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Witte, Marleen de

Witte, Marleen de

Individual Fellow

African by Design: self-styling and authenticity among Afro-Dutch youth

Amsterdam youth of Surinamese, Antillean, Ghanaian and other African backgrounds together shape a new, Afro-Dutch identity. How do they do this? Do they manage to transcend ethnic differences? How and why do young Afro-Dutch design Africanness in popular culture and lifestyle and how do they come to experience this new pan-ethnic identity as an authentic part of who they are?

Project Description

Challenging dominant frameworks of ethnic identity, that see individuals as ‘made by’ culture, this project sees them as ‘makers of’ culture. Amsterdam youth of Surinamese, Antillean, Ghanaian and other African backgrounds together shape a new, Afro-Dutch identity that transcends ethnic identitifcations. ‘African by Design’ studies the popular cultural forms around which this new Pan-African identity develops: AfroDance and Afrobeats, African-inspired fashion, African hairstyles, and social media turned out to be important materials for designing Africanness. At the same time, people often see identity as a matter of biology – of physical appearance, blood, or genes – that is, as anything but self-designed. The project compares the interplay of creative self-design and authenticity in Afro-Caribbean and Ghanaian interpretations of what an Afro-Dutch identity could be.

Selected Publications

Marleen de Witte, 2014, Heritage, Blackness, and Afro-Cool: Styling Africanness in Amsterdam. African Diaspora 7(2): 260-289.

Marleen de Witte and Rachel Spronk, 2014, Introduction: “African”, a Contested Qualifier in Global Africa. African Diaspora 7(2): 165-176.

 

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