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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:West Africa's discovery of the Atlantic
Author:Law, RobinISNI
Year:2011
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Volume:44
Issue:1
Pages:1-25
Language:English
Geographic term:West Africa
Subjects:cosmology
images
culture contact
maritime transport
mercantile history
sea
1400-1499
Abstract:On the Slave Coast (modern Togo and the Republic of Bénin, the southeastern part of Ghana and the southwestern part of Nigeria), the indigenous peoples had no tradition of maritime navigation at all in the pre-European period. The expansion of African coastal navigation in fact depended on technical innovations introduced by European maritime traders in the 15th century, a truly revolutionary development in the historical experience of the indigenous peoples. How did Africans conceptualize this novel experience? This paper examines the ways in which the Europeans and their trade were fitted into existing local cosmological and religious conceptions. Based on modern ethnographic literature and early European accounts the paper argues that, despite the novelty of the European sea-borne commerce, it could to a large extent be made sense of in terms of aspects of pre-existing cosmological conceptions. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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