Society for Black British Historians

Small Group Project 2024-25


Holly Cooper, Kasewa John & Tionne Paris
Small Group Project 2024-25

A Society of Black British historians, run for and by us, is a learned society for scholars of Black British and/or Black diasporic heritage, with the aim of improving retention and admission of students from these marginalised backgrounds. Adopting a similar framework to the organisation, Museum Detox, the Society will provide an autonomous space for intellectual nourishment, networking, peer to peer support and institutional crisis management for Black historians in, and of, Britain. 

Secondarily, the Society will establish solutions. By conducting investigative research, we will produce a report that will build upon the pre-2020 findings of Royal Historical Society 2018 ‘Race, Ethnicity, and Equality’ report, the Leading Routes 2019 ‘The Broken Pipeline’ report, and Dr. Nicola Rollock’s 2019 ‘Staying Power’ report. These were ground-breaking reports but unfortunately unsuited to the reality of 2023, where funding is being cut and the lasting, radical changes sought after #BLM have still to be realised. 

The academic ‘leaky pipeline’ disproportionately affects Black individuals, especially when this intersects with further marginalisation, e.g. gender, dis/ability, and class. This is further demonstrated by the fact that, as of 2020/21, there are 21,135 Professors in the UK, and only 160 of them are Black (HESA 2022). Since 2021 the discipline has been burdened by a string of redundancies (at Chichester and Goldsmiths) that have clipped the wings of the fledgling field further. With even fewer courses, there is little visibility on academic curriculums, leading to even fewer Black experts on the topic. Our report will therefore investigate the employment, retention, and experiences of Black historians in Britain. 

The Society for Black British Historians will be a pathbreaking vehicle to formulate a remedy to the dearth of Black British history in the British academy. ISRF funding will support the Society’s launch, inaugural meeting, and publication of a report.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].