The history of Africans in Europe may seem recent – a result of migration in the 20th and 21st centuries – but in her new book, African Europeans, historian Olivette Otele tells a very different story – a story of African presence in Europe that stretches back centuries.
Otele writes of African Europeans through the lives of individuals both ordinary and extraordinary. She has uncovered a forgotten past, one that features the Libya-born Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, a Medici duke believed to have been born to a free African woman and enslaved Africans living in Europe during the Renaissance. By exploring a history that has long been overlooked, she sheds light on questions very much alive today: What can movements like Black Lives Matter learn from the long history of Black activism in the UK and Europe? Why are Black Britons such as the Windrush generation often treated as if they aren’t full British citizens? And how can remembering the silenced narratives of our past help us understand the present and lead to a better future?
On November 23, Otele will come to Intelligence Squared to reveal this untold story of European and African history. She will be in conversation with author and BBC Radio 4 presenter Kavita Puri.