UNC CES
UNC CES
Aug 5 · 2 min read

“Who is and Whose Europe?: Past and Present Blackness in Europe”

Kellan Robinson is a rising UNC senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, double majoring in Contemporary European Studies and Global Studies (focus of Africa and International Politics) with minors in French and African American and Diaspora Studies. She used the European Summer Research Award (ESRA) to explore Black experiences in Europe, and attend related enrichment opportunities. Read the following Q&A for more details on her work.


Q: Please tell us about your research.

A: The cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic geography of Europe is ever-transforming. The diverse waves of migrants and refugees have altered the makeup of the continent, which has inherently influenced the political realities and social relations of the landscape. In this postcolonial world, former colonial powers are experiencing the effects of their destructive entanglements: former colonial subjects have migrated to Europe. European countries have had nuanced reactions to immigration in relation to policy, emerging political parties, and social interactions. My research project will explore these tangents by focusing on the lives and conditions of people of African descent in Europe, both in the present and in the past. My research project, titled “Who is and Whose Europe?: Past and Present Blackness in Europe,” delves into the multi-layered Black experience in modern and old Europe through attending the Black Europe Summer School, the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour, and the Afroeuropean Studies Conference.

Kellan in front of two bookcases featuring Afro-Dutch people and a sign that says The Black Archives.
Kellan in front of two bookcases featuring Afro-Dutch people and a sign that says The Black Archives.
Pictured at The Black Archives in Amsterdam, which houses historical documents about Afro-Dutch people and the Diaspora as a whole.

Q: In what ways has the European Summer Research Award enriched your research on the EU?

A: The European Summer Research Award has enriched my understanding of the EU because I have been able to study this body in relation to citizenship, race, and the state. For example, I have learned about the interaction between mobilized groups like the European Network Against Racism and the EU and additionally about EU efforts to address racial-based issues through the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.

Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in applying for ESRA?

A: I would advice someone interested in applying for ESRA to have confidence in their ideas! Take that intellectual confidence and plan your proposal ahead.

Q: What has been your favorite part of your travels thus far?

A: My favorite part of my travels has been meeting people from all over the world. I have learned so much from perspectives different than my own. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Keti Koti Festival which commemorates the legal abolition of slavery in Dutch colonies. It was beautiful to witness people being so proud of their cultures and ancestry. The food was also delicious!


The ESRA is generously supported by Betsy Blackwell and John Watson. For more information on the award, visit the Contemporary European Studies major page.

UNC Center for European Studies | A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence

The hub for Europe at UNC-Chapel Hill. A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, funded through the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program

UNC CES

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UNC CES

UNC Center for European Studies | A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence

The hub for Europe at UNC-Chapel Hill. A Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, funded through the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program

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