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Afropean: Notes from Black Europe

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'Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity ... A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too, and these were people and places it needed to understand and embrace if it wanted fully functional societies. And Black Europeans, too, need to deman 'Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity ... A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too, and these were people and places it needed to understand and embrace if it wanted fully functional societies. And Black Europeans, too, need to demand the right to document and disseminate our stories ... With my brown skin and my British passport - still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing - I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning.' Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.


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'Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity ... A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too, and these were people and places it needed to understand and embrace if it wanted fully functional societies. And Black Europeans, too, need to deman 'Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity ... A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too, and these were people and places it needed to understand and embrace if it wanted fully functional societies. And Black Europeans, too, need to demand the right to document and disseminate our stories ... With my brown skin and my British passport - still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing - I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning.' Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.

55 review for Afropean: Notes from Black Europe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    76th book for 2019. An enjoyable, informative UK black-backpackers trip through Western Europe. While I enjoyed the book, I would have liked deeper and broader overview (there is nothing on Eastern Europe—Russia gets a mention—and nothing on Italy or Greece). For instance, the only entry to Germany, was Berlin, where Pitts seemed to have divided time between Left-Radicals and the Jamaican community. I know there was a much more interesting and nuanced story here both for Berlin and Germany, which 76th book for 2019. An enjoyable, informative UK black-backpackers trip through Western Europe. While I enjoyed the book, I would have liked deeper and broader overview (there is nothing on Eastern Europe—Russia gets a mention—and nothing on Italy or Greece). For instance, the only entry to Germany, was Berlin, where Pitts seemed to have divided time between Left-Radicals and the Jamaican community. I know there was a much more interesting and nuanced story here both for Berlin and Germany, which was missing from Pitts account; which makes me suspect this was also true to a greater or lesser extent for the other cities he visited. There was also little discussion of the refugee crisis and how this has complicated questions of "race" and immigration throughout Europe. On the other hand, what is here is interesting, and it certainly part of a necessary broader conversation about what it means to be Black and European, at a time when many people are attacking the virtues of Europe, especially as a place of multicultural mix. 3-stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jearl Boatswain

    Now, I'm openly biased when I say I loved this book. Having studied European Studies with French and Spanish I could probably count the number of works by and or centered Black Europeans that I studied throughout my 4 years of study on one hand. One of those being an extract from Franz Fanon’s `The Wretched of the Earth’ from an introduction to French culture in history module from my first year. (At 8:30am on a Monday morning, hardly anyone showed up…) Approaching this book as someone who has se Now, I'm openly biased when I say I loved this book. Having studied European Studies with French and Spanish I could probably count the number of works by and or centered Black Europeans that I studied throughout my 4 years of study on one hand. One of those being an extract from Franz Fanon’s `The Wretched of the Earth’ from an introduction to French culture in history module from my first year. (At 8:30am on a Monday morning, hardly anyone showed up…) Approaching this book as someone who has searched high and low for black European narratives, has travelled across some of the cities mentioned and was even inspired to do so watching Cecile emeke’s Strolling documentary series on Youtube, it was a relief to finally see a book like this in print. Part memoir, part travelogue, the book reads as a reimagined travel guide which comes face to face with the glossy images that we are usually accustomed to a European utopia. At times, it offers a stark and realistic additions to beloved favourites such a Lonely Planet guides notably in his notes from Lisbon: ‘Lisbon may be a masterpiece but look closer at the brushstrokes and you’ll find some troubling details’. The beautifully shot black and white photography of Afropeans living authentically and going about their daily lives captures the many complexities and difficulties of living in Europe as part of the African diaspora and the overlapping identities. From Guerlain protesters assembling in the streets of Paris to a statue of Pushkin illuminated by copper street lights in Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square, they wonderfully uncover the existence of an African presence in Europe that has survived for hundreds of years, as well as the modern-day impacts of navigating this complicated continent that many have made home.

  3. 5 out of 5

    gaverne Bennett

    Great read. An eye opener...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Victor Jr.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ray Murphy

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed.Noor

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    Olof Björck

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    Gui

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    Ty

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    Johanna Giuriolo

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    Literandra

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    Catherine

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    Kim

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    Roger Mckenzie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beukenick

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    Kevin Nimoh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liala Abdelrahman

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    Aamir

  19. 4 out of 5

    A B AKPAN

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jahnell

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    Gui

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eivind

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    Edward Jackson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sam Gilbert

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    Djibril

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shasha Perfect

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    Sara

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    Antonomasia

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    Rebecca

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ciboulette

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ania Chojnacka

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    Mac Kie

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    Simone

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    Steve Walker

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    Andrew

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    Kristen

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    Katharine

  40. 4 out of 5

    Derek Owusu

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    Jo O'Donnell

  42. 5 out of 5

    Smith & Ten

  43. 5 out of 5

    Øyvind Holen

  44. 5 out of 5

    Monika

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    Leah

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    Tatiana

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    Bina

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  49. 4 out of 5

    Mocha Girl

  50. 5 out of 5

    Michal Rudziecki

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    Jo

  52. 5 out of 5

    Claire Henson

  53. 4 out of 5

    TAB

  54. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  55. 5 out of 5

    Christy Braham

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