History, as an academic discipline, has a problem with its lack of diversity. This is a real issue for a field of scholarly activity where seeking to understand the world as it appears from very different perspectives underpins much of what we do.
The recent Royal Historical Society report on Race, Ethnicity and Equality (co-written by our Committee Member, Jonathan Saha) showed that 93.7% of historians working in UK universities are white. Only 0.5% – a figure that represents 15 people – are black. Until last month, there was no black and female History Professor in the country.
That changed when Dr Olivette Otele was promoted from Reader to Professor at Bath Spa University.
This is important for the discipline in terms of the lack of representation at the top of our profession. It is also, and it is a sad reality that this is even under question, a recognition of her outstanding work and widely valued contribution to historical scholarship.
Many of our members are currently eagerly awaiting the publication of her history of Afro-Europeans. Meanwhile, her work on British and French colonial pasts has contributed to how we understand the link between collective memory and questions of race and citizenship today.
The Social History Society is proud to pass on the very warmest congratulations to Professor Otele!