Eve Rosenhaft, Professor in German Historical Studies in CLAS, has recently edited a volume of essays entitled Africa in Europe, Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century (University of Liverpool Press, 2013). The book is the first major output from an AHRC-funded project on which Professor Rosenhaft has collaborated with Dr Robbie Aitken, who was research fellow and then temporary lecturer in CLAS, and is now Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam.
The book explores the lives and activities of people of African descent in Europe between the 1880s and the beginning of the twenty-first century. It goes beyond the still-dominant Anglo-American or transatlantic focus of diaspora studies to examine the experiences of black and white Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans who settled or travelled in Germany, France, Portugal, Italy and the Soviet Union, as well as in Britain. At the same time, while studies of Africans in Europe have tended to focus on the relationship between colonial (or former colonial) subjects and their respective metropolitan nation states, the essays in this volume widen the lens to consider the skills, practices and negotiations called for by other kinds of border-crossing.
The subjects of these essays include people moving between European states and state jurisdictions, or from the former colony of one state to another place in Europe; African-born colonial settlers returning to the metropolis; migrants conversing across ethnic and cultural boundaries among ‘Africans’; and visitors for whom the face-to-face encounter with European society involves working across the ‘colour line’ and testing the limits of solidarity. Case studies of family life, community-building and politics and cultural production, drawing on original research, illuminate the transformative impact of those journeys and encounters and the forms of ‘transnational practice’ that they have generated. The contributors include specialist scholars in social history, art history, anthropology, cultural studies and literature, as well as a novelist and a filmmaker who reflect on their own experiences of these complex histories and the challenges of narrating them.