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Olivette Otele

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Personal statement

Dr Otele holds a PhD in History from Universite La Sorbonne, France. Her doctoral area of specialisation was European colonial and post-colonial History. It 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 grounded 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. 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. She also enquires into the value of public gestures, the meaning of public history and the impact of cultural memory.

Dr Otele welcomes potential PhD applications in the fields of colonial history, the history of British and French Empires, memory, slavery and legacies, contemporary France and social cohesion, and the history of people of African descent (including women and North Africa).

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Universite La Sorbonne, Paris, 2005
  • DEA – Diplôme d’études approfondies, La Sorbonne, 2002
  • MA History, 2000
  • BA Literature and History, La Sorbonne, 1998.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS)
  • Executive board member, The British Society for the Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Board member, Historians Against Slavery
  • Member of the Association for Cultural Studies
  • Member of the Centre international de recherches sur les esclavages.

Other external roles

  • Honorific invitation from French government since 2007: invited by the Overseas Minister and the President of the Senate on behalf of the President of the Republic for the official commemoration of the abolition of slavery, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
  • European Commission Appointed Expert: evaluation of EU-H2020 Marie Curie Fellowships 2017
  • Appointed Judge (Royal Historical Society) for The Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching in History 2017
  • Member of the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies’ executive committee, 2017
  • AHRC’s Strategic Advisory Group member for the Global Challenges Research Fund, 2017
  • External Examiner in History: University of Liverpool and Plymouth University, since 2017

Editorial borad member and reviewer:

  • Critical Perspectives on Theory, Culture and Politics (interdisciplinary series), Rowman and Littlefield International
  • Bloomsbury - History series (2017)
  • The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education, James A. Banks (ed.), Routledge, 2009
  • The European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2012.

Teaching specialism

  • European history
  • British and French colonial and post-history
  • Slavery and abolition
  • Collective memory and memorialisation - public history and sites of memory
  • Identity politics, social cohesion in France and Britain
  • French historical schools from “Les Annales” to Postmodernism
  • History of the African diaspora in the Atlantic World
  • Minority ethnic communities (Sub-Sahara, North African and Afro-Caribbean descent).

Current grants

  • EU/H2020-MSC-RISE: SLAFNET - a project contributing to research on slavery in Africa through the development of a pioneering collaborative and networking team of African and European specialists and students. Lead institution IRD France. Leader of work package 1: O. Otele. Funds for the project: 1,107000 Euros - From September 2017 (3 years).
  • AHRC Networking grant (principal investigator): “People of African Descent in the 21st century: knowledge and cultural production in reluctant sites of memory” £24,022 – From May 2017 (19 months).
  • AHRC (UK) – LABEX (France) joint grant: My case study: “Telling one’s story, redefining collective memory: the challenges of African refugees and migrants in 21st century Europe”. I am co-investigator: grant involving 5 researchers from Britain and France. Total amount: £79,794 - From May 2016 (30 months).

Past grants

  • “Resistance, History and Memory in the Atlantic World” - co-applicant with Canadian scholar Transatlantic Teaching Project: “Phantoms of the Past: Slavery Galen Funds (Huron University, Canada) - 12,000 CAD- September 2016 (12 Months).
  • The European Collaborator of the Promised Land Project: the freedom experience of Blacks in Chatham and Dawn settlements, a Community University Research Alliance program funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (Grant for the whole project: 1,000,000 CAD). 2007-12.
  • International Conference, Does Discrimination shape Identity? Politics and minorities in English-speaking countries and in France: Rhetoric and reality. (Grant 5,000 euros, Universite Paris 13-LSHS). 2009.
  • 1960-2010: "l’Afrique, 50 ans après les indépendances". Université Paris 13. (Grant 2,000 euros, Universite Paris 13-LSHS). One-day symposium. 2010.

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

Afro-Europeans: a short history
book

Otele, O (2018) Afro-Europeans: a short history. Hurst. (Forthcoming)


Histoire de l'esclavage britannique : des origines de la traite transatlantique aux premisses de la colonisation
book

Otele, O (2008) Histoire de l'esclavage britannique : des origines de la traite transatlantique aux premisses de la colonisation. M. Houdiard, Paris. ISBN 9782912673909


Black activism and white collaboration in Chatham: Canada’s early histories of resistance
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Otele, O (2018) 'Black activism and white collaboration in Chatham: Canada’s early histories of resistance.' In: Trodd, Z and Salt, K, eds. Black Lives Matter: the past, present, and future of an international movement for rights and justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Forthcoming)


“Liberté, égalité, fraternité”: debunking the myth of egalitarianism in French education
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Otele, O (2018) '“Liberté, égalité, fraternité”: debunking the myth of egalitarianism in French education.' In: Cupples, J and Grosfoguel, R, eds. Unsettling Eurocentrism in the westernized university. Routledge, London. (Forthcoming)


History of slavery, sites of memory, and identity politics in contemporary Britain
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Otele, O (2017) 'History of slavery, sites of memory, and identity politics in contemporary Britain.' In: Gueye, A and Michel, J, eds. A stain on our past: slavery and memory. Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ, USA, pp. 189-210. ISBN 9781569025802


Resisting imperial governance in Canada: from trade and religious kinship to black narrative pedagogy in Ontario
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Otele, O (2014) 'Resisting imperial governance in Canada: from trade and religious kinship to black narrative pedagogy in Ontario.' In: Reid-Maroney, N, Wright, H and Ebanda De B'béri, B, eds. The promised land : history and historiography of the Black experience in Chatham-Kent's settlements and beyond. African and diasporic studies . University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. ISBN 9781442647176


Dependance, pouvoir et identite ou les ambiguites de la 'camerounicite'
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Otele, O (2010) 'Dependance, pouvoir et identite ou les ambiguites de la 'camerounicite'.' In: Makhily, G, ed. 50 ans après, quelle indépendance pour l'Afrique? Philippe Rey, Paris, pp. 467-482. ISBN 9782848761565


Liverpool dans la traite transatlantique : Imperatifs et pratiques des peres de la cite
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Otele, O (2009) 'Liverpool dans la traite transatlantique : Imperatifs et pratiques des peres de la cite.' In: Saunier, E, ed. Villes portuaires du commerce triangulaire à l'abolition de l'esclavage. Cahiers de l'histoire et des mémoires de la traite négrière, de l'esclavage et de leurs abolitions en Normandie, 1 . Routes du philanthrope, Cléon, pp. 57-70.


Religion and slavery: a powerful weapon for pro-slavery and abolitionist campaigners
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Otele, O (2008) 'Religion and slavery: a powerful weapon for pro-slavery and abolitionist campaigners.' In: Prum, M and Le Jeune, F, eds. Le Debat sur l'abolition de l'esclavage en Grande Bretagne, 1787-1840. Editions Ellipses, Paris, pp. 89-102. ISBN 9782729840327


Within and outside Western feminism and grand narratives : Cameroonian women’s sites of resistance
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Otele, O (2008) 'Within and outside Western feminism and grand narratives : Cameroonian women’s sites of resistance.' In: Piquet, M, ed. Nationalism(s), post-nationalism(s) : Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire. Presses de Paris-Dauphine, Paris, pp. 119-129.


Multiculturalisme et régionalisme : les apories d’une identité britannique au pays de Galles
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Otele, O (2008) 'Multiculturalisme et régionalisme : les apories d’une identité britannique au pays de Galles.' In: Whitton, T, ed. Le New Labour et l'identite britannique. Observatoire de la société britannique, pp. 49-64. ISBN 2-9526-375-4-7


Scientific racism: a bi-product of the slave trade?
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Otele, O (2007) 'Scientific racism: a bi-product of the slave trade?' In: Teulié, G, ed. Science and race. Les carnets du Cerpac (5). Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, Montpellier, pp. 435-455. ISBN 9782842697945


Seamen in Bristol and the lure of slaving voyages
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Otele, O (2007) 'Seamen in Bristol and the lure of slaving voyages.' In: Lurdos, M and Misrahi-Barak, J, eds. Transport(s) in the British Empire and the Commonwealth = Transport(s) dans l'Empire Britannique et le Commonwealth. Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier, Montpellier, pp. 145-156. ISBN 9782842697679


Ouganda et l'armée de Résistance du Seigneur ou les implications politiques et religieuses d'une "guerre sante" en Afrique noire
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Otele, O (2006) 'Ouganda et l'armée de Résistance du Seigneur ou les implications politiques et religieuses d'une "guerre sante" en Afrique noire.' In: Teulié, G, ed. Religious Writings and War in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth. Les carnets du Cerpac (3). Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier, pp. 369-389. ISBN 9782842697341


Bristol et le commerce triangulaire : schizophrenie et enjeux de la memoire collective
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Otele, O (2005) 'Bristol et le commerce triangulaire : schizophrenie et enjeux de la memoire collective.' In: Hanquart-Turner, E, ed. Violence d'État, parole libératrice et colonialisme. Editions A3, Ivry-sur-Seine, pp. 69-84. ISBN 9782844360953


Bristol, slavery and the politics of representation: the Slave Trade Gallery in the Bristol Museum
article

Otele, O (2012) 'Bristol, slavery and the politics of representation: the Slave Trade Gallery in the Bristol Museum.' Social Semiotics, 22 (2). pp. 155-172. ISSN 1035-0330


Does discrimination shape identity? Identity politics and minorities in the English-speaking world and in France: rhetoric and reality [guest editors]
article

Otele, O and Latrache, R (2011) 'Does discrimination shape identity? Identity politics and minorities in the English-speaking world and in France: rhetoric and reality [guest editors].' Journal of Intercultural Studies, 32 (3). pp. 199-207. ISSN 1469-9540


British slavers against abolition
article

Otele, O (2009) 'British slavers against abolition.' Revue Francaise de Civilisation Britannique, XV (1). pp. 161-175. ISSN 0248-9015


Les ports de Bristol et Liverpool et la traite Atlantique
article

Otele, O (2008) 'Les ports de Bristol et Liverpool et la traite Atlantique.' Cahiers des Anneaux de la Mémoire (11).


Bridewealth and power: the struggle of Edwondo women against a few traditional praxes in Cameroon
article

Otele, O (2008) 'Bridewealth and power: the struggle of Edwondo women against a few traditional praxes in Cameroon.' Cultures of the Commonwealth, 14. pp. 27-36.


Migratory flows, colonial encounters and the histories of transatlantic slavery
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Otele, O (2017) Migratory flows, colonial encounters and the histories of transatlantic slavery. In: Seminar Series - Migration To, Through and From Africa: An African Conversation, 25 January 2017, International Migration Institute, Oxford, UK.


Trade, diplomacy and slavery: British and French tumultuous relationships (1698-1848)
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Otele, O (2017) Trade, diplomacy and slavery: British and French tumultuous relationships (1698-1848). In: 46th Annual Conference British Society of Eighteenth Century Studies (BSECS), 4 - 6 January 2017, St Hugh's College, Oxford, UK.


Mourning in reluctant sites of memory: from Afrophobia to cultural productivity
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Otele, O (2016) Mourning in reluctant sites of memory: from Afrophobia to cultural productivity. In: NIOD Lecture Series, September 2016, Institute for War, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


On codifying Afro-European trajectories
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Otele, O (2016) On codifying Afro-European trajectories. In: The Afropean Narratives 1600-2066, 15 July 2016, V&A, London, UK.


Talking Colston: memory, commemoration and Bristol's slave legacy
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Burton, E, Dresser, M, Greenacre, F and Otele, O (2016) Talking Colston: memory, commemoration and Bristol's slave legacy. In: The BIRTHA Annual Debates, 5 May 2016, The Station, Bristol, UK.


Should they stay or should they go? Calais, a beacon of hope for black migrants and a useful ‘New heart of darkness’ for Brexit?
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Otele, O (2015) Should they stay or should they go? Calais, a beacon of hope for black migrants and a useful ‘New heart of darkness’ for Brexit? In: Blackness in Britain 2015: 'The Black Special Relationship' - African American Scholarship and its Impact on Black Intellectual Life in Britain, 30 -31 October 2015, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.


History of slavery, sites of memory and identity politics in contemporary Britain
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Otele, O (2015) History of slavery, sites of memory and identity politics in contemporary Britain. In: The States of the Memory of Slavery: International Comparative Perspectives, 22-23 October 2015, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris.


Abolition, humanitarianism and colonialism: an investigation into 'Britain's island stories'
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Otele, O (2015) Abolition, humanitarianism and colonialism: an investigation into 'Britain's island stories'. In: 42nd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, 6-8 March 2015, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Cultural politics of memory and slavery: from trauma sites to dark tourism
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Otele, O (2014) Cultural politics of memory and slavery: from trauma sites to dark tourism. In: History and Public Memorialization of Slavery and the Slave Trade: Liverpool – Nantes, 2-3 July 2014, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool.


Power and political culture: British and French abolitionism in the nineteenth century
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Otele, O (2013) Power and political culture: British and French abolitionism in the nineteenth century. In: Royal Historical society symposium: intimacy, power and authority in European perspectives, 18 October 2013, Bath Spa University, Corsham Court.


Abolition in Canada in the 19th century: Chatham, a mirage or a promised land in southern Ontario?
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Otele, O (2009) Abolition in Canada in the 19th century: Chatham, a mirage or a promised land in southern Ontario? In: International Conference: Les effets de l'abolition de la traite par la Grande Bretagne sur les discours nationaux, 11 - 13 June 2009, Paris.


Contextualising British influence on new settlement in the 19th century
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Otele, O (2009) Contextualising British influence on new settlement in the 19th century. In: Promised Land 2nd Annual General Symposium, 13 - 15 March 2009, Chatham-Kent, Canada.


A paradigm shift of the nonconformist ethos or the practicality of dogma in Ontario, Canada
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Otele, O (2008) A paradigm shift of the nonconformist ethos or the practicality of dogma in Ontario, Canada. In: Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade: telling the story, 21 - 23 February 2008, The College of the Bahamas, Nassau.


Religion in slave narratives
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Otele, O (2007) Religion in slave narratives. In: The Promised Land Project: 1st General Symposium, 7 - 9 December 2007, Chatham-Kent, Ontario Canada.


The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum: remembering the good, the bad and the ugly
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Otele, O (2007) The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum: remembering the good, the bad and the ugly. In: Post-colonial ghosts, 8 - 10 November 2007, Universite Paul Valerie, Montpellier III, France..


Great Britain and France: the dilemma of remembering and forgetting
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Otele, O (2006) Great Britain and France: the dilemma of remembering and forgetting. In: Crossroads in cultural studies, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey.


The cities of Bristol, Nantes and Bordeaux: three different ways of dealing with the collective memory related to the triangular trade
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Otele, O (2005) The cities of Bristol, Nantes and Bordeaux: three different ways of dealing with the collective memory related to the triangular trade. In: British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Oxford University.


Bristol and Newport, two British cities challenging racism in a time of war
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Otele, O (2004) Bristol and Newport, two British cities challenging racism in a time of war. In: Crossroads in Cultural Studies Fifth International Conference, 25 June - 28 June 2004, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA.


Bristol, England and the abolition of slavery: when collective memory is in question
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Otele, O (2004) Bristol, England and the abolition of slavery: when collective memory is in question. In: Ethnic Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.


Re-branding the trauma of slavery, or how to pacify the masses with sites of memory [blog post]
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Otele, O (2015) Re-branding the trauma of slavery, or how to pacify the masses with sites of memory [blog post]. Discover Society, 21.


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