In European cities, social, political and cultural geographies of blackness/africanness exist. These geographies are in some part expressed through artistic and activist forms. Organizations and artists create spaces to discuss, express, and expose the realities of (young) people of African descent creating an Afropean lifestyle with transnational affiliations and implications. The art and activism of this Afropean identity is informed by other communities across the African Diaspora and the continent of Africa itself, an understanding of the history of Africans in Europe, as well as the belief that artivism can evaporate borders and integrate multiple layers of identity. Black/African artists and activists use city life as the platform to express their struggles and to celebrate their multicultural identity. Using historical, global black and Pan-African movements as the basis for local artistic adaptation, they are able to show one face of an African Diaspora reality in Europe.
In this session, we will explore how Afropean identity is translated to a wider audience and performed in a more visible way using artivism as the medium. Part of the activism of Afropeans is making their multi-layered identities visible and using art as a way to perform who they are. This is not only cathartic for those who are apart of the African Diaspora community in Europe, it also gives others a varied view and another story of what it means and is like to be visibly black or African in European cities.
While it is fundamental to contribute to the existing scholarship on African European Studies and Black European Studies one needs to question what is currently at stake in order to envision the future of the Black European African Diaspora in Europe. The aim of this session is to tackle the meaning of writing and translation and offer a more complex view of contemporary Europe as well as its past and future from a linguistic perspective. Following the question is the term “Afro” a useful synonym or does it make European whiteness invisible? – we will take a comparative approach and underline the similarities and differences together with Black European continuities.
The same way one notes that European countries are different (languages, cultures, etc.) while sharing a common history (colonization, slavery, imperialism), one has to underline the fact that despite of our similarities in experiencing everyday racism Black Europe is as much composed of diversity inside its national frontiers as it was (is) formed based on its respective histories.
Focusing on the sociological aspects of three countries we will engage in debates concerned with communication. More precisely, we will challenge the practice of writing and translation as a vehicle that breaks down language barriers in order to create a common Black European identity. By exploring the contemporary similarities of these countries we will look at the ways in which Black Europeans resist racism and discrimination within their own countries but also how these strategies of resistance influence each other. Among our questions are: why is the capitalization of Black so important in Germany today? In postnegritude France why is the translation of the N-word complex? What does Black mean to British citizens today and how does it include or exclude a new generation of migrants both from the African continent and Europe?
The aim of this session is to explore how experiences of racial and religious ‘othering’ intersect with and influence family life and practices of Finnish Somalis living in Helsinki. The presentations will examine this guiding question from three main angles: 1) the (transnational) practices of families (and their limits) to navigate racism and its marginalizing effects on different family members, particularly children, 2) the work of some mosques in promoting ‘multidimensional’ empowerment of Somali families that is grounded in Islamic ethics and enables families to realize what mosque actors call ‘positive integration’ and 3) the gaps in state laws, policies and practices that are concerned with family welfare and which contribute to the racialization and othering of Somali Muslim migrant families, as well as ‘identifiable’ good practices that can be built on towards the wellbeing of these families.
The presentations draw on research data from several studies conducted under the Academy project ‘Transnational Muslim Marriages in Finland. Wellbeing, Law, and Gender’ (2013-2017).
4. BRIDGING THE GAP: BUILDING ARCHIVES, BUILDING HISTORIES
Sharmilla Beezmohun, Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions & Maggi Morehouse, Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History & Culture, Coastal Carolina University
As John La Rose, the Trinidadian-born activist who founded the UK’s first black bookshop and publisher (in 1966) has said, colonial policies have always been based on a deliberate withholding of information from the population and on a discontinuity of information between one generation to the next. For black communities and organisations, then, building archives which record their own histories and work is of paramount importance to break these cycles.
Europe’s black populations have started to record their presence and conserve their endeavours through archives to varying degrees, following in the wake of many African American initiatives across the Atlantic. Yet many of these collections are little known about or face difficulties in continuing to survive – and many are yet to even become fully-fledged entities which might start to break the gap in knowledge.
This session calls for papers which explore the myriad of black archive collections and what we might learn from them to take this important work forward. Some of the themes which might be explored are:
- Where are the black archives and who is running them;
- How did they start and why;
- What are the obstacles and how can these archives be made accessible and known about;
- How might specialist collections such as theatre or publishing archives impact on black communities’ sense of self;
- What part can the educational sector play in disseminating information on black archives;
- How can black archives across nations come together to give a wider picture of the history of the African diaspora?
This panel on the aesthetic innovations in contemporary Black British Women’s Literature from the 1990s to the present explores black British women writers’ experimentations with language, form and genre; this refocuses the more common critical assessments, concerned predominantly with the authors’ thematic commitments, and ruptures the cycle whereby writing ‘ethnographically’ or politically is the only mode of acceptance. The panel’s aim is to demonstrate how the authors make formal connections with broader, more visible categories of literature in Britain and beyond, without necessarily compromising their commitment to socio-political and cultural concerns. Focusing on works of different genres, it investigates how black British women writers intervene in contemporary aesthetic trends and creatively challenge and invigorate the dominant culture’s forms.
The panel organizers belong to the international Black British Women Writers Network of scholars and practitioners, established in 2013 at a 1st expert meeting at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (funded by a Flemish research council project directed by Elisabeth Bekers). Committed to promoting the status of Black British Women’s Writing, it has convened international panels, incl. at the What is Africa to Me Now? conference (U of Liège, 2013), AfroEurope@ns (U of London, 2013) and CAAR (Liverpool Hope U 2015)). In 2014 the 1st Black British Women Writers conference (U Brighton) was held and an academic website was launched, which, together with a lively Facebook group, sustains the network’s collaborative research and dissemination activities and also has received good external usage from across the world. Aware of the ambiguity of demarcating the writing of black women in Britain as a field in its own right, the panel organizers aim to demonstrate, in this panel and a special issue, that the authors’ literary merits do not exclusively reside in their engagement with questions of race and gender but also with formal innovation.
It is a sad fact in Europe that many impediments stand in the way of black and minority students’ success in education. One of the most important is that school and university curricula have not been updated to meet the needs of diverse societies. History, for example, is still conventionally taught across Europe as the story of “nations,” often portrayed as more or less stable and homogenous. Although they may differ culturally, European nations in the history classroom share an implicit assumption of whiteness. By erasing the instability, contestation, and diversity at the heart of nations, this model allows students generally to swallow a whole host of myths that marginalize black and minority experiences and can alienate black and minority students.
But there is considerable research that challenges this model and the assumptions on which it is based. How do we ensure that our teaching reflects the complexity of our societies, past and present? Conversely, how can changes in our teaching inform how we research?
We invite presenters to explore how we can use black histories to challenge the monochromatic versions of national histories taught across Europe. How do we move beyond tokenism, using stories from the African diaspora to teach conventional narratives while at the same time troubling the conventional assumptions underpinning them? How do we approach the specificity of black European experiences and how these have changed over time? What are the practical challenges involved in updating curricula and teaching practice, and how can they be overcome?
Relevant topics may include:
Teaching Black Biographies
Constructing Narratives in European History
Sound, Text, and Image: Locating Resources for the Classroom
Digital Technologies in the Classroom
From Knowledge to Action: Connecting the Classroom to the Community
The Politics of Curriculum Design
Teaching While Black: The Politics of Representation
This session will interrogate the entangled history of the development of youth cultures and modern racisms in Afro-Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will focus in particular on how Afroeuropean youth have negotiated these distinct sets of cultural expectations and identities to define their place in a rapidly changing European social and political landscape.
In recent years, scholars have moved beyond the nation-state to consider transnational histories of young people and youth cultures in Europe and beyond. The study of race and racism in contemporary Europe has likewise taken a transnational turn with the emergence of the growing field of Black European Studies. And while exciting new research in this field has begun to bring the study of youth and race in Europe together, the broader articulation of transnational youth cultures and global racisms remains poorly understood, all too often leaving “youth” as an unmarked racial category. By bringing explorations of race and youth in Afro-Europe together, this session will explore the profound effect of racist cultures on young people, but also how young people have and continue to contest, resist and transform racial regimes and create their own social, cultural and political forms that are generative of meaning.
To that end, we are soliciting papers on Black youth’s participation in and encounters with political organizations, youth clubs, religious spaces, sports groups, fashion, art, and music sub-cultures and "scenes." Taking a broad view of Afro-Europe, we are especially interested in proposals that push against the traditional boundaries of Europe, whether in tracing linkages to overseas territories, colonies, and possessions, or in tracking transnational influences enabled by new technologies and mobilities. We welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplinary and geographic perspectives that will extend this inquiry across time and space.
This panel aims at contributing to the analysis of the emergence of Afroeurope by investigating the circulation, and intersection, of categories of Blackness and Africanness, in everyday discourses and social practices. Taking Blackness and Africanness as categories of practice rather than categories of analysis, we focus on how these notions are made and unmade, connected or dis-connected, appropriated or refused, adopted or deconstructed in social interaction and evolving biographies. This politics of self-definition becomes particularly urgent for youth born and/or raised in Europe, but confronted with intensifying practices and discourses of exclusion from Europe and Europeanness. It is in this context that we seek to explore the current revival of the Afro prefix among young generations of African-descended people across Europe.
Afroeuropean youth politics of self-definition are situated at different spatial levels: the level of circulation of categories across the Black Atlantic, the European level of an increasing awareness of Afroeuropeanness, the national level of specific colonial histories and racial formations, and the local level of everyday interaction. Indeed, something new is happening at the European level, especially among young generations that establish pan-European networks through which to carve out the Europeanness of the African diaspora as well as the Africanness of Europe. This pan-European process is informed by the global circulation of categories of difference and belonging and embedded in local specificities.
We invite papers that analyse this intersection from different European countries. The questions we seek to answer are when and how notions of Blackness, Africanness, Europeanness emerge and become important (or cease to be so) in individual biographies and subject formations and/or in collective practices and social dynamics. When and how do national or ethnic identifications (e.g. Italian, Ghanaian, Asante) become relevant, and when and how do youth transcend these differences and redefine and hyphenate categories of belonging?
High-profile museums and galleries in the West – such as the British Museum in London, the Pompidou in Paris, and the MoMA in New York – are continuously revising and developing new strategic plans to ensure that their collections, cultural programmes and exhibiting practices are engaging increasingly diverse global audiences. At the heart of these developments are complex issues about the changing nature of acquisitioning, curation, display and interpretation of artworks and cultural objects described as permanent holdings. The policies and practices implemented by these institutions serve as catalysts for generating and sustaining a rich discourse that invites artists, researchers, curators, archivists, educators, scholar activists and other creative practitioners to question their own roles and responsibilities within such dynamic museumscapes.
In this panel discussion, museologists, art historians, contemporary artists, scholars and cultural commentators from around the world will come together to discuss these issues with reference to one (or more) of the following questions:
• What aspects of 21st century curation help to transform museums and galleries into inclusive spaces for display?
• How are ‘postcolonial’ and ‘decolonial’ curatorial perspectives being advocated and articulated within contrasting Western museumscapes?
• Do artists, academics and activists with African and Diasporan heritage have a unique contribution to make towards progressing the discourse and practice of museum decolonisation?
• Which individuals and institutions are currently demonstrating aspects of best practice in relation to anti-racist and decolonial dialogues within Western museums and galleries? How might their positively transformative approaches be re-applied in other cultural contexts, museal spaces and alternative exhibiting environments?
10. AFRICA IN SOCIALIST AND POST-SOCIALIST EUROPE: CULTURAL ENCOUNTERS AND LEGACY
Dr. Svetlana Boltovskaja, Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe - Institute of the Leibniz Association & Dr. Gesine Drews-Sylla, University of Tübingen
The Soviet Union has supported African activists in their fight for independence and decolonization since the 1920s. The USSR presented itself as a country free from any racial discrimination. The early Soviet literature and cinema used black African images and characters to demonstrate the universal values of the Russian revolution and the Soviet socialism to the world.
The de-Stalinization of the USSR and the Decolonization on the African continent ushered in an intensive political and economic, but also cultural and educational transfer between the Soviet Union, other countries of the Eastern Bloc and African states. The Eastern Bloc wanted to present itself as a future model for the new independent Africa. The relationship between the USSR, the Eastern Europe and Africa was clearly paternalistic, but even so, the cultural and educational transfer had an important impact on both the Soviet/Eastern European and the African societies.
The USSR and the Eastern Bloc wanted to convert African students and visitors into sympathizers of socialism. They attempted to sway these students with free scholarships, site seeing travels, and participation at ritualized cultural events.
The current African Diaspora in Russia and in Eastern Europe developed as a result of the educational migration during the Soviet time.
The traces of Soviet socialist heritage and cultural exchange can be found in many African countries (e.g. Benin, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Angola) and in many former socialist countries in Eastern Europe to this day - especially in the visual arts (architecture of public places, monuments, posters, fictional and non-fictional films). The session will analyze the impact of this cultural exchange and the current handling of this socialist heritage in Eastern Europe and Africa (museum, literature, press, film, visual art, music etc.).
The African Diaspora Consortium (ADC) is an organization whose mission is to impact positively the educational, economic, and artistic outcomes and opportunities of Black populations across the African Diaspora. Four countries within the Diaspora (the UK, British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, Brazil, and the USA) have partnered under this organization to enhance education, economic and artistic outcomes at multiple levels, using the arts as a culturally responsive vehicle to stimulate and engage students pedagogically.
The work of ADC is unique in its focus and attention to developing partnerships and solutions in countries where African descendants were historically and culturally dispersed during the transatlantic slave trade and/or different migration periods (e.g., the Caribbean region, Europe, Latin America, and North America). By all accounts, a striking lack of comparative research and best practices devoted to dispersed African descendant populations and their inclusion in the mainstream exists. Yet, logically and intuitively, comparatively understanding how dispersed populations navigated their locations in different and new worlds while developing art forms as modes of communication, interconnectedness, and education and economic uplift can hold great importance for perspectives on social justice and advocacy for underrepresented populations globally.
This proposed panel session will include several perspectives in order to provide an historical and a current understanding and example of the role the arts have played in connecting individuals across the African Diaspora and European cultural heritages. Panelists will demonstrate how the arts have enabled individuals to communicate and connect in Europe through visual and performing arts while speaking different languages and trying to navigate new worlds. Session participants will discuss enhancing people’s imaginations of the arts as community uplift and to address social justice and human rights in Afro-Europe.
12. FROM SPEECHLESS EMISSARIES TO TRANSNATIONAL CITIZENS? EUROPEAN-AFRICAN DIASPORAS’ ENGAGEMENTS WITH GLOBAL HUMANITARIANISM
Giuseppe Grimaldi, University of Milan Bicocca & Elisa Pascucci, University of Tampere
From migrant-led activism around the refugee crisis in Europe to the expansion of the “aid industry” within the African continent, African-European diasporas are increasingly engaging with humanitarian practices and discourses. Recent research has highlighted the complex and often ambiguous character of these new phenomena, for instance, by examining the links between humanitarianism and businesses in the Global South, exploring the transformation of refugees into ”transnational aid workers” and arguing for a better appreciation of diasporic politics by humanitarian organizations. At the same time, the growing body of work that theorizes citizenship as a transnational practice accessible also to subjects who are excluded from formal polities has offered important insights on migrant and refugee political agency, often expressed through various forms of humanitarian action.
In this session, we are interested in papers that raise new questions regarding the relation between diasporas, humanitarianism and transnational citizenship. What kinds of ”hybrid” humanitarianisms emerge from the encounter between discourses and practices of global aid and the diasporic condition? What are the effects of the performativity that characterize the humanitarian discourse on more traditional forms of diasporic political engagement, such as those revolving around national, anti-colonial or land struggles? Can diasporic mobilizations around humanitarian questions – such as refugee migration in the Mediterranean – become the spaces where new forms of transnational citizenship are negotiated by African-European diasporas?
Possible topics include:
• Migrant and refugee entrepreneurship in the humanitarian sector
• Migrants and refugees as humanitarian workers
• The role of migrant and refugee-led community organizations and in global humanitarianism
• Diaspora activism around migrant, refugee and citizenship rights
• Theoretical approaches to humanitarianism, diasporas and transnationalism/transnational citizenship
• Humanitarian practices as sites of diasporic identification and/or political mobilization
• New perspectives on remittances, development and international aid
• Post-diasporas? Returnees, humanitarianism, development
Since the recent migration ‘crisis’, there has been a renewed interest in the Mediterranean borderland as a relational space. Travelling beyond the narrow scope of humanitarian and political ‘emergency’, this panel explores the current reconfiguration of the black diaspora in southern Europe, which involves reflections on identity, subjectivity and political space. The terminology of the Black Mediterranean serves the double aim of disentangling the construction of black diasporic identity in intersection with other social ‘markers’ (e.g. gender, class, nation), and of exploring black racialization as a sustained precondition of (post)modern capitalist development in the wider Mediterranean borderland.
We propose an engaged discussion between scholars, activists and artists about this double dynamic of black African racialization and emerging African political subjectivities in Southern Europe. As Robin D.G. Kelley, in his foreword to Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism, highlighted, the exorcising of the Black Mediterranean has been at once about the fabrication of Europe as a discrete, racially pure entity solely responsible for modernity, and also about the fabrication of the “Negro” as its metaphorical antagonism. From this observation, a series of questions arise:
-What continue to be the stakes of the Black Mediterranean as a descriptive and theoretical device?
-What is unique about the racial configurations of the Black Mediterranean?
-Under which structural processes is the Black Mediterranean being continually re-produced today as a bearer of black racialized identity?
-How has the Black Mediterranean emerged as a mobilization tool in (black) protest and refugee rights movements?
In sum, the aim of this panel is to reach beyond the usual depiction of the Black Mediterranean as a ‘conceptual dead zone’ (Saucier and Woods 2014: 57) and reveal the life that sustains it both within and beyond its shores.
Claims of the right to collective self-definition, contestations over identifications and demands of social justice are an important part of the current mobilizations and movements of racialized minorities across Europe. At the same time, many social struggles overlap and raise the question of how transversal forms of solidarity that cross ethnic, religious and racial boundaries can be developed. Not only have European countries witnessed the rise of far right parties, racist activism and anti-immigration movements but also new forms of resistance, activism and refugee solidarity movements have spread throughout the continent. This session focuses on mobilizations, solidarities and politics around and embedded in the advocacy for social justice, antiracism and collective identity formation. It asks what kinds of issues are at stake in contemporary forms of activism. Furthermore, how these forms of activism can be studied in an ethical way, ensuring participation and ownership for those who are at the centre of these struggles?
We invite proposals that discuss any of the aspects outlined or are complementary to the above. Besides scientific presentations, we welcome also explorative forms of presentation or practice-oriented proposals in this session.
While there is nothing new in people seeking asylum in other countries, the question of asylum seems to get increasingly contested with time. Following the public debate, the quest for refuge and the rights of refugees are gradually limited as asylum policies are being tightened across Europe. This session will explore the phenomenon of forced migration, with a focus on forced mobilities from the African continent to Europe. How is the access to Europe, and how it has evolved over time? How are the newly arrived welcomed to receiving societies? What is the role of refugee communities that have been established in Europe since a long time in this process of receiving newcomers and integrating them into the society? What kind of hierarchies and imaginaries come into play between refugees’ self-perception and the perception of policies and populations in receiving societies? How are these hierarchies and imaginaries as well as identities and communities negotiated within destination countries and amongst refugee groups?
We invite proposals that discuss any of the aspects outlined or are complementary to the above. The proposals can discuss the current context in Europe or adopt a historical perspective to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of refugeeness, asylum seeking and African diasporas in the European context. Besides scientific presentations, we hope to see also explorative forms of presentation or practice-oriented proposals in this session.
Afrofuturism is a term first introduced by Mark Dery in 1994 to retrospectively describe a trend of writing, music and art that engage with technology, science fiction, speculative fiction and fantasy. Afrofuturism is a distinctly diasporic trend that draws influences from African scifi film to Jamaican dub reggae to African American speculative fiction. Considering its variety of influences and points of origin, Afrofuturism is the perfect art form for challenging a constricting, linear understanding of blackness. Since being coined twenty years ago, Afrofuturism has quickly gained ground and inspired old and new generations of artists across Europe, from the Black Audio Film Collective in the UK to the Afrofuturist novel 53 cm by Black Belgian author Bessora and the Afrofuturist poetry of Black German poet Philipp Khabo Köpsell. The main research questions this panel would like to pose are, how and to what end do Afroeuropean authors and artists employ Afrofuturism in their work? Furthermore, does Afrofuturism allow a young generation of Afroeuropean authors and artists to move beyond the need to claim national identities in their work and more generally get beyond a white/black dichotomy. Black British scholar Kodwo Eshun states that articulating the African diasporic experience through science fiction allows one to highlight how alienating, inhumane and other-wordly the treatment of black people has been throughout history. But this way of re-interpreting the past and the present is only one part of Afrofuturism’s potential. A second aspect is the Afrofuturist’s imagination of time travel, something which imbues black people with the agency to take control of their past, present and future. By giving artists the means to take control of the goods and the narratives of African diasporic peoples, Afrofuturism provides a form of resistance to hegemonic discourses on black culture.
The panel brings together a group of scholars who have examined in their work the complexities of race and race relations behind the proverbial “iron curtain.” Even though historically Russia’s ties with Africa have been far less extensive then the ties between the continent and Western European nations, nevertheless throughout the decades of its existence the Soviet Union sought to present itself both to postcolonial Africa and to Africans in the diaspora as their “natural ally.” The Soviets’ claim to colorblind internationalism was primarily rooted in the Marxist-Leninist theory and its attendant critique of Western capitalism and imperialism. Much of the tension in the way the Soviets approached the issue of race originated in a clash between theory and practice, between the stated goals of anti-racism and the idiosyncrasies of race relations in a society that was both multiethnic and isolationist. The panel will seek to provide both historical and theoretical contexts to Soviet encounters with race and blackness, it will identify the continuities in the Russian-Soviet-Russian conceptualizations of race, and it will also examine the politics of anti-racism in relation to the Cold War as well as the rise of “new racisms” in the aftermath of Soviet collapse.
While the public opinion is constantly flooded by distorted representations of Black African people, their children and youth remain invisible. Beyond racial “colourblindness” discourses, there is a lack of knowledge and commitment related to their academic experiences and trajectories, as well as their transitions to the labour market and other vital experiences that influence their emancipation processes. We would like to visualize and explore experiences and challenges of growing up black in Europe in the context of financial crises and increased racism.
The session will focus on the main citizenship debates, racialization and othering processes experienced by black children and youths and their impacts. What identities are emerging between those youngsters? Does it make sense to talk about Afro-European identities?
Based on Black feminism and postcolonial contributions, we would like to address the ways in which blackness and race are constituted through gender and other categories as religion or social class with a focus on youth experiences. We invite papers based on qualitative methodologies.
Presentations may address questions of mobility in migration, narrative voices of life course trajectories and transitions, youths’ and migration projects in the local/transnational social space, black cultures of resistance, among other questions.
Through an engagement with diverse disciplinary perspectives, this panel aims to consider Afroswedish social justice movements, from older established brick and mortar organizations like The National Afroswedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas Riksförbund) to The Afroswedish Forum for Justice (Afrosvenskarnas Forum för Rättvisa) and PUSH (TRYCK), to newer efforts such as the creation of the online/offline hybrid communities, Black Coffee, Black Coffee-LBTQ, and Focus Afrophobia (Fokus Afrofobi).
Drawing on the work of Angela Davis (2008), we are particularly interested in the ways in which persistent European discourses of colorblindness in their neoliberal manifestations, are engaged, challenged, and resisted by Afroswedish social justice networks and organizations. Whether centering feminist, queer, youth, labor, or cultural initiatives, our particular interest is in papers that situate the Afroswedish condition within the larger sphere of Nordic and European Black liberation struggles, and more recently, the globalized #BlackLivesMatter movement.
We are interested, for example, in questions concerning the ways in which local and regional conditions of possibility in Sweden might speak to contexts of struggle in the Netherlands or Denmark. Further, what movement tools are available, locally and transnationally, that enable Black social justice movements to speak back to neoliberal applications and understandings of social justice, “diversity” management, positivity discourses, white governmentality, colorblind conceptualizations of antiracist struggle, and idealized conceptions of “togetherness?” In what ways is resistance to neoliberal racisms shaped by the different social, political, and economic spheres within which they take place?
We encourage both theoretical and empirical submissions that take up organized efforts to alter the normalization of racist structures and practices that shape the Afroswedish experience specifically, and the Black Nordic/European experience more broadly.
We welcome proposals related (but not limited) to:
Public debate case studies
Intersections of activism and academia
Narratives around Black experiences
Pragmatics, deliberations/negotiations around activism
Balancing mobilization and organizing
Afro-European (Afropean) is a discursive category that simultaneously evokes on transnationality, transculturality and Afro-diasporic subjectivity. Visual and literary representations of Afro-Europe interrogate the notion of the border – border locations, border lives and border crossing –, and foreground racially marked bodies as visual signifiers of non-belonging within the European context (Fatima El-Tayeb).
As a geo-political construct, the border is signifier of separation that inflects the diasporic cartographies of home and hostland, state and statelessness, legal and illegality. This panel draws on postcolonial theories (Bhabha, Appadurai, Glissant and Brah) to reframe the “border” as a space of transnational subjectification that co-produces notions of (un)belonging and the dichotomy of inclusion / exclusion. Thus the border is not a location (symbolic or otherwise) to be erased, rather a node of identitarian –political, socio-cultural and historical – entanglements.
The panel proposes an inversion of the conventional schema of studying the influence of how Europe’s social, political and economic structures influence the Afro-European agency. Rather than reading the liminality of the European border(s) in as transitional spaces that strip the Afro-European subject of their social status and agency, we consider how Afro-diasporic agency reconfigures national, geographic and social borders in terms of connection, circulation and multiple affiliation.
We invite a reflection on the modalities, technologies of Afro-European movements through and across identitarian borders such as nationality, Europeanness and diasporic communities. Axes of inquiry include, but are not limited to, crossings of the “ global Mediterranean” (Dominic Thomas), the visuality of black bodies within the European national space, as well as materiality and dematerialized (virtual) practices of remapping multiple affiliations in diasporic spaces.
21. REVISITING AFRICAN DIASPORIC PRACTICES AND THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF EUROPEAN MUSICAL TRADITIONS
Tina Karina Ramnarine, Royal Holloway University of London; Antti-Ville Kärjä, Music Archive Finland, Helsinki & Elina Seye, Global Music Centre
This session's objective is to examine new scholarly and artistic recuperations of musical histories that have been forgotten, or rendered invisible. These recuperations often relate to the overlapping domains of African diasporic and European heritages, thus raising critical questions about distinctions between musical categories.
Scholarly recuperations are underpinned by research areas such as music history, ethnomusicology, postcolonial studies, the new histories of empire and oral history, as well as the assembly of archive materials, for example the ”History of African Musicians in Finland Project” or the "Bass Culture Research Project" in Britain.
Artistic recuperations give new life to once major figures in European cultural life, like Joseph Bologne, who disappeared, until recently, from the classical canon and music historiography, despite his important contributions to compositional and instrumental techniques, as well as to revolutionary processes in 18th-century France and Haiti.
Alongside recuperations are persistent absences in music historiography. African diasporic musicians collaborating with their well-known Finnish counterparts are absent from a Finnish popular music volume in the Suomen musiikin historia series and, in Britain, African-Caribbean musicians assert revisionist understandings of 'Caribbean' genres such as calypso as being part of a 'British folk music' canon.
This session will ask questions about African diasporic musicians' participation in Europe's mainstream musical practices (classical, folk, jazz and popular) to offer critical re-assessments of music history, creative economy and canon formation. Furthermore, it will ask how and why African diasporic musicians should be written back into European music history. A key concern is how historiography has been a prime sanctifying practice, resting on presumptions about traditions and heritages, as well as on the sanctification of ’black roots’ in representations of musical practices.
This interdisciplinary panel invites papers on a range of Black British artistic interventions. Following Gilroy it charts the diasporan roots and routes of Black British culture across music, film, visual arts, drama and performance and other artistic forms across multiple time frames. Led by scholars at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at UCLAN (founded 2014), it will build on work that promotes Black Studies beyond its habitual geographical and institutional canonical bases to find cultural work that exists in the interstices and on the margins, promoting different, previously unacknowledged and radical work that allow space for African Atlantic cultural work that provokes surprising findings or challenges conventional notions of blackness. It will promote papers on topics ranging from emerging visual artists and their relations to non-metropolitan spaces in Britain, such as the rural North (2010s & the 1860s) through Black British artists’ relationship to key African Atlantic historical moments such as the Haitian Revolution (1990s & the 1790s) and contemporary black dramatists (2000s & the 2010s) to the successes of a pioneering Black British screen actress (1930s). The panel will promote the idea of the deep historicity of Black British culture even at its most contemporary and that this is related not just to African diasporan realities but also to engagement with British class, gender realities, promoting an intersectional view of Black British culture.
This panel proposes to examine and interrogate what cultural theorist George Yúdice has termed the “expediency of culture” in the (Afro-)Swedish art world. In Sweden, the concept of “culture” (kultur) draws on two related, though significantly distinct discursive lineages: one that emphasizes “ethnos” (folk, nation, community, belonging) and another that emphasizes “aesthetics” (cultivation, beauty, fine art, “the best which has been thought and said”). In mobilizing specific forms of cultural expression and modes of cultural politics, this panel asks: How do Afro-Swedish artists and culture brokers invoke and employ notions of beauty and belonging—art and society—to express and address their community’s multiple identities and positionalities? Concerns and aspirations? Fears and desires? Further, how do the various, and variously rich Afro-diaporic histories and sensibilities articulate—critically, reciprocally, or otherwise—with normatively “Swedish” senses of self and society? We are particularly interested in papers that focus on different modes of cultural expression (including television/film, theater, music, dance, and visual art) and reception (through new and old forms of media, and across racial, class, and gendered lines), with an interest in outlining and adding critical substance to the multi-generic and intersectional contours of an emergent Afro-Swedish art world.
The 21st century has not only given rise to technological innovations, but also proliferated new forms of resistance against hegemonic structures that have strengthened marginalized communities’ and groups’ activist potential. Our panel will give contributors the opportunity to engage with the multiple forms of Afroeuropean agency within today’s mediasphere. Possible contributions may focus e.g. on digital activism in form of blogs, You-Tube videos and channels, hashtag and (online) fundraising campaigns. Participants are also encouraged to examine how the use of online media has been able to address intersectional structures of oppression against Trans* and LGBT communities of colour or forms of misogynoir. Equally, we are interested in the question how new media activism adds to and possibly alters our understanding of traditional forms of protest and our perceptions of traditional media coverage. Although black (digital) place-making is needed, it all too often is overshadowed by aforementioned imbalances in power structures, resulting—amongst others—in the all too frequent online backlash that activists experience. We hence call for discussions of oppressive media aspects which might function as a vantage point for future activism.
25. PARTICIPATORY METHODS IN STUDYING LIVES OF YOUNG MUSLIMS OF AFRICAN DESCENT IN EUROPE
Marja Tiilikainen, Helena Oikarinen-Jabai & Abdisatar Gelle, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki
In public and political discourses, Muslim communities are increasingly seen as a threat to the social, cultural and political order in the West. These sentiments have been accelerated by the attack of 9/11, followed by “war on terror” and securitization of Muslim communities. In particular young Muslims have been perceived as being in risk for violent radicalism. Hence, the category of “Muslims” is used to construct difference and otherness. Amid tensions that emerge from the ongoing Islamophobia and social marginalization of racial and religious minorities, the growing number of Muslim communities of African descent bring issues surrounding intersectionality to surface. Young Muslim Afroeuropeans face double jeopardy as they are being racialized for both their religion and African background.
Current situation impacts not only Afroeuropean Muslim communities, but also research settings. In this session we will explore how participatory, including visual and performative methods, can be empirically used to study experiences of Muslim youth of African descent in Europe. We invite papers that address, for example, the following questions: How can these kinds of methods be applied? What challenges and opportunities do these methodologies entail? What kinds of ethical questions emerge and how can they be solved? Can the use of participatory methods help to bridge the binaries and unequal power positions between researchers and studied individuals/communities? What new considerations these kinds of innovative and more democratic research processes might entail, for example, in terms of reciprocal arrangements with the communities of engagement? What implications might the use of participatory methods have for academic knowledge production?
Although the Middle Passage and the Atlantic slave trade occupy the center of western notions of African diasporic consciousness, the role of the Ottoman Empire and its use of central and eastern African trade routes exposes a line of inquiry about the impact of the Middle East on AfroEuropean identity. The Afro-Turks and Turkish Kurds stand at the intersection of this cross-cultural encounter and an emergent history, linking the Near East, eastern Africa, Europe, and the Ottoman Empire. This panel session seeks to explore the national, social, and religious identities of these two under-examined ethnic groups in modern day Turkey. While the contemporary Afro-Turks and the Kurds base their national heritage and identity in the founding of modern Turkey, they have been left behind in by the tremendous economic transformation of Turkey in the last fifteen years. Yet, they are united in their use of the language of slavery. The Afro-Turks link their present economic fragility to the Ottoman slave trade, and the Kurds talk about their current political and economic conditions in Turkey as a slave-like existence. Furthermore, there is an urgency to document their traditions, oral histories, and ways of living, as the country of Turkey faces growing religious and regional discord in the Middle East. This session has three objectives: to discuss the present state, culturally and politically, of the Afro-Turks and Kurds in modern day Turkey; to describe how slavery within the Ottoman Empire adds middle eastern and eastern African dimensions to the comparative analysis of the African diaspora; and to show how the Afro-Turks and Kurds redefine and reflect modern European and modern Turkish identities. The panel session also speaks directly to the issue of global racisms in AfroEurope, exploring how the Afro-Turks and the Kurds have worked within Turkey to maintain their identities and work toward the survival of their communities, within the context of economic marginalization and racialization.
27. MUSIC IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF BLACK IDENTITIES IN EUROPE
Ana Stela de Almeida Cunha, UFMA (Universidade Federal do Maranhão) / CEI-ISCTE (International Studies Center, Lisbon University) & Patrício Batsîkama, Agostinho Neto University / Universidade Fernando Pessoa
The African Diaspora targeted not only its colonial metropolis but also other european countries. The geographic division implemented by the Berlin Conference (1884 -1885) assigned to many african people a nationality that goes beyond the boundaries of a single country and it means that this population is always in movement across the Europe.
In this panel we intend to discuss the reality of the immigrants excluded from the host society but who manage somehow, through the music production, language and other "african performances" to recreate an identity that fits the European consumer taste, or, in the Mudimbe's words: (1988) “the invention of Africa through European discourses”.
Portugal, for eg, with a rich and long historical relationship with Africa, especially regarding the region known as Central Africa, seems therefore to be one of the places where the “cultural hybridity”, proposed by Bhabha (1994) is highlighted, not only by demographic and historical reasons, but also due to Appadurai’s (1996) enlarged conception of “imagined communities”.
We want to receive papers with strong ethnographic data to discuss a) the importance of the african languages and its adaptability in recreating an "african" music space, b) analyzing the role of music as a practice in the construction of identity, c) cover theoretical concepts ranging from cultural heritage to intangible heritage (Blanes, 2004) and d) the role of the churchs in the afroeuropean musical scenario, among others. We are also interested in the triad "producers, middlemen and consumers" as key words for the proper understanding of these dynamics, called "authenticity" (Graburn, 1999) and its cultural implications.
28. URBAN CULTURE – RURAL PAROCHIALISM? EUROPEAN CITYSCAPES AND PERIPHERIES IN AFRICAN (DIASPORIC) LITERATURES
Janine Hauthal, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Anna-Leena Toivanen, University of Eastern Finland
European cities frequently figure in African (diasporic) fiction. With their landmarks and suburbs, former colonial metropolitan centres serve as settings in narratives exploring a variety of African diasporic experiences in Europe and contribute to the project of rewriting the continent from a new perspective. While London and Paris are the most popular and most studied loci, other places on the continent have also found their way into African (diasporic) writing as Afroeuropean mobilities keep diversifying.
This session invites contributions that address the question of how different urban and non-urban European spaces have been represented in African (diasporic) fiction. We are particularly interested in papers analysing fictional texts set elsewhere in Europe than the traditional post/colonial metropolitan centres. Such less studied locations may include, for instance, provincial cities; cities in countries with no direct involvement in colonialism; rural areas; or places situated on the fringes of the continent (islands, enclaves, etc.) – in short, locations that easily come across as peripheral and non-cosmopolitan from a (post/colonial) metropolitan perspective. We also welcome papers adopting a comparative approach to African (diasporic) narratives of different European central and/or peripheral locations. Papers may address, among others, the following questions:
21st century hyper-mediated Europe comes to terms with itself again as a de-constructed subject, and abjectly apprehends this as being in a state of disintegration. Meanwhile, numerous efforts are being made to recover and re-inscribe diasporic presences and experiences that are inherent to the region’s identities.This panel session will feature short presentations and exchanges amongst artists and curators researching, producing new works and staging activities around this troubled predicament.
Responding from a post-Brexit perspective, curator Adelaide Bannerman (UK/Ghana) will reflect on her thematic residency Rosa Emilia which spiritually honours Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959) Finland’s first African-Finnish citizen, and a sustained consideration of the differing contexts articulating presence and what it means to be ‘in residence’, supported by FRAME Contemporary Art, Finland and HIAP. Artist Jeannette Ehlers (DK/Trinidad) will discuss her latest project that marks the 2017 centennial of the sale of the former Danish Virgin islands to the United States. Ehlers is producing the first memorial statue on Danish soil of Mary ‘Queen Mary’ Thomas one of three prominent female leaders of the Labor Riots of St. Croix, 1878 - also known as the Fireburn. Artist and doctoral candidate Sasha Huber (FI/CH/Haiti) will present her portraiture series THE FIRST which researches historical and systematic racism and its debilitating effects on members of the contemporary African Diaspora. The suppression put upon this community has hindered equitable societal and economic developments which are linked directly to White supremacist thought and action. Huber’s portrait series suggests that this hinderance is the reason why today it can still be possible to be seen as the ‘first black person’ to achieve specific goals across many fields of practice.
The workshop welcomes the presentations dealing with integration process of the minorities in Europe. We interest mainly to the athletic assimilation of Afro-descendants. The papers or analysis have to focus on sport or body feature blackness. We expect social anthropological, sociological, geographical, socio psychological or socio historical approaches.
Could we speak about sports determinism? What are the links between diversity and sports performances in Europe?
Every championship dedicates “African” athletes, people stemming from what it is advisable to call "diversity "in France or Migrant descendant in further countries.
We note a plethoric presence of young black athletes stemming from popular districts (Paris, London, Birmingham or Brussels areas). These native and migrant athletes of suburbs are similar to a "black strength ", they constitute, especially the summer, the international window of France, United Kingdom or Turkey.
In France and Belgium social debates and sociological approaches rock between failure and success of integration.
“Afrofrench” or Black British are placed in a paradoxical situation: between a depreciating media representation and a great appreciation by the sports skill. Beyond the sports entertainment and the popular culture, a number of social and symbolic stakes appear.
Within the framework of these papers we shall be interested in the sportsmen and sportswomen belonging to Caribbean and Sub-Saharan communities.
Through the athletic or sport phenomenon, we shall try to understand the complexity of the European models of integration. We shall see how this shape of social participation presses the African or African-European youth. And we shall use the sport as an analyzer of ethnicity in Europe.
- Football and Migration
- Ethnicity and performance
- Sport events and Black Athletes
- Body culture, Empowerment/Alienation
- Black bodies in western world
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR), is a Brussels-based NGO that aims to achieve full equality, solidarity and well-being for all in Europeans irrespective of their skin colour, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Among other initiatives, ENAR publishes shadow reports on a number of topics like hate crime. The most recent shadow report, published earlier this year, was on Afrophobia, the first-ever European report that maps discrimination and inequalities faced by people of African descent in Europe/Black Europeans in 20 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).
Some countries where the political discourse is predominantly framed in the anti-immigration context and which targets both Blacks and Muslims include Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.
With matters appearing to get worse before they improve for minorities such as people of African descent in Europe/Black Europeans in Europe, it’s important to ponder responses that challenge such discourse.
In our session on Social justice and human rights in AfroEurope we’d like to share and discuss some of the key findings of our shadow report on Afrophobia
(http://enar-eu.org/IMG/pdf/shadowreport_afrophobia_final_with_corrections.pdf) as well as ponder some trends on this front. Here are the key findings of the Afrophobia report which we would like to share under the topic of Social justice and human rights in AfroEurope: http://enar-eu.org/IMG/pdf/sr_key_findings-2.pdf
Concepts of achievement and performance are omnipresent in today's globalised world and have an impact on all aspects of individual lives, social groups and environments: Sports, the body, education, professional and family life, sexuality, etc. Yet, the achievement principle, or meritocracy, is ambiguous: It promises to grant the possibility of success to anyone regardless of their class, race and gender, but the homogeneous identity parameters of those in top positions and the lowest ranks of society suggest otherwise. The meritocratic principle itself seems flawed: If there are winners in our increasingly competitive societies, then there must also be losers or those who are proportionately less able to perform – or conform. Indeed, does being an achiever and performer imply standing out or fitting in? And how are the boundaries of eligibility, or acceptance, drawn? Where do they manifest themselves as concrete conditions? Secondly, the 'achievement principle' is based on Western/Eurocentric concepts, and unsurprisingly, the term “achieving societies” (McClelland) has been used to refer to the global Northwest. How do Afroeuropean individuals and groups fare in this picture? How does it affect their experience and self-perception? Do they conform, perform or challenge Eurocentric/Western achievement principles? And if the latter is the case, what alternative concepts of achievement do they bring to the game?
The panel initiates a comparative debate based on examples from diverse Afroeuropean contexts, considering ways in which achievement and performance are negotiated in narratives. Virtually every bildungsroman engages with concepts of achievement and performance, but contributions to other fictional or factual genres are also welcomed.
33. DECOLONIZING KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION ON BLACK EUROPE AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
Stephen Small, University of California, Berkeley / University of Amsterdam & Sandew Hira, International Institute for Scientific Research, The Hague
Mainstream academic analysis of the African Diaspora in Europe is dominated by a preoccupation with European political and economic interests, inaccurate assumptions about the growth of Europe and the development of European identity, and a failure to account for the limits of industrialization and modernity. It was influenced by European philosophers and scholars that embraced scientific racism, Social Darwinism and eugenics. It has failed to address the irrepressibly gendered nature of knowledge production. The epistemological foundations of this knowledge production are deeply flawed.
Criticism of mainstream knowledge on the African diaspora saw its greatest impetus with the arrival in Europe of unprecedented numbers of Black people (and other people of color) as immigrants, settlers and citizens. They have developed alternative epistemological foundations but have been largely excluded from the academy. Building on the work of some critical scholars inside the academy, this includes independent scholars and writers, Black women’s organizations and performers of music, theater and literature. This includes critical race theory, Black feminist theory, post-colonial studies and decolonial studies.
This panel proposes papers on the African Diaspora within a DTM framework. DTM rejects the epistemological foundations of mainstream knowledge, which invariably focuses on immigrants, adaptation, tolerance and gratitude, and typically disavows the relevance of racism in favor of ethnicity and nationality. In opposition, the DTM framework advocates knowledge production based on a recognition of citizenship, an evaluation of institutional racism, and appreciation of rights and respect. We seek papers that challenge the taken-for-granted assumptions of academic neutrality; that highlight issues of gender and intersectionality; that challenge colonialist language and that embrace new concepts and terminology.