Like snapshots of everyday life in the past, the compelling biographies in this book document the making of the Black Atlantic world since the sixteenth century from the point of view of those who were part of it. Centering on the diaspora caused by the forced migration of Africans to Europe and across the Atlantic to the Americas, the chapters explore the slave trade, enslavement, resistance, adaptation, cultural transformations, and the quest for citizenship rights. The variety of experiences, constraints and choices depicted in the book and their changes across time and space defy the idea of a unified 'black experience.' At the same time, it is clear that in the twentieth century, 'black' identity unified people of African descent who, along with other 'minority' groups, struggled against colonialism and racism and presented alternatives to a version of modernity that excluded and alienated them. Drawing on a rich array of little-known documents, the contributors reconstruct the lives and times of some well-known characters along with ordinary people who rarely left written records and would otherwise have remained anonymous and unknown.
Beatriz G. Mamigonian —
Beatriz G. Mamigonian is professor of history at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil.
The Human tradition in the black Atlantic, 1500-2000, ed. by Beatriz G. Mamigonian and Karen Racine. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. 229p bibl filmography index afp; ISBN 9780742567290; ISBN 9780742567306 pbk. Reviewed in 2010jul CHOICE.
Recently, scholars have begun distinguishing the black Atlantic from the Atlantic World. The editors define "black Atlantic" as a social, cultural, and ideological construction that rejects traditional Eurocentric historical interpretations, recognizes the human effect of the slave trade and the African diaspora, and, most importantly, is "a counternarrative that addresses the cultural transformations, resistance, and struggles that peoples of African descent waged against enslavement, exploitation, racism and other forms of oppression." This wide-ranging, ideological, and chronological scope allows for inclusion of a very diverse group of individuals from different geographic areas, economic backgrounds, religions, and social positions. Slaves, political activists, intellectuals, workers, women, a government official, and a missionary populate this collection of 13 biographical essays of individuals who represent the black Atlantic, 1500-2000. Their historical obscurity fulfills a growing need to put a human face on what has thus far been a mostly theoretically driven body of scholarship. Although the authors could have better connected the introduction's theoretical framework and approach with the individuals featured in the essays, this wonderful addition to the growing scholarship attempts, quite successfully, to add a human face to the black Atlantic. A topical bibliography and a filmography provide instructors and students alike a guide for further research.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- C. L. Stacey, Louisiana State University at Alexandria