UCL European Institute


[Black Europe]

This workstream challenges the presumption of whiteness as the norm in the study of Europe. The UCL European Institute is developing it with academic leads Hélène Neveu-Kringelbach and Jeff Bowersox.

The Rationale

Our workstream [Black Europe] results from the recognition that academic work specifically dedicated to the study of Europe is still to a considerable extent focused on experiences or marked by presumptions of whiteness as the norm. There is excellent, discipline-spanning work on race, racialisation and postcolonialism across many departments at UCL, as well as outstanding work on European history, politics, economics, humanities and law. However, there is a critical need to address – explicitly – the lacunae, prevailing assumptions and biases of research on Europe, and to challenge the institutional dimensions flowing from them.

Speaker series

Mame-Fatou Niang

James Mark: Wilson's white world: the foundation of Central-Eastern European nation-states after World War I, 12 March 2024

Mame-Fatou NiangFrench but not (Q)White: Defining Frenchness for the 21st Century: Prof. Mame-Fatou Niang, 27 February 2024

Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa - Prof. Rachel Jean-Baptiste (Stanford University)

Rachel Jean-Baptiste: Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa: Race, Childhood and Citizenship, 5 December 2023

Hand KundnaniEurowhiteness. 20 November 2023

Damani Partridge: Blackness as a Universal Claim, 16 October 2023

Podcasts and resources 

Bowersox Talking Europe
African-American entertainers in pre-jazz Europe

In this Talking Europe podcast, the historian Jeff Bowersox takes us to Central Europe around 1900, where the response to the arrival of Black American entertainers both confirmed and disrupted ideas of race and culture.


Black Central Europe
Black Central Europe

This rich website and international network of historians - of which Jeff Bowersox is managing editor and chief contributor - 'argue[s], quite simply, that Black people have always been a part of Central European history'.



Other highlights

black europe collage
Black Europe Workshop

Opening workshop featuring Bea GassmanThe 'ideas' of Africa: Four stories & Jeff BowersoxPerforming Blackness for Germans, 13 March 2023

Olivia Scher
Meet the intern

Olivia Scher is the Project Intern supporting [Black Europe].

Read her profile

Academic leads

Our aims

  • Academically, we want to support conceptual and empirical work on the constructions of race, nationhood, modernity, and their entanglements in Europe; on the legal, intellectual, cultural, artistic, and economic legacies of European colonialism and the slave trade; or on how ethnic and racial identities are shaped by, and indeed shape ideas of, Europe. This will include the task of revisiting central analytical concepts we are employing, encouraging discussion and collaboration across disciplinary borders.
  • Structurally, we want to explore formats of engagement in an academic environment marked by an ever-increasing workload, which balance the need for focused actions with the ambition to create an open, unforced space for interaction and keeping an open mind as to outcomes. Alongside working to advance established academic formats – a speaker series, publications, teaching development, and grant applications – we want to offer an ongoing exploratory space and create synergies among academics from across the college, and beyond.
  • Institutionally, we want to leverage insights from this cluster of expertise to inform conversations on UCL as an institution, specifically the way it organises research and teaching on Europe. From questions of peer development (and particularly support for ECRs) to supporting UCL’s commitment to hire 50 Black academics by 2024 and contributing to initiatives to decolonize curricula, the [Black Europe] cluster will also seek to develop good practice for the study of Europe at UCL.

Our partners

We are grateful for the support and partnership from the UCL Institute of Advanced Study, the UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society, and the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS.

The workstream is part of our 2023-26 Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence programme, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme European Union.

Erasmus+ logo