Cameroonian scholar Olivette Otele has become the first Black female History professor in the UK. The colonial and postcolonial studies expert was appointed professorship and a chair in History at Bath Spa University a few days ago.
Professor Otele—whose forthcoming book Afro-Europeans: A Short History focuses on the long history of people of African descent in Europe—made the announcement on Twitter:
BIG NEWS: my people, @BathSpaUni has awarded me a professorship and a Chair in History.
May this open the door 2many v hard working women, especially WoC, even + specifically Black women, in academia in general & in History in particular.
In strength, peace and love my ppl.
— Historian (@OlivetteOtele) October 22, 2018
On why she embarked on a career in History, Professor Otele explained to The History Vault that she “wanted to work on poetry/literature but a huge sense of injustice and the need to inquire into the roots of inequality took over. I was determined to make African-American historian and activist Anna Julia Cooper proud.”
According to her page on Bath Spa University’s website, Dr Otele holds a PhD in History from Universite La Sorbonne, France. Her doctoral area of specialisation was “European colonial and post-colonial History,” and “included examining questions related to the transatlantic slave trade, slave societies, identities and post-colonial societies in the Atlantic world.” Her BA and MA trainings were in British and American Literature and History.
Her current research “centres around transnational history and in particular the link between history, collective memory and geopolitics in relation to British and French colonial pasts.” In this, she “charts and analyses the ways in which Britain and France have been addressing questions of citizenship, race and identity through the politics of remembrance” and also “enquires into the value of public gestures, the meaning of public history and the impact of cultural memory.”
Professor Otele’s teaching specialties include the history of the African diaspora in the Atlantic World; minority ethnic communities of Sub-Sahara, North African and Afro-Caribbean descent; European history; British and French colonial and post-history; slavery and abolition; collective memory and memorialisation in public history and sites of memory; identity politics and social cohesion in France and Britain; and French historical schools from “Les Annales” to Postmodernism.
A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), Professor Otele is an Executive Board Member of The British Society for the Eighteenth-Century Studies, a Board Member of Historians Against Slavery, a member of the Association for Cultural Studies and the Centre international de recherches sur les esclavages. She is an editorial board member and reviewer with Critical Perspectives on Theory, Culture and Politics journal, The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education journal, The European Journal of Cultural Studies, and the Bloomsbury – History series.
Congratulations to Olivette Otele.