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The rich untold history of African Europeans

Olivette Otele's superb book traces the historical links between Africa and Europe

By Angelina Osborne   December 2020
A disputed portrait of Ignatius Sancho, an 18th century African European (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

A disputed portrait of Ignatius Sancho, an 18th century African European (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

Olivette Otele argues persuasively that the term African European, a little-used counterpoint to the ubiquitous African American, “is a provocation to those who deny that one can have multiple identities.” This multilayered work tries to shift perceptions, illustrating Stuart Hall’s thoughts about identity as a “matter of becoming… an ever unfinished conversation.”

In this superbly researched book, Otele, a professor of the history of slavery at Bristol, traces the historical links between Africa and Europe. She starts with ancient Kushite kingdoms and their queens who fought against Roman invasion, concluding with the contemporary activism of organisations like Mwasi,…

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