The presence of Black people in Europe dates back to the early medieval period. Since then, Black people in Europe have contributed significantly to the archives of radical Black epistemologies in various ways. Within this contribution, distinct points of departures exist with regards to socio-historical conditions and divergences of anti-blackness in European nation states. However, academic scholarship on the articulations and formations of Blackness in Europe have gained more attention in the last decades. Recently, the multiplicities of European Blackness (as ontology, identity, and/or alignment) are often subsumed under the framing of “Black Europe.” The attention given to this area of study is due in part to the resistance of Black people rendered non-citizen within Fortress Europe, urban insurrections in the aftermath of police killings of Black youth in Paris and London—as well as other cities in European countries—mobilizations against anti-black imagery, and representations in public spaces such as those against Zwarte Piete in the Netherlands.
The symposium “On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives,” which will take place at the University of California, Santa Barbara 4-5 May 2017, aims to trace the articulations of transnational Black solidarities and struggles for Black lives in the European context by foregrounding less explored paradigms of Black formations, creations, improvisations and Black struggles throughout Europe and beyond, putting a focus on the multiplicities of what has become taken for granted in contemporary discussions of “Black Europe.” With the aim of dismantling the homogeneity of the Black transnational experience in European contexts while simultaneously attending to how the various struggles for Black lives unfold, we will engage with lived experiences of Blackness and Black political struggles in various European contexts and geopolitical dynamics. Further, the symposium will interrogate the power relations at work within academic scholarship that determines what becomes monolithically referred to as “Black Europe.”
This call is for junior scholars, early career researchers, and/or independent researchers to present and discuss their respective research projects, either on panels or on roundtables to enact intergenerational, transnational and collective discussions. We invite proposals for papers and roundtable presentations that address any of the following:
- What can Blackness mean in/for Europe?
- How have contemporary contributions to the transnational continuations of the Black radical tradition been brought to bear in various European contexts?
- How do various Black struggles unfold in the face of genocidal border regimes, urban policing and surveillance, neoliberal austerity policies and the current rise of right-wing extremism and Islamophobia?
- What geographies and elements of Blackness or Black diasporic identity are privileged in European discourses and how can we unsettle these asymmetries?
- How do marginalized experiences of Blackness within Europe, especially the interventions of Black Muslims, LGBTQI*, and/or those rendered non-citizen (e.g., refugees or asylum seekers), challenge one-dimensional conceptualizations of Blackness. How can we be more accountable in centering them?
- Which kind of Black aesthetics, creative formations and emancipatory poesis are challenging the colonial legacies of Europe?
- How does Blackness shape and reconfigure space and how is Black place-making maneuvered alongside the intersectional lines of postcolonial urbanism?
- How do the politics of Black Lives Matter travel to and depart from these contexts? What can BLM mean in contexts that do not meaningfully contend with “race” as a recognized category of difference and subordination?
Please send an abstract (300 words) including affiliation and a short bio by 20 March to Vanessa Thompson and SA Smythe at email@example.com.
SA Smythe and Vanessa Thompson
Black Studies Dept., UC Santa Barbara