Research partnership set to further insight into Black British historical communities

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Black and white photo of a march calling for equality for black people.

Historian and writer joins academics from the School of Law and Social Justice and the Department of History in a research partnership exploring Black British historical communities.

Dr Nathalie Rech joins the University of Liverpool on a funded fellowship from Montréal, Québec, Canada, bringing knowledge and expertise around Black women’s lives at the turn of the 20th century. Nathalie will work closely with Professor Barry Godfrey, Department of Sociology, Social Policy, and Criminology, and Dr Stephen Kenny, Department of History on a two-year research project. This research is funded by a post-doctoral grant from the Fonds de recherche du Quebec Societe et Culture, a provincial government research fund in Canada.

This research proposes to explore Black women’s interactions with the criminal justice system in Louisiana, Nova Scotia, and the UK over the period 1880-1935, to reveal some of the mechanisms of white supremacy, and document women’s modes of resistance. The team brings together collective expertise in areas of history of crime, prisons, and policing; crime and criminals’ representation in media from the eighteenth century onwards; histories of race, health, power, slavery, and medicine; 19th and 20th century North American history; and Black Canadian history.

On the fellowship award, Dr Nathalie Rech, shared:
“The overrepresentation of Black women in the penal system has historic roots that this project proposes to reveal. Systemic racism has taken various forms through space and time. Knowing better its past will help us dismantle it in the future.”

Nathalie is also the author of the script of ‘Lulu White, Queen of Diamonds,’ a graphic biography of a Black Madam operating in New Orleans red-light district during segregation. She previously had a career in the non-profit sector, advocating on issues of homelessness, poverty, and housing.

Professor Barry Godfrey, Professor of Social Justice, said:
“We wish Nathalie a warm welcome to the University of Liverpool. Nathalie is already well versed in this area, having uncovered the racial and gendered hierarchies at play in a penal farm operating on a former slave plantation in her PhD thesis. I look forward to working collaboratively on this important research over the next two years”.