Goree, Bunce Island, Elmina, Ouidah: these names have become iconic of a trade that brought millions of enslaved Africans to the Americas. The Atlantic trade, including the slave trade, linked Africa and the Americas for more than four centuries, engendering dramatic changes for societies on both sides of the ocean. Archaeology, which reflects the lives of ordinary people, has revealed how Africans both transformed and maintained their cultures across the Atlantic world. Following an overview of West Africa and some of the contributions of archaeology to the study of the Atlantic world, Professor DeCorse will explore the impacts of Africa’s interactions within the wider Atlantic and examine how the Atlantic trade affected and transformed West African societies. Drawing on examples from across West Africa, he will examine how archaeology provides a key source of information, in many instances the only source of information, of these transformations.
Christopher R. DeCorse is Professor and past Chair of the Department of Anthropology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. His work in West Africa focuses on the Atlantic period, particularly the impacts of the slave trade, and the understanding of these transformations in terms of Africa’s pre-Atlantic past. His principal publications on African archaeology include: An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Press, 2001) and West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade (an edited volume published by Continuum Press, 2001). DeCorse’s textbooks include the four-field book Anthropology: A Global Perspective (Pearson, 2016, with R. Scupin); Anthropology: The Basics (Pearson, 2016, with R. Scupin); In the Beginning: An Introduction to Archaeology, 12th Edition (Prentice Hall, 2005, with B. Fagan); and The Record of the Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Physical Anthropology (Prentice Hall, 2000).
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