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Hue-man
2012-05-14, 00:55
Here's an interesting essay about the experience of Black Africans in Middle Age and Early Modern Europe.


Problems in Studying the Role of Blacks In Europe

By Allison Blakeley

There is a risk in asking 20th-century questions of earlier times because today's terms of discourse may not find a meaningful context there. It is likewise problematic to project onto European history social and cultural constructs that have evolved in the United States, and perhaps nowhere else, in quite the same form. Such is the dilemma we face in considering the influence of blacks in European history for a primarily American audience.

A discussion of the influence of black Africans on Europe and on Europeans is complicated by the absence of a universal definition of black. In general, the designation black in Europe, unlike in the United States, has been reserved for those of dark color, not the broader definition based on known black African ancestry. Consequently, awareness of a black population in Europe has been limited by the fact that when interracial marriage occurred, subsequent light-complexioned generations might never be referred to again as black. Hence the debate over whether Alexandre Dumas père, who had African ancestry through his paternal grandmother, was black. Consistent with the predominant European attitude, he emphatically rejected the notion that he was. Besides, in his France-as in all the other European societies-class was far more important than color, at least until the 20th century. The great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, who took pride in his African ancestry, shrugged off aspersions cast on that score, but took great offense at those who did not respect the centuries of nobility on his father's side.

Is it legitimate, therefore, for a historian to count these two 19th-century literary giants as evidence of an African influence? Has racial thought in Europe had the same degree of significance as in the United States? Have blacks in Europe experienced a kind of positive "invisibility" in contrast to the destructive American type chronicled by Ralph Ellison? On the surface the European racial definition seems more egalitarian. However, the history in question suggests also the possibility of an attempt to ignore or minimize the influence of a group considered sufficiently undesirable to have been excluded by law from European countries at various times. For teachers and students of history a resultant practical problem is the absence of clear references to race in documents such as census data where it might be quite useful. Moreover, among scholars, few have found the experience of blacks in Europe to merit special attention; and even those few of African descent who have achieved high status have done so by following the accepted conventions and by avoiding drawing attention to either their African heritage or to African characteristics in their societies. This has been left to blacks in former colonies, not in Europe. The remainder of this brief essay by one such outsider uses selected examples from continental European societies to discuss some of the other issues that must be confronted in studying the influence of Africa and Africans on continental Europe.

Africa and Africans have had an influence on European thought and culture far disproportionate to the size of the small black population (which, for example, approached 150,000 in the Iberian peninsula in the 16th century, and by the 18th amounted to just several thousand in France, a few thousand in the Netherlands, and several hundred scattered through Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia; only in the 20th century would the combined numbers reach the hundreds of thousands). The most striking example of that disproportionate influence can be seen in the 20th century, in Soviet Russia, which as part of its messianic role chose Black Africa and blacks in America as symbols for the Communist championing of the downtrodden; elected blacks as honorary members of the Moscow City Council; and named a mountain after Paul Robeson. A strong case can also be made that blacks have had influence in and on Europe primarily as symbols of European achievement, rather than in their own right. A graphic example was the curious widespread use of "Moors' heads" in the coats of arms of hundreds of European towns and families in medieval and early modern Europe. European attitudes about Africa and Africans have played a significant role in helping Europeans to define themselves.

For purposes of this discussion, it will be useful to begin with a look at how leading European thinkers framed the main questions involved here. Immanuel Kant, an Enlightenment luminary, wrote in his "Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime":

The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the trifling. Mr. [David] Hume challenges anyone to cite a single example in which a Negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was ever found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even though among the whites some continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble and through superior gifts earn respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between these two races of man.

Kant's essay is his global inventory of all the world's cultures, which concludes that Europeans surpass nearly all of the others in most regards. Thus Africans, who rank among the lowest in his mind, help to define what he terms the European character. His conclusions also suggest how difficult it would be for him to accept any notion of a positive influence by blacks.

It should be obvious that Mr. Hume, the devout empiricist, was in this instance not very empirical at all. For his part, Kant never traveled farther than 100 miles from his native home in Königsberg on the Baltic Sea during his entire 80 years of life. Johann Herder, one of Kant's best university students there, articulated even more clearly what it would have taken for blacks to impress those who accepted the Hume-Kant assessment, when in his own Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man he wrote: "The Negro has ... never once conceived the design of improving or of conquering Europe." It should be noted that there was opposing Enlightenment opinion on the subject, which offers an alternative explanation for limits to lofty black achievement. The Abbé Raynal, one of the most prolific philosophe writers, wrote that blacks only appeared to be inferior because of the circumstances that had been forced upon them. However, it was Kant's evaluation of the ability of blacks that was the predominant view among the leading Enlightenment thinkers and has prevailed in European thought ever since. This remained true even though Kant himself eventually arrived at a more positive assessment of blacks and blackness in his later philosophical reflections. How does a history teacher, who perhaps has just in an earlier lesson impressed upon students how important an intellectual figure Immanuel Kant is, now persuade these same students that even they can correct Kant on this particular subject? One possible way is to simply use him as an example of how even powerful intellectuals are still human beings, and can be wrong.

Kant's sentiments appear all the more arrogant in light of three interesting examples of blacks with distinguished careers in nearby Germany, Russia, and the Netherlands. The saga of Anthony William Amo should have been familiar to Kant because Amo gained fame in Germany for his philosophical studies. Born on the Gold Coast around 1700, he was taken to Amsterdam by the West India Company when he was about 10 years old and was presented to the Duke of Wolfenbüttel. He was baptized in Wolfenbüttel in 1707 and given the names Anton and Wilhelm in honor of the reigning duke and his son. A grant from the duke allowed Amo to be educated to a point where he was able to enter the universities at Halle, in 1727, and Wittenberg, in 1730, where he became skilled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Dutch and concentrated on philosophy. In 1734 he was awarded the doctorate degree from the University of Wittenberg with a dissertation on "De humanae mentis apatheia" ("On Apathy in the Human Mind"). In his philosophical work he was a rationalist, devoting special attention to mathematical and medical knowledge in the context of Enlightenment thought. He became a lecturer at the University of Halle and later at the University of Jena until the 1750s.

Among the few fairly prominent black figures in Dutch history who at least briefly caught the public eye, the earliest was the former slave Jacobus Capitein, so named because a Dutch captain brought him to Leiden, where he was put into school, mastered several European languages, and eventually became a predicant after completing theological training at the University of Leiden in 1742. He became famous as author of a treatise that defended slavery as an avenue to redemption for Africans. His portrait, usually accompanied by didactic poetry, circulated widely, advertising that blacks could be transformed by Christianity and Western civilization. Prior to going off to what was to prove a disastrous mission in his homeland on the Gold Coast, he preached a number of times in Holland to audiences who flocked to see this novelty.

The first black to attain high recognition in Russia was Abram Hannibal, the African slave who became a favorite of Tsar Peter the Great and was the maternal great-grandfather of Pushkin, the single most revered figure in all of Russian culture. Brought to Russia at the beginning of the 18th century as part of a group of young black prospective servants, Hannibal, under the tsar's sponsorship, went on to attain a high level of education in France and, after returning to Russia, eventually advanced to the rank of major general in the army engineers. He brought back to Russia a personal library of 400 books, one of the largest and most up-to-date in the empire, and himself published a two-volume compilation on geometry and construction techniques. The owner of several estates, complete with serf labor, he served from 1743 to 1751 as Commandant of the city of Reval on the Baltic, not far from Kant's Königsberg. He later directed major canal and other construction projects.

The cases of Hannibal, Amo, and Capitein are particularly germane to the present discussion because there is correspondence showing that their patrons deliberately supported their development as Enlightenment experiments to determine whether blacks could be formally educated to excel in European arts and sciences. How then do we explain the virulence of the negative assessment of the abilities of blacks by some of the most respected thinkers in Western civilization, an assessment still invoked in the late 20th century by those seeking to legitimize theories asserting black inferiority? A closer consideration of the historical background of the Kantian view can clarify the limitations on African influences on Europe and provide some further direction for teachers.

The first point that should be noted is that Kant was not basing his evaluation on the historical experience of blacks in Europe. There had been blacks who had achieved distinction as early as Moorish Iberia, and later in Spain and Portugal, the European societies that first saw a large influx of blacks. Most of these notables were mulattos: for example, Cristóbol de Meneses, a Dominican priest; the painters Juan de Pareja and Sebastian Gomez; and Leonardo Ortiz, a lawyer. Among the few dark-skinned blacks who achieved high status was Juan Latino, a slave from Africa who through his master's benevolence was educated at the University of Granada. There were also some other signs of respect for blacks during these centuries. In 1306 an Ethiopian delegation came to Europe to seek an alliance with the "King of the Spains" against the Moslems. King Anfós IV of Aragon considered arranging a double marriage with the Negus of Ethiopia in 1428. And the Portuguese sent Pedro de Corvilhao to Ethiopia in 1487 on a similar mission.

Meanwhile the actual living experience of blacks in Europe appeared to be marked by smooth integration into European society, with the role of lower-class blacks determined very much by that of their masters or employers. The 140,000 slaves imported into Europe from Africa between 1450 and 1505 were a welcome new labor force in the wake of the Bubonic Plague. On the whole, the blacks in Christian Iberia were not limited to servile roles; but they were also not influential as a group. The new slave population in Portugal worked in agriculture and fishing. Free blacks living in Loulé and Lagos in the southern edge of Portugal owned houses and worked as day laborers, midwives, bakers, and servants. Most were domestic servants, laborers (including those on ships and river craft), and petty tradesmen. Some free blacks, especially women, became innkeepers. Blacks in Spain served as stevedores, factory workers, farm laborers, footmen, coachmen, and butlers. Male and female domestics apparently lived well compared to other lower-class people. Slaves could work in all the crafts, but could not join the guilds. A few Africans active in the Americas during the early Iberian expansion were among returnees to Portugal and Spain from America and Africa from the 16th to the 18th centuries. These included free mulatto students, clerics, free and slave household servants, sailors, and some who attained gentlemen's status. The use of many black women slaves as domestics and concubines led to mulatto offspring who received favored treatment, and in some instances, attained middle-class and even aristocratic status.

In surveying the later experience of blacks in the northern, central, and eastern European societies, there is a striking similarity to the patterns in Iberia, but with smaller populations before the 20th century. In those societies it became fashionable for the wealthy to employ blacks as decorative house servants and in ceremonial roles such as military musicians. The Dutch entry into the African slave trade, beginning in the 17th century and eventually accounting for the removal of about half a million Africans to the Americas, magnified the image of blacks as a servile race in Dutch society. This was one of the factors reinforcing a low esteem for blacks in other parts of Europe as well by the 18th century.

The basis for denigration of blacks must also be sought, however, in underlying notions within European cultures. Images of blacks and attitudes about blacks were present in Europe long before there was a significant physical presence. In visual arts, religion, epics, and legends, the Middle Ages provide a fascinating array of vivid illustrations of this point. There is a persistent pattern of ambivalence in the attitudes of white Europeans toward blacks that has survived over the centuries, always containing both positive and negative features, but usually tilting toward the latter. Imagery based upon religious themes illustrates especially well the ambivalence in question. Black saints were proclaimed in parts of medieval Europe when the Holy Roman Emperors, beginning with Charles IV's ascension in 1346, adopted blacks into the iconography of their realm. The statue of St. Maurice in the chapel of St. Kilian at Magdeburg and the 17th-century bust and older relics of St. Gregory the Moor at the church of St. Gereon in Cologne testify to the strength of these notions. This special recognition aimed not only to acknowledge the contribution of African martyrs to the Christian cause, but also to amplify the scope of the German emperor's realm and affirm the relevance of Christianity to all peoples.

Yet even some of the most beautiful art depicting blacks had darker undertones. The Adoration of the Magi was the single most popular religious theme featuring blacks in European art. The black king, handsome with noble bearing, was usually depicted as the youngest, presumably symbolizing Africa as the continent just beginning to participate in world affairs. This hint at backwardness is of course the negative aspect. Another biblical theme with a similarly ambiguous message was that surrounding the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, described in a passage of the Book of Acts. Although this may be interpreted as celebrating a missionary role for Christianity, it also implies European cultural superiority. Moreover, this theme becomes even more negative when it is associated with a popular symbol derived from a passage in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, where the impossibility of an Ethiopian changing his color is mentioned in a discussion of sin and punishment (Jeremiah 13: 22-25). In the emblematic tradition widely published in western Europe during the early modern period, a "washed Moor" was the symbol for futility.

An even older and better known religious theme bearing a negative connotation for blacks was that concerning the Hamitic legend. The convergence of this legend (as well as that on the Ethiopian baptism) with the historic advent of the African slave trade represents just the type of historical fusion that can help explain the depth of modern racism's roots: that is, myth seemingly confirmed by experience. Other imagery concerning blacks drawn more from the historical experience than from imagination might be cited from epics, legends, and literature. An illustrative medieval literary work is Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal, drawn from the legend of King Arthur and his court, which evolved for centuries in England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The images of the blacks in the story are at times positive and at others negative, sometimes noble, at others ridiculous. Also, precursing a familiar theme of the present day, the males have uncontrollable sexual appetites. The depiction of blacks as tormentors and sexual symbols was also popular. Among Satan's titles in literature and folklore were "black knight," "black man," "big Negro," "black Jehovah," and "black Ethiopian." Such figures as Ruprecht and Black Pete (Zwarte Piet), the sometimes benevolent bogeymen who accompany the Saint Nicholas figure in the Christmas celebrations in Germany and the Netherlands, show that the ambivalence persists.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the apparent assumed inferiority of blacks would become cloaked in supposedly scientific racist theories, such as those of Joseph Gobineau and Adolph Hitler, which consciously echoed the earlier language of Kant. Reservations about the character of blacks, even when not spoken, have been among the reasons for limiting entry of blacks into Europe and for opposing racial mixture. On the other hand, this low opinion has only added to the popularity of blacks as symbols, because the commercial use of blacks as symbols tended to reinforce their dehumanization. In the course of the 19th century, industries throughout the Western world began to adopt trademarks featuring blacks; for example, those for tobacco products, cleansers, coffee, liquor, rice, shoe and metal polish, and toothpaste. Those for raw materials and foods were especially prominent. These trademarks were additional embellishment of imagery already manifested in the popular culture in literature, song, and story. This seems to reflect an association of blacks with the primitive and often with the sensuous. Similar attitudes can also be seen in the appreciation of blacks as athletes and entertainers. The ambivalence of Europeans, like their white American counterparts, toward equal acceptance of blacks in major sports and the exploitation of jazz music in the 20th century are good examples. Thus, deeply embedded stereotypes have continued to overshadow the real role of blacks in European history and culture.

How does a teacher end a course on such a gloomy note without leaving the serious student with a sense of despair? How should an instructor respond to the skeptical white student who suspects that the black professor has biased the selection of information in order to make a point; or to the embarrassed black student who believes the professor is dredging up dated, sordid history that is better left forgotten? One approach is to admit to the first that there are also negative stereotypes about whites; but they are surrounded by enough positive images to leave a more balanced perspective. For both students' objections, resort to a medical school analogy can be useful: examination of a diseased cadaver has great value despite all the difficulties of stomaching it, just as the history of racism must be confronted before it can be properly addressed in the present. It might also be added that what is learned in this examination may be instructive concerning other forms of social bias, beyond that involving blacks and beyond Europe.

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/1997/9705/9705TEC.CFM

Hue-man
2012-05-18, 03:25
I want to elaborate on the essay.

It seems as though Christian bigotry may have had something to do with racial prejudice toward blacks during the Middle Ages. Most Christian peoples viewed non-Christian peoples as evil, soulless heathens who needed saving if possible. However, it seems to me that the Idea of Progress contributed to the idea that the European races, especially the Western European races, are biologically superior to all other races. The Idea of Progress is a superstition that has its roots in Classical Greek philosophy and early Christian theology. By the time of the Age of “Enlightenment”, the Idea of Progress had become deeply ingrained in the Western European psyche. Enlightenment philosophers merely secularized the idea. The Idea of Progress led Western Europeans to believe that history moves in a linear path toward the inevitable goal of social, political, moral and technological improvement. This gave Western Europeans the need to explain why Africans, Native Americans, Asians and even Eastern Europeans were "behind" them. Western European intellectuals came up with what is now called "scientific racism" to explain why Western Europeans are "ahead" of the rest of the world. It’s ethnocentric narrow-mindedness at its worst.

So contrary to what many Western Europeans have believed, and in some cases continue to believe, it isn’t their genes that make their culture so unique. It’s their memes that make their culture so unique. However, uniqueness isn’t always a good trait. Modern Western Industrial civilization is unsustainable and it relies on a Faustian bargain. Like Faust, Western Man is a proud but tragic figure, for while he strives and creates, he secretly knows that his actual goal will never be reached.

I would advise anyone who's interested in how we got to this point in history and where history is headed to read Oswald Spengler and Friedrich Nietzsche.

John David Ebert Lecture on Oswald Spengler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVa-uQwuaDk&feature=relmfu)

sean
2012-05-18, 04:30
There is not more discrimination in the world, and if it is everybody gets a bit of it. So stop crying and try to do some work,
You have welfare, get into college with affirmative action, you have black president, and two movies in which God is black.
If you fail it is only your fault.

Papa Anodyne
2012-05-18, 04:43
Africa and Africans have had an influence on European thought and culture far disproportionate to the size of the small black population...

The guy doesn't name any Blacks who influenced European thought or culture. He names a few Blacks that were successful as people but that doesn't support his claim. You would think he would name a few and briefly state what role they had on European thought and culture.



These included free mulatto students, clerics, free and slave household servants, sailors, and some who attained gentlemen's status. The use of many black women slaves as domestics and concubines led to mulatto offspring who received favored treatment, and in some instances, attained middle-class and even aristocratic status.

Um, what? I only know of one, which he mentions: Pushkin's great grandfather.

Lyndall
2012-05-18, 06:05
The "problem" in studying the role of blacks in Europe is really simple: there is nothing to talk about. Seriously, what is this garbage?

Papa Anodyne
2012-05-18, 06:54
I just remembered the mixed race fellow from the d'Medici family who ruled over Florence during his life time. So I can only think of two aristocrats who were Black or partially Black.

sean
2012-05-18, 07:22
I just remembered the mixed race fellow from the d'Medici family who ruled over Florence during his life time. So I can only think of two aristocrats who were Black or partially Black.

The matter of the fact is there is not such thing as a pan-black. That guy medici, if he really is part black, is genetically closer to me than to all the black claiming something.
Even in Africa blacks want to differentiate themselves from other blacks, specially when it comes to religion. I know Nigerians are enemies of another tribe i cannot remember.

BootyMan
2012-05-18, 08:32
The guy doesn't name any Blacks who influenced European thought or culture. He names a few Blacks that were successful as people but that doesn't support his claim. You would think he would name a few and briefly state what role they had on European thought and culture.




Um, what? I only know of one, which he mentions: Pushkin's great grandfather.

It is well fucking known that African art influenced and inspired Pablo Picasso for example. why do you make every post about blacks doing something good a fucking invitation to trolling and fighting?

Papa Anodyne
2012-05-18, 09:18
It is well fucking known that African art influenced and inspired Pablo Picasso for example.

It's well known your chimping causes you to not think straight.


Problems in Studying the Role of Blacks In Europe

The above is called "the title of the thread."

Picasso didn't learn about African Art from some Black guy in Europe. So your "point" is mute.

But, you know what, thank you Black people for inspiring such a shity artist and person to reach great feats of post-modern garbage.




why do you make every post about blacks doing something good a fucking invitation to trolling and fighting?

Bullshit it bullshit regardless of who says it. Am I suppose to say this idiotic essay that doesn't support the claims it makes with examples is an honest look into Black contributions to European culture and history? I think not, Mr. Booty.

Wayland
2012-05-18, 09:48
Utter dribble, it's so patently obvious (even to blacks) that SSA has contributed so little to the pinnacles of science, art, engineering and philosophy, that some intellectual con-artists have been reduced to falsely appropriating European civilisation.
This is a new pathetic low from the Afro-centrists.

BootyMan
2012-05-18, 11:31
Utter dribble, it's so patently obvious (even to blacks) that SSA has contributed so little to the pinnacles of science, art, engineering and philosophy, that some intellectual con-artists have been reduced to falsely appropriating European civilisation.
This is a new pathetic low from the Afro-centrists.

http://www.pablopicasso.org/africanperiod.jsp

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm

Shut the fuck up.

Wayland
2012-05-18, 12:24
http://www.pablopicasso.org/africanperiod.jsp

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm

Shut the fuck up.

If only I would, but I feel your ego edifying delusions demand a rational response.
And I agree with Papa, the fact that a fraud like Picasso was inspired by African art really isn't a good reflection on African art. Picasso knew he could never cut it purely on artistic merit, so he latched onto what was superficially unique but artistically empty and banked on a large portion of the population not being able to discern the difference. A religious substitute for the modern age if you will.

BootyMan
2012-05-18, 12:25
If only I would, but I feel your ego edifying delusions demand a rational response.
And I agree with Papa, the fact that a fraud like Picasso was inspired by African art really isn't a good reflection on African art. Picasso knew he could never cut it purely on artistic merit, so he latched onto what was superficially unique but artistically empty and banked on a large portion of the population not being able to discern the difference. A religious substitute for the modern age if you will.

Did you read the entire link from the met website? It wasn't just Picasso.

Shut the fuck up
Shut the fuck up
Shut the fuck up
Shut the fuck up
Shut the fuck up

Pulaar
2012-05-18, 12:27
I must say... I might have to agree with Papa Anodyne...Subtracting his savage comments but adding the logic... not to confident the article proves what it implies.

Good article though. Learned a couple things

Oh and Jacobus Capitein= First Uncle Tom ASS N*** lol

Hue-man
2012-05-20, 02:28
There is not more discrimination in the world, and if it is everybody gets a bit of it. So stop crying and try to do some work,
You have welfare, get into college with affirmative action, you have black president, and two movies in which God is black.
If you fail it is only your fault.

Who or what are you referring to exactly? The essay I posted discusses the role of black Africans in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. The essay says nothing about black self-victimization and neither did I.

---------- Post added 2012-05-19 at 21:36 ----------


I just remembered the mixed race fellow from the d'Medici family who ruled over Florence during his life time. So I can only think of two aristocrats who were Black or partially Black.

Well the guy did say some, so what's the problem?

---------- Post added 2012-05-19 at 21:42 ----------


The "problem" in studying the role of blacks in Europe is really simple: there is nothing to talk about. Seriously, what is this garbage?

I believe that the author's use of the word "problem" refers to the fact that the role of blacks in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period was complex. I thought that was fairly easy to understand. Did you even read the essay or did you just assume that it was "garbage" when you read the title?

Lyndall
2012-05-20, 07:19
I believe that the author's use of the word "problem" refers to the fact that the role of blacks in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period was complex. I thought that was fairly easy to understand. Did you even read the essay or did you just assume that it was "garbage" when you read the title?

I did read it. Blacks had no complex history in Europe whatsoever, which is why I think this essay is garbage; it doesn't even gives evidence to what it's trying to claim, and neither do you. You are calling it complex, well, could you at least elaborate on this?

Black africans had very little meaningful contact with Europeans before the slave trade. For Europeans and whites in general black people's history starts at the slave trade.

sean
2012-05-20, 08:19
Who or what are you referring to exactly? The essay I posted discusses the role of black Africans in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. The essay says nothing about black self-victimization and neither did I.

There is not such thing as Black Africans during the middle ages, because Black is a modern social construction. Not all the black are the same, even if there were some SSA in the middle ages they have nothing to do with you.

Do the try, try to talk to any succesfull black in Europe of the current time (ie Thierry Henry). Call him Brother and he will reject you, because he feels French and not related to AfroAmericans.

The AfroAmericans are obsessed with the self exclusion, Black power, Black panther. In the rest of the world there are none of those groups and the Black archive more.

Hue-man
2012-05-20, 20:21
I did read it. Blacks had no complex history in Europe whatsoever, which is why I think this essay is garbage; it doesn't even gives evidence to what it's trying to claim, and neither do you. You are calling it complex, well, could you at least elaborate on this?

Black africans had very little meaningful contact with Europeans before the slave trade. For Europeans and whites in general black people's history starts at the slave trade.

If you did actually read the essay, and I'm still skeptical on that front, then you either have a problem with reading comprehension or you have a bias that's obfuscating your comprehension. You say that the essay doesn't provide any evidence for what it's trying to claim, but what exactly is it trying to claim? The author is claiming that our contemporary view of race has the potential to obfuscate our interpretation of race relations in a prior age. That is the "problem" to which he is referring. I said that the role of the blacks who were in Europe during the middle ages and the early modern period was "complex" to indicate that there was no one fixed role or view for them.

As for blacks who had influence in Europe, the author mentions Abram Gannibal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abram_Gannibal), great-grandfather of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, Jacobus Capitein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobus_Capitein), Juan Latino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Latino) and Anton Wilhelm Amo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Wilhelm_Amo). The author also mentions the legend of St. Maurice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice).

Indeed large scale contact with black Africans began with the trans-atlantic slave trade, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't any history of contact between black Africans and Europeans before the trans-atlantic slave trade. For example, Europeans were well aware of Mansa Musa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musa_I_of_Mali), the Emperor of Mali. That's why an image of him (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Mansa_Musa.jpg) was included in the Catalan Atlas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_Atlas). Europeans were also in contact with the Empire of Abyssinia. A letter from King Henry IV of England to the Emperor of Abyssinia survives. Emperor Yeshaq I of Ethiopia was also in contact with King Alfonso V of Aragon. The first Europeans to reach Benin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin_Empire) were Portuguese explorers in 1485. Even Europeans in the Graeco-Roman world were familiar with black Africans. They called them "ethiopians" which means "burned by the sun" or something to that affect.

Perhaps black people's history starts at the slave trade for people like yourself, but Europeans have been writing about blacks since the Kingdom of Kush. What's so wrong with being curious about what they had to say about them?

---------- Post added 2012-05-20 at 15:28 ----------


The guy doesn't name any Blacks who influenced European thought or culture. He names a few Blacks that were successful as people but that doesn't support his claim. You would think he would name a few and briefly state what role they had on European thought and culture.

I think you misunderstood what he meant by influence. For the sake of clarification, I will provide you first with a definition of the word influence and second with an excerpt from the essay.

Definition of "INFLUENCE":


a : the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.

An excerpt from the essay:


Africa and Africans have had an influence on European thought and culture far disproportionate to the size of the small black population (which, for example, approached 150,000 in the Iberian peninsula in the 16th century, and by the 18th amounted to just several thousand in France, a few thousand in the Netherlands, and several hundred scattered through Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia; only in the 20th century would the combined numbers reach the hundreds of thousands). The most striking example of that disproportionate influence can be seen in the 20th century, in Soviet Russia, which as part of its messianic role chose Black Africa and blacks in America as symbols for the Communist championing of the downtrodden; elected blacks as honorary members of the Moscow City Council; and named a mountain after Paul Robeson. A strong case can also be made that blacks have had influence in and on Europe primarily as symbols of European achievement, rather than in their own right. A graphic example was the curious widespread use of "Moors' heads" in the coats of arms of hundreds of European towns and families in medieval and early modern Europe. European attitudes about Africa and Africans have played a significant role in helping Europeans to define themselves.

---------- Post added 2012-05-20 at 15:56 ----------


There is not such thing as Black Africans during the middle ages, because Black is a modern social construction. Not all the black are the same, even if there were some SSA in the middle ages they have nothing to do with you.

Do the try, try to talk to any succesfull black in Europe of the current time (ie Thierry Henry). Call him Brother and he will reject you, because he feels French and not related to AfroAmericans.

The AfroAmericans are obsessed with the self exclusion, Black power, Black panther. In the rest of the world there are none of those groups and the Black archive more.

"Black" as a social identity is indeed a social construction, but "Black" or "Negroid" as a phenotype classification is an anthropological construction. "Blacks" during the middle ages and early modern period were commonly called "Moors" or "Negroes" by Europeans. "Moors"/"Negroes" who lived in Europe identified as such only in relation to their relatively dark skin and different facial features compared to Europeans. Indeed it was not an ethnic or national identity. It was more like a redhead identifying as a redhead or a short person identifying as a short person.

The very first paragraph of the essay pretty much concurs with you when it states that:


There is a risk in asking 20th-century questions of earlier times because today's terms of discourse may not find a meaningful context there. It is likewise problematic to project onto European history social and cultural constructs that have evolved in the United States, and perhaps nowhere else, in quite the same form. Such is the dilemma we face in considering the influence of blacks in European history for a primarily American audience.

A discussion of the influence of black Africans on Europe and on Europeans is complicated by the absence of a universal definition of black.


I don't know how you missed that. There's a point at which you can try so hard to be an intellectual that you lose focus of a discussion. Make use of context, sean. Context is key.

I don't personally know any Afro-Americans who scream "black power" or "black panther" without joking. I'm sure that there are a minority of blacks who do so seriously, but there are also a minority of whites who seriously scream "white power" and "blonde Aryan master race". However, none of that has anything to do with the point of the essay. The two subjects only overlap if you lose focus of the discussion.

sean
2012-05-20, 22:25
"Black" as a social identity is indeed a social construction, but "Black" or "Negroid" as a phenotype classification is an anthropological construction. "Blacks" during the middle ages and early modern period were commonly called "Moors" or "Negroes" by Europeans.
Never head of the word "Negroid" in the context Europeans history, specially in the Middle Ages context. Moor for sure, but Negroid never.



"Moors"/"Negroes" who lived in Europe identified as such only in relation to their relatively dark skin and different facial features compared to Europeans. Indeed it was not an ethnic or national identity. It was more like a redhead identifying as a redhead or a short person identifying as a short person.
Are you sure they feel self-identified by the colour of the skin? There is no way to tell that, even in the modern context the SSA immigrants and the people with SSA ancestry in Europe barely feel identified by the colour of the Skin.
They rather identify by origin nationality or the adoption nationality.

I can not speak for the British, i am not a British, but i recall the Black Caribbeans in UK feel connected and identified with other Caribbeans and no identified with Blacks from Senegal or Aframs.




I don't know how you missed that. There's a point at which you can try so hard to be an intellectual that you lose focus of a discussion. Make use of context, sean. Context is key.
I don't personally know any Afro-Americans who scream "black power" or "black panther" without joking. I'm sure that there are a minority of blacks who do so seriously, but there are also a minority of whites who seriously scream "white power" and "blonde Aryan master race". However, none of that has anything to do with the point of the essay. The two subjects only overlap if you lose focus of the discussion.

Yes, it is related to the essay.
The essay is about the Black influence in History. My point is the essay makes no sense because there is and there was no Black identity in Europe.
Besides it makes no sense to use physical classifications to talk about history, what is next the role of the ginger in the European Science?, The influence of the Bachicephalic in the Arts?

To talk about the role of a population in History you can group them into Cultural, Geographical and Ethnic categories. Color of skin is not enough.

Black only means something in the context of the American of old SSA stock, even now in America Black LatinAmericans and Blacks FOB from Africa are considered something different.

Hue-man
2012-05-20, 23:27
Here's some European paintings featuring Blacks/Moors/Negroes from the middle ages and the early modern period.

Peter the Great with a Black boy
http://media.vam.ac.uk/media/thira/collection_images/2006AE/2006AE6363_jpg_ds.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Mignard,_Louise_de_K%C3%A9rouaille.jpg

"A Moor" by Juriaen of Streeck
http://images.artnet.com/artwork_images_94842_324686_juriaenvan-streeck.jpg

Saint Maurice
http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k27/jakyl32/365%20Rosaries-%20SEPTEMBER/922maurice3.jpg

Moorish nobles playing chess, from Alfonso X of Castile's Book of Games
http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Moorish-nobles-playing-chess-harp-Nile-Valley-inventions-page-from-chessbook-of-Alfonso-the-Wise-13th-cent.-Spain.jpg

http://www.jmrw.com/Chess/Tableau_echecs/images/302.jpg

Jean Etienne Liotard - Portrait of a Young Woman
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Jean_Etienne_Liotard_-_Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman.jpg

The Moor by Christopher Wren
http://www.taneter.org/lemaure.jpg

Abram Petrovich Gannibal by Eugene Delacroix
http://www.artsunlight.com/NN/N-D0006/N-D0006-015-abram-petrovich-gannibal.jpg

Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Eug%C3%A8ne_Ferdinand_Victor_Delacroix_017.jpg

Portrait of an African Man by Jan Mostaert
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/African_man_portrait_Mostaert.jpg


Mostaert accompanied Margaret on many of her travels and painted many portraits of her courtiers, coming into contact with upper class and public figures. One such figure is presented in "Portrait of an African Man" (c. 1520-30). It is not known exactly who this man was but there are indications that he was either associated with Margaret's court or was an attendant of her nephew, Charles V. The man wears rich clothes, gloves, and holds a sword, all indicative of his important status. The insignia on his hat and bag allude to possible Spanish or Portuguese origins. Although African kings were depicted in paintings of "The Adoration of the Magi", they were often stereotypical representations. "Portrait of an African Man" is significant because it is the only independently painted portrait of a black man in the Renaissance period.

Gungnir
2012-05-20, 23:41
Just a little bit off topic but I figured you might know Hue-man. John James Audubon's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_James_Audubon) mother was Creole but I'm not sure of what kind of mix. He was born in Haiti. Audubon's father had two mixed race children before John and his sister with a different woman. John and his sister were very light though. Anyhow, do you know if John James Audubon was part SSA? Does Creole usually imply part SSA?



NM. I guess it says his mother was quadroon. Guess I need to pay better attention on the first read through.

NM again. That was in reference to the mother of his previous children. :lol: Double fail on me there.

Drogomir
2012-05-20, 23:44
Blacks invented the universe and everything in it!

Hue-man
2012-05-20, 23:51
Just a little bit off topic but I figured you might know Hue-man. John James Audubon's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_James_Audubon) mother was Creole but I'm not sure of what kind of mix. He was born in Haiti. Audubon's father had two mixed race children before John and his sister with a different woman. John and his sister were very light though. Anyhow, do you know if John James Audubon was part SSA? Does Creole usually imply part SSA?

I've actually never heard of the man, but I know that term "creole" sometimes simply referred to a French person who was born in the western hemisphere.

Gungnir
2012-05-20, 23:58
I've actually never heard of the man, but I know that term "creole" sometimes simply referred to a French person who was born in the western hemisphere.

You've probably heard of him in passing at least. Birds of America is considered one of the most important books if not the most important in Natural History and the Audubon Society is named after him.

I didn't know that about the term Creole though.

Hue-man
2012-05-20, 23:59
Blacks invented the universe and everything in it!

What's with the sarcasm? You probably didn't even read the essay but you're assuming that it espouses Afrocentrism. It has nothing to do with that. Take your medicine and relax. Damn! I thought that we blacks were supposed to be the sensitive ones.

Drogomir
2012-05-21, 00:01
What's with the sarcasm? You probably didn't even read the essay but you're assuming that it espouses Afrocentrism. It has nothing to do with that. Take your medicine and relax. Damn! I thought that we blacks were supposed to be the sensitive ones.

No offense dude, I'm just sick of the site and want out.