African diaspora – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on August 9, 2015

This article is on the historical emigration from Africa. See recent African origin of modern humans for pre-historic human migration and emigration from Africa for recent migration.

The African diaspora refers to the communities throughout the world that are descended from the historic movement of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, among other areas around the globe. The term has been historically applied in particular to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas in the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population in Brazil (see Afro-Brazilian), followed by the USA[1] and others.[2] Some scholars identify "four circulatory phases" of migration out of Africa.[3]

The term has also less commonly been used to refer to recent emigration from Africa.[4] The African Union defines the African diaspora as:

"[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union." Its constitutive act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union."

The phrase "African diaspora" was coined during the 1990s, and gradually entered common usage during the 2000s. Use of the term "diaspora" is modelled after the concept of Jewish diaspora.[5]

Much of the African diaspora was dispersed throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas during the Arab and the Atlantic slave trades. Beginning in the 8th century, Arabs took African slaves from the central and eastern portions of the continent (where they were known as the Zanj) and sold them into markets in the Middle East and eastern Asia. Beginning in the 15th century, Europeans captured or bought African slaves from West Africa and brought them to Europe and primarily, in much greater number, to the Americas. The Atlantic Slave Trade ended in the 19th century, and the Arab Slave Trade ended in the middle of the 20th century.[6] The dispersal through slave trading represents the largest forced migrations in human history. The economic effect on the African continent was devastating, as generations of young people were taken from their communities and societies were disrupted. Some communities created by descendants of African slaves in Europe and Asia have survived to the modern day. In other cases, blacks intermarried with non-blacks, and their descendants blended into the local population.

In the Americas, the confluence of multiple ethnic groups from around the world created multi-ethnic societies. In Central and South America, most people are descended from European, indigenous American, and African ancestry. In Brazil, where in 1888 nearly half the population was descended from African slaves, the variation of physical characteristics extends across a broad range. In the United States, there was historically a greater European colonial population in relation to African slaves, especially in the Northern Tier. There was considerable racial intermarriage in colonial Virginia, and other racial mixing during the slavery and post-Civil War years. Racist Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws passed after the Reconstruction era in the South in the late nineteenth century, plus waves of vastly increased immigration from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, maintained some distinction between racial groups. In the early 20th century, to institutionalize racial segregation, most southern states adopted the "one drop rule", which defined and recorded anyone with any discernible African ancestry as black, even of obvious majority white or Native American ancestry.[7] One of the results of this implementation was the loss of records of Indian-identified groups, who were classified only as black because of being mixed race.

See Emigration from Africa for a general treatment of voluntary population movements since the late 20th century.

From the very onset of Spanish exploration and colonial activities in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africans participated both as voluntary expeditionaries and as involuntary laborers.[2][8]Juan Garrido was such an African conquistador. He crossed the Atlantic as a freedman in the 1510s and participated in the siege of Tenochtitlan.[9] Africans had been present in Asia and Europe long before Columbus' travels. Beginning in the late 20th century, Africans began to emigrate to Europe and the Americas in increasing numbers, constituting new African Diaspora communities not directly connected with the slave trade.

The African Union defined the African diaspora as "[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union." Its constitutive act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union."

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