In Honor of Boubakar Barry, Part 1: Senegambia as a Historical Region

AHA Session 140
Friday, January 6, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom 4A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Martin A. Klein, University of Toronto
Sierra Leone-Guinea Plain and the Senegambia Region: Networks in the 19th Century
Allen M. Howard, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The Linger of Waalo: Reconsidering Royal Women in 19th-Century Senegal
Hilary Jones, Florida International University
Mohamed Mbodj, Manhattanville College

Session Abstract

Boubakar Barry’s magisterial study, Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade, establishes the integrity, cohesion and, shared history of that region, despite its ethnic and political diversity and inheritance of colonial and national divisions. His other major works, such as the widely translated, The Kingdom of Waalo. Senegal before the Conquest, examine specific places and leaders in the region. This panel pays tribute to Barry’s vision by building on and critiquing some of his approaches. If Barry takes as a given the mobility of people and things throughout region, Osborn examines processes, specifically how canoes and head loads fueled movement, and also considers how peoples’ strategies of mobility changed in the era of the slave trade. While Barry looks overall at the critical political role of the linger, or first ladies, of Waalo, Jones assesses two specific linger of the middle 19th century in light of recent literature on royal women in Africa and re-evaluates their role in the fall of Waalo to the French. Although Barry describes the various connections between inland and coastal areas, Howard analyzes specific networks (nodes and flows) formed by traders and representatives of Muslim states and the Sierra Leone Colony to reassess how, in the late 19th century, the Senegambia was linked with the Atlantic and how the British enclave of Freetown was integrally part of the Senegambian Islamic world. By looking at three different periods and places, the presenters offer new insights into the internal dynamics of western West Africa and also the impact and the limits of Atlantic and Global forces.
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