Bath Spa University recently named historian Dr. Olivette Otele as the university’s first Black woman professor of history at their Newton Park on Duchy of Cornwall campus. The appointment also makes Dr. Otele the country’s first Black woman history professor.
Cameroon-born Otele attended school in France at the Universite La Sorbonne in Paris where she earned her first degree in literature and history. She later went on to complete a Master of Advanced Study and ultimately her Ph.D. She was already teaching in the UK and even co-authored a book and numerous publications. Otele also holds numerous professional organizational memberships, including being a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), Historians Against Slavery, and a board member for The British Society for the Eighteenth-Century Studies.
Upon finding out about her new promotion, Otele shared on Twitter: “May this open the door 2many v (to many very) hard working women, especially WoC (women of color), even + specifically Black women, in academia in general & in History in particular. In strength, peace and love my ppl (people).”
Her current research analyzes the links between history, collective memory, and geopolitics related to British and French colonial histories. She is attempting to chart and analyze the ways that Britain and France have addressed matters related to citizenship, race, and identity over the years. Some of her research also questions the value of public history and the notion and impact of cultural memory.
“I wanted to work on poetry/literature, but a huge sense of injustice and the need to inquire into the roots of inequality took over,” the Dr. Otele told The History Vault. “I was determined to make African American historian and activist Anna Julia Cooper proud.”
Anna Julia Cooper would definitely be proud. Congratulations, Dr. Otele!