Slavery and Colonialism: Selectively Embracing and Erasing the Past in The Gambia

Author(s): Liza Gijanto

Year: 2018


Banjul was founded in 1816 as part of the British efforts to block the slave trade on the Gambia River. A planned urban center, the city developed around a series of neighborhoods designated as colonial, merchant, and African laborer spaces. Amongst the most prominent settlers were the Aku (Liberated Africans) from Sierra Leone and French traders from Goree who were instrumental in the growth of the colonial economy. The Banjul Heritage Project seeks to highlight contributions of the different residents to Banjul to the unique character of its neighborhoods, through community engaged research. This was at odds with the former Jammeh government which sought to exploit the nation’s connection to the slave trade via Alex Haley’s Kunta Kinte while erasing most physical traces of the nation’s colonial past in the capital. Entire narratives have been created and imposed on the landscape around Kinte’s home village of Juffure, and remnants of British rule in the capital were systematically removed. This paper addresses some of the challenges encountered during three field seasons in Banjul including the absence of an engaged community in the face of a rapid dissolution of a resident population and the legalized destruction of colonial period sites.

Cite this Record

Slavery and Colonialism: Selectively Embracing and Erasing the Past in The Gambia. Liza Gijanto. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444753)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20183