The Equiano Centre

Dr Caroline Bressey

Dr Caroline Bressey

Associate Professor

Dept of Geography

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
10th Jan 2005

Research summary

Caroline Bressey’s research interests are focused on historical and cultural geographies of the black presence in Britain, particularly London, Victorian theories of race and anti-racism and the links between contemporary identity and the diverse histories of London.


The Black presence in Victorian London: To date my research has focused upon Black women and their experiences in four arenas of Victorian life: institutions, imperial elite society, work and anti-racist politics.  I am now working to recover biographies of Black Victorian men and integrate these into a new historical geography of London.


Historical geographies of anti-racism: Edited and distributed by Catherine Impey, Anti-Caste was a journal of early forms of anti-racist/race prejudice literature in Britain. First published in March 1888, Impey eventually oversaw the transfer of Anti-Caste the journal to a Society for the Recognition of the Brotherhood of Man, and passed the editorship of its newly named journal Fraternity to the Dominican born Celestine Edwards in 1893.  The following year Edwards died and Impey began to republish her own journal once again, but she only managed to publish three issues, before, for some reason, she fell silent. My current research focuses upon the geographical imagination of Impey's writings in Anti-Caste, as well as the geography of Anti-Caste's readership and its place in the history of the anti-racist movement in Britain.  A biography of Catherine Impey, ‘Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste' will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in December 2013.  


Looking for Blackness: race, representation and photography The absence of so-called racial or ethnic descriptions in British national records such as the census means there is no way to tell how many black men and women walked the streets of our cities, towns and villages, and slip past our eyes and through our fingers because we cannot see them in printed texts. So, as well as attempting to reconstruct the biographies of individual black men and women, I am interested in the theoretical issues raised from using photographs in the research of black history. 


Public history and urban landscapes: I am also interested in the representation of black history in London’s urban landscape and the relationship between British identity, public history and the place of black history within urban and rural landscapes.

Teaching summary

I currently convene and teach on two undergraduate courses, Global Geographies in the first year and Historical and Cultural Geography in the Second Year.  I also contribute to MSc teaching and am happy to supervise PhD students on any of the themes highlighted in my Research Summary.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2002
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1997


Caroline Bressey is a cultural and historical geographer in the Department of Geography University College London where she has been a lecturer since 2008.  Her main research focus is the lives of Black women and men in Victorian London, Victorian anti-racist activism and the representation of history in heritage sites.  In 2012 – 2013 she has been the Principal Investigator on the ‘Drawing over the Colour Line’ a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Research which examines geographies of art and cosmopolitan identities in London between the wars:  http://drawingoverthecolourline.wordpress.com/

Caroline graduated from the University of Cambridge with BA Honours in Geography. In 1998 she joined the UCL Geography department as postgraduate student and was awarded her PhD Forgotten Geographies: Historical Geographies of Black Women in Victorian and Edwardian London in 2003. Between 2003 and 2007 Caroline continued to research the Black Presence in Victorian Britain and the role of the anti-racist community as an ESRC postdoctoral student and research fellow. In 2007 she became a lecturer in human geography and founded the Equiano Centre to support research into the Black Presence in Britain. In 2009 she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for an outstanding contribution to geography.