoral training partnership and a series of physical and interactive exhibits to tell an epic story of the British empire through the lens of this one family. A pilot project with the Walker Art Gallery was a Museums Association ‘Museum Changes Lives’ award runner-up in 2022, while a BBC documentary that was underpinned by my research won a Royal Television Society Scotland award in 2022.”

Organised by Cambridge Hub, the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards are in their fifth year of recognising and celebrating students’ achievements in social impact. Nominations are assessed by a panel of judges who are champions in the sector, ranging from student leaders, senior leaders at the University and the CEO of Student Hubs.

Malik Al Nasir accepts the Vice Chancellor's 2023 Global Impact Award from Professor Anthony Freeling
Malik Al Nasir accepts the Vice-Chancellor's 2023 Global Impact Award from Dr Anthony Freeling (image credit: John Deed)

Dr Hank Gonzalez, University Assistant Professor in Caribbean History and Malik’s supervisor, commented:

“Malik came to our faculty with the most prestigious possible endorsement – he was the protégé of Gil Scott-Heron, and he continues to do honour to Gil's legacy. Malik is a remarkable student and a very special presence. He is a public intellectual unlike anyone else I have met. His latest book ‘Letters to Gil’ is winning well-deserved recognition and demonstrates why he is such a leading voice on the Black human rights predicament, both in the UK specifically, but also around the world. 

“His research engagements have reached very far and wide in his hometown Liverpool, and well beyond. He is also a major innovator in the digital humanities field and a multidimensional media innovator. I have never had a student like him and this award is fitting recognition for his ground-breaking research agenda, which has turned the gargantuan Sandbach Tinne sugar dynasty from an ignored topic into a major new field in its own right.”


Find out more about studying History at St Catharine’s.