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Brancato, Sabrina:

“Afro-Europe: Texts and Contexts”

[= Frankfurter Kulturwissenschaftliche Beiträge, Bd. 7], 116 S., ISBN 978-3-89626-724-5, 24,80 EUR

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This book explores new literary and cultural configurations in contemporary Europe providing insight into a thriving but yet little-known cultural phenomenon. Its focus is on the literary production of people of African origin as well as on the various socio-political contexts, theoretical paradigms and institutional discourses in which it is conceived, circulated and received. The essays contained in this volume contribute to spreading knowledge about Afro-European cultures and to establishing Afro-European studies as a crucial field of research. The author outlines a theoretical framework for comparative work across national and linguistic borders. She simultaneously traces the development of Afrosporic literatures in largely unexplored contexts such as southern European countries and points out trends in thematic concerns and narrative strategies across genres and nationalities. Analysing the formation of transcultural identities in a European context and the trans-formative potential of narratives engendering intercultural dialogue, this book addresses key issues concerning the dynamics of conviviality and the predicament of Europeanness.




1 Afro-European Literature(s): A New Discursive Category?

2 Voices Lost in a Non-Place: African Writing in Spanish

3 From Routes to Roots: Afrosporic Voices in Italy

4 Interculture on Stage: Afro-Italian Theatre

5 Picaros of Our Times: Narrating Migration

6 Life Maps: Towards a Cartography of Refugee Experience

7 The Bush Revisited: Twins in Black British Fiction

8 Translating the English Canon into Multiethic Italy: Jadelin Mabiala Gangbo’s Rometta e Giulieo

9 Beyond Ghettos: Notes for a Transcultural Paradigm


About the Author

About ten years ago, during a visit to my father-in-law, who was then working in Ferrara, a rich town in the north of Italy, I was approached in the street by a young black man carrying several copies of a thin book he offered for sale. It was his own autobiography, he said, the faithful report of his experiences as an Ivorian immigrant in Italy. I had been long living abroad and somehow lost touch with my home country, and although I was already involved in research projects on the African Diaspora, I was not aware that several books of this kind had already been published in Italy starting from the early nineties. These texts, however, were hardly ever displayed on bookshops’ shelves and, as I later realised, seldom reviewed and advertised. The one I now had in my hands, which I read on the train southwards to my hometown, was in itself an appeal for visibility and recognition. Emmanuel Tano Zagbla was actually not an economic migrant but an expatriate postgraduate student (as I myself was at that time), and yet his Il Grido dell’AlterNativo [The Cry of the AlterNative] recounted an experience which was very different from my own as a young researcher in Spain: centred on the hardships a black African faces in a white European country, it was about uprootedness, racism, rejection, but also about determination and enduring hope.
The fact of ‘bumping’ into such a text in the street rather than in a bookshop is symbolic of the peripheral position of immigrants in general and Africans in particular in Italian society and of the scarce attention that the establishment pays to the cultural expressions and artistic production of minority groups. Non-white immigrants are – often regardless of their legal situation and social position – commonly referred to as “extracomunitari”, a term which, far from simply indicating a non-European citizenship, conveys a sense of extraneousness, of irredeemable and irreducible alienism. In a similar discriminatory vein, African and South-Asian street vendors, who are now numerous not only in major cities and tourist resorts but in every corner of the country with all sorts of both ‘exotic’ and local merchandise, are identified with the derogatory term “vu cumprà” (literally: “wanna buy?”; by extension: “hustler”), which seems to annihilate their humanity, and almost conveys a sense of prostituting oneself associated with their selling activity, an activity which in any case remains crucial to the uncontrolled consumerism of Italians.
That peculiar episode which marked my first encounter with italophone African writing gave rise to a number of questions about the significance of a life story offered in the street to passers-by and the relation this bears with the general disregard of Italians towards (African) immigrants on the one hand and their misconception – if not complete ignorance – of African realities on the other. As my later engagement with Afro-Italian literature brought me to observe, the written life stories of African immigrants and expatriates (either autobiographical or fictionalised) constitute a much-needed bridge between two worlds which have too long coexisted in Italy without really interacting, if not at the superficial level of exchange of goods and services. On the one hand, Africans who decide to put their experiences on paper embark on a reflection enabling them to gain a deeper and more articulate understanding of the host society and of their position in it. On the other hand, their texts provide for the indigenous population a knowledge of the living circumstances of African immigrants and of the traditions and cultural codes of their countries of origin as well as a picture of their own country and culture from a different angle, one which may produce discomfort but which is nevertheless paramount to mutual understanding and the setting up of a peaceful plural society. These texts act, therefore, as literary vu cumprà, offering visions of Africa as well as of Europe. Their anthropological gaze explores both worlds and illustrates the dynamics of cultural interaction, underscoring the current transformation of Italian society and marking the country’s transition to multiculturalism. In my view, these characteristics can – in different degrees and different patterns – be recognised in other European contexts.
In Spain, where I was living at that time, I could observe that the African Diaspora suffered a similar neglect at societal level, and that its artistic and cultural production, which has a tradition dating back to colonial times, was even less visible than in Italy, where African diasporic expressions are a result of a relatively recent wave of migration. In the late nineties many Spanish universities were offering research programs in postcolonial studies, and several non-academic literary circles were developing a strong interest in cultural pluralism. However, although the experience of international African Diasporas was part of these new interests and correlated activities, hispanophone Africans were hardly ever included in the picture. The cultural association Translit, for instance, based in Barcelona and devoted to the promotion of non European writers, periodically organised conferences and readings bringing authors of African and Asian origins especially to the attention of local institutions and audiences. Their programs, however, never included authors from the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea or allophone immigrant authors resident in Spain. In fact, even among academics and highly educated people at large there was no awareness of the existence of African authors writing in Spanish. A decade later the overall picture looks slightly different (with a few exceptional scholars becoming active in the dissemination of knowledge on the subject), but the level of institutional and societal exclusion of the African Diaspora and its cultural production remains still alarming.
My decision to devote my postdoctoral research to the study of African diasporic literary expressions within the European context was thus rooted in my perception of an unmarked space in the cultural landscape of the African Diaspora, starting from the neglect in which my home country as well as my host country held the African groups present and culturally active in their territory. In fact, apart from the established centrality at the international level of Black Diasporas from North America and the Caribbean, in the European context Postcolonial, African and Migration Literary Studies have been mostly focused on the old colonial powers, especially the United Kingdom and France, and the marginality of South European contexts (among which Portugal and Greece, with a considerable African presence, should also be included) is hardly an isolated case, considering that other Central and North European countries (such as Germany, Belgium or Denmark) are similarly dismissive when it comes to their ethnic minorities.
The essays contained in this volume were written during the course of a two-year project funded by the European Commission. The initial aim of the project was to explore issues of identity and belonging in narratives produced by authors of African origins especially in contexts which had been neglected by mainstream studies, establishing parallels and differences with contexts with a longer experience of migration and multiculturalism, and bringing to the fore relevant aspects of questions of affiliation and conviviality central to the understanding of migratory and multicultural issues in the New Europe. It soon became apparent, however, that the narratives of the African Diaspora cannot be understood only in terms of migration (and therefore read as deterritorialised African literature), and that transcultural processes are central even to the most recent diasporas, so that the notion of an Afro-European identity (not as a liminal and final niche where to accommodate marginal minorities but more as a productive and ever-changing space of multiple affiliative dynamics) has to be placed at the core of any study of such a kind. Some of the essays, in particular the first and the last, which serve as introductory and concluding frame, look comparatively at the general picture of Afro-European literature and analyse specific patterns of development of the literatures in the different contexts and relevant extra-textual elements as well as discussing theoretical issues. Other essays offer overviews of literary developments or genres in specific countries, in particular Italy and Spain. Among the remaining essays, which provide close readings of texts, some undertake comparative analyses of narratives from different linguistic and national contexts, while others centre on texts which clearly go beyond traditional migratory issues to engage in a much more complex transcultural discourse and where a hybridising process is apparent not only at the level of the thematic concerns but also in terms of narrative and stylistic strategies.
My study does not start from any pre-given theoretical paradigm but rather lets the theory emerge from the texts themselves and the writing practice of specific contexts. However, my approach strongly relies on the notion of transculturality such as it has been conceived by the German philosopher Wolfgang Welsch in his theorisation of the configuration culture takes in our times. The concept of transculturality places emphasis on the dialectical nature of cultural influences, thus tending towards a conceptualisation of interaction where nothing is ever completely ‘other’ (different and foreign), and serves therefore to understand the processes of formation of cultural identity in all of their complexity. In opposition to the traditional concept of cultures as distinct units, transculturality aims at an intersected and inclusive vision of culture, stressing interconnections rather than differences and polarities and thus privileging flexible and fluid modes of identity formation predicated on movement and continuous (ex)change. This approach proves particularly productive in the field of Afro-Europe, where a constant renegotiation of identity is at stake.
With regard to the terminology employed in this book, it is important to specify that my use of the term Afro-Europe essentially denotes a political choice, by purposefully wanting to place the emphasis on the necessity for the notion of European identity (and, by extension, of the European literary canon) to become more inclusive. Needless to say, my use of the term pretends in no way to be prescriptive, but merely serves specific research purposes. In fact, the corpus of texts constituting the object of this study could as well in another context be categorised in a different way, for example as African literature, deterritorialised literature or European literature tout court. Afro-Europe also borders and intersects with other paradigms, for instance the notion of the Black Atlantic, to which the configuration of this field obviously owes much. Last but not least, I have made my terminological choice against other terms currently in use in this emerging area of study. On the one hand, although the notion of “Black Europe”, established in particular by the Germany-based research group BEST, proves occasionally highly productive, I wanted to avoid a racial focus, both for ideological reasons and in order to provide a more variegated and inclusive panorama. Besides, considering that the understanding and the conceptualisation of race vary largely across Europe, the application of this concept would be reductive and inappropriate in certain contexts. On the other hand, the notion of “Euro-Africa”, proposed by the intra-European network “Narrating Africa in Europe”, can be quite misleading in that it emphasises and privileges origins over experience and transformation, and, in so doing, reinforces the exclusion of black European citizens (as whites or Asians would not automatically be considered Euro-Africans) from their rightful claim to be part of the self-understanding of the continent.
Finally, some clarification is needed on my use of the term ‘Afrosporic’. In fact, since the beginning of my research on Afro-European literature this term, which I had originally taken up instinctively without feeling the need of providing a definition, has raised the curiosity of several students and scholars. To the recurrent “What do you mean by that?” I have sometimes responded with the most obvious explanation: a short form for African (or rather Afro) and Diasporic, as in the original coinage of Caribbean-Canadian writer Marlene Nourbese Philip for black Caribbean authors in North America. Yet, there is more to that than meets the eye. In fact, this term proves useful to place Afro-European texts in connection with other diasporic contexts within Europe and with other African and African diasporic contexts outside Europe. Moreover, as discussed in the last chapter, the notion of the Afrosporic can provide a reading paradigm for a variety of texts (not necessarily written by authors of African origins) articulating a strong African connection.

Chapter 1 establishes a general framework for the comparative study of the literatures of the African Diaspora in the European context. The corpus of texts produced by Afrosporic authors in Europe is characterised in the first place by plurality: plurality of the languages used, of the authors’ African heritages, and of their European locations, all this adding to the specificities of individual experience. Moreover, Afrosporic literatures develop in different European countries at different times and follow very different patterns. One wonders, then, whether it makes sense at all, at a time when even the notion of Europe itself is called into question, to talk about an Afro-European literature. In this chapter I seek to trace the commonalities and differences of Afrosporic literary production in different European contexts and I argue that a comparative perspective at both diachronic and synchronic levels is paramount to the understanding of new literary configurations across linguistic and national boundaries. Although the variety of contextual specificities make a comparative approach across Europe quite problematic, Afro-Europe is de facto already a constitutive element of the cultural heritage of the continent and should therefore be incorporated into the general debate on European identity. Afro-European texts are fundamental in so far as they offer a transnational and transcultural perspective which can contribute to the internal decolonisation of the European continent and to a revision and reformulation of the understanding of European identity towards a more inclusive notion.
Responding to the need of mapping Afro-Europe not only by establishing interconnections but also by bringing to the fore what is often perceived as marginal, Chapter 2 focuses on the configuration of Afrosporic literature in the Spanish context, a literature which has long been there but has remained largely invisible. The chapter therefore offers a general survey of Afro-Spanish literature. In the first place I briefly explore the representation and misrepresentation of the African element in the Hispanic world and I sketch the contours of Afro-Hispanic literature across continents; in the central part of the chapter I trace the development of the literature from Equatorial Guinea from colonial times to the present (this is one of the most relevant and most neglected literary traditions from Africa, mostly produced in exile); finally, I discuss migrant narratives within the Spanish context and I present a short overview of the emerging literature produced in Spanish by authors from other sub-Saharan countries.
A detailed overview on Italy is offered in Chapter 3, which reverses the familiar associative trope of roots and routes to point to the fact that, although this country has often been perceived as a land of passage for migrating Africans, their flourishing literature in the local language actually indicates that they have indeed found (or founded) a home. After describing the peculiar circumstances of the emergence of Afro-Italian literature in the early nineties, I explore its most recurrent thematic concerns as well as its stylistic features, especially highlighting the elements which distinguish it form other Afro-European literatures, such as the practice of co-authorship in the initial phase, the strong political implications of the choice of the literary language, and the central role that the target readership plays in the writing strategies employed. I argue that the dialogic dimension is the most remarkable distinctive feature of this literature, most texts being constructed around a comparative perspective and underscoring a willingness to engage in a productive intercultural dialogue. At the same time, however, a syncretic process is enacted so that, finally, distinctive elements are no longer ascribable to any specific culture, and it is precisely in this confusion of cultural borders that the new transcultural identity (Afro-Italian, Afro-European) can be located.
Also focusing on Italy, Chapter 4 emphasises again the special configuration that multiculturalism takes in this context as compared to other European countries, looking more specifically at the theatrical experience involving African artists as creators or performers. This chapter links up with the previous one in so far as it identifies a strong dialogic element in the cultural production of the African community in Italy. In the first place, I contend that, in contrast to other national contexts where diasporic groups are isolated and therefore more cohesive, a much higher degree of interaction and cooperation is to be found both among minorities and between minorities and the local population. Although a certain paternalism is recognisable in the creation, propagation and reception of diasporic products, the non-racial articulation of multiculturalism (in contrast to Britain, for example) offers new potentially productive intercultural strategies. Albeit Afro-Italian authors are for the moment not as prolific in drama as they are in fiction, in the sphere of theatre this dialogic practice manifests itself with special vigour. After providing a general survey of Afro-Italian theatre, I discuss the performance of interculture on stage by looking at a sample of initiatives, authors and texts, and I observe that Afro-Italian theatre engages in a transcultural process of exchange and transformation going beyond unproductive essentialisms and promoting instead a post-ethnic form of identity.
The following four chapters engage in close readings of specific texts which provide different possibilities of experiencing and writing Afro-Europe. Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the theme of displacement and uprooting looking respectively at narratives dealing with economic migration (one autobiographical and one fictional) and at narratives about asylum seekers (a novel and a reflection based on testimonials). Chapters 7 and 8
analyse three novels by Afro-Europeans authors of the second generation which constitute interesting examples of transculturality both at the thematic and at the stylistic level and envisage new ways of conceiving European identity, away from the monocultural and monoethnic myth and towards a more inclusive and complex notion.
Migration narratives by Africans are increasingly being published all over Europe, and some countries can already boast a relevant tradition. Chapter 5 carries out a comparative analysis of two literary texts from the Italian and the British contexts: Pap Khouma’s autobiography Io, venditore di elefanti and Gbenga Agbenugba’s novel Another Lonely Londoner. The first is the story of a Senegalese who works as a street vendor in the north of Italy, whereas the second narrates the vicissitudes of a Nigerian seeking his fortune in London. Published respectively in 1990 and 1991, these works are inserted in very different literary traditions (which also reflect different socio-political contexts) and yet present striking commonalities with regard to the concerns they express and the narrative strategies they adopt. Such commonalities suggest that there is indeed ground for an Afro-European discourse (at the literary as well as at the socio-political level) in spite of the cultural and linguistic plurality of the continent, and that a common tradition (if not necessarily a common agenda) can be identified and envisaged across national boundaries. I argue that these two works are illustrative examples of a thematic and stylistic trend one can identify in the literature of the African Diaspora in Europe from its very beginnings, that is, from the slave narratives of the 18th and 19th century, and that this tradition presents dominant traits of the picaresque genre: autobiographic character, episodic structure, a focus on marginalisation and on strategies of survival. With the migratory flows of the second half of the 20th century this tradition acquires a more specific European dimension, with the picaresque being articulated in terms of intercultural encounter and foregrounding the experiences of a minority in its confrontations with the dominant group. The two texts examined testify to the social value of picaresque narratives: in the same way as the traditional picaresque genre contributed to promote upward mobility as well as interaction and solidarity among social classes, Afro-European picaresque narratives dramatise a poetic of cultural negotiation and multiple belonging envisaging a transcultural and multiethnic future for Europe and encouraging a more flexible notion of European citizenship based on transnational affiliations and intercultural dynamics.
In Chapter 6 another form of displacement is explored through a comparative reading of Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea (2001) and Nuruddin Farah’s Yesterday, Tomorrow: Voices from the Somali Diaspora (2000). These are among the most inspiring works about refugee life which address crucial questions about the way refugees negotiate their identity in the host country. In spite of their difference in genre (one is a novel and the other a documentary work), they articulate similar concerns. Both are polivocal and foreground the uniqueness of subjective experience which makes it impossible to provide a conclusive definition of what being a refugee means. They emphasise the central role of memory in the refugee’s life and the way memory is unconsciously manipulated to make sense of one’s disrupted past and dignify one’s condition. Both represent refugees as doubly divided, by the split of their life marked by the separation from the home country and by the discrepancy between their self-perception and the crippling view from outsiders denying them a history. While Gurnah explores the personal and intimate sphere, Farah is more interested in the collective aspects. However, both works function in the end as tentative maps, seeking to trace a structure out of disruption and therefore to offer a cartography of refugee life. Uncovering areas of experience unknown to the average citizen of prosperous countries, such works play a crucial role in contributing to the understanding of diasporic communities in Europe. Moreover, read in the light of their authors’ circumstances, they also reveal important aspects of the dynamics at work in deterritorialised culture. Gurnah’s and Farah’s personal experience of exile largely infuse their writing, where imaginary homelands are recreated in a twofold remembrance, fusing the authors’ recollections with those of their protagonists. These texts foreground and are the result of the productive association of uprootedness, memory and creativity, and offer an alternative way of understanding alienation, identified as a generative impulse rather than a crippling burden.
Chapter 7 analyses a case of literary hybridity in two recent bestselling novels by Nigerian-British female authors: Diana Evans’ 26a and Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl, both published in 2005. These two novels draw on West African oral tradition (in particular legends concerning twins) to articulate an urban experience of alienation in the Western world, giving a transcultural twist to what has been a cornerstone of Western tradition from biblical tales to contemporary popular culture: the theme of the double. According to old West African popular beliefs, twins inhabit three worlds: the physical world, the spiritual world, and the bush. I contend that the image of the bush, which evokes wilderness and the danger of being lost, is central in both novels, where it appears as a form of mental wilderness and also metaphorically represents the Third Space inhabited by hybrid identities, the schizophrenia of cultural fragmentation. In fact, the blurred boundaries between Self and Other in the psyche of the twins parallel the equally confused borders between Here and There of cultural in-betweenness. Although other postcolonial narratives have featured twins, the novelty of Evans’ and Oyeyemi’s novels is that this theme is placed in the context of Black Britishness in the phase of transition characterising the experience of the second generation. The dilemmas of identity here present a more complex configuration than the usual postcolonial frame as doubleness and in-betweenness are explored in interconnection and the psychological duality of twins parallels the biological duality of mixed-race children and the duality of their cultural identity. The bush, as a third space for the wilderness of the mind and as metaphor of the schizophrenic condition of living in-between cultures, also more generally evokes the fragility of human existence. These novels therefore articulate at the same time (trans)local and global concerns. Drawing on multiple sources and incorporating African traditions in the British novel, they truly create a literature of the Third Space, a transnational/diasporic form of understanding culture and identity, one of the many possible articulations of Afro-Europe.
One more example of literary hybrididy is provided in Chapter 8. Jadelin Mabiala Gangbo’s novel Rometta e Giulieo (1990) takes as its point of departure the Shakespearean love tragedy, which represents the English canon and, at the same time, the exotic view of Italy as a land of violence and passion. By translating this narrative into today’s multiethnic Italy, the Congolese-Italian author subverts both the English and the Italian canon and situates issues of ethnicity and class at the centre of this subversion. Rometta e Giulieo, I contend, reads as a postcolonial response to white cultural hegemony and to the elitism of Western grand narratives. While the alienated black writer Jadelin is a counterpart of the white Western genius, the Chinese misfit Giulieo stands in sharp contrast to the privileged protagonist of Shakespeare’s tragedy. In the portrayal of these two characters Gangbo foregrounds the diasporic subject and turns the underprivileged into protagonists of a universal narrative. By way of incorporating the subaltern subject into a classic of Western literature, the novel presents difference and alienation as a widespread and ordinary phenomenon of contemporary society (multiculturalism is here not explicitly discussed but rather taken for granted as an irreversible development). Moreover, the centrality of the peripheral challenges the very notion of a centre. In this way, the novel does not only rewrite the canon but also highlights the dynamics of exclusion inherent in narrative processes, finally suggesting that no single narrative can do justice to the plurality of voices deserving to be heard.
Chapter 9 takes up some of the issues discussed in the other essays to reflect upon the implications of certain theoretical and institutional discourses, and proposes alternative ways of reading and classifying literary works. In particular, my reflections are prompted by what I have gradually come to see as an exaggerated and often improper use of certain categories, in particular the label ‘migrant writing’, whereby works by authors from minority groups are accorded a certain degree of recognition but still safely kept at the margins of national literary canons. Providing examples from different European contexts, I discuss categories which risk reinforcing dynamics of ghettoisation and I call for the necessity for literary criticism to do away with essentialist assumptions and to pay attention in the first place to what literary texts themselves have to offer. Since my own work on Afro-European literatures does not escape this theoretical trap, this chapter is itself not free from contradictions and therefore, rather than representing a conclusion to my work, it is meant as a critical scrutiny and as a way of opening up to new perspectives and research paths. My reflections on the ‘sporic’ quality of transcultural texts and my distinction between ‘exosporic’ and ‘xenosporic’ textual elements pretend in no way to be conclusive, but are only an attempt to disentangle interpretative practice from unproductive categorisations of authors according to their origins or colour.

This study constitutes a modest contribution to an emerging and vibrant field which promises to open new horizons for research. A lot has yet to be done in order to spread knowledge about Afro-European literatures and cultures, to fill up a disciplinary gap with the systematisation and institutionalisation of Afro-European Studies as a crucial field of research within the New Europe and to endorse the legitimacy of Afro-Europe as a valuable analytical category for the study of new cultural formations across Europe. In spite of a relevant African presence in Europe and of a considerable number of European citizens of African or mixed origins, the notion of Afro-European identity has remained largely unexplored in academic work and remains largely marginal to current debates on European identity. Since the notion of Europeanness has been traditionally predicated on whiteness and since political and cultural discourses are now more than ever underpinned by a rhetoric of conflict and difference based on racist assumptions and essentialist notions of cultural identity, ethnically visible groups seem to be, among all minorities, the most vulnerable when it comes to questions of identity politics and the most unlikely to be included in the national self-understanding of European countries. If immigrants are seen as irreducible Others, as uninvited guests barely tolerated only for the sake of political correctness and economic interests, their children and grandchildren – and whoever holds a European passport but does not ‘look’ European – are no less ostracised in their claim to be European citizens in their own right. However, parallel to this rhetoric of difference translating itself in a practice of exclusion reproducing and reinvigorating the old dichotomic notions consolidated by colonialism and imperialism, the everyday practice of conviviality and interaction often reveals a completely different picture, where it becomes almost impossible to distinguish between different ‘cultures’ and where individuals are involved in a continuous negotiation and draw on multiple sources in their effort to create a comfort-zone and a sense of belonging. These tensions foreground the cultural expressions of minority groups, both at the level of thematic concerns and in the marketing and reception of minority cultures. For this reason, the study of Afro-European narratives and of the way they are produced and commodified represents a good starting point to analyse the processes of othering and exclusion, on the one hand, and the multiple transcultural dynamics and cross-cultural phenomena, on the other. It certainly represents a good starting point to understand the current European predicament as well as to envisage alternative predicaments which would do more justice to the plurality and richness of our cultural identity. Afro-European literatures and cultures must therefore not be seen as a marginal sub-category of European culture but as a crucial constitutive element of the identity of this continent and its inhabitants, whatever their origins, colour or affiliations, because sharing space means sharing a history. Afro-European narratives can be read and enjoyed for sheer aesthetic pleasure, but what readers gain from them, the transformative power these narratives exercise on our sense of being in the world is first and foremost political.
Afro-Europe is here and it is elsewhere; it is a physical and imaginary homeland; a country within a country and a continent reaching out beyond itself. It is a map, a network and an outlook. Not a new way of being European but, yes, a new way of understanding Europeanness. This work is dedicated to all Afro-European authors as well as to all the ones, whatever their origins, who feel and write Afrosporic.