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The Black Europe Summer School in Amsterdam

We recently wrapped up the 9th edition of the Summer School on Black Europe (BESS) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.* Founded by Professor Kwame Nimako, BESS is an independent program that addresses the lack of systematic engagement with–and even outright marginalization of–Black diasporic politics within European academic spaces. As Dr. Nimako explained in a 2013 interview:

I took this seminar out of the university because there is no place for this discussion within the university. In universities in Europe they want to talk about two things: immigrants and refugees. They don’t want to talk about race relations, which is a confirmation that the black person is a foreigner. So they want to talk about immigration because they want to stop immigration; and they want to talk about refugees also because they want to control refugees. But they don’t want to talk about racism, they don’t want to talk about discrimination, police brutality against Black people. So universities teach “immigration studies”, but they don’t teach race relations. They talk about refugees… It’s all about people coming into Europe, and Europe has to be a fortress to prevent these people from coming in.

So in the universities if you hear about these studies it will be called immigration, and immigration is about black and non-white people, but they won’t say that it is what it is, but that it is what they mean when they talk about immigration. How do we prevent the Africans or the Asians or the Muslims from coming into the country. Immigration is about demographic figures and the rules for preventing these peoples from coming into the country.

[cml_media_alt id='1348']BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School[/cml_media_alt]

BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School

BESS brings together a diverse group of academics, policy professionals, activists, and artists for two weeks each year. During an intensive schedule of twice-daily seminars led by an international (and internationally renowned) group of faculty, participants discuss the history of the Black diaspora in Europe; movements against racism and xenophobia; immigration and citizenship laws in Europe; and the legacies of enslavement and colonialism.

The 2016 program saw 43 participants from across the United States and Europe–the countries represented this year included Britain, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. The #Brexit vote, drenched in xenophobic and anti-Black rhetorics, occurred in the middle of BESS and gave our conversations an additional sense of urgency.

[cml_media_alt id='1347']BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour[/cml_media_alt]

BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour

During the program, BESS alumna Jennifer Tosch leads a Black heritage tour in Amsterdam. This emotional journey through the city differs dramatically from more mainstream glorifications of the Dutch Golden Age. Instead, Tosch focuses on traces of the historical Black presence (and Black resistance) in Amsterdam, as well as material legacies of slavery and colonialism throughout the city’s built environment.

[cml_media_alt id='1349']Screening of Asmarina and discussion with Quinsy Gario and Medhin Paolos[/cml_media_alt]

Screening of Asmarina and discussion with Quinsy Gario and Medhin Paolos

This year, BESS participants enjoyed a screening of Italian-Eritrean filmmaker Medhin Paolos’ documentary Asmarina, followed by a lively discussion with artist-activist Quinsy Gario, at the venerable Surinamese community center Vereniging Ons Suriname. They also had the opportunity to learn acting techniques with actor and professor Baron Kelly, who studies the history of Black transnational performance and conducts theater workshops with Black community groups around the world. Other highlights of the program included a series of panels on Black activism in Europe (with perspectives from the UK, Portugal, The Netherlands, and Italy), and the celebration of Keti Koti on July 1, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies.

[cml_media_alt id='1350']Panel on youth politics in Black Europe with Karen Sieben (Netherlands), Kwanza Musi Dos Santos and Evelyne Afaawua (Italy), and Randa Toko (UK/Italy)[/cml_media_alt]

Panel on youth politics in Black Europe with Karen Sieben (Netherlands), Kwanza Musi Dos Santos and Evelyne Afaawua (Italy), and Randa Toko (UK/Italy)

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the program was the new transnational collaborations forged between scholars and activists from the United States and Europe. These connections are absolutely crucial for sustaining a robust movement against racism and anti-Black violence in Europe, a need that is becoming more and more urgent each day.

Applications for the 2017 Summer School on Black Europe (when we will be celebrating the program’s 10th anniversary) will open this fall. Stay tuned for the online application, which will be available on the program website here. The program is open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students; postdoctoral fellows; university faculty and other educators; and policy or NGO professionals. Applicants should show an interest and commitment to issues related to the Black diaspora in Europe, anti-racism and anti-xenophobia, immigration and citizenship, and legacies of slavery and colonialism.

Please send inquiries to blackeurope [at] dialogoglobal.com.

*Note: I am the project manager for the Summer School on Black Europe.




ITALIANO

LA BLACK EUROPE SUMMER SCHOOL AD  AMSTERDM

Abbiamo recentemente concluso la nona edizione della Summer School on Black Europe (BESS) ad Amsterdam, in Olanda.* Fondata dal Professore Kwame Nimako, la BESS è un programma indipendente che affronta la mancanza di riconoscimento (ed anche la marginalizzazione) della diaspora africana nel mondo accademico in Europa. Come ha spiegato il Prof. Nimako in un intervista nel 2013:

I took this seminar out of the university because there is no place for this discussion within the university. In universities in Europe they want to talk about two things: immigrants and refugees. They don’t want to talk about race relations, which is a confirmation that the black person is a foreigner. So they want to talk about immigration because they want to stop immigration; and they want to talk about refugees also because they want to control refugees. But they don’t want to talk about racism, they don’t want to talk about discrimination, police brutality against Black people. So universities teach “immigration studies”, but they don’t teach race relations. They talk about refugees… It’s all about people coming into Europe, and Europe has to be a fortress to prevent these people from coming in.

So in the universities if you hear about these studies it will be called immigration, and immigration is about black and non-white people, but they won’t say that it is what it is, but that it is what they mean when they talk about immigration. How do we prevent the Africans or the Asians or the Muslims from coming into the country. Immigration is about demographic figures and the rules for preventing these peoples from coming into the country.

[cml_media_alt id='1348']BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School[/cml_media_alt]

BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School

La BESS riunisce un gruppo misto di accademici, professionali politici, attivisti ed artisti, per due settimane ogni anno. Durante un programma intensivo di seminari con professori illustri provenienti da tutto il mondo, i partecipanti discutono della storia e della diaspora africana in Europa; dei movimenti contro il razzismo e la xenofobia; delle varie leggi sull’immigrazione e del diritto alla cittadinanza nei paesi europei; dell’eredità della schiavitù e del colonialismo.

Nel programma del 2016, erano presenti 43 partecipanti provenienti dagli Stati Uniti e dall’Europa (i paesi rappresentati quest’anno includono l’Inghilterra, la Francia, il Portogallo, l’Olanda, il Belgio, l’Italia, la Svizzera, la Croazia, la Finlandia, la Svezia, la Danimarca, e la Germania). Il referendum sulla #Brexit, con tutte le sue retoriche xenofobe e afrofobe, si è svolto durante la BESS e ha dato alle nostre discussioni un ulteriore senso di urgenza.

We recently wrapped up the 9th edition of the Summer School on Black Europe (BESS) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.* Founded by Professor Kwame Nimako, BESS is an independent program that addresses the lack of systematic engagement with–and even outright marginalization of–Black diasporic politics within European academic spaces. As Dr. Nimako explained in a 2013 interview:

I took this seminar out of the university because there is no place for this discussion within the university. In universities in Europe they want to talk about two things: immigrants and refugees. They don’t want to talk about race relations, which is a confirmation that the black person is a foreigner. So they want to talk about immigration because they want to stop immigration; and they want to talk about refugees also because they want to control refugees. But they don’t want to talk about racism, they don’t want to talk about discrimination, police brutality against Black people. So universities teach “immigration studies”, but they don’t teach race relations. They talk about refugees… It’s all about people coming into Europe, and Europe has to be a fortress to prevent these people from coming in.

So in the universities if you hear about these studies it will be called immigration, and immigration is about black and non-white people, but they won’t say that it is what it is, but that it is what they mean when they talk about immigration. How do we prevent the Africans or the Asians or the Muslims from coming into the country. Immigration is about demographic figures and the rules for preventing these peoples from coming into the country.

[cml_media_alt id='1348']BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School[/cml_media_alt]

BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School

BESS brings together a diverse group of academics, policy professionals, activists, and artists for two weeks each year. During an intensive schedule of twice-daily seminars led by an international (and internationally renowned) group of faculty, participants discuss the history of the Black diaspora in Europe; movements against racism and xenophobia; immigration and citizenship laws in Europe; and the legacies of enslavement and colonialism.

The 2016 program saw 43 participants from across the United States and Europe–the countries represented this year included Britain, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. The #Brexit vote, drenched in xenophobic and anti-Black rhetorics, occurred in the middle of BESS and gave our conversations an additional sense of urgency.

[cml_media_alt id='1347']BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour[/cml_media_alt]

BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour

During the program, BESS alumna Jennifer Tosch leads a Black heritage tour in Amsterdam. This emotional journey through the city differs dramatically from more mainstream glorifications of the Dutch Golden Age. Instead, Tosch focuses on traces of the historical Black presence (and Black resistance) in Amsterdam, as well as material legacies of slavery and colonialism throughout the city’s built environment.

[cml_media_alt id='1349']Screening of Asmarina and discussion with Quinsy Gario and Medhin Paolos[/cml_media_alt]

Screening of Asmarina and discussion with Quinsy Gario and Medhin Paolos

This year, BESS participants enjoyed a screening of Italian-Eritrean filmmaker Medhin Paolos’ documentary Asmarina, followed by a lively discussion with artist-activist Quinsy Gario, at the venerable Surinamese community center Vereniging Ons Suriname. They also had the opportunity to learn acting techniques with actor and professor Baron Kelly, who studies the history of Black transnational performance and conducts theater workshops with Black community groups around the world. Other highlights of the program included a series of panels on Black activism in Europe (with perspectives from the UK, Portugal, The Netherlands, and Italy), and the celebration of Keti Koti on July 1, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies.

[cml_media_alt id='1350']Panel on youth politics in Black Europe with Karen Sieben (Netherlands), Kwanza Musi Dos Santos and Evelyne Afaawua (Italy), and Randa Toko (UK/Italy)[/cml_media_alt]

Panel on youth politics in Black Europe with Karen Sieben (Netherlands), Kwanza Musi Dos Santos and Evelyne Afaawua (Italy), and Randa Toko (UK/Italy)

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the program was the new transnational collaborations forged between scholars and activists from the United States and Europe. These connections are absolutely crucial for sustaining a robust movement against racism and anti-Black violence in Europe, a need that is becoming more and more urgent each day.

Applications for the 2017 Summer School on Black Europe (when we will be celebrating the program’s 10th anniversary) will open this fall. Stay tuned for the online application, which will be available on the program website here. The program is open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students; postdoctoral fellows; university faculty and other educators; and policy or NGO professionals. Applicants should show an interest and commitment to issues related to the Black diaspora in Europe, anti-racism and anti-xenophobia, immigration and citizenship, and legacies of slavery and colonialism.

Please send inquiries to blackeurope [at] dialogoglobal.com.

*Note: I am the project manager for the Summer School on Black Europe.




ITALIANO

LA BLACK EUROPE SUMMER SCHOOL AD  AMSTERDM

Abbiamo recentemente concluso la nona edizione della Summer School on Black Europe (BESS) ad Amsterdam, in Olanda.* Fondata dal Professore Kwame Nimako, la BESS è un programma indipendente che affronta la mancanza di riconoscimento (ed anche la marginalizzazione) della diaspora africana nel mondo accademico in Europa. Come ha spiegato il Prof. Nimako in un intervista nel 2013:

I took this seminar out of the university because there is no place for this discussion within the university. In universities in Europe they want to talk about two things: immigrants and refugees. They don’t want to talk about race relations, which is a confirmation that the black person is a foreigner. So they want to talk about immigration because they want to stop immigration; and they want to talk about refugees also because they want to control refugees. But they don’t want to talk about racism, they don’t want to talk about discrimination, police brutality against Black people. So universities teach “immigration studies”, but they don’t teach race relations. They talk about refugees… It’s all about people coming into Europe, and Europe has to be a fortress to prevent these people from coming in.

So in the universities if you hear about these studies it will be called immigration, and immigration is about black and non-white people, but they won’t say that it is what it is, but that it is what they mean when they talk about immigration. How do we prevent the Africans or the Asians or the Muslims from coming into the country. Immigration is about demographic figures and the rules for preventing these peoples from coming into the country.

[cml_media_alt id='1348']BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School[/cml_media_alt]

BESS program director Kwame Nimako on the first day of the Summer School

La BESS riunisce un gruppo misto di accademici, professionali politici, attivisti ed artisti, per due settimane ogni anno. Durante un programma intensivo di seminari con professori illustri provenienti da tutto il mondo, i partecipanti discutono della storia e della diaspora africana in Europa; dei movimenti contro il razzismo e la xenofobia; delle varie leggi sull’immigrazione e del diritto alla cittadinanza nei paesi europei; dell’eredità della schiavitù e del colonialismo.

Nel programma del 2016, erano presenti 43 partecipanti provenienti dagli Stati Uniti e dall’Europa (i paesi rappresentati quest’anno includono l’Inghilterra, la Francia, il Portogallo, l’Olanda, il Belgio, l’Italia, la Svizzera, la Croazia, la Finlandia, la Svezia, la Danimarca, e la Germania). Il referendum sulla #Brexit, con tutte le sue retoriche xenofobe e afrofobe, si è svolto durante la BESS e ha dato alle nostre discussioni un ulteriore senso di urgenza.

[cml_media_alt id='1347']BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour[/cml_media_alt]

[cml_media_alt id='1347']BESS participants at the National Slavery Monument during the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour[/cml_media_alt]

Adventures in Black Europe – Avventure nell’Afroeuropa

 

I admit that it is a good thing to place different civilizations in contact with each other that it is an excellent thing to blend different worlds; that whatever its own particular genius may be, a civilization that withdraws into itself atrophies; that for civilizations, exchange is oxygen; that the great good fortune of Europe is to have been a crossroads, and that because it was the locus of all ideas, the receptacle of all philosophies, the meeting place of all sentiments, it was the best center for the redistribution of energy.
But then I ask the following question: has colonization really placed civilizations in contact? Or, if you prefer, of all the ways of establishing contact, was it the best?
I answer no.
-Aime Cesaire, Discours sur le colonialisme (1950)

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