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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 13, 2019

Afroeuropean Modes of Self-Making: Afro-Dutch and Afro-Italian Projects Compared

  • Serena Scarabello EMAIL logo and Marleen de Witte
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


This article contributes to scholarship on Afroeurope by investigating the intersection of blackness, Africanness, and Europeanness in everyday discourses and social practices in the Netherlands and Italy. We examine how young African-descended Europeans are forging new ways of being both African and European through practices of self-making, which should be understood against both the historical background of colonialism and the contemporary politics of othering. Such practices take on an urgency for these youth, often encompassing a reinvention of Africanness and/or blackness as well as a challenge to dominant, exclusionary understandings of Europeanness. Comparing Afro-Dutch and Afro-Italian modes of self-making, centred on African heritage and roots, we discuss: 1) the emergence of a transnational, Afroeuropean imaginary, distinguished from both white Europe and African-American formations; and 2) the diversity of Afroeuropean modes of self-making, all rooted in distinct histories of colonialism, slavery, and immigration, and influenced by global formations of Africanness and blackness. These new Afro and African identities advanced by young Europeans do not turn away from Europeanness (as dominant identity models would assume: the more African, the less European), nor simply add to Europeanness (“multicultural” identities), nor even mix with Europeanness (“hybrid” identities), but are in and of themselves European.

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Received: 2018-08-01
Accepted: 2018-11-09
Published Online: 2019-05-13
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Serena Scarabello et al., published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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