Shades of otherness

Representations of Africa in 19th‐century Iceland

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology University of Iceland, Reykjavik 101, Iceland
 kristinl@hi.is
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Scholars have emphasised the importance of Africa as a counter‐identification in shaping European identity, and stressed the multiplicity of categories of ‘us’ and ‘other’. My discussion focuses on images of Africa in Iceland during the 19th century, when Iceland was seeking independence from Denmark. I suggest that by repeating clichés of European representations of Africa, Icelanders situated themselves within the space civilisation, culture and progress in contrast with earlier representations of Icelanders as lazy, childlike and ignorant. The paper shows shifting categorisations of ‘us’ while also emphasising the changes that followed growing nationalism and racialisation of diversity in the 19th century.

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