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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:

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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.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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