This last work of the well-known Senegalese scholar (1923-86) is a summation and expansion of his two previous volumes-- Precolonial Black Africa (1987) and The African Origin of Civilization (1974)--and offers a refined statement of his life's work, to prove the primacy of African culture by proving that ancient Egypt was a black society, first in many cultural achievements later claimed by the following Indo-Aryan cultures. To this end, Diop discusses the paleontology, sociology, anthropology, and intellectual history of the ancient Egyptians set against contemporaneous cultures and also the modern Wolofs. This is a fascinating and frustrating volume. The organization is patchy; one central section seems to have gone off-course into an apology for Marxist political theory; the translation stumbles badly, especially in the early chapters; and one feels that history is being stretched (a la Velikovsky) on the author's Procrustean bed of African genesis. But Diop's erudition is patent, his place in African letters is secure, and his major works should certainly be available. For academic and large public collections. (Jo-Ann D. Suleiman, Library Journal)

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Alexander Pushkin was born into nineteenth-century czarist Russia at a time when the state and the church were supreme. The aristocracy was enamored of French culture and peasants were little more than slaves. The literati generally regarded the Russian language as ill fit for creative expression until Pushkin proved otherwise. His writing challenged the authority of the czar while his own wanton values gave rise to troubling guilt. Yet in his short and tumultuous lifetime, Pushkin rose to great prominence as Russia's most important poet and literary figure. In Great Black Russian, John Oliver Killens renders a sweeping fictional account of Alexander Pushkin, drawing on the conflicts, both internal and external, that continually assailed him. Of particular significance is Pushkin's African heritage on his mother's side. His great-grandfather, Ibrahim Hannibal, was an Ethiopian prince captured as a youth by Turks. Acquired not long after by the czar as an adornment for his court, the young man became known as "the Negro of Peter the Great" and was eventually named a general in the czar's army. Under the ancestral tutelage of his beloved maternal grandmother, Pushkin took pride in his African lineage. Yet he was ever conscious that it relegated him to the margins of society. Moreover, Pushkin suffered genuine emotional abuse at the hand of his mother for being the darkest, most Africanoid of her four children.

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Challenging societal beliefs, this volume rethinks African and world history from an Afrocentric perspective.

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Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, cultural historian, points out that the oldest veneration we know is of a dark mother of central and south Africa, whose signs-ochre red and the pubic V-were taken by african migrants after 50,000 BCE to caves and cliffs of all continents. The oldest sanctuary in the world was created in 40,000 BCE by african migrants in Har Karkom, later called Mt. Sinai, foundation place of judaism, christianity, and islam.Lucia documents the continuing memory of the dark mother and her values in prehistoric images of the dark mother, in historic black madonnas and in other dark women divinities whose sanctuaries are on african paths.

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The new edition of From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire offers a comprehensive look at the fascinating and controversial subject of the representation of black people in the ancient world. Classic essays by distinguished scholars are aptly contextualized by Jeremy Tanner’s new introduction, which guides the reader through enormous changes in the field in the wake of the “Black Athena” story.

 

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This is the first English translation of an important document in the history of the black presence in Germany and Europe: the autobiography of Theodor Michael. Theodor Michael is among the few surviving members of the first generation of 'Afro-Germans': Born in Germany in 1925 to a Cameroonian father and a German mother, he grew up in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic. As a child and teenager he worked in circuses and films and experienced the tightening knot of racial discrimination under the Nazis in the years before the Second World War. He survived the war as a forced labourer, founding a family and making a career as a journalist and actor in post-war West Germany.

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 Presenting an important opportunity to assess how black figures have been portrayed in British art, Black Victorians is a fascinating survey of a subject that has been given little coverage to date. It is essential reading for anyone seeking a fresh perspective on a well-documented period of British history.
Prize: 'Creating the Performance' award from the Progress Trust in recognition of its role in promoting the understanding of Black history and for work with the Black community through the exhibition.

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Do we imagine English history as a book with white pages and no black letters in? We sometimes think of Tudor England in terms of gaudy costumes, the court of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and perhaps Shakespearian romance. Onyeka's book acknowledges this predilection but challenges our perceptions. Onyeka's book is about the presence, status and origins of Africans in Tudor England. In it Onyeka argues that these people were present in cities and towns throughout England, but that they did not automatically occupy the lowest positions in Tudor society. This is important because the few modern historians who have written about Africans in Tudor England suggest that they were all slaves, or transient immigrants who were considered as dangerous strangers and the epitome of otherness. However, this book will show that some Africans in England had important occupations in Tudor society, and were employed by powerful people because of the skills they possessed. These people seem to have inherited some of their skills from the multicultural societies that they came from, but that does not mean all of those present in England were born in other countries: some were born in England. The arguments in this book are supported by evidence from a variety of sources both manuscript and printed, most of which has not been widely discussed - whilst some of it Onyeka has discovered, and this may be the first time that it has been revealed. Other evidence is taken from texts that are the subject of popular discussion by historians, linguists and so on, but Onyeka encourages the reader to re-examine these works in a different way because they reveal information about the presence, status and origins of Africans in Tudor England.

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A black porter publicly whips a white English gentleman in a Gloucestershire manor house. A heavily pregnant African woman is abandoned on an Indonesian island by Sir Francis Drake. A Mauritanian diver is dispatched to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose… Miranda Kaufmann reveals the absorbing stories of some of the Africans who lived free in Tudor England. From long-forgotten records, remarkable characters emerge. They were baptized, married and buried by the Church of England. They were paid wages like any other Tudors. Their stories, brought viscerally to life by Kaufmann, provide unprecedented insights into how Africans came to be in Tudor England, what they did there and how they were treated.

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The much-awaited Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque has been written by an international team of distinguished scholars, and covers the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of slavery and the presence of black people in Europe irrevocably affected the works of the best artists of the time. Essays on the black Magus and the image of the black in Italy, Spain, and Britain, with detailed studies of Rembrandt and Heliodorus’s Aethiopica, all presented with superb color plates, make this new volume a worthy addition to this classic series.

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Columbus Discovered America . . . But Who Discovered Europe?
Were the ancient Egyptians black? Did Egyptian explorers land in Greece some 4,000 years ago? Did they plant colonies, establish royal houses, and bring civilization to Europe’s savage tribes? Did the secret rites of their temple cults later resurface among the Knights Templar and the Freemasons? In Black Spark, White Fire, Richard Poe provides startling answers to these questions and more.

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Challenging societal beliefs, this volume rethinks African and world history from an Afrocentric perspective.

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Challenging societal beliefs, this volume rethinks African and world history from an Afrocentric perspective.

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.Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World, written by a small team of French scholars, has established itself as a classic in the field of medieval art. The most striking development in this period was the gradual emergence of the black Magus, invariably a figure of great dignity, in the many representations of the Adoration of the Magi by the greatest masters of the time. The new introduction by Paul Kaplan provides a fresh perspective on the image of the black in medieval European art and contextualizes the classic essays on the subject.

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There are many icons of Mary that show black faces and hands. In France, these are called Vierge Noires―Black Virgins. Elsewhere, may be called Black Madonnas or the “other Mary.” Jung called her Isis, while others claim she is the symbolic remains of a prehistoric worship of the Earth Mother. She is generally connected with Cybele, Diana, Isis, and Venus, as well as with Kali, Inanna, and Lilith. Historically she is connected with the Crusades, the Islamic occupation of Spain, the Conquistadors, as well as the Merovingians and Knights Templars, who viewed her as Mary Magdalene. Why are more than five hundred of the world’s Madonna images black or dark? Why is so little known about them? Black Virgins―a resurfacing of the powerful pagan goddesses of sexuality, the underworld, and earth wisdom―they are symbols of power and majesty, the other side of the traditional Madonna’s virginity or tender maternity. They personify the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant in a quest for lost feminine wisdom and the search for soul.

Ean Begg's fascinating book investigates the pagan origins of the phenomenon as well as the heretical Gnostic-Christian underground stream that flowed west with the cult of Mary Magdalene and resurfaced in Catharism at the time of the Crusades, especially with the Templars.

 

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From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood, written largely by noted French scholar Jean Devisse, has established itself as a classic in the field of medieval art. It surveys as never before the presence of black people, mainly mythical, in art from the early Christian era to the fourteenth century. The extraordinary transformation of Saint Maurice into a black African saint, the subject of many noble and deeply touching images, is a highlight of this volume. The new introduction by Paul Kaplan provides a fresh perspective on the image of the black in medieval European art and contextualizes the classic essays on the subject.

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This work examines the debt owed by Europe to the Moors for the Renaissance and the significant role played by the African in the Muslim invasions of the Iberian peninsula. While it focuses mainly on Spain and Portugal, it also examines the races and roots of the original North African before the later ethnic mix of the blackamoors and tawny Moors in the medieval period. The study ranges from the Moor in the literature of Cervantes and Shakespeare to his profound influence upon Europe's university system and the diffusion via this system of the ancient and medieval sciences. The Moors are shown to affect not only European mathematics and map-making, agriculture and architecture, but their markets, their music and their machines. The ethnicity of the Moor is re-examined, as is his unique contribution, both as creator and conduit, to the first seminal phase of the industrial revolution.

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This vibrant history of London in the twentieth century reveals the city as a key site in the development of black internationalism and anticolonialism. Marc Matera shows the significant contributions of people of African descent to London’s rich social and cultural history, masterfully weaving together the stories of many famous historical figures and presenting their quests for personal, professional, and political recognition against the backdrop of a declining British Empire. A groundbreaking work of intellectual history, Black London will appeal to scholars and students in a variety of areas, including postcolonial history, the history of the African diaspora, urban studies, cultural studies, British studies, world history, black studies, and feminist studies.

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Leading experts from the disciplines of history, literature, art history and anthropology examine black African experiences and representations from slavery to black musicians and dancers, from real and symbolic Africans at court to the views of the Catholic Church, and from writers of African descent to Black African criminality. Their findings demonstrate the variety and complexity of black African life in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Europe, and how it was affected by Renaissance ideas and conditions.

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Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de' Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de' Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro's noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

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Documents the role of Blacks in the social, economic, and cultural development of Britain from the seventeenth through the twentieth century.

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Freedom Time reconsiders decolonization from the perspectives of Aimé Césaire (Martinique) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal) who, beginning in 1945, promoted self-determination without state sovereignty. As politicians, public intellectuals, and poets they struggled to transform imperial France into a democratic federation, with former colonies as autonomous members of a transcontinental polity. In so doing, they revitalized past but unrealized political projects and anticipated impossible futures by acting as if they had already arrived. Refusing to reduce colonial emancipation to national independence, they regarded decolonization as an opportunity to remake the world, reconcile peoples, and realize humanity’s potential. Emphasizing the link between politics and aesthetics, Gary Wilder reads Césaire and Senghor as pragmatic utopians, situated humanists, and concrete cosmopolitans whose postwar insights can illuminate current debates about self-management, postnational politics, and planetary solidarity. Freedom Time invites scholars to decolonize intellectual history and globalize critical theory, to analyze the temporal dimensions of political life, and to question the territorialist assumptions of contemporary historiography.

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Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, cultural historian, points out that the oldest veneration we know is of a dark mother of central and south Africa, whose signs-ochre red and the pubic V-were taken by african migrants after 50,000 BCE to caves and cliffs of all continents. The oldest sanctuary in the world was created in 40,000 BCE by african migrants in Har Karkom, later called Mt. Sinai, foundation place of judaism, christianity, and islam.Lucia documents the continuing memory of the dark mother and her values in prehistoric images of the dark mother, in historic black madonnas and in other dark women divinities whose sanctuaries are on african paths.

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In Black France / France Noire, scholars, activists, and novelists from France and the United States address the untenable paradox at the heart of French society. France's constitutional and legal discourses do not recognize race as a meaningful category. Yet the lived realities of race and racism are ever-present in the nation's supposedly race-blind society. The vaunted universalist principles of the French Republic are far from realized. Any claim of color-blindness is belied by experiences of anti-black racism, which render blackness a real and consequential historical, social, and political formation. Contributors to this collection of essays demonstrate that blackness in France is less an identity than a response to and rejection of anti-black racism. Black France / France Noire is a distinctive and important contribution to the increasingly public debates on diversity, race, racialization, and multicultural intolerance in French society and beyond.

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France has always hosted a rich and vibrant black presence within its borders. But recent violent events have raised questions about France's treatment of ethnic minorities. Challenging the identity politics that have set immigrants against the mainstream, Black France explores how black expressive culture has been reformulated as global culture in the multicultural and multinational spaces of France. Thomas brings forward questions such as—Why is France a privileged site of civilization? Who is French? Who is an immigrant? Who controls the networks of production? Black France poses an urgently needed reassessment of the French colonial legacy.

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General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiarbecause his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slavewho rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolutionuntil he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

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This is the catalog from the Walter's Art Museum's groundbreaking show. From the website: Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe invites visitors to explore the roles of Africans and their descendants in Renaissance Europe as revealed in compelling paintings, drawings, sculpture and printed books of the period. Vivid portraits from life both encourage face-to-face encounters with the individuals themselves and pose questions about the challenges of color, class, and stereotypes that this new diversity brought to Europe.

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The Africans who came to ancient Greece and Italy participated in an important chapter of classical history. Although evidence indicated that the alien dark- and black-skinned people were of varied tribal and geographic origins, the Greeks and Romans classified many of them as Ethiopians. In an effort to determine the role of black people in ancient civilization, Mr. Snowden examines a broad span of Greco-Roman experience--from the Homeric era to the age of Justinian--focusing his attention on the Ethiopians as they were known to the Greeks and Romans.

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In this richly illustrated account of black-white contacts from the Pharaohs to the Caesars, Frank Snowden demonstrates that the ancients did not discriminate against blacks because of their color. For three thousand years Mediterranean whites intermittently came in contact with African blacks in commerce and war, and left a record of these encounters in art and in written documents. The blacks--most commonly known as Kushites, Ethiopians, or Nubians--were redoubtable warriors and commanded the respect of their white adversaries. The overall view of blacks was highly favorable.

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 The Aryan Model, which is current today, claims that Greek culture arose as the result of the conquest from the north by Indo-European speakers, or "Aryans," of the native "pre-Hellenes." The Ancient Model, which was maintained in Classical Greece, held that the native population of Greece had initially been civilized by Egyptian and Phoenician colonists and that additional Near Eastern culture had been introduced to Greece by Greeks studying in Egypt and Southwest Asia. Moving beyond these prevailing models, Bernal proposes a Revised Ancient Model, which suggests that classical civilization in fact had deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures.

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The term Greek philosophy, to begin with a misnomer, for there is no such philosophy in existence. The ancient Egyptians had developed a very complex religious system, called the Mysteries, which was also the first system of salvation. As such, it regarded the human body as a prison house of the soul, which could be liberated from its bodily impediments, through the disciples of the Arts and Sciences, and advanced form the level of a mortal to that of a God. This was the notion of the summon bonum or greatest good, to which all men must aspire, and it also became the basis of all ethical concepts. The Egyptian Mystery was also a Secret Order, and membership was gained by initiation and a pledge to secrecy. The teaching was graded and delivered orally to the neophyte: and under these circumstances of secrecy, the Egyptians developed secret systems of writing and teaching, and forbade their Initiates from writing what they had learned. After nearly five thousand years of prohibition against the Greeks, they were permitted to enter Egypt for the purpose of their education.

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African Presence in the Mediterranean: "Wooly-Headed Blacks" Island of Thera (ancient Mediterranean) 1786 B.C.E. (Photograph by James E. Brunson)

African Presence in Europe from Ancient to Modern Times: A Reading List