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Black Europeans

A series of features guest-curated by Mike Phillips for the British Library Online Gallery.

Popular versions of history have all too often airbrushed out the contribution of non-Europeans to Western arts and sciences. In recent years, however, scholars have begun to challenge the idea that race or ethnicity is a barrier which can stop individuals from participating in any culture they choose. In Europe this has encouraged a new drive to explore and understand the hidden or ignored contribution of people of African descent to the mainstream of European culture and society.

The figures featured in Black Europeans – Alexander Pushkin, Alexandre Dumas, George Polgreen Bridgetower, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and John Archer – all have a mixed European and African ancestry. Although they were fully conscious of their mixed backgrounds, they also regarded themselves as part of a European nation, and thought of their work as a contribution to their own sector of the culture of Europe and the world. And they were all figures whose public image and whose activities have been generally accepted (both by their contemporaries and by later generations) to be an important part of Europe’s cultural heritage – to the point where most people ignore, or have forgotten about, the ‘black’ element of their identity and its significance in their lives and work.

About the author: Mike Phillips

There are sound samples on these pages. To listen to them, you will need the Windows Media Player.

You can also read and print fuller versions of Mike Phillips' essays on these Black Europeans in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format.

Introduction
Alexander Pushkin Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Dumas Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor John Archer
 
 
 
Discover more:
Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Dumas
Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
John Archer
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