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Uses of African Antiquity in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries


Jorge Serrano

African antiquity has been discerned both nullifyingly and constructively. Uses of African Antiquity in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries reveals how reading the past can be extended to understand sensitivities involving origins and how it imparts collective posture. The ancient historical imagery epitomized by writers and artists alike includes the distant past as well as an immediate past. Comparatively, representation of time long gone records transhistorical presence and civilizational participation and agentic validity. African antiquity can be construed as diasporic through time and space and in regards to nomenclature it extends understanding of peopleness, e.g. Libya, Ethiopia, Africa, Afrika, African Egypt, Kemet, Alkebu-lan, Nubia, Ta-Seti, Ta-Nehisi, Ta-Merry, Kush, Axum, Meroë, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Zulu, and so many more are recognized in a time-spatial continuum linked to African, Colored, Negro, and Black, as various terms inform origins identity. Unfortunately, typologies disciplinarily stem from anthropological construction, yet here African antiquity as sign heralds clines and clusters; splintering Africana from humanitas ultimately contends against subjugation. African antiquity absorbs character and notions of diachronologically dispersed peoples reflect origins indulgence. African antiquity as a stretched concept and/or historicism triply adds understanding, grouping, and alterity. This primarily is a review of thinkers who defend against people erasure in the past with its socially and nihilistic affective ways.

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Chapter 6. Droppin’ Knowledge


Chapter 6

Droppin’ Knowledge

The Immediate Past

Du Bois’ The Negro propounded his “criteria for Negro” history against subtle and flagrant philosophies of cultural deficiency during the early twentieth century. In 1913, two years before the publication date of The Negro, Du Bois countered faulty historicism in performative fashion with his epistemically attentive portrayal of Ethiopian antiquity. In keeping with his lifelong instructive agenda, Du Bois received help from Robert Wood a printer who David Levering Lewis notes aided Du Bois more like “a stage director” for “The Star of Ethiopia” project than a publishing editor.1 The Star of Ethiopia was a theatric splurge and an artistic inference to The Negro. It was first presented in 1913 for the New York Emancipation Exposition being held at the 12th Regiment Armory commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.2 It accentuated civilizational potency with its historicism as a means of inclusion and in some respects a creative ideal and representation of artistic parity. And like certain Hip Hop productions in the 1970s, the early twentieth-­century representation utilizes antiquity and←181 | 182→ historicity. Unfortunately, the civilizational attributes with Hip Hop as an artistic form in some ways were not easily perceived in its evolutionary period.

Advocates of cultus et humanitas Africana (St. Clair Drake’s vindicationists) soberly contributed historical parity, although some consider their efforts imaginative and rhetorical. The determined civilizationist’s literary artistry interlaces Africana through (1) theme (the intent on accurately connecting antiquity)...

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