‘Not Equatorial black, not Mediterranean white’

John Thieme

in African Athena

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

Series: Classical Presences

‘Not Equatorial black, not Mediterranean white’

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


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Post‐Bernal debates about the extent to which classical Greek culture was informed by Afroasiatic elements are interestingly mirrored in revisionist accounts of the genealogies of Caribbean cultures. While Derek Walcott and Wilson Harris are the best‐known Anglophone Caribbean writers to have engaged with Homer and classical civilization, Denis Williams’ Other Leopards (1963), the finest novel about the Caribbean encounter with Africa to have appeared to date, is arguably the text that most fully excavates the intersection of African and European elements in the Caribbean psyche. Set in a “Sudanic” country, the novel suggests an alternative provenance for the North African strands in the “roots of classical civilization”. It problematizes originary conceptions of cultures, moving towards a view of Caribbean and North African identity that has much in common with Black Athena, through its unearthing of submerged sub‐Saharan African cultural traces in both the landscape and its ambivalent Guyanese protagonist's psyche.

Keywords: Denis Williams; Other Leopards; Bernal; Fanon; African archaeology; Caribbean identity; classical civilization; Meroë; Sudan; Guyana

Chapter.  6049 words. 

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

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