UCL News


Spotlight on Caroline Bressey

4 October 2012

This week the spotlight is on Dr Caroline Bressey, UCL Geography.

Caroline Bressey

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a lecturer in the Department of Geography. Like other lecturers, I divide my time between teaching, administration and research.

I work on various aspects of historical and cultural geography, particularly the lives of black people in Victorian London and the early anti-racist movement in Britain.

I am also interested in how history influences our everyday lives through museums, heritage sites and television. I recently came close to being a subject of my own research when I appeared on BBC Two's Wartime Farm.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

Since I began my PhD - in 1998.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Establishing the Equiano Centre at UCL in 2007. The aim of the centre is to foster the development of research into the black presence in Britain before 1948.

I worked with Jonah Albert for a year, who helped organise public engagement projects for the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade, which fell in 2007, but then funding ran out and he moved to the British Library where he still works.

Funding we received last year for a new project 'Drawing Over the Colour Line' has meant that Dr Gemma Romain has come to work with me for two years. Our project looks at the Harlem Renaissance - when African-Americans created a revolution in music, art and literature in New York - and the influence it had on the artistic and political spaces of London in the 1920s and 1930s.

Rob Eagle (UCL Communications) recently made a short film for us, which you can see on UCL's YouTube channel. 

The Equiano Centre website now has a monthly blog post, an image gallery and teaching resources which we are adding to all the time.

We are keen for more colleagues across UCL to be connected to the centre, if you're interested please send us an email: equianocentre@ucl.ac.uk.

I'm hoping Gemma will stay at UCL for a while so we can continue to develop the centre, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, but it is all about finding funding.

What is your life like outside UCL?

I try to see friends and family who I do not get to see often enough, but work tends to creep in.

On Saturday 20 October, Gemma and I are running an event with Camden Archives on London Art in the Age of Jazz (see flyer below).

It is part of the Bloomsbury Festival and we are asking people to look in their attics and garages and bring out artworks with African and Asian sitters like some of the ones we've found in the UCL Collections.

We're being helped out by UCL students and colleagues including Andrew Flinn (Information Studies), Stephen Quirke (Petrie Museum) and Susanna Pancaldo (UCL Museums and Collections). They will be on hand to offer advice on how to look after artworks, letters and photographs.

If you think you might have an artwork or letters that could be of interest to us, please let us know or bring them along on 20 October!

I'll be explaining more about the project in a Lunch Hour Lecture on Thursday 11 October, but you can also find details about the event on our project blog or follow us on Twitter: @EQCentre.