The Origins of BEAN
BEAN is collaboration between scholar activists Kpêdétin Mariquian Ahouansou, Natasha A. Kelly and Olive Vassell. The project began in 2012 as a way to create a space for network, knowledge exchange and support for primarily Black European academics from the growing field of Black European studies. Spurred by changes in academia including reduced funding and job opportunities, and the normalization of conservative stances in social sciences and humanities, its founders aim to provide an alternative to the diverse forces promoting this long awaited European debate. Ahouansou, Kelly and Vassell are pleased to be able to bring to you more than a platform dedicated to the production of knowledge by and about Black Europeans – but one that is multilingual, innovative and unique in its vision and doings.
Kpêdétin Mariquian Ahouansou is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology and Ethnology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). She is completing her dissertation in the renowned Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale (LAS). Her dissertation focuses on contemporary French black political activism and its ties to the European Diaspora and the American Diaspora. Mariquian’s work is strongly influenced by the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. Her research interests also include the use of new technologies and the discourse on race and gender in the Diaspora. Born and raised in France, Mariquian is an active member of the NGO Les Indivisibles! Passionate about gender equality, she believes Anthropology is a discipline that ought to go beyond academia and that should be used more systematically as a tool in everyday life. She also writes poetry and goes by the motto Life is a politics to be daily rewritten.
Natasha A. Kelly has a PhD in Communication Studies and Sociology with her research focus on race and gender. Born and bred in the United Kingdom and raised in Germany, Natasha is presently the elected representative of the European Union in the Council for Integration and Migration of the Berlin Senate (2012 – 2017). She considers herself to be an “academic activist” (two important features that can be seen individually, but never separately from each other) who is rooted in the Pan-African culture of her Jamaican heritage. As an editor, author and lecturer at diverse private and state universities in Germany and Austria she uses art and performance to materialize “untouchable” phenomena like racism and sexism as demonstrated in her exhibition EDEWA (http://www.edewa.info). This enables her to connect theory and practice and highlight the importance and necessity of the transfer-lines between politics, academia and society.
Born and raised in London Olive Vassell received her MA in International Journalism from City University in the UK. Olive’s research interests include the role of the media in defining Black Europeans, both in terms of Black European knowledge production and definitions created and promoted by the majority white media. Olive has also been an award-winning journalist for more than 25 years working in both the UK and the US. This included stints at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the UK’s Channel 4, as well as the historic Afro-American newspaper in the US. In 2009, Olive founded Euromight.com, (http://www.euromight.com) the first Black European news site. The acclaimed publication focuses on telling the stories of Europe’s under reported black communities through print, photography and video using both original content and aggregated news. Olive currently heads the Digital Media program at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.