If you’re compiling your summer reading list, here’s an opportunity to check out the following new releases.
To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe
This timely and relevant book explores how Black Feminism and Afrofeminism are being practised in Europe today and gives significant historical background on the struggles for gender and racial equality on the continent.
In the form of an anthology of scholarly and creative essays, it brings together activists and artists of colour, who discuss a range of issues in various countries, offering insight into Black women’s experiences in a “racialized and hierarchical” region.
Edited by Akwugo Emejulu, a professor of sociology at Warwick University, and Francesca Sobande, a digital media studies lecturer at Cardiff University, the volume recounts how activist spaces for survival and resistance are built and sustained, among other issues.
The contributors also address the subject of how women engage with creative practice and the arts "as a means of activism and self-preservation”, and this topic gets particular focus in the chapter written on behalf of the Mwasi Collectif, an Afrofeminist association based in Paris, France, that includes artists and writers and which has faced antagonism from officials.
The book equally explores a “variety of critical spaces” such as motherhood and the home, with discussions of Caribbean households in Britain and an examination of Caribbean “versions of patriarchy” (chapter 7). Other countries that feature in the anthology range from Belgium to Greece, for a comprehensive and astute look at Black women’s experiences across Europe. (Pluto Press)
Trouwportretten (Wedding Photos)
Trouwportretten, Surinaamse voorouders in beeld (Wedding portraits, Surinamese ancestors in pictures, Album 1846-1950) portrays more than a century of marriages in Suriname, in word and images. It’s written in Dutch, but you don’t need to be a linguist to enjoy the photographs.
Edited by Lucia Nankoe and Jean Jacques Vrij, the book was inspired by almost 100 wedding photos and dozens of stories. It invites readers to be a guest at the weddings of these Surinamese couples, or couples whose partners have a Surinamese background, between 1845 and 1950.
Surinamese citizens travelled the world early and, apart from finding partners in their own country, they also tied the knot with residents of Aruba, Curaçao or Bonaire (in the Caribbean), and of the Netherlands and North America, according to the editors.
“Although most marriages took place in their own religious, ethnic and social circle, these boundaries were also often crossed,” the editors explain. Several stories in the book show that this was not without complications and prejudice.
“The lovers, however, followed the path of their heart and often the family and community got over it after some time,” the editors state.
Readers get to know the wedding couples not only through the pictures but also through the stories related here, sometimes in the words of family members, sometimes compiled by the editors.
The stories were previously highlighted in the similarly titled exhibition that took place in the Netherlands in 2018 (curated by Nankoe), and more accounts are recorded in this attractive book.
The collection informs readers about Surinamese society in important phases of its history. “This is also the story of immigration and emigration, of different religious backgrounds, of slavery and contract workers and above all of an ethnically-culturally diverse society in a shared national history,” the editors say.
The book’s encouraging message is that ethnic or religious differences between people in intimate relationships often become irrelevant. In other words, love conquers all … sometimes. (Publisher Uitg. In the Knipscheer)
If you’ve ever wondered how our pets view us and the world, My Dogly Days, by Philadelphia-based Indian writer Vijay Lakshmi, is the book for you.
This is a story of adventure, compassion, friendship and growth, seen through the eyes of that ever-loyal best friend, and it will appeal to both young and “mature” readers.
As playwright Quinn Eli has written, the book comes at a time when “so many of us lose sight of the humanity we share in common”.
He adds that My Dogly Days reminds us that under the surface, "our struggles, our dreams and our aspirations" are all the same.
"We long for companionship, we long for love, and most of all we long to make our stories known," Eli remarks.
The poetic and insightful nature of the book inspires us to look at our neighbours and to realize that we all have similar concerns, that we're all on some kind of a journey. (Austin McCauley Publishers)