Eurafricans in Western Africa — 2003

Commerce, Social Status, Gender, and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century

By George E. Brooks

Eurafricans in Western Africa traces the rich social and commercial history of western Africa. The most comprehensive study to date, it begins prior to the sixteenth century when huge profits made by middlemen on trade in North African slaves, salt, gold, pepper, and numerous other commodities prompted Portuguese reconnaissance voyages along the coast of western Africa. From Senegal to Sierra Leone, Portuguese, including “New Christians” who reverted to Judaism while living in western Africa, thrived where riverine and caravan networks linked many African groups.

Portuguese and their Luso-African descendants contended with French, Dutch, and English rivals for trade in gold, ivory, slaves, cotton textiles, iron bars, cowhides, and other African products. As the Atlantic slave trade increased, French and Franco-Africans and English and Anglo-Africans supplanted Portuguese and Luso-Africans in many African places of trade.

Eurafricans in Western Africa follows the changes that took root in the eighteenth century when French and British colonial officials introduced European legal codes, and concludes with the onset of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, when suppression of the slave trade and expanding commerce in forest and agricultural commodities again transformed circumstances in western Africa.

Professor George E. Brooks’s outstanding history of these vital aspects of western Africa is enriched by his discussion of the roles of the women who married or cohabited with European traders. Through accounts of incidents and personal histories, which are integrated into the narrative, the lives of these women and their children are accorded a prominent place in Professor Brooks’s fascinating discussion of this dynamic region of Africa.


A professor of history at Indiana University in Bloomington, George E. Brooks is the author of Landlords and Strangers: Ecology, Society, and Trade in Western Africa, 1000-1630, and numerous studies in African and world history.

Cover of 'Eurafricans in Western Africa'

Reviews

  • African Review of Books
  • Itinerario
  • African Review of Books
  • Enterprise and Society
  • The International History Review
  • Journal des Africanistes
  • Lusotopie

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