Skip to Content
Skip to main content

Dr Benedetta Morsiani
Research Fellow - Leverhulme


Benedetta joined Brunel University as a Leverhulme Research Fellow in 2023, with a research project exploring the performance of Black beauty among Black British women since 1948. She previously worked as an Assistant Professor in Cultural Anthropology at Northeastern University London, and before that completed a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster.

Benedetta's research focuses on understanding the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of individuals belonging to Black African minorities in Europe.  Her work, particularly, investigates socio-cultural issues through the study of material culture and forms of symbolic representations, and their intersection with political and economic spheres. Her Leverhulme research project, entitled 'Black beauty in Britain since 1948: self-assertion and collective power', investigates the cultural, political, and economic significance of beauty practices employed by Black British women since 1948. In particular, the research uncovers how Black British women have used beauty practices to challenge normative assumptions about beauty, establish self-agency, convey subversive political messages, and create entrepreneurship opportunities. In so doing, the research transforms the existing scholarship on the history of beauty, which is hitherto a white history, and foregrounds the leading role of Black beauty entrepreneurs in both activism and defining what beauty is.

Benedetta's current research both establishes and extends her doctoral research where she investigated the migratory experiences of young London Congolese (DRC). The project traced how young London Congolese employed body performances to portray their cultural heritage and embody their racial, ethnic, gender and transnational identities. Fashion and beauty practices offered a powerful portrayal of their life histories, socio-cultural memories, everyday life experiences and issues affecting Black African diasporas in London. The project revealed the sphere of entanglement between identity issues, cultural and aesthetic rituals of the body, politics, and economics.


PhD, Cultural Studies, University of Westminister.

MA (Hons), Anthropology, University of Bologna.

MA (Hons), African Studies, Dalarna University.

BA (Hons), History, University of Bologna.

Newest selected publications

Morsiani, B. (Accepted) 'Performing Black beauty: the Congolese Community in London', in Lamb, T. and Wang, C. (eds.) Bridging Borders, Creating Spaces: Negotiating Identities, Language and Migration in Global London’.

Book chapter

Morsiani, B. (2022) 'From Local Production to Global Relations: The Congo Fashion Week London'. Fashion Theory, 26 (2). pp. 263 - 281. ISSN: 1362-704X

Journal article

Morsiani, B. (2021) 'Questioning the practice ofla sape: will the London movement survive?'. African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, 14 (1). pp. 9 - 22. ISSN: 1752-8631

Journal article

Morsiani, B. (2020) 'Transcultural body spaces: re-inventing and performing headwrap practice among young Congolese women in London'. African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, 13 (1). pp. 15 - 26. ISSN: 1752-8631

Journal article
More publications