A Tale of Two Villages: Comparing Community Histories in Siin (Senegal) into the Atlantic Era

Saturday, April 27 2019 3:00 pm

UWM Sabin Hall G90
3413 N. Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Sunday, April 27, 2019, 3:00pm 
François Richard, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College, University of Chicago
Title: A Tale of Two Villages: Comparing Community Histories in Siin (Senegal) into the Atlantic Era

Professor Richard presents the community histories of two villages of the Siin province of Senegal, Diohine and Mbissel, before and after Atlantic contacts. By exploring these two villages’ histories through archaeological excavations complemented by documentary sources, Dr. Richard evaluates the impacts of Atlantic inter-continental contact on rural societies in the region. Particularly, Dr. Richard assesses the idea that European commerce marked a historical rupture with that inaugurated a period of political instability and loss of economic autonomy in Western African villages. Material evidence based on four years of excavations combine with archival and oral data to suggest that the effects of the Atlantic trade were not uniformly disruptive of political stability and economic autonomy within African society. The results were in fact more complicated, diffuse, and mitigated by enduring African social practices. Moreover, the supposed changes brought by Euro-African Atlantic trade were characterized as much by continuities as by transformations. In the context of intercontinental trade, village lives were reshaped in ways demonstrating both resilience and rupture. Archaeological patterns at Mbissel and Diohine show that the impacts of intercontinental contacts varied between coastal and hinterland settlements, thus enriching our understanding of global entanglements and rural settlements.

François Richard is a historical anthropologist and archaeologist interested in material histories of French colonialism and imperialism. His research focuses on two areas, West Africa and post-independence Mexico, though he has also conducted research in the United States and the Caribbean, and maintain a keen interest in the Atlantic world and postcolonial France.

For more information about the AIA Lecture Series, visit them at https://aia-milwaukee.uwm.edu/lectures/.