Home
Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Voices for Tolerance

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Encountering Africans



Early modern Europeans had not yet developed hard and fast racial theories. While negative stereotypes of Africans abounded, there was intense curiosity about the continent and its people. The word "race" itself had a variety of different meanings and was most commonly used to refer to distinctions between Europeans based on their nationality, gender, or ethnic origin.

 

While the notion of Africa itself initially conjured up imaginary kingdoms and peoples, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century colonial expansion and increased trading and raiding brought Europeans greater knowledge of the continent and of African peoples. This evolving geographic and ethnographic knowledge, derived from experience, often challenged many of the myths inherited from the Ancients and the Bible. In the case of Africa and Africans, acquaintance did not lead to increased respect and the toleration of difference. Rather, the demands of empire and commerce culminated in the brutal persecution of Africans in the slave trade.

 

One of the most common representations of "blackness" derived from visual images of the expression "washing the Ethiop white." This expression came from Aesopian fable and was used primarily to refer to an impossible task, or laboring in vain.

 
Geffrey Whitney. A choice of emblemes, and other devises. Leyden, 1586



Wenceslaus Hollar. Portrait of a young African woman. Etching, 1645.





Bookmark and Share   
 
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
RSS   
 
  Address:
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »
    Hours:
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
    Phone:
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623