Slaves without Shackles: An Archaeology of Everyday Life on Gorée Island, Senegal

Ibrahima Thiaw

in Slavery in Africa

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264782
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754012 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Slaves without Shackles: An Archaeology of Everyday Life on Gorée Island, Senegal

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This chapter examines how slavery was imprinted on material culture and settlement at Gorée Island. It evaluates the changing patterns of settlement, access to materials, and emerging novel tastes to gain insights into everyday life and cultural interactions on the island. By the eighteenth century, Gorée grew rapidly as an urban settlement with a heterogeneous population including free and enslaved Africans as well as different European identities. Interaction between these different identities was punctuated with intense negotiations resulting in the emergence of a truly transnational community. While these significant changes were noted in the settlement pattern and material culture recovered, the issue of slavery — critical to most oral and documentary narratives about the island — remains relatively opaque in the archaeological record. Despite this, the chapter attempts to tease out from available documentary and archaeological evidence some illumination on interaction between the different communities on the island, including indigenous slaves.

Keywords: slavery; material culture; urban settlement; transnational community; indigenous slaves

Chapter.  6798 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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