Professor Olivette Otele

Professor Olivette Otele

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Distinguished Professor of the Legacies and Memory of Slavery, SOAS

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Olivette is a Distinguished Professor of the Legacies and Memory of Slavery at SOAS, University of London. Her area of research is colonial and post-colonial history and the histories of people of African descent. She is an expert on the links between history, memory, and geopolitics in relation to French and British colonial pasts, and is the first Black woman to be appointed to a professorial chair in History in the United Kingdom.


Olivette Otele is an historian and distinguished research professor at SOAS in London. She previously was the UK's first black female Professor of History of Slavery at Bristol University, and Professor and Chair of History at Bath Spa University. Her research centres around transnational history and the link between history, collective memory, and geopolitics in relation to British and French colonial pasts. Olivette’s work explores how Britain and France have been addressing questions of citizenship, race, and identity through the politics of remembrance. It also enquires into the value of public gestures, the meaning of public history and the impact of memory and memorialisation processes in public spaces. More broadly she looks at the history and memories of people of African descent in Europe, Africa, America, and Asia.

Olivette has co-authored several peer-reviewed academic publications and two edited volumes. Her books include the co-edited volume Post-Conflict Memorialization: Missing Memorials, Absent Bodies and African Europeans: An Untold History. She is also a regular contributor to the press, television and radio programmes including the BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, Sunday Times, Elle Magazine, Huffington Post, and The New Yorker.

She has received several major research grants looking at the African diaspora and the Atlantic slave trade and has led projects working with local communities in England, Wales, Canada, and West Africa to understand how the history of the transatlantic slave trade is still impacting the population today. Otele holds a Ph.D. in History from Université Paris, La Sorbonne, France and received an honorary doctorate in Law from Concordia University in Canada. Olivette is a Fellow and former Vice President of the Royal Historical Society and has been a judge of the International Man Booker Prize.

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Book written by Professor Olivette Otele
Book written by Professor Olivette Otele