A Motley Company: Differing Identities among Euro-Africans in Eighteenth-Century Elmina


in Brokers of Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265208
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754180 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

A Motley Company: Differing Identities among Euro-Africans in Eighteenth-Century Elmina

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Euro-Africans along the Gold Coast figure as a somewhat obscure minority in contemporary European literature. Perhaps this can be attributed to the kinship system of the coastal Akan that dominated the structure of Gold Coast society and accounted for the integration of Euro-Africans into the local lineages. In Akan culture, children belonged to the abusua or matrilineal family of their mothers, either as free members or as slaves. A different recruiting mechanism was also in operation in the other fundamental institution of the southern Akan polities, the asafo companies. Elmina boys were recruited by their father's asafo, and as a rule, male Euro-Africans had to do without the patrilineal affiliation to these prestigious power associations. The dearth of these ties encouraged a certain minority of Euro-Africans to initiate their own ‘company’, which might be considered a kernel in the development towards a Euro-African identity.

Keywords: Elmina Euro-Africans; precolonial Gold Coast; intimate encounters; coastal lineages; identity; Akan-speaking peoples

Chapter.  7962 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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