The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa 1700-1850

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The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa 1700-1850

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Title: The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa 1700-1850
Author: Benjamin, Jody A.
Citation: Benjamin, Jody A. 2016. The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa 1700-1850. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This study re-examines historical change in western Africa during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the lens of cotton textiles; that is by focusing on the production, exchange and consumption of cotton cloth, including the evolution of clothing practices, through which the region interacted with other parts of the world. It advances a recent scholarly emphasis to re-assert the centrality of African societies to the history of the early modern trade diasporas that shaped developments around the Atlantic Ocean. However, this study argues that Atlantic exchanges in western Africa relied significantly upon Indian Ocean commercial networks as well. By analyzing a wide range of European travel accounts, commercial records and correspondence, visual images, maps, and oral narratives, this study breaks with well-rehearsed Atlantic conceptual frameworks for this period of African history to instead emphasize the global historical context in which Africans made decisions that impacted their communities and the larger world. The geographic focus of this study covers a large part of western Africa: from the Sahara desert in the north, northeast to the Niger bend, southeast to coastal Sierra Leone and west to the Senegal river valley and Atlantic coast. Its main findings emphasize the diversity of western African engagements with global commerce via textile production and consumption across time and space.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493374
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