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African Europeans

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781399804851

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 29th September 2022

Genre: Humanities / History / African History / Regional & National History

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A Guardian Best Book of 2020

A History Today Book of the Year, 2020

Renowned historian Olivette Otele uncovers the untold history of Europeans of African descent, from Saint Maurice who became the leader of a Roman legion and Renaissance scholar Juan Latino, to abolitionist Mary Prince and the activist, scholars and grime artists of the present day. Tracing African European heritage through the vibrant, complex, and often brutal experiences of individuals both ordinary and extraordinary, she sheds new light not only on the past but also on questions very much alive today – about racism, identity, citizenship, power and resilience. African Europeans is a landmark celebration of this integral, vibrantly complex slice of European history, and will redefine the field for years to come.


This is a book I have been waiting for my whole life. It goes beyond the numerous individual black people in Europe over millennia, to show us the history of the very ideas of blackness, community and identity on the continent that has forgotten its own past. A necessary and exciting read
Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)
Fascinating . . . One of the book's great pleasures is its cast of memorable characters [and] though this is a work of synthesis, it's an unusually generous and densely layered one
The Guardian
People of African heritage have contributed greatly to Europe's music, literature and more. But their achievements have long been overlooked . . . African Europeans works to bring more of this past to public attention
Wall Street Journal
Superbly researched . . . This richly layered history brims with stories of how African Europeans contributed to the culture, politics and language in the countries they lived in . . . This book is more than just the stories of interesting lives; it is also a careful study of the scholarship on these individuals
A brilliant, important and beautifully written book that forces us to think about the past differently
History Today
A dazzling history of Africans in Europe, revealing their unacknowledged role in shaping the continent . . . African Europeans is a landmark celebration of this integral, vibrantly complex slice of European history, and will redefine the field for years to come
A thrilling, informative read
LSE Review of Books
Rich in storytelling, discovery, question-making and a way forward, African Europeans covers no old ground. This is new and European history itself is not complete without this book
Bonnie Greer, playwright, novelist and broadcaster
Yoking together the ''African'' and the ''European'', too often treated as entirely separate categories, Otele skilfully invites her reader to navigate the multiple intersecting worlds inhabited by her characters. This is fundamentally reparative writing that undoes the cultivated ignorance around race and blackness in Europe and shows us what is irrefutably true that black history is European history, indeed, world history
Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire
A magisterial book brilliant, humane and gripping, and a call to arms for an end to violence and subjugation. Otele explores the individual lives of African Europeans against great shifts of history, and the result is a masterpiece
Kate Williams, historian and broadcaster
This is a book that all must read now. This story has been lived not just for centuries but for millennia, all the while being consistently suppressed, denied or untold. Searing scholarship and heightened humanity combine to illuminate, appal, explore and ultimately inspire
Bettany Hughes, historian and broadcaster
The scope of Otele's research is awesome, as is her unflinching analysis of the shifting prisms through which African Europeans particularly women have had to contest their identities. Full of powerful stories with deep roots and livid scars, African Europeans is scholarly, revelatory and important
Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors and Henry VIII's Last Victim
Fascinating. Otele reconnects us with the men and women who came from Africa to shape European history: rulers, diplomats, slaves and soldiers-above all, our ancestors
Dan Snow, historian and broadcaster
The first survey this century of the fascinating 2,000-year-long history of Africans in Europe. Otele's masterful narrative weaves together the lives of prominent figures St Maurice, Jacobus Capitein, Manga Bell, Paulette and Jane Nardal with those of everyday people
Hakim Adi, author of Pan-Africanism: A History
Olivette Otele is a scholar with a vivid intellect and a deep sense of right and wrong. African Europeans forces us to reassess the past so that we can imagine a different future
Fiammetta Rocco, chief culture writer, The Economist
A nuanced, thoughtful retelling of the stories of African Europeans, with extraordinary scope. Otele triumphs in her commitment to countering the experiences of the privileged with those of the enslaved. This is a learned, impassioned and searingly important history
Suzannah Lipscomb, historian and broadcaster
Important, exciting and illuminating. Otele takes us through centuries of history we think we know, but shifts the lens onto those have been deliberately excluded from traditional historical narratives. This book will change how you look at the past and introduce you to wonderful characters with rich and revealing lives
Janina Ramirez, historian and TV presenter
An extensive rendition of African European history from the third century to the 21st... A thorough, dynamic, accessible narrative that pulls together disparate strands into a unique, fresh history
Kirkus Reviews
Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this is an essential work of historical scholarship that is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries
Library Journal