In Honor of Boubakar Barry, Part 2: Senegambia in African History
AHA Session 168
Friday, January 6, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom 4A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Edda L. Fields-Black, Carnegie Mellon University
During the 1960s, the units of scholarly inquiry in West Africa gradually shifted from ethnic group and village to nation-state, though young historians often wrote their theses on their native societies. Increasingly, however, African scholars began looking for larger unities, rarely panafrican, but often linking people across borders of traditional and modern polities. Boubakar Barry’s Senegambia was a large part of this development, and often had an influence on other scholars. His Senegambia involved people linked together by trade, culture, politics and religion, who interacted in different ways. The papers we have gathered here involve different kinds of unity. One focuses on a religious pilgrimage which unites people from diverse parts of West and North Africa. A second involves trade networks that tied and divided. A third involved ties of religion that bound together people in a broad band extending from the Atlantic to Lake Chad. A fourth sets all of these unities in context. Africans participated in different worlds, but these worlds overlap. There are no boundaries across which people did not trade, marry, migrate in times of need, or travel to seek education or to pray at sacred sites.