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Africa in Europe and Europe in Africa

Reassessing the Cultural Legacy

Edited By Yolanda Aixelà-Cabré

This book studies the Afro-European and Euro-African past and present from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. It addresses Africa as a whole, eschewing historical divisions between North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its content exemplifies the extent to which the histories of Europe and Africa are intertwined, and the way European sources are usually privileged in the writing of historical accounts of cross-cultural encounters. Using post/decolonial studies, the authors' point of view is based on anthropology, history, ethnomusicology, and film and literary studies. The authors argue that mutual experiences and imaginations have affected how cultural heritage and legacy are conceived and thought of, as well as memories and sociopolitical experiences. The aim is to establish and encourage a broader knowledge of Africa–Europe and Europe–Africa encounters, incorporating case studies of Euro-African and Afro-European legacies. The final goal is to favour a more relational point of view by comparing Euro-African and Afro-European realities.

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5. Understanding Ethnicity as Positional: CRISTINA ENGUITA-FERNÀNDEZ



ISGlobal (Spain), Barcelona


In the initial pages of Fictions of Feminist Ethnography, Visweswaran (1994) invites us to think about the categories that determine the differentiated positions among women. From reflexivity, and through a simple anecdote, she shows how she suddenly finds herself separated from her grandmother, “not only by language and generation, but by class and culture” (Ibid: xii). Indeed, reflections on how certain social categories intersect in a complex framework that redefine identity adscriptions are not new, especially regarding those debates coming from black feminist perspectives (Crenshaw 1991). On this matter, Amina Mama’s assertion on “[t];he analysis of how gender identities can mitigate or consolidate ethnic identities would be very instructive”1 (Salo 2010: 16) also brings light to the purpose of this chapter, that is to think about ethnicity as a collective experience of identity that is under constant construction. Thus, beyond gender, and making reference to identity adscription and its intensity, Mama also appeals to disclose ethnicity as a non-permanent form of collective tie.

In short, the above references point out two relevant aspects that will be addressed throughout this chapter. On the one hand, there is a need to understand identity as a result of diverse crossed categories which shapes a shared2 experience, and on the other hand, apprehending that identity (ethnic or not) may vary its intensity in terms of adscription, meaning that it is not a fixed discourse. In...

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