An Untold History
A dazzling history of Africans in Europe, revealing their diverse contributions in shaping the Continent.
Africans and 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.
Olivette Otele is Professor of the History of Slavery at Bristol University and Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society. She is an expert on the history of people of African descent and the links between memory, geopolitics and legacies of French and British colonialism.