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Gemma Romain

Dr Gemma Romain is a historian specialising in Caribbean and Black British history, with a particular interest in modern Black histories and visual cultures, archives, archival practice and Black history, Queer Caribbean and Queer Black British histories. She has worked at The Equiano Centre, Department of Geography, University College London (UCL), on various projects with Caroline Bressey, an Honorary Fellow of The Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations, University of Southampton.

Her current work focuses on Black queer histories in 1920s and 1930s London and the histories of African-Caribbean and African-American women living in 1920s and 1930s London.

Her forthcoming book Race, Sexuality and Identity in Britain and Jamaica: The Biography of Patrick Nelson, 1916-1963 will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in September 2017.

She is currently researching and mapping the historical geographies of African-Caribbean women who studied and lived in interwar London, focusing on three Jamaican sisters Joyce, Edith and Olive Baxter who studied in London after being awarded the Jamaica Girls’ scholarship.

She is a co-writer of the website Obeah Histories, a resource created by Diana Paton, which explores the history of prosecuting religious practice in the colonial Caribbean. She is working with Diana Paton on the biography of an African-born healer Pierre, a formerly enslaved man who was convicted of Obeah in Grenada in 1833 and sentenced to transportation to the prison hulks of England and then as a convict in Tasmania.

She has curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions and displays relating to Caribbean and Black British history including: the 2014-2015 Tate Britain display ‘Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39’ (curated with Caroline Bressey, Emma Chambers and Inga Fraser), the 2013 ‘Black Bloomsbury’ exhibition at the UCL Art Museum (curated with Caroline Bressey) and the 2011 Women’s Library display ‘Archival Tales: Uncovering Inter-war Black Histories’.  


Books and chapters

Race, Sexuality and Identity in Britain and Jamaica: The Biography of Patrick Nelson, 1916-1963. Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming, 2017

With Caroline Bressey: ‘Claude McKay: Queering Spaces of Black Radicalism in Interwar London’ in Avery, Simon, and Katherine M. Graham, eds. Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, C.1850 to the Present. Bloomsbury Academic, 2016

Online and print articles

‘Ronald Moody: Archival explorations of a Black Jamaican artist in interwar London’, Media Diversified, April 2015

‘Queer Black History’, Diva Magazine, February 2015

With Diana Paton: ‘Gendered Clothing Legislation and Trans Experience in Guyana’ History Workshop Online, March 2014

‘Researching at The Women’s Library’, History Workshop Online, April 2012

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