Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa?

John H. Jr. Starks

in African Athena

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595006
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731464 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa?

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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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

Chapter.  6619 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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