The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Monographs on 2016-08-23 00:02Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Oxford University Press
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780190612726

Catherine Fletcher, Historian, Author, AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015

  • The first-ever biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, arguably the first black head of state
  • Draws on extensive archival research of first-hand sources
  • An accessible and dramatic retelling of Renaissance politics and rivalry

Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de’ Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro’s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer-which he undoubtedly was—and a tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late-night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins. After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic. For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.

Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro’s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries-old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top. Drawing on new research and first-hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

Table of Contents

  • Family tree
  • Glossary of names
  • Timeline
  • Maps
  • A note on money
  • Prologue
  • Book One: The Bastard Son
  • Book Two: The Obedient Nephew
  • Book Three: The Prince Alone
  • Afterword: Alessandro’s Ethnicity
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index
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From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-08-22 23:44Z by Steven

From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

McGill-Queen’s University Press
November 2014
712 Pages, 6 x 9
32 b&w photos
ISBN: 9780773544550

Rotem Kowner, Professor
Department of Asian Studies
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel

An examination of the evolution of European racial views of the Japanese.

When Europeans first landed in Japan they encountered people they perceived as white-skinned and highly civilized, but these impressions did not endure. Gradually the Europeans’ positive impressions faded away and Japanese were seen as yellow-skinned and relatively inferior.

Accounting for this dramatic transformation, From White to Yellow is a groundbreaking study of the evolution of European interpretations of the Japanese and the emergence of discourses about race in early modern Europe. Transcending the conventional focus on Africans and Jews within the rise of modern racism, Rotem Kowner demonstrates that the invention of race did not emerge in a vacuum in eighteenth-century Europe, but rather was a direct product of earlier discourses of the “Other.” This compelling study indicates that the racial discourse on the Japanese, alongside the Chinese, played a major role in the rise of the modern concept of race. While challenging Europe’s self-possession and sense of centrality, the discourse delayed the eventual consolidation of a hierarchical worldview in which Europeans stood immutably at the apex.

Drawing from a vast array of primary sources, From White to Yellow traces the racial roots of the modern clash between Japan and the West.

Table of Contents

  • Figures
  • Note on Translations and Conventions
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • PHASE ONE SPECULATION: Pre-Encounter Knowledge of the Japanese (1300-1543)
    • 1 The Emergence of “Cipangu” and Its Precursory Ethnography
    • 2 The “Cipanguese” at the Opening of the Age of Discovery
  • PHASE TWO OBSERVATION: A Burgeoning Discourse of Initial Encounters (1543-1640)
    • 3 Initial Observations of the Japanese
    • 4 The Japanese Position in Contemporary Hierarchies
    • 5 Concrete Mirrors of a New Human Order
    • 6 “Race” and Its Cognitive Limits during the Phase of Observation
  • PHASE THREE RECONSIDERATION: Antecedents of a Mature Discourse (1640-1735)
    • 7 Dutch Reappraisal of the Japanese Body and Origins
    • 8 Power, Status, and the Japanese Position in the Global Order
    • 9 In Search of a New Taxonomy: Botany, Medicine, and the Japanese
    • 10 “Race” and Its Perceptual Limits during the Phase of Reconsideration
  • Conclusion: The Discourse of Race in Early Modern Europe and the Japanese Case
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Black History Month – #IMIRISH Exhibition Launch

Posted in Arts, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United Kingdom on 2016-08-22 20:01Z by Steven

Black History Month – #IMIRISH Exhibition Launch

London Irish Center
50-52 Camden Square
London, United Kingdom, NW1 9XB
2016-10-06 through 2016-10-31, 19:00 BST (Local Time)

#Iamirish a Photography Exhibition launching a series of workshops and debates linking those of mixed race heritage to their Irish family ancestry.

The Exhibition will be opened by Dan Mulhall, Ireland ’s Ambassador to the UK.

This project will map the roots, lives and experiences of mixed race Irish people creating intimate portraits which challenge perceptions of what it looks like to be Irish and open up people’s minds to the wonderful diversity of the Irish people.

Launching the project in October to coincide with Black History Month, in the centenary year of Irish Independence, is a unique and powerful opportunity to weave these celebrations of Black and Irish heritage together and put diversity in full focus.

2016 marks the centenary of the Republic of Ireland, an opportunity to remember the country’s history and the heritage and traditions of its people. This project embraces that spirit to celebrate the voices and the lives of independent, Irish people everywhere who happen to be mixed race. Drawing strong lines between the portraits and their family crests, we seek to dispel the idea that if you are from a non-white community, you are automatically an immigrant.

‘For mixed race Irish people in reality our ancestry, our roots, our blood are Irish and we are proud of it.’

For more information, click here.

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Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-08-16 01:01Z by Steven

Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic

University of Pennsylvania Press
August 2016
304 pages
6 x 9
6 illus.
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8122-4840-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8122-9306-7

Jennifer L. Palmer, Assistant Professor of History
University of Georgia

Following the stories of families who built their lives and fortunes across the Atlantic Ocean, Intimate Bonds explores how households anchored the French empire and shaped the meanings of race, slavery, and gender in the early modern period. As race-based slavery became entrenched in French laws, all household members in the French Atlantic world —regardless of their status, gender, or race—negotiated increasingly stratified legal understandings of race and gender.

Through her focus on household relationships, Jennifer L. Palmer reveals how intimacy not only led to the seemingly immutable hierarchies of the plantation system but also caused these hierarchies to collapse even before the age of Atlantic revolutions. Placing families at the center of the French Atlantic world, Palmer uses the concept of intimacy to illustrate how race, gender, and the law intersected to form a new worldview. Through analysis of personal, mercantile, and legal relationships, Intimate Bonds demonstrates that even in an era of intensifying racial stratification, slave owners and slaves, whites and people of color, men and women all adapted creatively to growing barriers, thus challenging the emerging paradigm of the nuclear family. This engagingly written history reveals that personal choices and family strategies shaped larger cultural and legal shifts in the meanings of race, slavery, family, patriarchy, and colonialism itself.

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The Leopard Boy, A Novel

Posted in Books, Europe, Media Archive, Novels on 2016-08-10 01:37Z by Steven

The Leopard Boy, A Novel

University of Virginia Press
January 2016 (Originally published in 1999 as L’Enfant Léopard)
304 pages
Paper ISBN: 9780813937908
Cloth ISBN: 9780813937892
Ebook ISBN: 9780813937915

Daniel Picouly

Translated and Afterword by:

Jeanne M. Garane, Professor of French and Comparative Literature
University of South Carolina

October 15, 1793: the eve of Marie-Antoinette’s execution. The Reign of Terror has descended upon revolutionary France, and thousands are beheaded daily under the guillotine. Edmond Coffin and Jonathan Gravedigger, two former soldiers now employed in disposing of the dead, are hired to search the Parisian neighborhood of Haarlem for a mysterious mixed-race “leopard boy,” whose nickname derives from his mottled black-and-white skin. Some would like to see the elusive leopard boy dead, while others wish to save him. Why so much interest in this child? He is rumored to be the son of Marie-Antoinette and a man of color–the Chevalier de Saint-George, perhaps, or possibly Zamor, the slave of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV.

This wildly imaginative and culturally resonant tale by Daniel Picouly audaciously places black and mixed-race characters–including King Mac, creator of the first hamburger, who hands out figures of Voltaire and Rousseau with his happy meals, and the megalomaniac Black Delorme, creator of a slavery theme park–at the forefront of its Revolution-era story. Winner of the Prix Renaudot, one of France’s most prestigious literary awards, this book envisions a “Black France” two hundred years before the term came to describe a nation transformed through its postcolonial immigrant population.

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Planning for German Children of Mixed Racial Background

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work on 2016-07-30 19:58Z by Steven

Planning for German Children of Mixed Racial Background1

Social Service Review
Volume 30, Number 1 (March 1956)
pages 33-37
DOI: 10.1086/639959

Hans Pfaffenberger (1922-2012), Professor of Psychology
University of Trier, Trier, Germany

Translated by Susanne Schulze

On January 1, 1955, there were approximately four thousand mischlingskinder2 in the West German Republic. This number is still increasing by 250 to 350 a year. More than 70 per cent of the children are living with their mothers, and about 5 per cent with other relatives—grandparents, aunts, etc. About 12 per cent are in institutions, about 10 per cent in foster homes. The remaining children have been adopted, either by American families or, in a few cases, by German families, or they have emigrated to the United States with their mothers, who have married. According to the social agencies responsible for them, 90 per cent of the children remaining in Germany are well cared for. In 10 per cent of the cases, special services have been found necessary, but these have been general services—better housing, convalescent care, etc.—unrelated to the special situation of these children as children of mixed racial background.

The approximately four thousand children of mixed racial background pose many problems for child welfare agencies, and it is good to know that many attempts are being made to find solutions and to suggest remedies. Not all of these suggestions, of course, are equally acceptable, and it seems that the time is ripe to examine some of them in relation to the situation of these children, as it is known through reliable reports, and in the light of some basic considerations.


Many people are suggesting general solutions that would supposedly “clean up” with one stroke all of the emerging problems or at least would cover them up; for example, it has been suggested that the problem be solved through adoption abroad, through emigration of the mothers with their children, through emigration of the mischlingskinder, or through segregation of all these children in order to rear them together. Many strong objections to these general solutions may be raised. Recently several welfare organizations, as well as individuals with long years of experience, have warned against adoption abroad, including in the United States, especially when children of mixed racial background are concerned. A most careful investigation of the potential adoptive family seems definitely indicated.3 When we consider the social and economic circumstances of these children, as well as the attitudes of the community toward them, transplanting them to America through adoption or through marriage of the mother…

Read or purchase the article here.

1 From Newes Beginnen (New Beginning [periodical of the Workers’ Welfare Association, published by National Headquarters of the Organization, Bonn]), VIII (August, 1955).

2 Mishlingskinder refers to children of mixed racial background. The children considered in this article are those born to German women and nonwhite soldiers stationed in Germany.

3 See U. Mende, “Adoption deutscher Kinder durch amerikanische Staatsangehörige,” Unsere Jugend, May, 1955, S. 207; E. Hochfeld and M. A. Valk, “Experience in Intercountry Adoptions” (New York: International Social Service, American Branch, 1953).

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Hundreds of Irish march in solidarity with US Black Lives Matter (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-29 00:48Z by Steven

Hundreds of Irish march in solidarity with US Black Lives Matter (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Irish Central
New York, New York

IrishCentral Staff Writers

Demonstration in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US took place in Dublin on O’Connell Street. Photo by:

Hundreds of Irish marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Dublin, Cork, and Galway, following a week of violence in the United States.

Activists gathered at the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, with over 200 gathering at Daunt Square in Cork and Eyre Square in Galway. The protesters gathered in reaction to the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, earlier this month and the murder of five police officers during a protest in Dallas, Texas, during a Black Lives Matter rally.

Black Lives Matter is a movement, started in the US, that campaigns against the racism, violence and dehumanization of black people. The protest in Dublin was organized by the Anti-Racism Network Ireland and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland. The Workers Solidarity Movement estimated that there were 1,300 people at the rally in Dublin…

…Cork man Tom spoke to the crowd about his “good fortune” in marrying his Nigerian wife and being “blessed with four mixed race boys.” However, he said he worried about the world they are growing up in and said he does not want to live in a society “where people of color are treated as less than equal.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Pensive in Prague: Examining Identity Abroad, June 20th

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing on 2016-07-26 02:20Z by Steven

Pensive in Prague: Examining Identity Abroad, June 20th

The Harvard Independent

Gabby Aguirre

This is the second in a series of summer blog posts where the author reflects on her time as a first-generation Latina studying abroad in Prague. You can find the first blog post here.

The date is June 20th, and I’m just about physically adjusted to being several time-zones away from home.

However, in many ways being here is something I’m not sure I can ever get used to. To forward this, and something I should’ve mentioned in my first blog post, is that while I am a Latina, I am white-passing.

Passing as white grants me many privileges at home and abroad – and particularly in the Czech Republic – that many would not be afforded. For example, as I take a tram to Malostronské Náměstí (Malostronska Square for those of you still brushing up on your Czech), a graffiti that says “White Power,” would not have been painted with the intent of asserting dominance and instilling fear in someone who looks like me…

Read the entire article here.

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Call for Proposals: Colors of Blood, Semantics of Race: Racial Categories and Social Representations: A Global Perspective (From the late Middle Ages to the 21st Century)

Posted in Europe, History, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-07-24 02:47Z by Steven

Call for Proposals: Colors of Blood, Semantics of Race: Racial Categories and Social Representations: A Global Perspective (From the late Middle Ages to the 21st Century)

Casa de Velázquez
Madrid, Spain
2016-12-15 through 2016-12-16

Toward the end of the Middle Ages, the outset of the European expansion considerably increased the contacts between culturally different peoples. Beginning in southern Europe, this process rapidly reached more distant regions of the globe which were increasingly falling under the Western sphere of influence. This phenomenon transformed the communities affected by that expansion, and even led to the formation of new ‘fractal’ societies. These were not only multi-ethnic communities in which “Old Christians” lived together with “New Christians” (as in the Iberian Peninsula), or European colonizers associating with indigenous colonized peoples (beyond the boundaries of the Old Continent), or elites of European descent with subaltern masses, but frequently also extremely miscegenated societies.

During the early modernity, the socio-racial relations were very much influenced by the medieval notion of “blood”, according to which the “quality” of individuals was strongly associated with their “honor”. Those relations were, in addition, influenced by a perception of “otherness” marked by religious intolerance, as well as by a racial perspective associated with the ethnic profile and the place of origin, or “nation”, of the individuals. These criteria rapidly adapted to the new realities, aiming to establish a hierarchic order following the ancient regimen’s model of society; a complex task considering the elevated levels of ethnic diversity, of illegitimate children, and of cultural and biological miscegenation.

The combination of all these elements, adapted to the particular socio-ethnic background of the local populations concerned and placed in relation to the local forms of production, generated a whole myriad of socio-racial categories, most of which were unprecedented. Severely regulated by the legislation of the time, and internalized from an identitary point of view by social actors, these categories gave specificity, both unique and common, to the societies that made use of them. Those categories mainly defined the racialized status of individuals, often adding linguistic complements in order to provide more specific definitions. Their sources of inspiration were very diverse: the color or the tonalities of the skin, the type or degree of biological miscegenation, the level of transculturation, the stereotyped appearance of other peoples, the features of certain animals, and words borrowed from non-Latin languages.

As the social transformations consolidated, other complements and semantic variations begin to appear. Following a simultaneous process of classification and creolisation, those linguistic aggregates mainly aimed to further underline the differences of status among individuals belonging to the same sectors and, at times, to give meaning to the “oddest” mixtures. There were also efforts to define the individuals who lived in the borderlands, as well as to categorize the workforce according to the “new” forms of servitude, the introduction of the ‘plantation complex’, the modernization of the slave and indentured systems, and the development of the transnational slave trade.

Since the 18th Century, and especially over the course of the 19th and much of the 20th, the democratic revolutions, the abolitions of slavery, the process of decolonization, the impact of scientific racism, the consolidation of skin color as a racial catalyser, the massive migrations, the expansion of U.S. popular culture, and the racialization of poverty and of criminality, among other phenomena, had an enormous impact on the systems of representation and, consequently, on the semantics of socio-racial categorization. Nowadays, in spite of the collapse of apartheids, of the seeming consecration of democracy as the dominant model of government worldwide, and of the fortunate downfall of the scientific paradigm of race, certain categories (mainly pejorative) have continued to be evoked in the former colonial and metropolitan territories, and even beyond, in other parts of the world. This amazing longevity seems to put in evidence the continuity over time of the socio-racial representations that began to take form more than five-hundred years ago, when Europe began expanding its perceptions of “otherness” throughout the world.

Taking as a starting point the Mediterranean and the Atlantic World in the late Middle Ages, and continuing with the colonial regions of the wider world during the modern age, and those territories in which socio-racial categories continue to be used in the contemporary period, the present colloquium aims to shed new light on the construction of these categories by studying them from a ‘longue durée’ perspective. Accordingly, we propose to focus on the perceptions developed by social actors within the different ‘spaces of experience’ in order to explain, on the one hand, the semantics that gave form to the categories that constitute our object of study and, on the other hand, the different sociocultural, socioeconomic and socio-cognitive dynamics that over time have contributed to the emergence, perpetuation and even to the disappearance of the representations that those same categories reflected. We will also be interested in studying the links of these variables with the different racialized notions of ‘self-identification’, as well as the appropriations, transmissions and semantic redefinitions between societies structured differently and/or culturally different. Attention will also be paid to ‘from below’ analytical approaches, in particular if they cover the perceptions of autochthonous and other marginalized populations, as well as those of the subaltern sectors, including slaves, in terms of identitary appropriation, of linguistic resistance and of their own categories/representations.

These lines of reflection are not exhaustive, as we will also consider proposals regarding other geo-historical contexts, or offering theoretical formulations that could enrich discussions from a trans-disciplinary perspective.

Those interested in attending should send their proposals in .doc or .pdf format to the following email address: Proposals should include name, contact details, institutional affiliation, a short CV, title, and an abstract not exceeding one page in length (about 350 words). The deadline for consideration is September 10th, 2016. Successful proposals will be announced in mid-September. There will be no inscription fees and the organizing committee will cover travel costs and accommodation for invited participants. Presentations of papers should not exceed 30 minutes. The languages of the workshop are English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. A selection of papers presented at the workshop will be published in a peer-reviewed edited volume.

For more information, click here.


Black Lives in Germany: A Multigenerational Struggle for Acceptance

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-07-20 13:32Z by Steven

Black Lives in Germany: A Multigenerational Struggle for Acceptance

The Root

Damaso Reyes

Damaso Reyes

Biracial Afro-Germans search for their identity in a country where many think that to be German is to be white.

Who am I? It seems like a simple enough question, but it is one that thousands of Germans of African descent have to ask themselves every day. In a country that defines identity with a great deal of precision, those who fall outside the norm find themselves trapped in a kind of limbo, neither here nor there.

After World War II, tens of thousands of African-American GIs participated in the occupation of Germany. Many of these young men, barred from combat units by segregation, found homes in supply units. In a country where food was in short supply, not only were these soldiers “exotic,” but they held the keys, if not to the kingdom, then certainly to survival.

Like many of their fellow white soldiers, black troops made connections with German women. Soon thereafter, children were born, and German society has struggled with what to do with them for the seven decades since. Multigenerational Afro-Germans have struggled to find their place in a society that often doesn’t accept that they belong…

…For the second postwar generation of Afro-Germans, the struggle for recognition wasn’t any easier. It was this generation of Afro-Germans who came together and created the Initiative of Black People in Germany. Fifty-three-year-old Tahir Della, the son of a black GI and a white mother from Leipzig, is a member of the board of the organization, and he talked about how he thinks other Germans see their fellow citizens of African descent…

Read the entire article here.

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