Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
An Archaeology of 'Legitimate' Trade in Amedeka, Ghana (AD 1807-1900)

This research examines the effects of local taste on broader-scale economic and social relationships during the period of 'legitimate' trade in Amedeka (southeastern Ghana). 'Legitimate' trade is the period of commercial transition from the Atlantic slave trade to commodity trade in nineteenth century West Africa. This period was marked by vibrant economic exchanges between African societies and overseas markets, culminating in the emergence of African consumer societies. My research demonstrates how people ascribed local notions of taste onto trade commodities and how these commodities were incorporated into and consumed in different social contexts within Amedeka. Through the analyses of archaeological materials excavated from three sites in Amedeka, combined with multidisciplinary analytic approaches, my work will determine the transformations in local consumption practices by tracking and following the movement of commodities and how people incorporate different artifact classes into different social contexts. African consumers were highly selective of European imported commodities. Tacking back and forth between the archaeological data and multidisciplinary approaches will help broaden our understanding of factors that determined exchange networks and socio-cultural preferences that determined Africans' demand for certain commodities over others. By engaging in these conscious acts of consuming certain commodities and rejecting others, local people, often those located in marginalized communities, shaped manufacturing and production in overseas and regional markets. My work will contribute to the understanding of local peoples' position in global encounters and the different historical conditions that continue to affect Africa's representation in the world economy.