“Clothing as a Map to Senegambia’s Global Exchanges during the Late-Eighteenth Century”
Throughout the multi-cultural landscape of Senegambia, dress was a critical means of self-identification and affiliation where Fuulbe, Serakholle, Jakhanke and other Mande-speaking groups lived in close proximity, sometimes clustering in densely settled trade towns and sometimes dispersed across small rural villages. The malleability of clothing styles, and the ability of individuals to adapt or change clothing styles to assert affiliation or belonging within a given social group seems particularly relevant to historical processes in late 18th century western Africa. There, the violent disruptions of ethnic and religious conflict, drought and slave raiding kept populations on the move and ethnic identity in flux.
Creating African Fashion Histories
(forthcoming Indiana University Press, 2020)
Historicizing fashion in Western Africa: regional markets, global linkages and local tastes in the early modern period, 1700-1850
The production, tailoring, dyeing and exchange of textiles have been features of West African societies for centuries. While there has been an increase in scholarly interest and popular attention to dress in contemporary Africa, the clothing practices of this earlier period have received less attention. How can we speak of ‘fashion’ in West Africa before the advent of European colonial rule in the second half of the 19th century? What would a longer history of dress in West Africa add to scholars’ current understanding of those societies relationship to broader global shifts? What would it suggest about changing dress practices over time into the present? This chapter surveys historical forms of dress in different parts of West Africa between the fifteenth and early 19th centuries drawing on written, visual and material sources.
Review of Colleen Kriger, Making Money: Life, Death and Early Modern Trade on Africa’s Guinea Coast, Ohio University Press in the Journal of African History, Vol. 60, Issue 1, 2019.
LINK TO REVIEW
Review of Michael Gomez’s African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa. Princeton University Press, 2018 in the Journal of West African History. Forthcoming.
The Savannah Review
edited by Abiola Irele
“On Sartre’s Hegelian View of African History,” N. 5, May 2015, 21-38
The article retraces interactions between Jean Paul Sartre and a cohort of African and African-Caribbean anti-colonial intellectuals during the postwar period to argue that, while Sartre’s thinking became increasingly radicalized through the period, he remained committed to certain universalist narratives of historical change that contemporary historians of Africa have sought to challenge.
LINK TO ARTICLE