Diasporic Africa: A Reader

Diasporic Africa: A Reader

Diasporic Africa: A Reader

Diasporic Africa: A Reader

Synopsis

Diasporic Africa presents the most recent research on the history and experiences of people of African descent outside of the African continent. By incorporating Europe and North Africa as well as North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, this reader shifts the discourse on the African diaspora away from its focus solely on the Americas, underscoring the fact that much of the movement of people of African descent took place in Old World contexts. This broader view allows for a more comprehensive approach to the study of the African diaspora.

The volume provides an overview of African diaspora studies and features as a major concern a rigorous interrogation of "identity." Other primary themes include contributions to western civilization, from religion, music, and sports to agricultural production and medicine, as well as the way in which our understanding of the African diaspora fits into larger studies of transnational phenomena.

Excerpt

It is a commonplace for many that the dawn of modernity commenced with the transatlantic slave trade. With the exportation of millions of Africans and their labor, parts of Iberia, the Mediterranean, and the New World were transformed into endless fields of agricultural (and in some instances mineral) production that proved critical to the economic and political development of various European states. Nascent imperialism was funded by an array of labor arrangements that included the indentured and those working for wages, but they were overshadowed, at least into the nineteenth century, by a practice of slavery that became almost exclusively tied to Africans and their descendants. The African presence and contribution was certainly foundational, but it was also ongoing in what would become the Americas.

The African was not the sole representative of the “Old” World in the New. Europeans and Asians also made the voyage, albeit under very different circumstances. Collective conditions obtaining in Old World provenances, ranging from the conceptual framework of the “nation” to the “tribe,” retained some meaning in the Americas, but as these concepts had been previously developed within Europe or Asia as a means of distinguishing among territorially and culturally contiguous groups, their applicability to the starkly novel realities of the New World, where “Europeans” and “Asians” and “Africans” were now juxtaposed alongside native “Americans,” underwent significant attenuation. Indeed, Europeans and Africans emerged in the New World, where only English and French and Wolof and Hausa and the intimacies of the village had existed in the Old.

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