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Black Studies


This interdisciplinary guide has been compiled to enable the discovery of Black scholarship in the collections of UCL Libraries, including both print and digital resources, and we welcome your input to help us develop it further. If you have any suggestions for content or general feedback please let us know by emailing We especially welcome resource recommendations from those studying in Science-based disciplines.


Three friends, William H. Johnson, ca. 1944-45This guide focuses on sources originating from authors / creators of African and African-Caribbean descent with reference to topics of relevance to the Black Diaspora. See also our guide to Studies of the Americas for literature originating from and relating specifically to Latin America. 

This guide also includes advice on techniques for searching our catalogues and databases to find literature on topics of particular relevance to Black Studies and by Black authors in books and journals as well as films, images and other primary source material.

For further advice relating to resources in your subject area please contact your specialist Librarian via our Subject Guides.

We welcome suggestions for new acquisitions that contribute to the diversification of our collections.

Image: Three friends, William H. Johnson, ca.1944-56. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation

New books

The Cambridge Companion to Caribbean Music

The diverse musics of the Caribbean form a vital part of the identity of individual island nations and their diasporic communities. At the same time, they witness to collective continuities and the interrelatedness that underlies the region's multi-layered complexity. This Companion introduces familiar and less familiar music practices from different nations, from reggae, calypso and salsa to tambú, méringue  and soca. 

Hey America!

This is the untold story of black music - its triumph over racism, segregation, undercapitalised record labels, media discrimination and political anxiety - told through the perspective of the most powerful office in the world: from Louis Armstrong's spat with President Eisenhower and Eartha Kitt's stormy encounter with Lady Bird Johnson to James Brown's flirtation with Nixon, Reaganomics and the 'Cop Killer' scandal.

Settlers : journeys through the food, faith and culture of Black African London

A journey into the hidden, vibrant world of Black African London. What makes a Londoner? What is it to be Black, African and British? And how can we understand the many tangled roots of our modern nation without knowing the story of how it came to be?

Black Disability Politics

In Black Disability Politics Sami Schalk explores how issues of disability have been and continue to be central to Black activism from the 1970s to the present. Schalk shows how Black people have long engaged with disability as a political issue deeply tied to race and racism. 

Black British Lives Matter

This is more than a book - it's an incitement to change people's perceptions.

Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation

Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation questions how the Black female body, specifically the Black maternal body, navigates interlocking structures that place a false narrative on her body and that of her maternal ancestors. Drawing on a wide range of scholarly inquiry and contemporary art, this book addresses these misconceptions and fills in the gaps that exist in the photographic representation of Black motherhood, mothering, and mutual care within Black communities. 

In the Black fantastic

In the Black Fantastic assembles art and imagery from across the African diaspora that embraces ideas of the mythic and the speculative. It brings to life the forces that shape Afrofuturism - the cultural movement that conjures otherworldly visions out of the everyday of Black experience - and beyond, looking at how speculative fictions in Black art and culture are boldly reimagining perspectives on race, gender, identity and the body in the 21st century.

Writing Black Scotland

A critical approach to blackness in devolutionary Scottish writing Writing Black Scotland examines race and racism in devolutionary Scottish literature, with a focus on the critical significance of blackness. The book reads blackness in Scottish writing from the 1970s to the early 2000s, a period of history defined by post-imperial adjustment. Critiquing a unifying Britishness at work in black British criticism, Jackson argues for the importance of black politics in Scottish writing.

Black Oot Here

What does it mean to be Black in Scotland today? How are notions of nationhood, Scottishness, and Britishness implicated in this? Why is it important to archive and understand Black Scottish history? Reflecting on the past to make sense of the present, Francesca Sobande and layla-roxanne hill explore the history and contemporary lives of Black people in Scotland. Based on intergenerational interviews, survey responses, photography, and analysis of media and archived material, this book offers a unique snapshot of Black Scottish history and recent 21st century realities. 

Decolonizing African Studies

This book explores how decolonization and decoloniality provide liberationist knowledge to question and replace the hegemony of Western knowledge systems imposed on Africa. It critically examines the silencing and exclusion of subalterns in global knowledge production and the far-reaching implications of this for pedagogy and policy. 

A little devil in America: in praise of Black performance

At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker reflected on her life and her legacy. She had spent decades as one of the world's most successful entertainers but told the crowd, "I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too". Inspired by these words, celebrated poet and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound meditation on Black performance in the modern age, in which culture, history and his own lived experience collide.

The Language of Beauty in African Art

Displacing Western values in scholarship and museum interpretation over the past century through an exploration of traditional African artworks and aesthetic vocabularies This ambitious publication centers indigenous perspectives on traditional artworks from Africa by focusing on the judgments and vocabularies of members of the communities who created and used them. 

African American Studies

This book brings together chapters authored by leading African American Studies/Black Studies scholars in the USA and the UK. It focuses on the roots of the discipline, reaching back to early brilliant Black intellectuals, discusses the historical and epistemological development of formal Black Studies, setting these in their socio-political contexts, and presents research methodologies and guidelines that are appropriate and valid for people of African descent.

Brief History of Black British Art

Brief History of Black British Art

Taking as its starting point the London-based Caribbean Artists Movement, this concise introduction showcases the work of over sixty Black British artists from the 1960s until the present.

African Artists

A groundbreaking A-Z survey of the work of over 300 modern and contemporary artists born or based in Africa. Modern and Contemporary African art is at the forefront of the current curatorial and collector movement in today's art scene. This groundbreaking new book represents the most substantial appraisal of contemporary artists born or based in Africa available. 

Caribbean Art

Caribbean Art

An updated and expanded edition of this classic, illustrated survey of Caribbean art, featuring the work of over 100 artists from the period of colonialism to the present day.

As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic

As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic

As We Rise presents an exciting compilation of photographs from African diasporic culture. With over one hundred works by Black artists from Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, the United States, South America, as well as throughout the African continent, this volume provides a timely exploration of Black identity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Black Artists Shaping the World

Black Artists Shaping the World

Black Artists Shaping the World celebrates the diversity of work being produced today by Black artists from around the globe, introducing twenty-six contemporary artists from Africa and of the African diaspora.

The Black Index

The Black Index

The artists featured in The Black Index--Dennis Delgado, Alicia Henry, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas--build upon the tradition of Black self-representation as an antidote to colonialist images.

Who's Black and Why?

Who's Black and Why?

The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of black skin--an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism.


Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen

In the 1940s, folks at bars and restaurants would gather around a Panoram movie machine to watch three-minute films called Soundies, precursors to today's music videos. Susan Delson takes a deeper look at these fascinating films by focusing on the role of Black performers in this little-known genre.

Visualising slavery

Visualising Slavery

The purpose of this book is to excavate and recover a wealth of under-examined artworks and research materials directly to interrogate, debate and analyse the tangled skeins undergirding visual representations of transatlantic slavery across the Black diaspora. 

Politics of Black joy

The Politics of Black Joy

During the antebellum period, slave owners weaponized southern Black joy to argue for enslavement. In contrast, abolitionists wielded sorrow by emphasizing racial oppression. Both arguments were so effective that a political uneasiness on the subject still lingers. In this book Lindsey Stewart analyses Zora Neale Hurston's uses of the concept of Black southern joy. 

Earliest African American literatures

The Earliest African American Literatures

This groundbreaking collection of thirty-eight biographical and autobiographical texts chronicles the lives of literary black Africans in British colonial America from 1643 to 1760 and offers new strategies for identifying and interpreting the presence of black Africans in this early period. 

Sistuhs in the struggle

Sistuhs in the Struggle

The first oral history to fully explore the contributions of black women intellectuals to the Black Arts Movement, Sistuhs in the Struggle reclaims a vital yet under-researched chapter in African American, women's, and theater history.

On Black Media Philosophy

Building on concepts from Black studies and cultural studies, Towns develops an insightful critique of this dominant conception of the human in media philosophy and introduces a foundation for Black media philosophy.

Africa fashion

Africa Fashion

Unique exploration of how the cultural renaissance following independence evolved into today's dynamic African fashion revolution. Africa Fashion explores how radical post-independence social and political re-ordering sparked a cultural renaissance across the continent.  With contributions from experts on cloth, fashion and cultural history as well as the voices of makers and designers, this inspiring and arresting book offers a window into one of the most innovative, exciting and thoughtful areas of fashion today.

Take a Lesson

A set of Black perspectives on what it takes to succeed today In Take a Lesson: Today's Black Achievers on How They Made It and What They Learned Along the Way, journalist and author Caroline Clarke compels a dynamic list of Black business heroes and role models to openly share their own goals, hits, and misses, exploring what they overcame and what they're still working to overcome. 

Black Celebrity

Black Celebrity examines representations of postbellum black athletes and artist-entertainers by novelists Caryl Phillips and Jeffery Renard Allen and poets Kevin Young, Frank X Walker, Adrian Matejka, and Tyehimba Jess.

African American Literature in Transition: Volume 12, 1930-1940

The volume explores 1930s African American writing to examine Black life, culture, and politics to document the ways Black artists and everyday people managed the Great Depression's economic impact on the creative and the social. Essays engage iconic figures such as Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy West, and Richard Wright as well as understudied writers such as Arna Bontemps and Marita Bonner, Henry Lee Moon, and Roi Ottley.

Key resources