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Title: Blackamoores : Africans in Tudor England : their presence, status and origins
Author: Glanville, Tobi
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 3845
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2016
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'Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins' (Blackamoores) is a book written by Onyeka and published in 2013. It contains original research conducted by Onyeka over twenty-three years in England, Scotland, Wales, Spain and the United States of America. During that time Onyeka met with considerable obstacles. He received threats from organisations such as the White Wolves and Combat 18, the purpose of which was to prevent him from continuing his research. The police and other agencies also warned him of further conspiracies that involved violence and intimidation. For many years Onyeka travelled to and from rural research centres to gather evidence for Blackamoores, he witnessed verbal and physical attacks of a racial kind directed against people of African and Asian descent and those of Traveller origin. He was also subject to abuse himself. From 2003-2009 Onyeka had supervision from staff in the History Department at Middlesex University, but eventually this department was dismantled. This was particularly significant as the academics within that department specialised in 'Black Studies'. Onyeka was left as the last history student at the University. Onyeka eventually wrote an essay on the African presence in Tudor England. Blackamoores is revised and different from that essay as it is an in depth and focused examination of the status and origins of Africans in Tudor society. For the first time Onyeka draws on evidence of an African presence in Medieval and Stuart England to support his arguments. This evidence has not been made available to the public before, and it is the first time that it has been used to examine the status and origins of Africans in Tudor England. Onyeka has found evidence of Africans in cities and towns such as Bristol, Hertford, London, Northampton, Norwich and Plymouth. He has proved in Blackamoores that Africans did not automatically occupy the lowest positions in Tudor society. Onyeka also shows that Africans in Tudor England were not all slaves, or transient immigrants who were considered as dangerous strangers and the epitome of otherness. In addition in Blackamoores he revealed that some Africans in England had important occupations in Tudor society, and were employed by powerful people because of the skills they possessed. Onyeka explains how Africans used these skills in Tudor England and most of these people were socially and economically useful in that. The evidence of these specific incidents is confidential and under investigation. The author also proves however, that Africans were not all foreign; and that most whether born in England or elsewhere, were integrated members of their local parishes. This is the first time that this kind of investigation of the status and origins of Africans in Tudor England has been carried out in any systematic and detailed way. The arguments in the book Blackamoores are supported by evidence from a variety of primary sources contained in early modern books, manuscripts, or from drawings, paintings, tapestries, sculptures and so on. Secondary sources are also examined in Blackamoores as are the post-colonial theories that relate to ethnicity, race and status such as Gayatri Spivak’s ‘can the dumb subaltern speak?’ In this thesis the words post-colonial are used to refer to the methodologies and narratives developed by historians studying what happened during colonialism, and also ‘post’ or after it. The phrase post-colonial also refers to a historiographical narrative that responds to the cultural legacies of colonialism, imperialism, and racism. Historians with a post-colonial perspective vary in their focus, but may also enquire into economics, law or any other area of ‘people activity.’7 In this thesis a wide group of historians are described as post-colonial but there is an acknowledgement that not all of the academics grouped in this way share the same perspectives. Onyeka also acknowledges that post-colonial methodologies and narratives are important in analysing evidence and developing arguments on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Onyeka suggests however, that when it comes to examining primary records that are pre-colonial these narratives and methodologies can be set aside. Instead Onyeka offers pre-colonial perspectives such as there was no ‘scientific notion of race’ in Tudor society, and therefore Blackamoores offers an alternative view on diversity in early modern England. Having an idea to write about Africans in Tudor England, however, is quite different from actually doing it. This is not just because any research and writing will place demands on the writer, but because this subject relates to the socially contentious and psychologically challenging issues of colour, difference, race and identity. British Academia has been found by many commentators to be failing to examine these subjects effectively. Furthermore, the author acknowledges that the analysis and interpretation of the visual arts including paintings and drawings etc. is a complex part of historiography with its own sub-categories including art theory, art criticism and so on. The author also acknowledges that methodologies and narratives vary accordingly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available