Europe has a long history of immigration and cultural mixing that has often been obscured by nationalist historical writing from the nineteenth century to today. Although historical definitions of Europe have often cast “Europeans” as white, this racial description has never reflected the entire population of the cultural area of Europe.
A fascinating NPR story about an Afro-European boy who wanted to become a Hitler Youth in 1940s Germany reveals how complicated the multicultural history of Europe can be when seriously contemplated.
Over the past generation, historians of ancient, medieval, and early modern Europe have been expanding our awareness of the long-term history of multiracial and multicultural populations in European societies.
One important example of this sort of historical work is: T. F. Earle and K. J. P. Lowe, eds., Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Atlantic World histories have produced a vast body of work on multicultural relationships across the Atlantic in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, but have often failed to consider multicultural relationships within Europe.
Work on the Mediterreanean World has arguably been more effective in generating new research on inter-religious and multicultural connections in the medieval and early modern periods within Europe, as well as other regions of the Mediterranean.