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Open Access Heritage, Blackness and Afro-Cool

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Heritage, Blackness and Afro-Cool

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Styling Africanness in Amsterdam

This article focuses on the recent emergence of an “Afro-Dutch” category of self-identification among young people in Amsterdam. Dutch-born youth of different Afro-Caribbean and African backgrounds show a new sense of (and search for) a shared African heritage, and a growing desire for public exposure and recognition of this Africanness. Manifesting in, for example, media initiatives, performing arts, cultural festivals, and bodily fashions, this trend is characterized by an aesthetic emphasis on globalized African styles and by political struggles about the inclusion of African heritage in Dutch imaginations of nationhood. Approaching Africanness as a process of becoming and a practice of self-styling, this article explores the convergence between the renewed interest in African roots among Dutch-born Afro-Caribbeans and the ways in which Ghanaian youth engage with their African origins. It discerns three prominent, but contested tropes with regard to their framing and design of Africanness: “African heritage”, “blackness” and “Afro-cool”.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands m.dewitte@uva.nl

This article focuses on the recent emergence of an “Afro-Dutch” category of self-identification among young people in Amsterdam. Dutch-born youth of different Afro-Caribbean and African backgrounds show a new sense of (and search for) a shared African heritage, and a growing desire for public exposure and recognition of this Africanness. Manifesting in, for example, media initiatives, performing arts, cultural festivals, and bodily fashions, this trend is characterized by an aesthetic emphasis on globalized African styles and by political struggles about the inclusion of African heritage in Dutch imaginations of nationhood. Approaching Africanness as a process of becoming and a practice of self-styling, this article explores the convergence between the renewed interest in African roots among Dutch-born Afro-Caribbeans and the ways in which Ghanaian youth engage with their African origins. It discerns three prominent, but contested tropes with regard to their framing and design of Africanness: “African heritage”, “blackness” and “Afro-cool”.

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/content/journals/10.1163/18725465-00702002
2014-01-01
2018-04-20

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