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The African Diaspora

The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 486
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  • Book Info
    The African Diaspora
    Book Description:

    The African diaspora is arguably the most important event in modern African history. From the fifteenth century to the present, millions of Africans have been dispersed--many of them forcibly, others driven by economic need or political persecution--to other continents, creating large communities with African origins living outside their native lands. The majority of these communities are in North America. This historic displacement has meant that Africans are irrevocably connected to economic and political developments in the West and globally. Among the known legacies of the diaspora are slavery, colonialism, racism, poverty, and underdevelopment, yet the ways in which these same factors worked to spur the scattering of Africans are not fully understood--by those who were part of this migration or by scholars, historians, and policymakers. In this definitive study of the diaspora in North America, Toyin Falola offers a causal history of the western dispersion of Africans and its effects on the modern world. Reengaging old and familiar debates and framing new ones that enrich the discourse surrounding Africa, Falola isolates the thread, running nearly six centuries, that connects the history of slavery, the transatlantic slave trade, and current migrations. A boon to scholars and policymakers and accessible to the general reader, the book explores diverse narratives of migration and shows that the cultures that migrated from Africa to the Americas have the capacity to unite and create a new pan-Africanist movement within the globalized world. Toyin Falola is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-798-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Toyin Falola
  4. Introduction: The Old and New African Diaspora
    (pp. 1-26)

    This book pulls together three dominant themes in the history of Africa and the African diaspora since the fifteenth century—slavery, migrations, and contact with the West—to reflect on their cumulative impact over the years. The consequences of the interactions of Africa and the West transcend the boundaries of Africa itself and extend to locations where black people have been scattered over time and are now labeled as the “African diaspora.” Some other labels have emerged, such as the “black Atlantic” and the “Atlantic World,” incorporating the four continents of Europe, the Americas, and Africa: all localities united by...

  5. Part 1: The Old Diaspora:: Slavery and Identity Politics

    • 1 Africa and Slavery in a Transnational Context
      (pp. 29-52)

      No topic illustrates Africa’s position in the international system better than slavery, both as an institution and as a system of commerce. While chattel slavery is virtually dead in most parts of the world, new categories and processes of exploitation have emerged displaying characteristics that defined slavery in the past. The Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, the Cold War, and the lingering economic status of Africa as a dependent continent are some of the most critical historical developments that tie Africa to the rest of the world. Of those ties, slavery and the slave trade remain the most significant; their effect...

    • 2 The Slave Mutiny of 1839: The Colonization of Memory and Spaces
      (pp. 53-71)

      The 1839 mutiny now known as the Amistad rebellion is an important episode in the history of slave resistance. This chapter shows how that event transmuted into a permanent historical symbol and then into a template to understand race relations over time. I examine not the rebellion itself but how the interpretation of the events reveals our understanding of power and race relations.

      The story is already so well known that I shall present only the basic details here.¹ On board the Amistad slave ship, traveling the high seas toward the northeast coast of America from Havana, Joseph Cinqué, one...

    • 3 The Centralization of Africa and the Intellectualization of Blackness
      (pp. 72-90)

      Without question, the production of knowledge on race, slavery, colonization, and all forms of Western domination has been one of the most critical links between Africans and African Americans, and between Africa and most of the Western world. Of course, the movement of people from and to Africa provided the foundation for this mutual intellectual engagement and dialogue. The forced movement produced by slavery created the origins of African American identity. Voluntary migrations followed, with substantial increases since the 1980s, creating today a large number of black people in the United States whose ancestors have no connections whatsoever with American...

    • 4 Communalism, Africanism, and Pan-Africanism
      (pp. 91-116)

      Two sets of ideas serve as the preface to this chapter. The first revolves around a cluster of negative images about the continent of Africa in the Western media and various publications that focus excessively on wars, conflicts, coups, political instability, and their consequences.¹ Since the fifteenth century, the characterization of Africa as a so-called dark continent was meant to separate this so-called black Africa from North Africa, later to separate it from South Africa and then the rest of the world. You must have heard one or all of the following in the list of negative images generated by...

  6. Part 2: An African Case Study:: Yoruba Ethnicity in the Diaspora

    • 5 Atlantic Yoruba and the Expanding Frontiers of Yoruba Culture and Politics
      (pp. 118-162)

      The Yoruba have become truly global in their locations in different parts of the world; the representations of various aspects of their culture (including religion, philosophy, worldview, economic practices like the “esusu,” art, music, dress, and cuisine) in their new locations; the distinctive Yoruba Orisa traditions in the Americas; their physical presence in various parts of the world, either as the descendants of Yoruba people taken as slaves between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries or as Yoruba voluntary migrants in the contemporary era; and the integration of Yoruba into academic fields such as African, Diaspora, Black Atlantic, and Atlantic History...

    • 6 Politics, Slavery, Servitude, and the Construction of Yoruba Identity
      (pp. 163-186)

      Slavery and freedom operate within a social milieu, an economic system, and political structures. In the nineteenth century, Yoruba warriors who responded to external demands to produce palm oil and palm kernels dominated politics and thus looked for labor to work on their farms. In the first half of the twentieth century, the colonial government in Nigeria began the process of creating formal economies. In the postcolonial phase, the Yoruba developed a much stronger sense of ethnicity in order to compete with other groups in a complicated Nigerian federal system. In the more recent period, political turmoil has created new...

    • 7 Orisa Music, Dance, and Modernity
      (pp. 187-210)

      Music and dance present both the public and private faces of African gods and goddesses. They create limitless opportunities to express emotions and aspirations in diverse settings and scattered locations. They have served as agencies of resistance and cultural nationalism during slavery, colonial domination, and thereafter in all places where the black experience has been shaped by domination, oppression, and exploitation. Orisa music and dance assault the entangling indignities brought on by commerce and mammon. In racialized contexts, most notably in the Americas and Europe, they add to how the boundaries of race are created and negotiated—indeed, they even...

  7. Part 3: The New Diaspora:: Transnationalism and Globalization

    • 8 Western Education and Transatlantic Connections
      (pp. 213-234)

      I want to start with an emerging set of data drawn from three valuable colleagues. The first is a Senegalese-born professor of computer science who teaches at Humboldt State University in a beautiful and heavily wooded part of California. Married to a Togolese woman of cosmopolitan background, their first language is the West African Fon, their second is French, and their third is English. They use Fon at home to structure family interactions and socialize their adorable children into their indigenous culture, they use French for correspondence with relations and friends in Africa, and they use English to earn a...

    • 9 Africa in the Diaspora and the Diaspora in Africa: Toward an Integrated Body of Knowledge
      (pp. 235-254)

      This chapter intends to complicate the motivations for writing about the African diaspora in order to suggest ways to integrate African and African diasporic histories and communities. Two bodies of knowledge that are treated as distinct and separate will be connected on the basis of themes around the notion of a diaspora connected with Africa. Some scholars regard the study of the African diaspora as a political project, an attempt to use knowledge for the purpose of uniting Africa with the black people scattered in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. From this perspective, the dominant issues relate to the marginalization...

    • 10 Tanure Ojaide and Akin Ogundiran: Knowledge Circulation and the Diasporic Interface
      (pp. 255-281)

      A distinctive category of African has emerged in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. The label “new African diaspora”¹ encompasses the era of migrations (postcolonial in Africa), instigating factors for migration (voluntary, but in the context of constrained or straightened circumstances in Africa), new forms of politics (post–civil rights era in the United States), new identities (transnational, dual/multiple citizenship), and issues around the role and relevance of migrants in Africa and the African diaspora (brain drain/gain/circulation). The label can also be considered synonymous with, as I use it, the terms “transnationalists” and “immigrants.” Some even refer to the groups...

    • 11 Nollywood and the Creative World of Aderonke Adesola Adesanya: The African Impact on Global Cultures
      (pp. 282-312)

      This chapter focuses on two key examples of the manifestation of African culture in the African diaspora: the rapid spread of Nollywood movies to other parts of the world and the work of a new generation of transnationalist diaspora artists based both in Africa and throughout the Western world. These two examples and other topics related to culture and cultural production, such as identity, religion, art, and poetry, illustrate how various aspects of African culture are spreading to other parts of the world.

      Nollywood, now ranked as the third largest movie production industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood,...

    • Plates
      (pp. None)
    • 12 Globalization and Contemporary Cultures
      (pp. 313-342)

      This chapter argues that powerful forces are redefining identities within and between frontiers, producing conditions that denationalize and deterritorialize us as we travel, mix, mingle, develop a global framework, and as we reconstitute national or local identities in new spaces. New or modified identities can emerge in the context of the high influx of immigrants who struggle with the politics of incorporation, and in the context of “invisible migrants” who do not necessarily want to become citizens or make political and economic claims in host communities. Global villages are emerging with remarkable zones of discontent and crisis. The leading arenas...

  8. Postscript: United States Foreign Policy on Africa in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 343-360)

    President Barack Obama said in a speech in Accra on July 11, 2009, “The twenty-first century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well.”¹ This is an important moment in the relations between the United States and Africa for a variety of reasons. The first is symbolic: President Obama has a direct link to African origins because his father is from Kenya. Thus he is claimed as an African son and as an African American, a dual identity and citizenship that he has to negotiate. He...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 361-376)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 377-410)
  11. Index
    (pp. 411-418)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 419-421)