The Equiano Centre


Queer Black Lives and Diasporic Identities in Twentieth Century Britain

The Equiano Centre, UCL

Thursday, May 7, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

In this event, the first of our new Equiano Centre Summer Seminars, Dr Nadia Ellis (UC Berkeley) and Dr Gemma Romain (UCL Equiano Centre) talk about their current work exploring Black histories and contemporary lives in relation to sexuality, race, and identity, in a session chaired by poet and writer Dante Micheaux. Gemma Romain will talk about some of her recent research on cultural and artistic experiences of interwar London, focusing on social venues such as the Café Royal, the Shim Sham club and Billie's Club exploring what these spaces reveal about the interwar queer black experience. Nadia Ellis will discuss a structure of affect, belonging, and sociality she names the queer diasporic, which she describes through texts and figures located in postwar London. Centering on a reading of Andrew Salkey's recently re-discovered novel Escape to an Autumn Pavement (1960), Ellis will explore the ways in which complex black queer subjectivities emerge with particular resonance in the Windrush and Wolfenden eras. Her readings of queer theory in tandem with Salkey's novel and fragments found in a variety of London archives suggest how forms of suspension and elusiveness (as against, say, embrace or resistance) are modes in which queer diasporic subjects navigate the various double-binds of national and migrant discourses surrounding race, sex, and identity. 

 The seminar will take place on 7 May 2015 in the Geography Department, 26 Bedford Way from 6pm until 7.30pm with refreshments served from 5.30pm.

 * Note, as this event is happening on election day we are finishing promptly at 7.30pm to give people time to go and vote afterwards if they haven't done so earlier.


Nadia Ellis is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in African diasporic, Caribbean, and postcolonial literatures and cultures. Author of Territories of the Soul (Duke University Press, forthcoming Fall 2015), a book on queer modes of belonging in the black diaspora, her writing has also appeared in such publications as Small Axe, Interventions, and Public Books.

Gemma Romain is a historian based in the Equiano Centre, Geography, University College London. She specialises in Caribbean and Black British history. She is co-curator of Spaces of Black Modernism at Tate Britain and curator of Queer Black Spaces 1 and 2. Her book on the life history of Patrick Nelson, a black queer Jamaican man who lived in Britain in the late 1930s, will be published by Bloomsbury Academic.

Dante Micheaux is a poet and author of Amorous Shepherd (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010). His poems and translations have appeared in The American Poetry Review, PN Review, and Callaloo-among other journals and anthologies. Micheaux's honors include the Oscar Wilde Award and fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and The New York Times Foundation. He is completing a study on sexuality and literary influence.

An event organised by The Equiano Centre, Department of Geography UCL

Accessibility Information: The lecture theatre LG04 is fixed-seated with spaces for three wheelchairs at the front of the room. Wheelchair entrance to the building is via the ramp on the Gordon Square side of the building, which takes you to the lower floor, right next to the lecture theatre. A disabled access toilet is close to the lecture theatre. Information and a picture of the building can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/estates/roombooking/building-location/?id=085 and 'wheelchair-friendly' routes to the building can be found here http://crf.casa.ucl.ac.uk/startPage.aspx  For any other accessibility queries and to reserve wheelchair space, please email equianocentre@ucl.ac.uk.