African Europeans: An Untold History

Basic. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781541619678. $30. HIST
Otele’s (history of slavery, Bristol Univ.) sweeping new history of Black experiences in Europe asks a big question about the nature of history itself: can we “dismantle racial oppression in the present” by recovering and understanding 2,000 years of forgotten, overlooked, and misrepresented stories of African European lives and communities? Otele reveals that there are as many answers to this question as there are people, places, and systems of oppression across Europe and Africa. Beginning in 23 BCE, with encounters between the Romans and the Kushites (of present-day Ethiopia), the book recounts the stories of many Black European figures, including the Roman revolutionary St. Maurice, Renaissance duke Alessandro de Medici, and Afro-German journalist Theodor Michael. The final chapter is an overview of the ways Black Europeans have confronted and reframed questions of social and historical identity in recent decades. Particularly powerful is the way Otele leaps between the centuries to lay bare the “connections across time and space” that have shaped, and will continue to shape, the identities and lives of African Europeans.
VERDICT Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this is an essential work of historical scholarship that is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.
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