Reclaiming the Hidden History of Blackness

Africa made of books

Photo illustration by Mark Riechers. Original images by Eugenio Mazzone and Jaël Vallée (CC0).

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Kenyan literary scholar Simon Gikandi has spent decades studying what he calls "the unconscious" of books and paintings — the cultural artifacts of the past. He says you can’t understand the rise of European culture — or for that matter, the formation of the modern world — without also knowing how European thinkers demonized Africans and the very idea of "blackness."