Lola Akinmade Åkerström’s bird’s-eye view of Stockholm

An urbanist’s guide to Stockholm: ‘Find your own secret space and own it’

Lola Akinmade

My name is Lola Akinmade Åkerström. I was born in Nigeria, studied and worked in the United States, and moved to Stockholm for love many moons ago after giving up my life as a system architect working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). That was in 2009. Coming from two boisterous cultures – Nigerian and American – Sweden as a whole was an initial shock to the system. Life slowed down tremendously and the words “work-life balance” slowly crept into my psyche.

Today, I’m a freelance travel writer and photographer who contributes to many major publications. My photography is represented by National Geographic Creative and I’m also the editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm – a site that encourages travellers to my city to slow down, re-examine their motives for visiting, and get to know the city on a much deeper level. Yes, Stockholm truly is that superhot person who is also a modest rocket scientist. Getting beneath its surface is challenging but rewarding.

Read the full story on The Guardian.

7th Annual Summer School on Black Europe: Interrogating Citizenship, Race and Ethnic Relations

Editor’s note: I am dying to take this course one summer. If you can attend and get accepted, I would live to hear about your experience, feedback on the course, and how you feel post-course.

Summer School on Black Europe

Amsterdam, Netherlands – June 23 – July 4, 2014

The Summer School on Black Europe is an intensive two week course offered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The 7th annual Summer School on Black Europe will take place from June 23rd to July 4th, 2014 in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in collaboration with The Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues (Barcelona, Spain).*

The Summer School on Black Europe will be held at:

International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)
Lombokstraat 40, 1094 AL Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Apply Here

The overall goal of this course is to examine the contemporary circumstances of the African Diaspora (and “other” immigrants of color) in Europe. We will focus on and discuss the origins of Black Europe and investigate the impact of these legacies on policies, social organizations and legislation today. This course will begin with a historical overview of the African Diaspora in Europe that traces the involvement of European nations in the colonization of the Americas. We will address the migration and settlement of Blacks in Europe, and examine immigration and citizenship laws that regulated their settlement. We will also look at anti-discrimination laws as they have arisen in various European countries. We compare the history of regulation and management of race and ethnic relations and the discourse surrounding the concept of Blackness and self-identification. Historically, social forces and social movements within Europe have given rise to policies to combat racism. We will trace the chain of events following social and civil conflicts that prompted these policies and analyze the legislative and intellectual discourse produced in the aftermath. In addition, we will explore notions of Blackness as official categorization; as a social construction employed by the dominant groups to indicate (non) belonging; as a Diaspora living within Europe; and as a contestation of the dominant (White) paradigm. In this way, we examine the social mobilization of Blacks to resist domination.

The above issues will be considered in light of the immediacy of contemporary global and European forces, including competing issues and discourses on Islamophobia, increased non-Black migration into and across Europe, and the debt crisis in the European Union.

This course will also seek to address the dimensions of race and ethnic relations that are unique to Europe; examining the ways in which conceptions of the “other” are institutionalized and reproduced; the rise of xenophobia in various EU countries; issues such as global racisms, everyday racism and epistemic racism; the legal definitions and discourse surrounding the conceptualized “other”; and examining the ways in which each country has dealt with issues of race and national identity. To this effect guest speakers for the 2014 program will be drawn from Germany, Italy and Portugal for case studies in those countries.

Affiliated Faculty Members include:

  • Dr. Marta Araujo, University of Coimbra (Portugal)
  • Dr. Philomena Essed, Antioch University
  • Dr. Jeanette Davidson, University of Oklahoma
  • Dr. David Theo Goldberg, University of California Humanities Research Institute
  • Dr. Ramon Grosfoguel, University of California, Berkeley
  • Dr. Dienke Hondius, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Dr. Kwame Nimako, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Dr. Stephen Small, University of California, Berkeley
  • Dr. Melissa F. Weiner, College of the Holy Cross
  • Dr. Gloria Wekker, Universiteit van Utrecht
  • Dr. Donna Driver-Zwartkruis, Vrije Universiteit

(More Faculty Info)


The tuition for this course is € 1600 (or € 1300 without housing) .

Tuition includes housing, the opening reception, lunches on all class days, weekly get-togethers with faculty, a course reader, a public transportation pass, and travel costs and entrance to museums and exhibitions during excursions.

The excursions are coordinated through Black Heritage Amsterdam Tours.

Tuition does not include travel to and from Amsterdam.

For more information over the Summer School, please email:
blackeurope [at]

K. Nimako, Director
Email: obee [at]

Mano Delea, Project Manager
Email: mano.delea [at]

Camilla Hawthorne, Coordinator North America
Email: camilla.hawthorne [at]

Giovanni Picker, Coordinator East/Central Europe & Russia
Email: giovanni.picker [at]


International Women’s Day


March 7-10, 2013

The Africa Femmes Performantes international Women’s day Conference to take place in Yaoundé Cameroon from March 7-10, 2013, is dedicated to a major concern:  FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT FOR WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE

It is our great pleasure to invite you to join us. This conference represents a unique and exceptional learning and networking platform. You will also have the opportunity of discovering or deepening your connections with Cameroon, its leadership and business men and women.

Following the 5th International Congress of women held in Casablanca Morocco in November 2012, the main outcome was to build a financial institution aiming to financially empower the women throughout the Continent of Africa in accordance with the recommendations of Africa Femmes Performantes, Inc.

The Yaoundé meeting will be an opportunity for women to build on the successfulpartnership made in 2012 between Africa Femmes Performantes, Inc. And theAfrican Development Credit (ADEC): a financial Institution initiated by women in Cameroon. ADEC is affiliated with the OHADA act (Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa).

The 2013 Africa Femmes Performantes financial conference will highlight the best practices in finance with sessions on:

Strategy and talent development, leveraging knowledge and best practices; build institutional capacity in microfinance. Empowering the Poor out of poverty, women projects practical analysis, How to structure their workforces, New ideas about how to maximize unity and corporate performance. Enhancing Profits by lending onindividual basis member or project whose borrowing base is a group of members.Experts will advise members in their projects before approval. Building and developing projects according to the OHADA act. Procedures.



Tel:+1 240 7013972 ou +1 571 606 5215


Noella Coursaris – Powerful woman

Noella Coursaris

Noella Coursaris – UK – Lifestyle –  Model and Philanthropist

Noella Coursaris – UK – Lifestyle
Noella Coursaris – UK – Lifestyle

Noëlla Coursaris is a model, humanitarian and philanthropist. Noëlla was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At age 5, she sadly lost her father, and lacking the resources to raise her, her mother sent her to live with relatives in Europe. Noëlla has addressed UNICEF and the Congolese Parliament about issues facing underprivileged girls, was a panelist in the Global Creative Leadership Summit in 2009 and is frequently invited to speak for the United Nations. Noëlla was educated in Belgium and Switzerland, and after achieving a degree in business management, she moved to London. Her successful modeling career brought Noëlla to New York where she started the Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) in 2007.

GMF is committed to solving the education crisis in the DRC and dedicated to raising the literacy rate for Congolese women. Noëlla, with the help of Doc 2 Dock, has helped to secure the delivery of $2,500,000 in medical supplies to hospitals in her birthplace, the town of Lubumbashi in the Katanga Province, greatly benefitting the people of the region.

Women who wear make-up are precieved as trustworthy

This study was conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Procter & Gamble Beauty & Grooming, Procter & Gamble Cosmetics, and the Department of Computer Sciences.

Excerpt from study abstract

Research on the evolution of signaling has shown that animals frequently alter visual features, including color cues, to attract, intimidate or protect themselves from conspecifics. Humans engage in conscious manipulation of visual signals using cultural tools in real time rather than genetic changes over evolutionary time. Here, we investigate one tool, the use of color cosmetics. In two studies, we asked viewers to rate the same female faces with or without color cosmetics, and we varied the style of makeup from minimal (natural), to moderate (professional), to dramatic (glamorous).

Models without makeup and with natural, professional and glamorous makeup.
Models without makeup and with natural, professional and glamorous makeup.

The results suggest that cosmetics can create supernormal facial stimuli, and that one way they may do so is by exaggerating cues to sexual dimorphism. Our results provide evidence that judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness are at least partially separable, that beauty has a significant positive effect on judgment of competence, a universal dimension of social cognition, but has a more nuanced effect on the other universal dimension of social warmth, and that the extended phenotype significantly influences perception of biologically important signals at first glance and at longer inspection.


Our results have a number of implications. As predicted, makeup had significant positive effects on ratings of female facial attractiveness at brief and longer inspection times. Ratings of competence increased significantly with makeup look tested on first glance and longer inspection. Effects were weaker and more variable for ratings of likability and trustworthiness, although generally positive.

Social psychologists have suggested that social warmth and social competence represent two universal dimensions of social perception by which we evaluate individuals and groups, with warmth capturing traits related to social cooperation, and power/competence capturing cues relevant to advantage in social competition, such as status and dominance. Here we show a robust and positive effect of increased beauty on social power/competence and a generally positive but more nuanced and variable effect on social warmth.

Past studies have shown that attractive people are expected to do better on the job, in school, and in life – and are treated that way – by being agreed with, deferred to, helped, and granted larger personal space. In a recent experimental study using a task for which physical attractiveness did not improve productivity, researchers demonstrated conclusively that employers expect physically attractive workers to perform better at their jobs and be more competent.

But, as sociologists Webster and Driskell noted when first proposing the idea of beauty as status, there are important differences between attractiveness and other status characteristics such as race or sex: beauty is a malleable characteristic. They predicted that, given the powerful effect of status, “attractiveness will assume increasing significance as other characteristics such as race and sex fall into disuse.” We suggest that attractiveness has assumed increasing significance, and will continue to do so as long as beauty remains an often unconscious proxy for status and ability.

The beauty halo effect has been called the “what is beautiful is good” effect. In our study, makeup increased inferences of warmth and cooperation (likability and trustworthiness) when faces were presented very briefly, but did not always do so on longer inspection. In general, there is less agreement about whether beauty invariably signals social cooperation, with some studies suggesting that there is a ”dark side” to beauty characterized by vanity, immodesty, or greater likelihood to cheat on a partner. Our findings suggest that it may be fruitful to disentangle the effects of beauty from beauty enhancement, or phenotype from extended phenotype here. It may be that natural beauty or natural appearing beauty leads to positive inferences of social cooperation, where more obvious beauty enhancement may lead to neutral or even negative inferences. Finally, our results provide additional evidence that judgments of facial trustworthiness and facial attractiveness are at least partially separable; the highest contrast makeup (glamorous) increased attractiveness significantly while at the same time decreasing judgments of trustworthiness.

Our study looked at one potential source of the cosmetics effect on face perception, increasing luminance contrast between the features (eyes and lips) and the surrounding skin, and looked for the first time at luminance contrast in African American and Hispanic faces. We found that cosmetics increased luminance contrast by significantly darkening the eyes and lips. Skin was neither significantly lightened nor darkened. However, luminance contrast effects for our natural look compared to a face without makeup was only marginally significant. It is likely that cosmetics induced image changes other than changes in luminance contrast contributed to our effects. These include possible changes in the smoothness of skin tone, in the redness of skin color or lip color, and in shading that accentuates the cheekbones. Previous research has shown that makeup can improve skin appearance, evenness, and texture to appear healthier, fertile, and youthful and that skin and lip color can contribute significantly to perception of sex typicality and attractiveness, with lip redness enhancing femininity and attractiveness of female Caucasian faces.

Finally, our study included only North American subjects; we do not know if such effects will be found in subjects from other cultures*.

In sum, we show that faces with cosmetics engage both fast, reflexive processes, and more deliberative conscious processes. The fast, automatic effects are uniformly strong and positive for all outcomes. In situations where a perceiver is under a high cognitive load or under time pressure, he or she is more likely to rely on such automatic judgments for decision-making. Facial images appear on ballots, job applications, websites and dating sites. Our results underscore the malleability of judgments derived from facial images of a single individual at zero acquaintance, judgments that can be highly consequential. When inferring trustworthiness, likeability, or competence from an image, we are influenced significantly not only by the attractiveness of the inherited phenotype but by the effects of the “extended phenotype,” in this case, makeup.

*Do you think these findings would hold up in Europe?

Read the full Cosmetics as a Feature of the Extended Human Phenotype: Modulation of the Perception of Biologically Important Facial Signals report.