Video: Black Europe: African Presence in the Formation of Europe

Video at Vanderbilt website at

Black Europe: African Presence in the Formation of Europe is a 12-minute documentary film of 2007-2008 for a seminar devoted to "Black Europe, or Diasporic Research in/on Europe."

In the video African American scholars discuss the riots in France and the situation of black people in Europe in general. The video was made by the Vanderbilt University. In April this year the University organised a lecture about Black Europe.

You can also download the video here. (You need Quicktime to view the film, you can download the software at Apple here.)

The intro

The racially motivated riots in France during the fall of 2005 proved that despite its homogenous image, racial tensions are alive and well in Europe. The newly emerging field of Black European Studies is beginning to examine these racial tensions by studying the history and the current experience of blacks in the culture of Europe.

“It’s important to really shine the spotlight on this area of study that is as legitimate as studying the American black experience – to look at that experience globally,” said Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French. She and Lucius Outlaw, professor of philosophy and associate provost for undergraduate education, co-directed the 2007-2008 Fellows Program at the Vanderbilt University Robert Penn Warren Center “Conceptualizing Diaspora, Reconceptualizing Europe: Black Europe, or Diaspora Studies in Europe.”

The 10-minute film is the capstone project of the yearlong fellowship program. Weekly meetings and lectures by visiting speakers were recorded by documentary filmmaker Lyle Jackson, and were compiled into a short, educational film that the fellowship participants hope will continue to provoke discussion and research into the topic. Outlaw and Sharpley-Whiting will be at the premiere to introduce the film and discuss it afterwards.

“I think this discussion is important because the concept of black Europeans is a relatively new concept, because race is an issue that’s very contested in Europe – in Germany in particular the word is, well, verboten. In France, people don’t typically recognize ‘race,’” says Sharpley-Whiting. “So the idea that people would identify themselves as black French, black Germans or black Europeans is radically different given particularly the French position that everyone is simply French.”

A central feature of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, the annual Fellows Program attracts faculty members representing a diverse range of interests. The theme for the Fellows Program arises from the strengths and interests of university faculty members, as well as from important social, political and cultural events.

Also check out the book Black Europe and the African diaspora, Contributors are Allison Blakely, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Tina Campt, Fred Constant, Alessandra Di Maio, Philomena Essed, Terri Francis, Barnor Hesse, Darlene Clark Hine, Dienke Hondius, Eileen Julien, Trica Danielle Keaton, Kwame Nimako, Tiffany Ruby Patterson, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Stephen Small, Tyler Stovall, Alexander G. Weheliye, Gloria Wekker, and Michelle M. Wright.