Who we are

Founded in 2014, the Black Central European Studies Network (BCESN) is a network of historians spread across four different time zones and located on two different continents.

We argue, quite simply, that Black people have always been a part of Central European history. Different events and forces brought Central Europe and the Black Diaspora together: trade, diplomacy, and the arts fostered cultural exchange. Slavery, imperialism, and war shaped the categories of race and nation that still greatly affect Black people in Central Europe today.

The mission of Black Central Europe is to further knowledge about the Black Diaspora in German-speaking Central Europe in order to challenge racialized presumptions about history, national belonging, and citizenship in the region. We do this by making available relevant teaching and research resources, by disseminating the work of Black artists, and by facilitating conversations among a wide range of stakeholders. Our website is intended for a wide audience, including scholars, artists, elementary and high school teachers and others with an interest in learning and teaching about Central Europe’s relationship to the Black Diaspora at all educational levels.

meet the team


Jeff Bowersox
Jeff is Associate Professor of German History in the School of European Languages, Culture & Society at University College London, UK. He is the author of Raising Germans in the Age of Empire, 1871-1914, and his research and teaching interests include colonialism, the Black Diaspora in Germany, race and popular culture in the 19th century, and the history of toys.


Robbie Aitken
Robbie is a Reader in History at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He is the author, with Eve Rosenhaft, of Black Germany, and his research and teaching interests include the history of the Black Diaspora in Germany, European colonialism, and constructions of race in pre-1945 Europe.

Julia Alcamo
Julia, both the indispensable Research Assistant for Black Central Europe and a contributor, is a graduate of the Arts University Bournemouth and King’s College London. Julia has previously worked as a research assistant on the German Historical Institute-London’s Things We Keep exhibition and has been a curatorial and archival intern at the Ben Uri Gallery in London. She has also worked as a writer for the website Mouthlondon and has written for Jewish Quarterly, and one of her current projects is All We Have, a global exploration of lives tripped up by Covid-19.

Tiffany Florvil
Tiffany is an Associate Professor of 20th-Century European Women’s and Gender History at the University of New Mexico, USA, where she specializes in the histories of post-1945 Germany, the African diaspora, gender and sexuality, and emotions. She is the Co-Chair of the Black Diaspora Studies Network at the German Studies Association, the Network Editor for H-Emotions, an Advisory Board Member and a Network Editor for H-Black Europe, and a Network Member of the Young Scholars Network Black Diaspora and Germany. She is the author of Mobilizing Black Germans, which analyzes the Black German movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

Philipp Khabo Koepsell
Philipp is a Berlin-based poet, playwright, novelist, musician, and performance artist. Crossing traditional lines of medium and genre, he works to promote a future-oriented, proactive vision of  Afro-European culture. His work deals with the themes of Black identities, Afrofuturism, colonialism, and empowerment.

Kristin Kopp
Kristin is an Associate Professor of German Studies and Affiliated Faculty in Black Studies at the University of Missouri, USA. She is the author of Germany’s Wild East, and her research and teaching interests include colonialism and postcolonialism in Central Europe and the history of the Black diaspora in Germany and Austria.

Kira Thurman
Kira is an Assistant Professor of German and History at the University of Michigan, USA. Her research focuses on the relationship between music, race, and national identity in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Singing like Germans, a study of Black musicians in Germany and Austria in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is an Advisory Board Member and a Network Editor for H-Black Europe.

We would also like to give special thanks to Rudolf Amman for help setting up the website and to the University of Michigan’s library staff–especially Justin Joque and Mara Blake. We also thank the University of Southern Missisippi, the UCL Arena Centre, UCL Global Engagement, the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, and the UCL School of European Languages, Culture & Society for generous financial support at various stages of our work.

Impressum: All editorial and informational content on Black Central Europe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You are free to use all of the material on our site for educational or private use without restriction. Most of the historical sources on this site are in the public domain, but some have been shared with us by copyright holders on the condition that they may not be republished without their express permission: these have been marked with the copyright symbol ©. We have tried to contact all copyright holders, but in some cases it has not been possible to identify or contact them. If you have any questions about rights or use of the material on the site, please contact us at [email protected].

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