Historicizing the Images and Politics of the Afropolitan

Cover of Issue 144, Historicizing the Images and Politics of the Afropolitan.

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This issue of Radical History Review interrogates and reimagines the “Afropolitan,” the term coined by writer Taiye Selasi and popularized by theorist Achille Mbembe. Our contributors creatively reframe the Afropolitan as part of a broader history of global networks, pasts, and futures.

Feature Essays Elizabeth Fretwell examines and contextualizes the Afropolitanism of elite sartorial culture of precolonial Dahomey. Ndubueze Mbah theorizes the “rebellious mobilities” of nineteenth-century Liberated Africans who returned to Nigeria from Sierra Leone.

Reflections on the Afropolitan Antonia Carcelén-Estrada uses gendered absences in Sánchez-Gallque’s iconic Los dones de Esmeraldas (1599) as a point of departure to discuss Black women’s political organizing in the Black Pacific. Patrícia Martins Marcos theorizes how contemporary Black activists disrupt Portuguese national myths that deny Blackness in the past and present. Dawn Fulton interrogates self-fashioning and Afropolitan critiques among three Francophone African women writers.

Teaching Radical History Paulina Alberto ruminates on the power of narrative, particularly “racial storytelling,” as a mode of historical inquiry in the classroom to reveal antiracist projects.

Intervention David Schoenbrun uses literary techniques infused with linguistic, archeological, and oral sources to tell a fourteenth-century story of Afropolitan mobility and world-making.

Curated Spaces Héctor Mediavilla shares behind-the-scenes images from the International Fashion Festival in Africa to discuss the creative vision of the founder, Alphadi, and participants. Photographer Emeka Okereke and anthropologist Mathangi Krishnamurthy use images from the

Invisible Borders Trans-African project in Bangladesh to reflect on postcolonial identities.

Afterword Visual artist Aniova Prandy re-envisions both the past and the meaning of “Afropolitan” through her award-winning work, “The Sugar Maafa.”

Cover image: Participants of the Trans-Bangladeshi Road Trip 2019, by Emeka Okereke