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‘When the King breaks a town, he builds another’: Space, Politics, and Gerrymandered Identities in Precolonial Dahomey

Author(s): James Monroe

Year: 2015

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Summary

Scholars have long argued that sub-Saharan Africa in the era of the slave trade was dominated by ethnically distinct communities whose members underwent the process of creolization after being displaced to the New World. Archaeological research across West Africa, however, is challenging this notion, revealing how West African cultural identity transformed in response to intersecting economic, political, and cultural forces unleashed by trans-Atlantic commerce.  This paper examines the political underpinnings of cultural identity in the Kingdom of Dahomey, focusing on the relationship between settlement history, political transformation, and Fon ethnic identity at Cana.  Archaeological data reveals a history of long-term settlement across the region.  However, oral historical accounts contain narratives of resettlement, war, and slave trading in which the state had a heavy hand in structuring the social landscape of these cities, rendering urban landscapes of power that refashioned the everyday experience of the world vis-à-vis an emerging state sphere. 


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‘When the King breaks a town, he builds another’: Space, Politics, and Gerrymandered Identities in Precolonial Dahomey. James Monroe. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433904)


Keywords

Temporal Keywords
Atlantic Era


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 516

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America