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Power and Landscape in Atlantic West Africa
Archaeological Perspectives


Merrick Posnansky, J. Cameron Monroe, Akinwumi Ogundiran, Ibrahima Thiaw, François Richard, Sam Spiers, Neil L. Norman, Kevin C. MacDonald, Seydou Camara, Philip de Barros, Christopher R. DeCorse, Scott MacEachern, Ray A. Kea
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  • Date Published: December 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108978309

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About the Authors
  • This volume examines the archaeology of precolonial West African societies in the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Using historical and archaeological perspectives on landscape, this collection of essays sheds light on how involvement in the commercial revolutions of the early modern period dramatically reshaped the regional contours of political organization across West Africa. The essays examine how social and political transformations occurred at the regional level by exploring regional economic networks, population shifts, cultural values and ideologies. The book demonstrates the importance of anthropological insights not only to the broad political history of West Africa, but also to an understanding of political culture as a form of meaningful social practice.

    • Provides a regional focus, examining West African societies in the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade
    • Adopts historical and archaeological perspectives on landscape
    • Fills the critical gaps in the historiography of Atlantic West Africa's political formations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The maps and illustrations are excellent throughout the volume and the quality of production is very high … It is a very successful product; the chapters combine strong theoretical backbone, drawing on a range of literature worldwide yet never overwhelming, with a detailed, well thought-out presentation of data. These chapters are well-rounded and mature contributions, which demonstrate a remarkable convergence on the themes of landscape and interdisciplinarity. Chances are high that the volume will indeed - as suggested in the foreword - become a reference point in the archaeology of West Africa.' Anne Haour, Antiquity

    '… a remarkably coherent work that has not a single weak or tangenital chapter … this is a praiseworth volume … also handsomely produced.' Journal of African History

    'This is a good and useful collection presenting much innovative and important work on Atlantic era social and political transformations in a range of West African settings. The contributions clearly articulate the necessity of a perspective that looks beyond single sites and considers regional perspectives diachronically in order to derive appropriate (both culturally and politically) frameworks to explain the archaeological and historical trajectories of the various regions. The contributions shed light on new regions of study, as well as previously explored areas, and thus the volume will be useful to scholars of West Africa. By foregrounding the landscape perspective, the contributions in this book will also be of interest to a wider range of archaeologists and historians.' Journal of African Archaeology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108978309
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 255 x 180 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.78kg
    • contains: 69 b/w illus. 33 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Forward Merrick Posnansky
    1. Introduction: the politics of landscape in Atlantic West Africa J. Cameron Monroe and Akinwumi Ogundiran
    Part I. Fragmented Landscapes:
    2. Atlantic impacts on inland Senegambia: French penetration and African initiatives in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gajaaga and Bundu (Upper Senegal River) Ibrahima Thiaw
    3. Political transformations and cultural landscapes in Senegambia during the Atlantic era: an alternative view from the Siin (Senegal)? François Richard
    4. The Eguafo polity: between the traders and raiders Sam Spiers
    5. From the shadow of an Atlantic citadel: an archaeology of the Huedan countryside Neil L. Norman
    Part II. State-Generated Landscapes:
    6. Segou, slavery, and sifinso Kevin C. MacDonald and Seydou Camara
    7. Building the state in Dahomey: power and landscape on the Bight of Benin J. Cameron Monroe
    8. The formation of an Oyo imperial colonial enclave during the Atlantic Age Akinwumi Ogundiran
    Part III. Internal Frontier Landscapes:
    9. The rise of the Bassar Chiefdom in the context of Africa's internal frontier Philip de Barros
    10. Fortified towns of the Koinadugu Plateau: northern Sierra Leone in the pre-Atlantic and Atlantic worlds Christopher R. DeCorse
    11. Rethinking the Mandara political landscape: cultural developments, climate, and an entry into history in the second millennium AD Scott MacEachern
    Part IV. Conclusion:
    12. The local and the global: historiographical reflections on West Africa and the Atlantic Age Ray A. Kea.

  • Editors

    J. Cameron Monroe, University of California, Santa Cruz
    J. Cameron Monroe is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Director of the Abomey Plateau Archaeological Project in the Republic of Bénin, West Africa. He serves on the editorial board of Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa and has published in various journals, among them Historical Archaeology, The Journal of African History and Current Anthropology.

    Akinwumi Ogundiran, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
    Akinwumi Ogundiran is Professor of Africana Studies, Anthropology, and History at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and Director of the Upper Osun Archaeological and Historical Project. He is the author or editor of several publications including Archaeology and History in Ilare District, Central Yorubaland; Precolonial Nigeria; and Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora.


    Merrick Posnansky, J. Cameron Monroe, Akinwumi Ogundiran, Ibrahima Thiaw, François Richard, Sam Spiers, Neil L. Norman, Kevin C. MacDonald, Seydou Camara, Philip de Barros, Christopher R. DeCorse, Scott MacEachern, Ray A. Kea

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