Book Review: The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Book review
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The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture by Patrick Manning outlines the black history over seven centuries within and beyond the African continent. Based on the concept of African diaspora, Manning addresses five principle themes: survival, liberation, citizenship, fairness, and connections. The author starts by conceptualizing and retracing the historical backdrop of the concept of the African diaspora (Manning p.12). Manning presents important inquiries touching on black communities, for example, the development of world slavery; the development of cultural advances; the social contribution; the achievement of social uniformity; the end of social and cultural prejudice, and the eventual fate of black communities.

Manning partitions the diaspora into three unmistakable classes, which are the old, the Atlantic and sub-Saharan Africa diasporas. In spite of making an allowance for the existence of diaspora preceding the fifteenth century, the author considers the Atlantic trade as a defining period as far as the accounts of the African diaspora are concerned. In the second chapter, Manning looks at the advancement of African social orders and their exchanges with other communities outside and within the continent. He points out how the advancement and the extension of servitude and the slave exchange on African soil were essential components in the engagements among various societies, and furthermore determinant in the securing of black peoples place in the world (p.23). Survival is a chapter addressing the fight for continued existence between 1600 and 1800. Beginning with the oppression of Africans on the mainland, Manning considers various facets of systems of African slavery in the US until the annulment of subjugation that put the framework into a crunch.

Liberation concentrates on the fight for emancipation amid the nineteenth century and the abolitionist movements. The section is a tracks the continuation of subjection and particularly the Muslim slave exchange Africa until the start of the twentieth century. Citizenship reviews the struggle for human rights and citizenship in the twentieth century until the sixties. Equality, the last section talks about the pursuit of uniformity by the black in Africa, America, and globally. Developed by a well-known Africanist academic who is profoundly dedicated to incorporating the world history as a field in the history discipline, the text is the only one in the broad field that addresses the historical backdrop of the African diaspora from the era before the dispersion of Africans all through the Atlantic slave exchange until the present-day. Surely, regardless of its wide scope, the scholars basically concentrates on the slavery and the Atlantic trade.

The Mannings composition has various strengths. The author splendidly clarifies the elements of the Atlantic slave trade by concentrating on the human encounters that came about because of war, bondage, forced labor, and deportation. He likewise depicts the aspects of adjustment and resistance. Regardless of alluding to countable historical works on Brazil with regard to the English dialect, Manning still addresses the most imperative dynamics of the African-Brazilian experience for the said period. Exceptionally compelling and delightfully composed is the illustration of the Palmares quilombo. Absorbed by human encounters, and substantial and inconsequential culture as opposed to on economic variables, Manning has a new approach which empowers a regularly rich examination that reveals insight into the multifaceted nature of African movements and trades with other communities and continents (5p.9). Among other fruitful highlights of the book, one can easily trace the flow of antiques and musical instruments in Africa and outside the continent. It is likewise imperative to see that in the different sections he gives considerable focus to the encounters of women. Despite the short depictions that call for more definite remark, the images outlining the book are noteworthy.

Despite these qualities, there are a few shortcomings worth specifying. Although the introduction looks in detail at the thought of culture and its different subtleties, the concept of the African diaspora is not profoundly examined. Manning appears to confine the study of the African diaspora to a few works, for example, John K. Thornton and Paul Gilroy, who basically examine the Atlantic world, and in addition Molefi K. Asante. In reality, the books focus on the distinctive encounters of black communities requires a significantly rich discourse of the history and development of thoughts. These ideas are not problematized anywhere in the text. The recommended bibliographies completely ignore recent scholarship (p.77). With the exception of Cuba, the scholar lists few works addressing the experience of Africans and their relatives in Spanish America, for instance. The reference index on civil rights and racism in nations and the dialog about the cases of African descents in European nations are likewise restricted.

Despite the said deficiencies, Manning is effective in bringing into focus the African culture in the discourse regarding the African diaspora, whereas maintaining a strategic distance from the temptation of Afrocentrism. The author must likewise be commended for the effort he placed on Brazil, the biggest recipient of African migrants amid the era of the Atlantic trade. For every one of these reasons, The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture will be abundantly valued by scholars examining African diaspora.


Work Cited

Manning, P. (2010). The African diaspora: a history through culture. New York: Columbia University Press.


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