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Black Narratives of Transcultural Appropriation: Constructing Afropean Worlds, Questioning European Foundations

Project description

Studying Afro-European literary tradition

African, African European, and African diaspora writers have crafted an innovative Black literary tradition that engages with Europe in unique ways. Unfortunately, this tradition has received little recognition due to limited literary studies research. The EU-funded AFROPEA project aims to address this by adopting a new literature-specific and comparative approach that challenges reactive dependency and balances the Anglo- or Francocentric perspective. The project will employ transcultural appropriation as a heuristic lens to analyse literary strategies and references to (neo-)colonial logics of property, heritage and belonging. AFROPEA will focus on minor and midsize European languages to study texts, opening new avenues for research and expanding understanding of Black literature in relation to Europe.


How is Europe imagined by African, African European, and African diasporic writers? The research project argues that there is a temporarily and spatially expansive, only partially known Black literary tradition engaging with Europe in subjective and aesthetically innovative ways. This tradition has not yet been studied from a perspective anchored in literary studies. The project proposes a new, literature specific, and comparative approach by employing transcultural appropriation as a heuristic lens. This will allow focusing on the following aspects:
1) On literary strategies of transcultural appropriation, i.e. on ways of imaginatively building Afropean worlds, shuffling hierarchies, reversing (neo-)colonialist discourse, rewriting modernity, and employing a rhetoric of property.
2) On literary references to (neo-)colonial logics of property, heritage, and belonging, i.e. on ways of revealing and questioning the European foundations that forced Black people into the position of being “appropriated” or excluded from claims of ownership since colonialism and slavery.
The goal is to develop a new perspective on Europe-related Black literature that challenges the reactive dependency and balances the Anglo- or Francocentric orientation associated with the framework of “writing back”. This will be achieved by studying texts written in minor and midsize European languages; depicting middle, eastern, and provincial parts of Europe; revealing gray areas beyond dominator vs. dominated; disclosing “forgotten” colonial histories; and addressing Europe as a unity.
The scholarly impact is threefold: 1) The focus on a Black, multilingual, heterogeneous Europe will revise research on Europe in comparative literature. 2) The literature specific methodology will bring a missing disciplinary perspective to African European studies. 3) The utilization of an explicitly transcultural, theoretically refined concept of appropriation will challenge ongoing scholarly and cultural debates.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 500,00
10117 Berlin

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Berlin Berlin Berlin
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 499 500,00

Beneficiaries (1)