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  • A View from Europe and the World—An Introduction to Black Europe: Subjects, Struggles, and Shifting Perceptions:
  • Jean-Paul Rocchi (bio) and Frédéric Sylvanise (bio)

Black Europe: Subjects, Struggles, and Shifting Perceptions is drawn from the Ninth International Collegium for African American Research “Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation,” which was organized at the University Paris-Diderot in April 2011. The conference intended to look into the passage from knowledge production to social transformation—a theme that arose in the aftermath of the violent rioting that broke out in the suburbs of Paris in November 2005. “The Black States of Desire Project—a View from Paris and the World” explained that genealogy:

Against what Frantz Fanon called “the forces of denial,” which strengthen social inequality, urban segregation, and inscribe racism and xenophobia deeply in the social body and in individual and collective practices, this conference aims at gathering together scholars and sociopolitical leaders, intellectuals and artists who, thanks to their work and personal experiences, make racism and xenophobia easier to understand and thus easier to fight against. It invites them to partake in the project of a society where the ethical and political value of diversity will be acknowledged. During this conference, we shall try and conciliate a socioeconomic perspective and a cultural approach. While the cultural perspective thrived in the US and in many European countries in the form of postcolonial, gender and sexuality studies, and identity studies in general, it remains discreet in France. This fact is evidence of the peculiar, complex relation that the nation [End Page vii] maintains with its past, namely with slavery and the colonial period. It is also evidence of the French ethos of identity through which identity is often reduced to citizenship. In this light, it comes as no surprise that Blacks of/in France should be perceived first and foremost through the prism of social inequality and often at the expense of the identity and cultural dimensions. The worldwide input that the conference may bring in will hopefully enrich this experience and complexify the way it is seen and understood. On a larger scale, and because African American, Diasporic and Black Studies are transnational and facilitate a transdisciplinary outlook, they are also meant to reflect the new political space of a heterogeneous yet unified European context which has to be acknowledged for what it is and has always been—multicultural, multiethnic, and diverse as far as gender and sexualities are concerned and not solely Christian or white.1

The conference resulted in four coedited books and special journal issues whose common scope and content is to cross race, gender, and sexuality in a transdisciplinary and intersectional perspective. Black Europe: Subjects, Struggles, and Shifting Perceptions is thus part of the so-called “Black States of Desire Book Series,” which also includes Understanding Blackness through Performance: Contemporary Arts and the Representation of Identity, an examination of the political resistance and redeployment strategies informing the performance of blackness as it reframes issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality; Black Intersectionalities: A Critique for the 21st Century—whose focus is on identity categories themselves that are too often assigned, examined, and theorized as definitive binaries failing to take into account the dynamism of individuality and its relationship to the social whole—and Black and Sexual Geographies of Community-Building, a critical exploration of the normative standards of African American and black community-building centering on the mutability of communities’ defining characteristics and the epistemological speculations and adaptations implied by multidimensional identity.2

Black Europe: Subjects, Struggles, and Shifting Perceptions is a collection of essays on Black Europe and Black Europeans focused on a significant contemporary paradigmatic change—that by which Europe no longer means centrism and expatriation only, or the dialectical antithesis of anticolonial struggles, but can now be viewed and pondered as a continuously changing black space in its own right. A legacy from the past and an imaginative creation, this space comprehends at the same time subjects’ lived experiences, internal and external collective struggles for emancipation and liberation, cultural and artistic reinventions, challenging the mythology of a white continent and civilization—all of which...


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