Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Professor Olivette Otele: The politics of the body: body memory and healing

12 December 2023, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


The SPRC invites you to the second annual Sarah Parker Remond Memorial Lecture: Olivette Otele discusses the politics of the body: body memory and healing

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







The UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation


Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
302, Main Building
South Wing, Gower Street
United Kingdom

UCL's Sarah Parker Remond Centre invites you to the a Sarah Parker Remond Memorial Lecture with Professor Olivette Otele

Willingly travelling or forcibly transported across the oceans, the histories of people of African descent in Europe, the Indian Ocean and the Americas are closely linked to the notion of movement, boundaries and body memory.  

The talk will explore the historical relevance of those journeys and will delve more thoroughly into the notion of body memory by examining the power of kinesthetics in creating a memory. The aim is to grasp how those populations remember, forget, produce and transmit intergenerational knowledge as well as how they re-produce or are victims of trauma through body memory. The talk is also aimed at expanding on the politics of the body and in particular how people of African descent’s multiple trajectories have come to be associated with the policing of bodies from the 17th century in the African continent, the Caribbean and North America to Europe in the 21st century.  

The body memory and the politics of the body are central to current discussions about migratory flows from the African continent that allegedly threaten Europe’s physical boundaries and the claiming of multiple identities that supposedly endangers European identity and social cohesion. However, the body memory is also the locus for psychological and spiritual regeneration. Understanding how communities of African descent are fighting against forms of erasure, while attempting to overcome trauma, working towards healing, and towards forms of inter-communities reconciliation, can help us expand on the notion of reparations. 


About the speaker:

Olivette Otele is a Distinguished Research Professor of the Legacies and Memory of Slavery at SOAS, University of London. Her area of research is colonial, post-colonial history and memory studies. Her latest books include an edited volume, Post-Conflict Memorialization: Missing Memorials, Absent Bodies (2021) and African Europeans: an Untold History in paperback in 2022. She also works with policy makers and private institutions to engage with the histories of colonial slavery and restorative justice strategies (See Welsh Government Report and the Guardian Newspapers project Cotton Capital )