Johny Pitts

Afropean
  • Afropean

  • Johny Pitts

    'Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity ... A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too, and these were people and places it needed to understand and embrace if it wanted fully functional societies. And Black Europeans, too, need to demand the right to document and disseminate our stories ... With my brown skin and my British passport - still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing - I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning.'

    Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.

Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer and broadcast journalist. He has received various awards for his work exploring African-European identity, including a Decibel Penguin Prize and an ENAR (European Network Against Racism) award. He is the curator of the online journal Afropean.com, part of the Guardian's Africa Network and has collaborated with Caryl Philips on a photographic essay about London's immigrant communities for the BBC and Arts Council.