What made Cameroonian-born woman, Olivette Otele pursue history was her “need to understand who we are as human beings and what led us to such uneven relationships.”
“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. I wanted to study power struggles and resistance movements in societies. Clio might be personified as a woman, but for centuries women’s work as historians was not deemed relevant. I wanted to help change that,” she said in a recent interview with The History Vault.
The historian of transnational colonial history at the College of Liberal Arts at Britain’s Bath Spa University has just made history as the first black woman to become a history professor in the UK, History Today magazine has said.
Otele, who has become one of the many black women climbing the ladder of educational leadership achieved this feat after being awarded a professorship in history by the Bath Spa University.
The academic herself tweeted the news, saying that she was optimistic that her appointment would open doors for “many hard-working women, especially women of colour… and specifically black women in academia.”
Otele, who schooled in France but is currently teaching in the U.K. had been a student of the French institution, Universite La Sorbonne, Paris where she received her first degree in Literature and History two decades ago.
She later pursued her masters in history, a Master of Advanced Studies or Master of Advanced Study, DEA in 2002 and her PhD in 2005.
Otele is the recipient of UK and EU research grants about the history and memory of people of African descent and has made appearances on French, Canadian, and British radio and TV programs.
She is also the author of numerous articles, book chapters and volumes including Afro-Europeans: a short history (2018) Does Discrimination Shape Identity? Identity Politics and Minorities in the English-Speaking World and in France: Rhetoric and Reality (2011) and Histoire de l’esclavage britannique: des origines de la traite transatlantique aux premises de la colonisation (2008).
Her doctoral area of specialisation was European colonial and post-colonial History and this included examining questions related to the transatlantic slave trade, slave societies, identities and post-colonial societies in the Atlantic world, according to Bath Spa University.