People of Color in European Art History

  1. Mission Statement

    "If you know I have a history, you will respect me."

    Those who assume that a people have no history worth mentioning are likely to believe they have no humanity worth defending.

    -Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, William Loren Katz. (p. 10)

    "Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”

    -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    The focus of this blog is to showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Color. All too often, these works go unseen in museums, Art History classes, online galleries, and other venues because of retroactive whitewashing of Medieval Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. Sometimes it’s just about really looking at artworks you’ve seen many times before, with a fresh perspective.

    Although the focus is toward art dating from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650, it will also include Baroque and/or Early Modern pieces, as well as works from places other than Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Celtic works featuring People of Color are also fair game.

    My purpose in creating this blog is to address common misconceptions that People of Color did not exist in Europe before the Enlightenment, and to emphasize the cognitive dissonance in the way this is reflected in media produced today.

    I [the blogrunner] am a person of color, but I am not Black. Because anti-Black racism is such an intense and pervasive element of the topics discussed at Medievalpoc, it’s important to remember this in the context of what I write, and that I am accountable for any statements I make.

    The ubiquity in modern media to display a fictitiously all-white Europe is often thoughtlessly and inaccurately justified by claims of “historical accuracy”; this blog is here to emphasize the modern racism that retroactively erases gigantic swaths of truth and beauty.

    This blog addresses situations regarding North American and often United States-specific misconceptions and miseducation about history, race, and racism. European history is already misrepresented in American classrooms. This blog is dedicated to providing a counternarrative to dominant social, cultural, and political narratives about European history in relation to both white identity and white supremacy as an institutionalized form of oppression. Those who control our knowledge of history also control our present, and putting resources and knowledge back into the hands of those most affected by the misinformation and misrepresentation codified into the U.S. education system is a large part of the purpose in curating this blog.

    A tertiary effect of showcasing these works is to provide a vehicle for correcting assumptions that works of fantasy based in “re-imagined” worlds of Medieval or Renaissance Europe that omit the contributions and presence of People of Color are made with  “historical accuracy” in mind. In fact, the opposite is often the case.

    Modern media does not exist in a vacuum.