The Origins of BEAN
BEAN is collaboration between scholar activists 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.
Natasha A. Kelly
Natasha A. Kelly has a PhD in Communication Studies and Sociology with her research focus on visual communication, colonialism and feminism. Born and bred in the United Kingdom and raised in Germany, Natasha served as Secretary of the European Union in the Council for Integration and Migration of the Berlin Senate (2012 – 2016). As an »academic artivist«, three important identity traits that can be seen individually, but never separately from each other, she combines academia, art and activism, which is reflected in her works »EDEWA« (since 2010) (http://www.edewa.info), »Giftschrank« (toxic cabinet) (Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2016/2017, Museum Schöneberg 2017) und »African_Diaspora Palast« (»Weltausstellung_Reformation«, Wittenberg 2017). Rooted in the Panafrican culture of her Jamaican heritage her works relate to the past, present, and future of the African Diaspora in Germany. In addition to her consulting work for various art institutions (e.g. Berlinische Galerie, Deutsches Hygiene Museum Dresden etc.), she is the artistic director of the sequential theater performance »M(a)y Sister«, which was adapted from her book »Sisters & Souls« (Orlanda Verlag 2015) and is being shown at HAU Hebbel am Ufer Theater in Berlin since 2015. Her dissertation titled »Afrokultur. ‘der raum zwischen gestern und morgen’« (Unrast Verlag 2016) deals with the life and works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Audre Lorde and May Ayim, three Black knowledge workers who framed Afro-German identity. For more information see: http://www.NatashaAKelly.com
Born and raised in London Olive Vassell received her MA in International Journalism from City University in the UK. Her 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 Black as well as the white media. Olive has also been an award-winning journalist for more than 25 years working in both the UK and the US. This has 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, (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. In 2012, the site was selected by the British Library to be archived in the UK Web Archive. In 2017, Olive was invited to write a chapter on the Black British and Irish Press for the upcoming three-volume, Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, 1641-2017 (Edinburgh University Press). Olive heads the Digital Media program at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.