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How have Black Europeans conceived themselves historically, and what is their relationship to Africa and to other parts of the African Diaspora?

Ellinor Forje and Charifa Clark

The African-American experience has throughout decades been well documented in print and visually. However, the concept of a “Black European” is unknown to the majority. In Europe there exist considerable numbers of European citizens that are dark skinned people and whose ancestors came from Africa. History offers an explanation to the involuntary exodus of people from Africa to Europe. Their presence on the latter’s continent, is to a certain extent the result of the slave trades and also an outcome of the African colonisation period. However, more recent years have witnessed a number of voluntary African emigrants and asylum-seekers to nations across Europe. Some of these Africans are European by birth rights or through naturalisation, and they are defined as Black Europeans.
Although Black Europeans and the other members of the African Diaspora are linked together as a result of their racial heritage, it is difficult to establish if there exist a dominant culture that links the Africa Diaspora together, and if this is not the case, what is the reason behind the lack of homogeneity? It has been suggested that the prevailing cultural diversity that exist in Africa reflects itself on the Diaspora. This study is concerned with the observable fact of ethnicity and cultural belonging.

The main focus of this paper is on how Black Europeans associate themselves with other Africans and their descendants throughout the world, in places including Europe, the Caribbean, North America, South America, and Central America. The paper also studies how Black Europeans define and perceive themselves. Smith’s (1989) six categories of ethnicity which include; a name, common myths of origin, a common history, a common culture, a territorial association and a feeling of solidarity, are used to research and establish how Black Europeans interrelate with other African descendants. The findings are ambiguous, which is interesting as in our present time it has become even more virtual to define oneself culturally, globalisation has made cultural isolation impossible, now more than ever in Europe one has to belong to an ethnic group.

Racism and the Academy

  • How can it be overcome?

SMITH, Anthony D. (1986): The Ethnic Origin of Nations. Oxford.
HALL, Stuart (1992): New Ethnicities. In: Donalds,J.; Rattansi,A (Eds.): ?Race?, Culture and Difference. London

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