StoryGraph Saturday: African Europeans

StoryGraph Saturday is a weekly thing where I randomly choose a book from my To Read pile on StoryGraph and show it off to both remind myself that it’s there and to show it to you in case you might find it interesting, too.

African Europeans: An Untold History
by Olivette Otélé
304 pages
First published in 2019

From The StoryGraph:

Africans or African Europeans are widely believed to be only a recent presence in Europe, a feature of our ‘modern’ society. But as early as the third century, St Maurice—an Egyptian— became the leader of a legendary Roman legion. Ever since, there have been richly varied encounters between those defined as ‘Africans’ and those called ‘Europeans’, right up to the stories of present-day migrants to European cities. Though at times a privileged group that facilitated exchanges between continents, African Europeans have also had to navigate the hardships of slavery, colonialism and their legacies.

Olivette Otele uncovers the long history of Europeans of African descent, tracing an old and diverse African heritage in Europe through the lives of individuals both ordinary and extraordinary. This hidden history explores a number of questions very much alive today. How much have Afro-European identities been shaped by life in Europe, or in Africa? How are African Europeans’ stories marked by the economics, politics and culture of the societies they live in? And how have race and gender affected those born in Europe, but always seen as Africans?

African Europeans is a landmark celebration of this integral, vibrantly complex slice of European history.

The more I learn about history, the more I learn that it’s far more complex than any movie or television show can depict. And let’s be honest: a lot of period pieces set in Europe are very, very white, and that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of history. As scientists, archaeologists, and historians dig ever deeper into existing evidence, we find out that our ancestors were better traveled than we imagine, and much more diverse, too. I’m looking forward to reading African Europeans, because I want to find out more about the diversity that existed in the past, and how it has affected our present.

4 thoughts on “StoryGraph Saturday: African Europeans

  1. I saw an article about that painting! I’m glad they’re trying to keep it in the country to maintain their history. I hope it gets more attention. It deserves to be seen to show people that European history isn’t as white as we think it is

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