A fistful of shells: West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution

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Publisher:
University of Chicago Press,
Pub. Date:
2019.
Language:
English
Description
By the time the “Scramble for Africa” among European colonial powers began in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries. Its gold had fueled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world for nearly a millennium, and the sophisticated kingdoms spanning its west coast had traded with Europeans since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies—most importantly, cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. But, as the slave trade grew, African kingdoms began to lose prominence in what had been a collaborative relationship with Europe and its American colonies. The consequences of this shift have been affecting world politics and the global economy ever since.  With A Fistful of Shells, Toby Green transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa by tracing the factors that led to African nations’ current economic marginalization. The book offers a new perspective on this through the way in which the currencies which circulated on the continent lost relative value over time in comparison with “hard” currencies in use elsewhere. Over time, Africa’s economic stature declined as the value of surplus slave labor in the New World came to outpace the value of any currency. Green’s book also reconstructs the context of these lost kingdoms, whose existence revolved around trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, and the production of art. The concentration of economic power in the hands of Atlantic elites in and outside these kingdoms led to a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa, parallel to the upheavals then taking place in Europe and America. The political fragmentation following the fall of African aristocracies, however, produced radically different results as European colonization took hold. As Green demonstrates, the effects of this fragmentation have strongly influenced the shape of the continent today, from its comparatively unequal economic status to its shifting borders and regional conflicts. A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, art, oral history, archaeology, and letters to offer a fundamental new perspective on Africa, past and present.  
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ISBN:
9780226644578
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work IDf91cd3ae-bc9d-5cd1-b311-043238803878
Grouping Titlefistful of shells west africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution
Grouping Authorgreen toby
Grouping Categorybook
Last Grouping Update2019-11-17 15:07:02PM
Last Indexed2019-11-20 04:44:50AM

Solr Details

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Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:.b20666068BookBooksEnglishUniversity of Chicago Press, 2019.xxxv, 613 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
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subject_facetAfrica, West -- History -- To 1884
title_displayA fistful of shells : West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution
title_fullA fistful of shells : West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution / Toby Green
title_shortA fistful of shells
title_subWest Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution