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Daniel Orrells, Gurminder K. Bhambra, and Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199595006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595006.001.0001

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Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa?

Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa?

(p.239) 14 Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa?
African Athena

John H. Jr. Starks

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that during the Vandal century of rule in Roman Africa (429‐533 CE), a form of racial profiling and racist thinking expressed through skin colour prejudices against black peoples emerges in Latin satiric epigrams from the Anthologia Latina as the power centre shifts between white, ‘neutral‐coloured,’ and black ethnic communities. Black stereotypes of fearful demons and darkness and of repulsive filth and ugliness especially mark black Africans as dangerous ‘others’ infringing on Roman‐African interests. Blacks become another act in the Anthologia Latina's cultural ‘freak show’ of exotic animals and disfranchised outcasts, entertainers, sexual deviants, the disabled, the ugly as constructed by a Mediterranean Roman society ‘neutrally’ and normatively self‐realized between white, ‘Germanic’ Vandal power and black, ‘Moorish’ African marginalization.

Keywords:   racial profiling, black, blackness, ugly, demon, Vandal, Moor, Roman Africa, satiric epigram, Anthologia Latina

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