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Kennetta Hammond Perry

Associate Professor of African American Studies

Research Interests:

Black British History
Europe and the African Diaspora
Transnational Race Politics
State-crafted Racial Violence
Black Women’s History
Black Migrations
Archival Methodologies
The Political Uses of History


Kennetta Hammond Perry is an Associate Professor of African American Studies with a courtesy appointment in History. Before arriving at Northwestern, Dr. Perry served as founding director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre at De Montfort University in Leicester, England where she maintains an affiliation as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow.

Dr. Perry’s research primarily focuses upon Black diasporic communities and political formations shaped by and within the imperial borderings of Britain. Her first book, London Is The Place For Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (Oxford, 2016) examined how a largely African Caribbean migrant community of Black Britons articulated claims to citizenship and publicly challenged the state to both acknowledge and remedy the ways in which anti-Black racism came to bear upon their lives in the decades following World War II. Set against the backdrop of decolonization, growing anti-apartheid sentiment and the global circulation of the iconography of Black freedom movements in the U.S., the book offered a nuanced accounting of the web of historical agents involved in politicizing race and drawing public attention to the realities of racism as experienced by Black communities in Britain during the second half of the twentieth century.

Currently Dr. Perry is completed a second book manuscript examining the life, death and legacy of David Oluwale, a Nigerian-born homeless man thought to have been murdered by police in Leeds, England in 1969. Drawing from Black feminist epistemologies, this study will contribute to burgeoning conversations within Black Studies and the discipline of History about how we ethically engage and demonstrate a duty of care in our historical writing about Black lives as they are represented in archives steeped in violence and disregard for Black humanity. Moreover, the book enlists the fraught historical record of David Oluwale’s existence in Britain to examine the life-depriving entanglements defining the relationship between the postwar welfare state and the carceral state. In doing so it raises critical questions about what archives of imperiled Black lives can tell us about the operation of state-crafted violence past and present.

Dr. Perry has previously held fellowships with the Carter G. Woodson Institute and the American Council of Learned Societies and currently is a co-investigator alongside Dr. Kerry Pimblott (U of Manchester) on an Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) grant examining the regional valences of ‘Black Power’ in the UK. Recently, she was appointed as an honorary fellow of the Historical Association (UK) and currently serves as a member of the advisory board for the Institute of Historical Research, the academic committee of the Stuart Hall Foundation and the History Workshop Journal collective.

Dr. Perry welcomes inquiries from students with similar research interests who are exploring the pursuit of graduate work in African American Studies or History.

Selected Publications:

“Black Futures Not Yet Lost:  Imagining Black British Abolitionism” South Atlantic Quarterly 121, 3 (2022):  541-560.

“Irreverent Histories of Empire” History Workshop Journal 91, 1 (Spring, 2021):  248-254.


“‘To Tell It As We Know It’:  Black Women’s History and the Archive of Brexit Britain” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 47, 2 (June, 2021):  22-35.

“One British Thing:  The Hair Weavers Text Book:  A Study in Art of Hair-Weaving and Beauty Culture (1967)” Journal of British Studies, 60, 1 (January, 2021):  169-172.

“Writing History:  Thinking Beyond the Past in the Present” History of the Present 10, 1 (2020):  146-151.

“Black Pasts, White Nationalist Racecraft and the Political Work of History” in Dan Geary, Jennie Sutton and Camilla Schofield, eds., From Enoch Powell to Donald Trump:  Britain, the United States and Global White Nationalism (Manchester:  University of Manchester Press, 2020).