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Literatures of the Black Atlantic – Recommended readings

The black atlanticCrowning the last week of the Black History Month in the USA and Canada, I have come up with a selection of novels/autobiography that focuses on slavery, passages, crossings, displacements; but also treating the reinvention of identity from the mixed heritage of the Black Atlantic. – Fred D’Aguiar, Condé, Levy, Phillips and more.

In his seminal study “The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness” (1992), Paul Gilroy postulated that personal identities, histories, and cultures are constituted by processes of exchange rather than by the allegiance to a single place of origin. Gilroy shifts the focus from land to sea, from single nations to the Atlantic as a space of transition – initially the enforced transportation of African slaves, via European sea ports like Liverpool, to the slave markets of the Caribbean, later the reflux of the West Indian workforce into the European job market. These processes of deportation, then, more positively, of cross-cultural exchange, travel, and communication produced the heterogeneous cultural space of the Black Atlantic, encompassing African, European, Caribbean, and American culture, literature, music, and art.

This collection of texts covers everything from the Black Atlantic to life in the Africa diaspora. Reading them calls up emotions of anger, hurt, hatred, revenge but also of forgiveness, letting go, love and above all Healing. If you want to learn more of slavery, its effects and the Black Atlantic without necessarily reading history books, then these books will help you get an insight – some of them though fiction, are based on real life stories.

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