Hakim Adi was trained as a historian of Africa, but his research interests have broadened to include the history of African diaspora as well, particularly in the twentieth century. His earlier research and publications focused on the history of the African diaspora in Britain, a relatively new subject for academic study, and in particular on the political history of West Africans in Britain, and the influence of Communism and Pan–Africanism on anti-colonial activism. This work sought to demonstrate not only the important links that were established between those in the African continent and its diaspora but also that Africans and those of African descent have played a significant but often neglected role in the history of Britain.
Although focused on Britain, Professor Adi’s research on such organisations as the West African Students’ Union was necessarily also international in scope and led to further research and publications on the history of the Africans in Britain in previous centuries, as well as to research on various aspects of the Pan-African movement and the influence of Communism on Africa and the African diaspora in the first half of the twentieth century. That research led to his most recent project focusing on the Communist International and its activities in Africa and amongst the African diaspora (principally in the United States, the Caribbean, Britain and France) from 1919-1939.
As one of the few historians specialising in the history of the African diaspora in Britain, his work has led to many media appearances, work with museums and archives, and the publication of three history books for children.