People of Color in European Art History


  1. cerberusia wrote...

    I'm very interested by your posts on early Black presence in Britain, but I’m rather alarmed by some of your sources: I can’t find even a whiff of a peer review for either ‘The Black Celts’ or ‘True Myth’ on either JSTOR or SOLO, which makes me antsy, and all the reviews of ‘African Presence in Early Europe’ on JSTOR are decidedly lukewarm; in Paul Edwards’ review Don Luke is specifically mentioned as misinterpreting Norse, Celtic and Latin sources. (1/2)

    (2/2) It’s indisputable that there has indeed been an African presence in parts of Britain for a long time - I always think of the Ivory Bangle Lady of York, discovered in my home county - but these particular sources are not ones I would personally pick to support an argument to that effect.

    All pearl-clutching aside, I’ve been engaging in criticisms of Ivan Van Sertima and others who’ve made dubious claims or conclusions on this blog for a while. Part of the reason I post so many sources is specifically for this reason; an author makes a claim, someone else disagrees, a third person supports the original claim or conclusion, a fourth person goes on a random tangent about person A’s qualifications, a fifth person tries to make a metacommentary about the entire situation.

    And that, my friend, is the messy, messy world of academia. History and Historiography as disciplines are basically just a neverending series of arguments.

    Applying critical race theory to academic disciplines is still relatively “new”; not only that, there is a lot of active resistance toward the people who are trying to do so, and there are a lot of institutional barriers to education and access to materials in place for the people who are the most interested in pursuing these kind of research projects.

    Part of the problem with the way these things work is that the entire house of cards is structured in such a way that entirely new interpretations of primary sources and other data are usually rejected outright or pushed to the margins. Even access to primary sources is generally kept under lock and key; most of us are at the mercy of translators with unknown agendas or centuries-old translations that bestow the prejudices of long-dead colonists and slave owners on each new generation, unquestioned and seen as cut-and-dried facts.

    Now, building upon that context, I’ll also mentioned that the histories I’m exploring here have been banned in many areas of my home country. It’s illegal for a lot of these things to be taught in classrooms. The political situation here is hostile to “ethnic studies”, and a great deal of effort and money is being put into spin doctoring history textbooks and educational curricula.

    I’ve published some pretty long threads here involving “debunkery” and “gotcha!” type articles that have been published by journals that are considered to have impeccable reputations, that are literally nothing more than the parroting of racist stereotypes. (Remember that review that asserted Van Sertima’s claims had to be wrong because “Everybody knows Black people are afraid of water?????)

    Aaaaanyway, that is why I try and present as many perspectives as possible, accompanied by primary sources like those provided by various UK government sites and books that have the same data, but different conclusions.

    Because every grain of sand in a sand castle helps hold the entire thing together, even if there’s a cigarette butt or plastic bead here and there.